Ruffino 90 years (in Sweden), an anniversary tasting

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Ruffino was early to export wines from Chianti. In 1924 Ruffino exported wines to Sweden. At the time, the price of a bottle of Chianti Valle d’Oro was less than a dollar. To celebrate 90 years on the Swedish market the Swedish importer Philipson Soderberg invited to a tasting with Ruffino’s export manager Christian Bottegal. The main attraction of the tasting was the flagship Ruffino Riserva Ducale Oro from three different decades.

A person who early on took a fancy to Ruffino’s wines was Gustav VI Adolf, the Swedish king. He made Ruffino wine supplier by appointed to the Swedish court in the 1960s.

Ruffino has a long history as a producer of wines from Tuscany. For over 130 years, they have provided Italy and the rest of the world with wine. The wines were once exported in the classic straw-covered bottle, the fiasco, which became a symbol of wines from Chianti. “The straw was originally a way to protect the bottle during long journeys but we abandoned it in the 80s because the straw bottle became associated with cheap substandard chianti”, explains Christian Bottegal. From the 2012vintage, however, Ruffino started bottling their Chianti Superiore in an updated version of the classic straw bottle. Today, Ruffino is a major producer with 800 hectares of vineyards spread over six different estates throughout Tuscany.

Christian Bottegal, Ruffino
Christian Bottegal, Ruffino, copyright Ola Ohlund

The entry-level wine Ruffino Chianti 2013 has a nose with hints of raspberry and cherry. The grape blend is 80% Sangiovese and the rest Colorino and Canaiolo.

The wine has a relatively light body and a refreshing acidity. It is a simple everyday wine produced in a clean and gulpable-friendly style. “The wine is quite excellent for lunch with pasta” adds Christian Bottegal.

The second wine Ruffino Chianti Superiore 2012 comes in a straw bottle that brings up memories of Lady and the Tramp. Cherry aromas are complemented by a spicy note. The taste has a totally different weight than the first wine. The wine has not been aged in oak barrels, which means that the wine feels fresh and inviting despite a darker and heavier fruit. Grape blend is 70% Sangiovese, 10% syrah, 10% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.

The tasting’s show-piece was the vintages 1986, 1996 and 2010 of the wine Ruffino Riserva Ducale Oro Chianti Classico Riserva. This is Ruffino’s flagship wine from Chianti. For this wine Ruffino selects grapes from their best vineyards in the Chianti Classico area. Aged 28 months in large oak barrels, botti, before final ageing a few months in small French oak barrels. The wine is made principally from Sangiovese blended with small amounts of other grapes. The grape blend differ from year to year. “Previously it was allowed to blend sangiovese with the white grapes Malvasia and Trebbiano”, says Christian Bottegal.

Tuscan landscape at sunset
Tuscan landscape at sunset, copyright BKWine Photography

This means that the vintages 1986 and 1996 contain these grapes while the 2010 vintage does not. In the latter vintages the white grapes are replaced with the international grape varieties Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

Ducale Oro 2010 has a powerful aroma of cherries and dark berries. The oak barrels are in the background and does not feel too intrusive. The style is modern with distinct fruit and good structure. The wine from 1996 has complexity and maturation notes of leather and truffles. The fruit feels lighter but not as if it is about to dry out. In the wine from 1986 the fruit feels even lighter. The nose is large and spans a broad spectrum from cherry to mushrooms and undergrowth. The wine is well balanced, has supple tannins and is very elegant, almost delicate. Overall, a great wine experience.

It seems that the Ducale Oro has over the last thirty years gone from a more traditional style to a more fruit-driven and modern style.

Today Ducale Oro contains 85% Sangiovese and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Perhaps the international grape varieties and the style are more adapted to an international market that values powerful fruit-driven wines.

Ola Öhlund writes on BKWine Magazine on wine tastings with wine merchants and importers.

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