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Sangiovese is where our palates meet, more specifically Chianti Classico.
Charine and I don’t always agree on wines except for fine Sangiovese from the heart of Tuscany. Riecine is no stranger to producing great examples. The oldest records know Riecine as belonging to a monastery but it wasn’t until the late Briton John Dunkley purchased the property in 1971.
The wines gained critical acclaim and have passed through the hands of several owners since Dunkley’s passing. Since 2011, Riecine is family-owned by Lana Frank and managed by winemaker Alessandro Campatelli. He continues to put the estate’s focus on Sangiovese.
“I want to make wine as it should be in Chianti Classico, not how markets see it. In the past years, I started learning how to use concrete with Sangiovese, respecting the grapes and not over oxidizing the wines,” Alessandro says.
We met Alessandro at James Suckling’s Great Wines of Italy Hong Kong and were immediately impressed with the wines. A few months after the meeting, we found ourselves at the Riecine estate in Gaiole in Chianti. The only way to the estate is a single track, dirt road which gives way to fantastic views.
Riecine’s vineyards are high elevation, in the heart of Chianti Classico. They range from 430 to 600 meters (1400 – 1970 feet) above sea level. Standing in vineyards and looking down into the small villages of Vinci and Barbischio gave us a new understanding of Chianti Classico. The cool air and steep hills give an alpine feel. It’s the fresh air and cool nights that help the wines retain their tangy acidity.
Riecine Latest Sangiovese Releases
The latest set of Sangiovese based wines from Riecine span the 2016, 2017, and 2018 vintages. The 2016 vintage is regarded as one of the greatest vintages in recent Tuscan history. All of the wines show the Riecine house style, vibrant red fruit flavors with smooth mid palates and juicy acidity. Riecine has quickly become one of our favorite Tuscan wineries and we look forward to following their progress.
Alessandro doesn’t appear to rest on Riecine’s laurels. “In the future, I see Riecine at the top of the pyramid in winemaking. We are in a fantastic area, selected by monks centuries ago for their cultivations. The secret is not to be influenced by the market,” he says.
After tasting the latest vintages, it looks as if they are on the right path.
The Riecine, Palmina Rosé is 100% Sangiovese aged four months in concrete. Made from grapes grown specifically for rosé. Salmon in color with notes of watermelon jolly rancher, strawberry, and a touch of green apple. Dry rosé with an orange peel-like finish and citrusy acidity. Crisp and easy to drink. Score: 88/100
The Riecine, Chianti Classico is bright, easy to drink, and tons of fun. It has notes of sour cherry, forest floor, cedar, and mineral. Very good Chianti Classico with both sweet and sour red fruit. A tight backbone of acidity stretches the tangy finish. This should age very well in the cellar. Multiple layers of texture and pure pleasure to drink. I could drink this all day, every day. This is a wine to buy by the case (or two, or three). Score: 91/100
The Riecine, Chianti Classico Riserva is darker and denser than the standard Chianti Classico. Notes of mocha, tobacco, violets, and black cherry emerges from the glass. Full-bodied and rich with chewy tannins. This is a wine to lie down in the cellar as the tannins need to soften. The tangy, tangerine peel-like spine of acidity stretches the finish. Score: 92+/100
The Riecine, ‘Riecine’ Toscana Rosso is 100% Sangiovese that saw no oak. It was aged in concrete eggs for 36 months. Very earthy nose with fall leaves, mud, sour cherry, and white pepper. Lots of finesse on the mid-palate. This is a Sangiovese that dances on your tongue. Tangy acidity with a low level of tannins. Think of it as a Sangiovese made in the aspirations of a fine red Burgundy. Score: 92+/100
The Riecine, ‘La Gioia’ translates to “the joy”. It’s a dark, full-bodied Sangiovese that is ripe but yet feels graceful. Notes of sour cherry, black raspberry, mahogany, tobacco, and mocha. This wine has the perfect amount of full body and chewiness without feeling jammy or flabby. Many layers of texture with a spine of tangerine acidity. Showing good length, this is rich Sangiovese as it should be. A lot of concentration and body for only 13.5 % ABV. It’s noticeably richer than previous vintages we’ve tasted. In past vintages, we preferred the Riecine Toscana Rosso more than the La Gioaia, but that preference has flipped with the 2016s. Score: 94/100
Riecine New Vintage Update: 30 March 2021
- Riecine, Chianti Classico 2019
Another delicious vintage of the Riecine, Chianti Classico. It is 100% Sangiovese aged for 14 months in wood. There are notes of wild strawberry, earth, rhubarb, and even a touch of pepper. The wine is shy on the nose but the palate brings plenty of acidity and electricity. This wine has a perfect balance of being modern and easy to accept along with maintaining the beauty that is Chianti Classico. Chewy tannins and a long finish. This may be young but it’s loads of fun now. Score: 91/100
- Riecine, Chianti Classico Riserva 2018
The Riecine, Chianti Classico Riserva is 100% Sangiovese aged for 24 months in big cask. It’s bigger than the standard Chianti Classico with notes of cherry, dark chocolate, forest floor, and hints of white pepper. Full-bodied and suave on the palate, this is flat-out delicious. It’s got the right balance of fruit and earthy tones combined with vibrant acidity. The tannins are pretty substantial here, so make sure to have some meat nearby long. With a long finish and flawless oak integration, I prefer this to the 2017 Chianti Classico Riserva. Score: 93+/100
- Riecine, ‘Riecine’ Toscana Rosso 2017
The Riecine Toscana Rosso is Sangiovese that was aged for 36 months in concrete eggs and then another six months in bottle. This is my favorite vintage of this wine with notes of sour cherry, cranberry, pomegranate, and damp forest. This is top-notch Sangiovese, it’s pure and allows the fruit to really shine. There’s plenty of tart red fruit notes upfront and generous acidity that stretches the finish. Thanks to this acidity, there’s an electricity to this wine that I usually associate with Riesling. It’s a brilliant wine made in a Burgundy style. Score: 94+/100
- Riecine, La Gioia 2017
The Riecine, La Gioia is Sangiovese aged for 30 months in wood. Notes of cherry, dried cranberry, tobacco, and a touch of sweet cedar. Luscious on the palate with plenty of fruit. Everything is in perfect balance here for a full-bodied Sangiovese. The tannins here are the highlight, for a young wine they are round and ready to be drunk now. The acidity here is sufficient but it’s kept in check compared to the other Riecine offerings. Long finish. Score: 94/100
- Riecine, ‘TreSette 777’ Merlot 2017
The Riecine, ‘TreSette 777’ is 100% Merlot aged in large casks for 20 months. This is the second vintage of this Merlot that’s generated a lot of buzz in recent years. It’s more on the red fruit spectrum with fruity notes of cherry and red plum. There’s plenty of tobacco flavors here and just a hint of pencil shavings mixed in with mud. Full-bodied and silky on the palate, there’s plenty to like here. The tannins are grippy without being drying and the acidity is juicy. Long finish. I don’t know if this will last a long time in the cellar but it doesn’t matter, it’s so darn delicious now. Score: 93/100
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Thanks to Riecine for providing a set of samples for us to taste. Cover photo is from the Riecine website. Please note that the opinions expressed are our own and have not been paid for in any way. We do not sell editorial content as that would destroy the legitimacy of our reviews and the trust between Exotic Wine Travel and its readers. On occasion, we extend the option of purchasing the wines we review or/and the products we spotlight. Some of these product links are set up through affiliate programs, which means Exotic Wine Travel gets referral credits if you choose to purchase these items via the links we provide.