Frascole in Rufina
Old Vine Sangiovese Parcel, Planted 1967-1970
While the ladies were touring Burgundy, Greg and Ryan were traversing the countryside of Italy. Their first stop? Frascole, a traditional producer in the village of Dicomano with some of the highest plots in all of Rufina (or “mountain Chianti”), topping out at 1700 feet and abutting the Tuscan Appennines, with incredibly steep vineyards. “As we were driving towards the farmhouse,” said Ryan, “we turned and went up high hill switchbacks” until they got to the rustic farmhouse and estate, that has been passed down through the family for generations.
Owned and operated by Enrico and Elisa Lippi, Frascole “is a property that I found last year by chance,” said Greg Reeves, our Italian Portfolio Director. “Someone took me there [at Vinitaly] to taste, and as soon as I tasted, I knew that I wanted them.”
Practicing organic since 1996 and currently certified organic by ICEA (Instituto per la Certificazione Etica e Ambientale), the Lippis also engage Biodynamic practices, but they don’t preach. On their estate, you’ll find cold air and diverse soils that include limestone and schist. In between the rows of vines, there’s “a salad,” as Ryan described it, of cover crops, including orzo, fava and grass, that helps inject nitrogen into the poor quality soils.
At Frascole, the oldest 1-2ha plots are planted with Sangiovese that date back to 1967-70, when Elisa’s grandmother had the family’s first vineyard.
“On the way up to the Trebbiano plot, we passed a shepherd,” said Ryan, and so it should come as no surprise that the high elevation also brings frost and an extreme diurnal shift, with great differences in day to night temps.
In the winery, the couple employs traditional winemaking methods, such as an “old-school cépage” that includes 5% White Trebbiano and White Malvasia in their “Bitornino” Chianti wine–a practice that has long been abandoned by many winemakers. And though the cellar has been renovated and enlarged, the winery is still gravity-fed, not because the couple was intent upon this method, but because in the past, it’s just how things were done. Using no new oak, the Lippis prefer used oak and concrete, just as they prefer natural yeasts, no adjustments, and the rare practice of vertically drying the fruit for their Vin Santo wine.
Cover Crops at Frascole
Standing apart from other producers in the region, the wines of Frascole “have a pretty lift and a freshness to them,” said Greg.
“They’re a very natural farmer, hand-to-bottle operation,” added Ryan. ”They’ve never been in the market.”
What follows are Ryan’s notes from a few wines that they tasted:
Frascole “Bitornino” Chianti 2010– (12.5% abv) Old vineyard with larger Sangiovese grapes. (As you go up the plateau to their super high plots, the Sangiovese ‘mountainizes’ and gets smaller.) Pink flowers on the nose with bright cherry and dark earth that’s persistent on the palate. Profound and very fresh. Ate with Tortelli di Patate con Ragu di Carne.
Frascole Rufina Chianti 2009–No white grapes and in old barrel. Dark berry, fresh fruit and spice. Classic Sangiovese nose. Savory with dark earth, dark cherry, lavender and underbrush raspberry seed with great acidity. Extremely balanced.
Frascole Rufina Chianti 2008– Lifted and less dark fruited than the 2009. Very high acidity. Persistent and fresh.
Enrico and Elisa Lippi