Italy, Tuscany, Ruffino

Mar 1, 2007
2007 / March 2007

“Ruffino has been making chianti for over a century,” said Ruffino CEO Adolfo Folonari. “But chianti isn’t the only wine we make.”

Founded in 1877 by two Ruffino cousins, the winery was purchased by the Folonari family in 1913. Three generations later, Adolfo Folonari is leading it into the 21st century.

One of his innovations has been to add a new and different kind of member to the Riserva Ducale family, Ruffino’s best known Chianti Classico first made by his grandfather in 1927. Named Il Ducale, the new wine is not a Chianti Classico, but rather a blend of sangiovese with merlot and cabernet sauvignon from grapes grown beyond the classical region. Its first vintage was 2003, and like Adolfo, it is young and vibrant. A juicy, flavorful wine, Folonari described it as expressing a modern spirit ($20).

“It’s an easy drinking wine, a wine for now,” he said. “It doesn’t need long aging.”

In Tuscany’s celebrated Montalcino region, Ruffino produces Greppone Mazzi Brunello di Montalcino. Made of 100 percent sangiovese, it is a wine that does indeed need aging. A wine that under Italian law must be aged for four years before releasing, Ruffino’s Brunello has a complex aroma of ripe fruits with a whiff of pepper, is rich, full-bodied with a powerful structure and a delicious lingering aftertaste ($63).

In the Tuscan region of Montepulciano, Ruffino makes Lodola Nuova Riserva Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. The wine — 80 percent sangiovese with 20 percent merlot — has a spicy aroma of cinnamon and tea, is well balanced and has a long aftertaste ($35).

“Sangiovese is the protagonist here; merlot adds roundness and bouquet,” Folonari said.

For a distinctly different wine, Folonari poured Ruffino’s Romitorio di Santedame. A dark-hued wine with the scent of plums, it is full-bodied, complex and velvety ($70).

“We make this in chianti from 60 percent colorino, a local red grape rarely used in this quantity, blended with 40 percent merlot,” he said. “Colorino was once used only to add color to chianti. We have shown that it can be the prime grape. We first made it in 1990.”

That was the year Adolfo Folonari joined the family business. Now at the helm, he promises to make the 21st century an innovative time for Ruffino.

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