Nipozzano Review - Where Eleanora Makes the Decisions

Someday I will conduct a  headcount on  female winemakers in an industry once dominated by macho males. Napa, Sonoma, even the Finger Lakes, show no hesitancy about  putting women in the top winemaking position. And, in Europe, I have seen an ever growing  number of Italian, French and Spanish wineries where women make the vital decisions.


Castello di Nipozzano,

A relative few are family members, raised in the business. But most are strivers who’ve worked their way up the ladder. I was thinking about the distinctions recently when I attended a tasting sponsored by Frescobaldi, the Italian giant of quality wines.



The Frescobaldi clan has been producing great Tuscan wine for some 700 years. Its estates cover 3,000 acres of the most exceptional vineyards in Tuscany. Members of the family command the executive suites of the five major estates with few exceptions.



Eleanora Marconi, chief winemaker at Castello di Nipozzano, is not a member of the clan. She started out as an intern at Nipozzano, near Florence in 2005, and became a full-time winemaker in 2012. Previously she had polished her skills on two continents, working the Southern hemisphere vintage at McLaren Vintners in South Australia  and the northern vintage at Nipozzano. She is enthusiastic over the influence of women in Australia, saying ”I had the pleasure to work with some female winemakers in Australia who were equally as passionate and amazing! “



Ms.Marconi recently led a group of writers through a tasting of key vintages from Nipozzano.  The table overflowed with wines bearing the Montesodi, Mormoreto, and Chianti labels.


Vecchie Viti

I particularly enjoyed the brand’s flagship wine, Nipozzano Ruffina Riserva, a well-balanced Riserva which sells in the high teens, You’d have to look far to find a Chianti Classico of this quality at such a reasonable price.  It and its relatively new sibling,  Vecchie Viti Chianti Rufina, based on grapes from the Nipozzano estate, are both 90% Sangiovese, bolstered with a smattering of indigenous grapes from old vines. The 2013 Riserva at $19 is a steal in the current market. The Vecchie Viti Chianti Rufina,, retail price about $29, is one of the new wines added under Ms.Marconi’s leadership.



We were privileged to taste an early version of Montesodi, from  Sangiovese vineyards on the Nipozzano Estate. The 1974 Montesodi, though showing its age  in rusty color and loose structure, remains quite pleasurable after four decades. We matched it with two more recent vintages  1985  and 2013. As might have been predicted, the 1985 was the superior offering, vital and energetic, hardly showing its age. By all standards the 2013 was quite quaffable, but very young and I would be happy to test, say, ten years from now.,





MS Marconi makes a more international variant on the Frescobaldi shelf, Mormoreto, introduced in 1983 when Cabernet was  receiving much attention in  Italy. It is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, buttressed by Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, all from the Nipozzano vineyard,  retailing at about $70. Despite that relatively high tariff, I found the 1991 Mormoreto lacking any shine, The 2013 sample  restored my faith, full bodied, well balanced and pleasing now, despite its youth. Ms. Marconi definitely merits the encouragement  Frescobaldi  management has showered on her efforts, and those of the growing ranks of femae winemakers at its estates.


Map - Nipozanno

In a recent interview, Ms. Marconi defined her thoughts on women in the industry ".I would prefer to be referred to as “just another female winemaker” with my own character and personality. First and foremost, I want to be recognized as a winemaker, but I also feel the position of women in the industry should be recognized. I do not think there is a big difference right now between males and females involved in the wine industry. Instead, it is an aptitude to make wine, related to an individual’s own capacity that is independent from being a man or woman."





More about Castello di Nipozzano   


Photos: Courtesy of Frescobaldi

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