2018 Chiappini, Cabernet Franc “Lienà” IGT Toscana Rosso, Bolgheri Italy.
It was great fun to catch up with Martina Chiappini at this year’s Slow Wine SF Tasting and taste through her incredible collection of Tuscan coast wines from Bolgheri where her estate sits, very near the famed properties of Le Machiole and Sassicaia, I especially loved her gorgeous Lienà, crafted using 100% Cabernet Franc. Martina, who is not only here, believes Cabernet Franc is the most important grape in Bolgheri, even if Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, in particularly in the legendary Masseto, get all the headlines, and hers is absolutely beautiful and extremely nuanced with a divine weightlessness and stunning length, it highlights the grace and delicacy this varietal can show, in contrast to the density and power you find in the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Bordeaux blends. This 2018 is impeccable and impresses for the shear beauty it delivers with a serious likeness to some very famous Saint-Emilion right bank wines with floral and spicy notes both on the nose and on the medium to full bodied palate of this Lienà, with a luxurious layering of crushed red berries, currant and plum fruits that are nicely accented by lightly smoky sandalwood, anise, mineral tones and lingering kirsch. The fermentation is initiated spontaneously and the lengthy maceration extends for close to a month using temperature controlled vats before being racked to 225L French oak barrels with a well judged use of wood, about 30% being new. The Lienà Cabernet Franc, like the Guado de’ Gemoli is bottled unfined and unfiltered after being aged between 20 and 24 months.

The Chiappini estate, founded by Giovanni Chiappini, possesses 27 hectares of prime vineyards that is spread across four different parcels and set on fabulous soils that are made up of alluvial calcareous deposits that drain well and add to the complexity and depth of the wines. Elevation is not to high here and the climate is warm but moderated by the close by Mediterranean Sea, which brings balance to this region that sees optimal ripeness and a suppleness of structural tannins. Chiappini is not an old label, with Giovanni’s first vintage being back in 1999, He learned winemaking at the feet of his father and the rest of his family that are originally from the Marche region and who, since moving to Bolgheri in the 1950s sold their wines in bulk until deciding on doing their own label. While Giovanni is still very much responsible for the vineyards and wine production, his daughters Martina, who traveled here to show off their wines, and Lisa, who joined him in the family business manage sales, marketing and the increasingly more in the cellar. The Chiappini winery is located on the Via Bolgherese, in the row of elite estates, immediately adjacent to Orenellaia and the mentioned Le Macchiole, which is now some of the most coveted land in Italy. To preserve the soul and nature of the land here, Giovanni farms the Chiappini vineyards all organically, with unique parcels of Sangiovese, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Vermentino and their Cab Franc, which makes for the secret sauce in this wine as well as their signature blend Gaudo de’ Gemoli, that is one of the top wines of the region. The Lienà range, which I hadn’t tried before, includes a single varietal Merlot, a Petit Verdot and this brilliant Cabernet Franc, they are pretty rare bottles too, none to easy to find here in the States as of yet, but are well worth the effort to get!
($78 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

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