My visit to the Travignoli winery took place on a day that was quintessential Tuscany: picture-perfect rolling green hills, white puffy clouds dotting an azure sky, neat rows of vines lending a sense of order to Nature, the occasional bright red geranium a splash of color.
It had been some time that I had been wanting to visit this part of the Chianti DOCG territory: Rùfina. Here it is not so much rolling hills as it is high mounts with cool breezes that confer an extra elegance to the wines of this area. Travignoli is located in the hills near Pelago, on the way to the Vallombrosa monastery. Needless to say, there are medieval origins dating back to 1074, but the Busi family has ‘only’ been making wine since 1473!
I had met the owner, Giovanni Busi, due to his role as President of the Chianti DOCG Consortium (a.k.a. Chianti Lovers for those of you who follow the February Anteprima events). This is why these events are important: you meet people, you go visit their vineyards, get to know the land and history behind their wines, and then talk about it all to the people you know.
This past year (yes we actually did attend an event in 2020!), I met Giovanni’s son Clemente at the stand; he has been working with the family since 2018.
In this little corner of paradise, the Busi family has 90 hectares with 70 under vine, producing approximately 500,000 bottles a year. As you can see from these photos, they are using steel and wood, not cement like some traditional Chianti makers.
They started with the first steel tanks in 1974 and didn’t look back. As neighbors of the Frescobaldi family, they’d seen steel in their neighbors’ estate and went with the trend. The wood they are using holds between 25 and 30 hectoliters and is French Allier with some Garbellotto.
They are also using the Governo all’uso toscano method – that double fermentation invented by Barone Ricasoli – and I must say, it is delicious!
In 1981, Giovanni started his tenure in the family business – those were the years of Giacomo Tachis and his important influence on Tuscan wines, and Giovanni met with Tachis. Hence a little Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay in the lineup.
His philosophy? A firm belief in the vines. “The enologist can only ruin the wine that you bring to the cellar,” he tells me.
At the end of the ’90s, an important investment was made with new Sangiovese clones. One thing is for sure, Busi is constantly working to improve, expand, market better.
This is a place with a lot of history, and while it feels cozy and welcoming, it oozes history. During WWII, the Germans occupied Travignoli; after that, the family had to start over in many ways. Giovanni’s grandfather sold a part of their land which luckily Giovanni’s father was able to buy back and even increase; thus the 30 hectares became 50 and then even 70. In 1927, Conte Clemente Busi was one of the founders of the Consorzio Chianti Putto – a little nostalgia for a group that no longer exists and their adorable logo which I remember well.
Approximately 65% of Travignoli wine is exported, throughout Europe, to Asia and Australia, as well as the U.S. The Rùfina area wines stand up to the test of time; Travignoli Chianti can easily do 20 years in the bottle, with the Riserva wine aging even 30 or 40 years.
Take a look at this area of old vintages and you know you’re in for something good.
I just love seeing the older vintages resting in their dusty, cool cellars, with that delightful aroma of sleeping wine!
Thank you to the Busi family for a delightful visit! Wishing you another 550 years of great Chianti wine! Cheers!