PREMIUM

Ruffino: Producer profile

Stephen Brook tastes some of this famous Tuscan estate's wines...

Ruffino is a Tuscan winery with large vineyard holdings. It is best known for its Chiantis, and it was a Ruffino Chianti that was the first to be imported into the USA.

Among Ruffino’s holdings in the Chianti zone are Poggio Casciano near Florence, the principal source for Alauda and Modus; the 70ha Santedame near Castellina, the source of Romitorio; and the 110ha Gretole, where Riserva Ducale Oro comes from. It is also developing a property near the Tuscan coast to produce Morellino, and other wines. Ruffino is serious about its farming practices, and many of the estates are being converted to organic viticulture.

The wines

Its celebrated Riserva Ducale bottling is named in honour of the Duke of Aosta who, in the 1920s, appointed the property as a supplier to the Italian royal house. Considering that it’s produced in substantial volumes, Ducale’s quality is high and consistent.

A grander Riserva called ‘Oro’ is from grapes given a longer maceration and aged in small French oak, as well as traditional casks. In recent years it has been produced as one of Ruffino’s two Gran Selezione wines.

The other of Ruffino’s Gran Seleziones is Romitorio. Originally this was a striking blend of around 60% Colorino and 40% Merlot, but today the blend is more traditional, with 90% Sangiovese. This is likely to be an improvement on the original formula, as vintages of Romitorio in the 1990s were decidedly dense and tannic.

Of the two supertuscans, Modus is the better balanced, in contrast to the hefty Aulada, which seems aimed at a market that looks for overripeness, power, and punch rather than the finesse of which the Chianti zone is clearly capable.

Ruffino is now a well-run commercial company with an international appeal reflected in the breadth of its range. Fortunately, the centrepieces of its offerings – the Chianti Riservas – remain of dependably high quality.

Brief history

The famous Ruffino Chianti estate has gone through a number of changes over recent years. Until 2000, it was a stronghold of the Folinari family, but brothers Alberto and Ambrogio Folinari left to create a new property and pursue other interests.

In 2004 the American Constellation company bought a substantial minority stake in the Ruffino estates and became the sole owner in 2011. The group winemaker is Gabriele Tacconi.

By 2018 Ruffino had changed considerably and was no longer solely occupied with Tuscan wine production. It now owns or controls 1,500 hectares, with six estates in Tuscany, including Il Greppone Mazzi in Montalcino, and two in the Veneto, where it produces Prosecco and Pinot Grigio.

Tasting Ruffino wines: