Ruffino 2011 Riserva Ducale Chianti: a Tuscany Classic

Tuscany is a land of beautiful rolling hills and tall cypress tree surrounded villas. It is also home to the grape Sangiovese which is used in the blend Chianti. Gone are the days when Chianti would conjure up romantic images of wide bottomed bottles wrapped in straw baskets in the middle of red and white checkered tablecloths. The Chianti of today is much more modern with the straw baskets only being used on novelty bottles, at least what I find mainly imported into Canada.

Since 1995 it has been legal for Chianti blends to be 100% Sangiovese but they can also contain other varieties up 20%. The Riserva Ducale is 80% Sangiovese with 20% Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. It is also labelled “Classico” which means the grapes are grown within the original boundaries established in 1716. To be labelled with “Riserva” it must age for a minimum of 24 months instead of the normal 4-7. This increases the wine’s complexity and helps to smooth out the rough edges, making the wine alluring but also more expensive than simple Chianti.

I’ve really come to enjoy Chianti blends in the last couple years, especially when paired with Italian cuisine. It typically has higher acidity meaning it works really well with food. The acidity helps to cut down fatty foods but can also stand up to tart tomato dishes. Pair it with bolognese sauce on pasta or cured meat pizza and you will find a match just meant to happen.

Look: In the glass this wine is a bright ruby red and surprisingly clear, light density but narrow thick legs.

Smell: It has delicate aromas of red fruit, mainly cherry. Mixed in with this is an array of savoury aromas including black pepper, herbs, grilled meat, fresh forest floor, and smoky wood. All the layers make it enjoyable and adds to the wine’s complexity and quality.

Taste: In the mouth this wine is medium bodied with fine grained tannin and high acidity. It has fruit flavours of cherry and raspberry but it is the savoury is more powerful with a clay pot like minerality, tomato leaf, tobacco, and a host of herbal notes again. It has a long finish with an earth like dust and tobacco that lingers on and on. I’d say this wine has the longest finish of any I’ve had before.

Conclusion: This wine is all around very good considering the price. It goes especially well with food but is also enjoyable right into the evening. The added aging time for Riserva gives it more depth and complexity making it worth the added expense. I give it a 9.0+/10. I’m sure there are more decadent examples of Chianti out there but this one is readily available and just the right price.

  • Sangiovese (80%) Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot (20%)
  • Tuscany, Classico, Italy
  • 2011 – 14%ABV
  • Ruffino, Riserva Ducale
  • Around $22.00 at Costco
  • Real cork

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