Today we are releasing our precious remaining inventory of Fattoria La Ripa and doing so with a heavy heart: This is one of the most honest representations of classically styled Sangiovese we’ve found in the last year and we’re sad to see it go!
It’s a gorgeous wine that I previously referred to as “Burgundian”—one of the finest compliments we could pay it. I’m not saying that a Chianti Classico or any other wine must taste like Burgundy to be good; for me, it’s about being Burgundian in spirit, which means balance, aromatics, energy, and, perhaps most of all, finesse. Great red Burgundy is all about harmony—it doesn’t have to bowl you over with extract and alcohol to make an impression. In this sense, Fattoria La Ripa’s 2010 Chianti Classico Riserva is beautifully, buoyantly Burgundian with the elegance and perfume also found in old school Brunello (which Ian thought it was when he blind tasted it). There’s sweet fruit, there’s savory earth, there’s aromatic intrigue, and there’s finesse…all no doubt aided by a few years of bottle age (and a superb vintage). And while it is designated as ‘Riserva,’ meaning it was aged a minimum of two years in barrel/bottle before release, it isn’t the oaked-up, Cabernet-infused style that came to define the category for a while. It’s all about the woodsy, heady charms of Sangiovese (backed by 10% of the local Canaiolo) and it delivers. We’ll be offering six bottles per person until the last of our inventory runs dry, so this is your last chance to get in on a beautifully aged 2010 Riserva!
Like so many Tuscan wine estates, La Ripa was once part of a much-larger property owned by nobility. Spanning 140 acres of woodlands, orchards, olive groves, and vineyards, the estate was acquired in 1940 by the Società Agricola Santa Brigida, today run by Sandro Caramelli and family. La Ripa is situated right at the Florence-Siena midpoint in Chianti Classico, in the hamlet of San Donato in Poggio. Since 2001, the estate has farmed its 16 hectares of vineyards organically, achieving certification from Bioagricert, an Italian agency, in 2006. The vineyards that supply this Riserva are situated at altitudes climbing to 400 meters (at the higher end for Chianti) and enjoy full southern exposures; soils are the traditional Chianti Classico mix of galestro (weathered schist) and albarese (limestone/clay marl).
One of the reasons I’m always touting Chianti Classico as a Burgundy alternative is that I’m always hearing producers compare Chianti’s grape, Sangiovese, with Burgundy’s grape, Pinot Noir. Both are notoriously difficult varieties to work with—physically delicate and extremely “site-sensitive,” meaning results can vary widely based on only subtle differences in soil type. Although I’ve tasted plenty of ‘rustic’ Burgundies, Sangiovese more often skews more smoky and earth-driven in comparison to Pinot Noir. Which is why a wine like La Ripa’s 2010 is worth trumpeting: it gets the proportions of fruit and earth deliciously right.
In the glass, La Ripa 2010 Riserva is a medium garnet-red moving to pink and brick-red at the rim, with aromas of ripe black cherry, raspberry, red currant, and a hint of blood orange peel mixing with more savory notes of underbrush, turned earth, wood smoke, and dried rose petals. Medium to medium-plus in body, it is exceedingly pretty and energetic on the palate, with fine-grained tannins and well-integrated acidity. The latter, I think, is a real key to this wine: it has freshness without tartness. It is velvety and lush, with bright cherry aromas driving the long finish. It is just spot-on—a wine I’d be happy to bring to a gunfight with a bunch of Francophiles. Decant this wine about 30 minutes before serving at 60-65 degrees in Burgundy stems; it is drinking very well now but should continue to improve over the next 5+ years. And just to completely beat this Burgundy comparison to death, serve it with something you might otherwise cook for red Burgundy—roast chicken with black truffles. I can’t wait to try it myself. Salute! — David Lynch
Chianti Classico DOCG
Sangiovese 90%, Canaiolo 10%
Large Slavonian Oak 'Botti'
Schist & Marl