2019 Chiappini, Felciaino, Bolgheri Rosso DOC, Tuscan Coast, Italy.
As there begins to be a chill in the evening air and thoughts are on heartier meals, it is the perfect time to explore Tuscan wines and especially the wines from the famous Bolgheri region on the Tuscan coast that are warmly ripe from the Mediterranean sunshine, but are also nicely balanced by cool nights, they show a depth and structure that make them some of the world’s best wines. So looking for excellent wines from Bolgheri is not all that difficult, though finding value can be a little tougher, but there are some outstanding wineries that offer exceptional quality at reasonable prices, as these fabulous Chiappini offerings show, like this one. Chiappini, who’s a neighbor to the famed Ornelliaia, does a collection of Super Tuscans, using a range of Bordeaux, native Tuscan and even Rhone Varietals, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, all of which grow especially well here, along with Sangiovese, Vermentino and Syrah, that also do brilliantly here as both blending grapes and as solo efforts. The Chiappini estate, originally planted in 1978, also has a special site, Felciaino, that got planted in 1986, set on the region’s alluvial and clay with limestone, and it has, as the winery notes, a mineral skeleton formed by conglomerates known as Bolgheri Conglomerates. These unique soils with their concentration of calcareous deposits, which along with the mentioned Tuscan Coast climate, makes for outstanding fruit density, flavor richness, elegant tannic structure and complexity, as this gorgeous 2019 vintage shows wonderfully with beautiful black fruits, a sexy dark purple/garnet color in the glass and lovely aromatics. For this wine, Chiappini uses Cabernet Sauvignon 50%, Merlot 40% and a small dose of Sangiovese 10%, making for layers of blackberry, plum, black cherry and dark currant fruits, along with sweet cedary wood, anise, a touch of loam, mineral and floral essences that linger on and on with subtle creme de cassis, red spices, mocha and vanilla notes, in a wine that has ripe and supple tannins, an inner brightness due to natural acidity and a Bordeaux like elegance.
The wine making at Chiappini is a study in not doing too much, but giving the customer everything they expect with natural fermentation in steel tanks and a cool maceration period to extract color, flavor intensity and a tannic backbone. The maturation or elevage for the single vineyard Felciano lasts at least 12 months in classic French oak barrels, with just a small percentage being new and the rest seeing second or third use barrels that tone down the sweet, smoky toast to an acceptable and well judged amount, allowing for transparency and purity of form. The wines at Chiappini, as I’ve mentioned before, try to capture the essence of place and are an artful and soulful expression of the Bolgheri region that give that well noted warmth of character that I find distinctive, it is shared by the legendary estates here, like the mentioned Ornellaia, as well as Tenuta San Guido (Sassicaia) and Le Machiole, to name a few. This is the region of Super Tuscans, with Cabernet Sauvignon being the star, but in recent times the wines with Cabernet Franc leading the way are being standouts, and of course the Merlot here has a cult following, as witnessed in the Masseto and Messorio bottlings by Ornellaia and Le Machiole respectively. Chiappini also does a line of single varietal wines as as the Bordeaux and hybrid Tuscan blends, this line known as Liena, includes a stunning Cab Franc, that I recently reviewed here at grapelive.com, as well as a pure Cabernet Sauvignon, a Merlot, and a unique 100% Petit Verdot, which I am very much looking forward to trying. The Chiappini family is led by their patriarch Giovanni, who represents the beating heart of the estate and who has put his heart and soul into the dirt here, this place is a mirror of his hard work, and his son Alessandro, a rising talent, makes the wines. I know his daughter Martina, the sales director for Chiappini, through her trips here to California and it was great to see her at San Francisco’s Slow Wine 2022 event, where she wowed this year’s gathering with these wines, especially this one! The Chiappini wines are not easy to find, but all are available here in the states and I highly recommend searching them out!
($25 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive