Ruffino Ducale Chianti Classico Riserva 1997
In 1877, Illario and Leopoldo Ruffino laid the foundations of their dream to make the most known and loved Italian wines in the world from the heart of Tuscany. At their winery in Pontassieve, just outside of Florence, they began producing wines according to a strict quality standard and a rigorous technical research. Soon, Ruffino became an international symbol of the Chianti region, and won numerous awards, including the prestigious gold medal at the Bordeaux Wine Fair in 1895, affirming the quality of its wine.
In 1913, the Folonari family purchased Ruffino and brought new talent, energy and enthusiasm into the company. They started on a nearly century-long pursuit to develop a collection of estates in Tuscany, all of which matched the standard of quality and uniqueness which was the trademark of Ruffino wine.
Over the last sixty years, Ruffino has established seven prominent estates in Tuscany, all situated within the major DOCG production regions including Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Chianti and Chianti Classico. Today, Ruffino continues to meld century-long Tuscan traditions with new state-of-the-art cellar technology and modern winemaking for an ideal symbiosis with the energy of the contemporary Italian lifestyle.
One of the first wine regions anywhere to be officially recognized and delimited, Chianti Classico is today what was originally defined simply as Chianti. Already identified by the early 18th century as a superior zone, the official name of Chianti was proclaimed upon the area surrounding the townships of Castellina, Radda and Gaiole, just north of Siena, by Cosimo III, Grand Duke of Tuscany in an official decree in 1716.
However, by the 1930s the Italian government had appended this historic zone with additonal land in order to capitalize on the Chianti name. It wasn’t until 1996 that Chianti Classico became autonomous once again when the government granted a separate DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) to its borders. Ever since, Chianti Classico considers itself no longer a subzone of Chianti.
Many Classicos are today made of 100% Sangiovese but can include up to 20% of other approved varieties grown within the Classico borders. The best Classicos will have a bright acidity, supple tannins and be full-bodied with plenty of ripe fruit (plums, black cherry, blackberry). Also common among the best Classicos are expressive notes of cedar, dried herbs, fennel, balsamic or tobacco.
The perfect intersection of bright red fruit and savory earthiness, Sangiovese is among Italy's elite red grape varieties and is responsible for the best red wines of Tuscany. While it is best known as the chief component of Chianti, it is also the main grape in Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and reaches the height of its power and intensity in the complex, long-lived Brunello di Montalcino
Elsewhere throughout Italy, Sangiovese plays an important role in many easy-drinking, value-driven red blends and on the French island of Corsica, under the name Nielluccio, it produces excellent bright and refreshing red and rosé wines with a personality of their own. Sangiovese has also enjoyed success growing in California and Washington.
In the Glass
Sangiovese is a medium-bodied red with qualities of tart cherry, plum, sun dried tomato, fresh tobacco and herbs. High-quality, well-aged examples can take on tertiary notes of smoke, leather, game, potpourri and dried fruit. Corsican Nielluccio is distinguished by a subtle perfume of dried flowers.
Sangiovese is the ultimate pizza and pasta red—its high acidity, moderate alcohol, and fine-grained tannins create a perfect symbiosis with tomato-based dishes, braised vegetables, roasted and cured meat, hard cheese and anything off the barbecue.
Although it is the star variety of Tuscany, cult-classic “Super-Tuscan” wines may actually contain no Sangiovese at all! Since the 1970s, local winemakers have been producing big, bold wines as a blend of one or more of several international varieties—usually Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot or Syrah—with or without Sangiovese.