Chianti Classico celebrated its 300th anniversary in 2016. To celebrate I tasted two of Ruffino’s both wines are named for the Duke of Aosta, (that’s him on the labels) who made Ruffino the official wine of the royal family after journeying across the Alps just to try them. Now that’s dedication. Like any defined wine region Chianti has many strict rules that govern the wine from there, such as Chianti Classico where wines must be aged for at least a year, be a minimum of 80% Sangiovese, have a maximum yield of 7.5 tons/hectare (just under 2.5 acres), so you’re yields are about three tons per acre, right in the middle of that sweet spot. Italian wine can be a little confusing, but know this - Chianti on a label is different than Chianti Classico. My focus here is classic Chianti.
The Riserva Ducale Chianti Classico Riserva ($24.99), first produced in 1927 is 80% Sangiovese, 20% Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Fermentation, aided by racking and punch downs, took place in temperature-controlled stainless steel vats for 10 days, followed by another 10 days of maceration on the skins. The wine underwent secondary malolactic fermentation to enhance its texture, then was aged for 24 months in oak, stainless steel, and concrete vats. The Riserva Ducale spent an additional three months in bottle before release. So what’s in the bottle? There’s soft mild fruit, cherry, raspberry, rhubarb with savory tobacco, white pepper, and herbaceous underpinnings. The limited oak does not over power yet helps make this more round in the mouth, filling all the edges.
The 2011 Ruffino Riserva Ducale Oro Chianti Classico Riserva Gran Selezione ($40.99) was first made in 1947 is 80% Sangiovese, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot fermented as separate lots. The wine was aged for about one year in traditional large, neutral oak Slovenian casks. After a year, the wine was transferred into small barriques for another 12 months. Neutral oak allowed the blend to fully integrate and develop a more elegant and complex flavor profile without being altered. The wine then spent four months in bottle to allow it to settle before release. With the Oro you’re immediately hit with classic Sangiovese, cherry, rhubarb, violet, cherry, and plum. There’s a light sweet vanilla that hugs the edges but allows the fruit to shine through.