"We don't just want to share the calm side of Tuscany, we want to share the adrenaline, the competition of the harvest, the emotion." - Gabriele Tacconi, Chief Winemaker, Ruffino
Italy is renowned for its legendary winemaking families that span generations and centuries. But it isn't just shared DNA that defines a family, familial bonds are also built by a mutual commitment and passion for a common cause. So I don't doubt Ruffino winemaker Gabriele Tacconi's sincerity when he strongly proclaims "We are proud. We are the family." The we that Gabriele speaks of, the winemaking team at Ruffino, may not have Ruffino in their genetic bloodline but they are united in their devotion to its legacy and future. “The Ruffino style is steeped in tradition, elegance, and drinkability, and has been developed over time. It’s a style that my team and I treat with great respect."
Founded in 1877 in Tuscany by cousins Ilario and Leopoldo Ruffino, the winery has survived and thrived for more than 140 years. The very first Chianti wine exported to the United States, Ruffino has won countless awards and acclaim -- in the early 19th century they were even selected as the official supplier of the Italian royal court. But we're living in the 21st century. How do Ruffino's wines fit into the lives of today's wine lovers around the globe?
image courtesy of Ruffino
Over lunch at Union Square Cafe in Manhattan, Gabriele shared his reverence for Ruffino's storied past. But this motorcycle-loving modern man from Modena is all about making wines that speak to how we live, dine, and entertain today. Elegant but not pretentious, complex but not arrogant, Gabriele and the wines he makes for Ruffino are authentic and intriguing. "It is the passion, not perfection that brings people to wine," said Gabriele.
Ruffino Riserva Ducale Oro Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2014 ($40.99)
Gran Selezione is an exclusive and relatively new category that represents an elite selection of wines at the very top of the Chianti Classico quality pyramid. A blend of high quality Sangiovese, Merlot, and Colorino grapes from several Ruffino estates in the heart of Castellina in Chianti, Riserva Ducale Oro is meticulously aged for 36 months. Translating to "Reserved for the Duke," Riserva Ducale is named after the Duke of Aosta -- he appointed Ruffino as the royal court's official wine supplier in 1890. I think the Duke would approve of this elegant and expressive wine and its precise but passionate fruit, herb, and earth flavors. Bold and beautifully structured with well-integrated tannins and lively acidity, this wine has what it takes to age gracefully.
Ruffino Greppone Mazzi Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2013 ($80)
Beyond Chianti Classico, Ruffino also produces another of Italy's most revered wines, Brunello di Montalcino, at their Greppone Mazzi estate. A pure expression of place and grapes, it is crafted from 100% Sangiovese Grosso, which is known as Brunello in the Montalcino region of Tuscany. Crafted from the finest grapes in the vineyard, Greppone Mazzi was aged a total of 40 months. Complex and nuanced with impressive balance, Greppone Mazzi is rich but not overbearing. Luscious and deep red fruit flavors are bolstered by warm hints of chocolate and earth. A sophisticated sip meant to stand the test of time.
Ruffino Modus 2015 ($24.99)
Modus elegantly blends Tuscany's signature Sangiovese with the international varieties Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. Plush and plummy with silky tannins, this superb Super Tuscan was aged in French oak for 12 months. Subtle hints of vanilla beautifully accent the luscious fruit flavors and hints of herbs.
Ruffino Alauda 2015 ($99)
Only produced in exceptional vintages, Alauda blends international favorites Cabernet Franc and Merlot with the Tuscan variety Colorino. All of the grapes are sourced exclusively from Ruffino's finest vineyards at their acclaimed Montemasso and Poggio Casciano estates in the heart of Tuscany. These low-yield vines produce limited quantities of exceptional fruit. Aged a total of 22 months, Alauda is sultry and voluptuous with velvety tannins and impressive complexity and grace. Big ripe berry and plum flavors meld harmoniously with touches of dark chocolate and savory & sweet balsamic notes. Another Ruffino wine that will age extremely well for many years.
image courtesy of Ruffino
I've only scratched the surface of Ruffino -- their extensive portfolio includes white, red, sparkling and rosé. From everyday drinking wines to more complex splurge-worthy vinos, La Vita Ruffino, the embodiment of the fine Italian art of good living, is accessible to everyone. And if your travels take you to Tuscany, you can get more fully immersed in La Vita Ruffino by booking a Ruffino tour and tasting. Winemaker Gabriele said, "My favorite wine is the one that brings something special to the bottle. It is a story of people and I want to bring us to the bottle." So the next time you see a bottle of Ruffino at a wine shop or restaurant, remember the story of Gabriele and the team that have bonded together to create a modern expression of a winemaking family.