The history of Riecine
Riecine was originally owned by a nearby monastery until the 20th century, in fact the church archives from 1112 A.D. provide the earliest known record of the wine farm called Riecine. Is very close to excavations of an Etruscan township. It is possible that wine has been produced in the hills around Riecine even before the XII century.
Riecine is located in the heart of Tuscany, 60 km South-East of Florence, 35 km North-East of Siena, in the community of Gaiole in Chianti. Riecine vineyards are among the finest of Chianti Classico area. For many decades Riecine winery has maintained the reputation of a true Sangiovese specialist.
The founder of contemporary Riecine John Dunkley, an Englishman who became one of the most admired producers of the new style Chianti Classico, based on Sangiovese. With his Italian wife Palmina Abbagnano, John acquired the original 1.5 hectares of land in 1971 from the nearby monastery of Badia a Coltibuono. They restored the old stone villa on the land and began reviving and replanting vines. The first vintage of Chianti Classico, 1973, was released in 1975.
A close friend of John and Palmina, Carlo Ferrini, played an important role in the birth and growth of Riecine wines, giving his enological advices to Riecine until 1997.
John Dunkley was respected as one of Chianti’s most astute interpreter. He always maintained that Cabernet varieties permitted under DOCG rules for Chianti Classico had no place in the vineyards of Riecine. As he once put it: “When Baron Philippe de Rothschild plants Sangiovese, I’ll switch to Cabernet Sauvignon.”
In 1991, John and Palmina, hired as an intern a young winemaker, Sean O’Callaghan, who began to join the team as an internal Riecine winemaker, to become later one of the recent interpeter of Riecine’s wines style.
Although John and Palmina are no longer around, their inspiration still guides our philosophy and work at Riecine.
Since 2011 Riecine has been family-owned and led by Lana Frank. The family is strongly committed to maintain the philosophy of Riecine and to provide everything necessary for Riecine team to produce the great wines from the terroir, and is totally focused on quality aspects of all operations in the vineyards and cantina.
We are proud of Riecine’s traditions, and are dedicated to maintaining them. Over the past several years, Riecine wines have advanced in quality to the highest levels and are enjoyed today by wine lovers in all corners of the world.
Our approach to wine making
Riecine is a rare example of what can be achieved through handcrafted, artisan individual care and attention.
In house Riecine’s Winemaker and General Manager from 2015 is Alessandro Campatelli that leads the entire winemaking process with the precious help of the historical Riecine team.
The grapes are destalked into shallow bins and then all softly crushed before being dropped into either cement, stainless steel, oak or open topped bins.
The fermentation is carefully controlled by Alessandro to ensure proper temperature and perfect extraction of soft tannins, colour and flavour.
Once in the tanks we run off a “salasso” of about 10-20% of the juice. This process increases the ratio of skins to juice in the remaining must. In this way we manage to have more concentration in the finished wines.
All the wines are fermented with their own natural yeasts and therefore start off very slowly. This adds character but also has the bonus of causing a cold maceration that lasts normally 3 to 4 days.
Some of the grapes are fermented in small lots of 1,200 liters open fermentation wooden tanks. The cap is hand punched down 4 times a day. The other grapes are crushed lightly into 5,000 liter open top cement tanks. These are pumped over 4 times a day and then the cap punched down by hand.
During the process we also do various iterations of “delestage” (12 hours rack and return) to increase oxygen uptake and to mix up the cap. Everything is normally racked-off after about 25 days, first into tanks and then into barrels.
Depending on the vintage and vineyards, the wines will go into barriques, (both new and second- use), tonneaux, stainless steel or big traditional barrels. The wines are matured separately in their vineyard lots for up to 2 years for the Riecine IGT and La Gioia and 12-18 months for the Chianti Classico.
After aging, the wines are selected by Alessandro for bottling. If at any point in the process the grapes or the wines do not meet our rigid quality review, they are not bottled as original Riecine wines. The aging of each lot separately gives our winemaker the ultimate blending options at bottling time. Both La Gioia and Riecine di Riecine are aged in bottle at least 9 months before releasing.
“The magic of Sangiovese – the terroir, viticulture and winemaking perfectly captured in the bottle.”
The intentional location of our vineyards in various different terrains provides Riecine with some protection from extreme weather conditions such as hail and frost, and importantly, produces grapes with different characteristics and nuances so that we can produce complex, elegant wines that are still distinctly Riecine.
- Palmina (450-480 m above s.l.)
This vineyard has been named by new owners in honor of Palmina Dunkley Abbagnano.
It is located directly in front of our cantina on a southern-facing slope, the original Riecine vineyard produces most of the grapes used in our Riecine IGT. Its 1.54 hectares consist nearly entirely of Sangiovese, planted in 1971 at a density of 2,550 plants per hectare. The uppermost part of the vineyard is at an altitude of 480 meters. The soil is a mixture of quartz, rock and clay.
- La Casina (600 m above s.l.)
Planted in 2001 this 1.87 hectare vineyard is surrounded by lush Tuscan forest and woodlands. The altitude is nearly 500 meters. Here we have planted various clones of Sangiovese at 6,000 plants per hectare. The soil here is completely different to the other vineyards in Gaiole: a wonderfully thick sand with some shale.
- Riecine Bosco (430 m above s.l.)
Just under 1 H of Chianti Classico which was planted in 2006 with a plant density of 5952 plants per hectare.
- Riecinino (430 m above s.l.)
1.2 H of Sangiovese classified as IGT which was planted in 2006 with a plant density of 5952 plants per hectare.
- Vertine (500 m above s.l.)
About 5 minutes from the cellar, this vineyard is a natural bowl that faces directly south. Planted in 1997 with 4 different clones of Sangiovese and 3 different rootstocks, this vineyard has huge potential. The density is 5,500 plants per hectare. It is extremely rocky and the vines work vigorously to find nutrients and water. This all makes for wonderful minerality and flavour in the wines.
- Teodoro (430 m above s.l.)
This 2.25 H of Chianti Classico vineyard takes its name from owner’s granson and was replanted in early 2014 with various clones of Sangiovese including a marsala selection from our oldest vineyards coming into full production in 2017.
- San Martino (500 m above s.l.)
2,25 H of 100% sangiovese Chianti Classico which was planted in 2005 with a plant density of 5000 per hectare.
- Gittori (500 m above s.l.)
2.25 H of Chianti Classico was planted in 1971 with a plan density of 3400 per hectare situated on old south-facing terraces.
In 2012, the new owners started major construction work to upgrade the original cantina, built in 1998. The idea of a contemporary design is perfectly combining with the use of traditional materials like stone and terracotta. This extension has enabled us to increase production as well as further improve the quality of our winemaking processes.
In the new cellar we use 12 new cement Nomblot fermentation tanks of 5500 liters capacity, 4 Grenier conical wooden tanks of 3000 and 4000 liters, new grape handling and winemaking equipment as well as a new state of the art temperature and humidification systems.
We purchase new French oak tonneaux annually and will continue our programme of experimental production and aging designed to maintain our status as a world-class producer of fine wines.
With the new construction we added approx. 750 square meters to our facilities. With the additional space we have now collected all our activities under one roof – with an expanded space for aging our wines in barrels and in bottles, a new bottling and labeling area, a laboratory, and office space.
Besides technological improvements, the recent extension has provided a new panoramic tasting area facing on the Chianti hillside and giving our guests the best possible facilities to sample our wines.
Work in the vineyards
Our vines are carefully tended by hand and all of our farming techniques are 100% organic with biodynamic processes being introduced. Sprays are kept to an absolute minimum–no herbicides or insecticides are used. All the vineyards are left with grass growing in the rows to reduce erosion and bring the soil and ecosystem back as close to the natural state as possible.
Grape canopies are defoliated in late August and grape bunches are thinned out towards the middle of September to make the rose and to allow an increase extract and maturity of the remaining grapes.
During harvest, the culmination of the entire year’s work, grape selection is very strict and occurs at two points. Closely monitored pickers select only the best, ripest and cleanest bunches from the vines; everything else remains in the fields to return to nature.
Before de-stalking, the grapes are checked for quality once again, with only the very best grapes making their way into Riecine’s wines.