A New Designation for an Established Star

Ruffino, Chianti Classico Gran Selezione (Tuscany, Italy) “Riserva Ducale Oro” 2014 ($41):  Gran Selezione is a new category of Chianti Classico that is supposed to represent the pinnacle of a producer’s bottling.  Whether it does is a matter of debate because some producers’ top wine from Chianti Classico region is not a Gran Selezione.

What’s not a debate is that the Gran Selezione designation means it is superb wine.  Indeed, Ruffino has been making Riserva Ducale Oro for decades, since 1947. It has always been a monumental achievement in Chianti Classico, a wine that ages and develops gracefully and beautifully over the decades.  Calling it Gran Selezione, which they started with the 2010 vintage, does not, in my mind, change its already exalted stature.

2014 Riserva Ducale Oro shows why it’s important not to be a slave to vintage charts.  The 2014 vintage in Tuscany was, to put it diplomatically, difficult.  Read:  Not so good.  But talented and conscientious producers, such as Ruffino make excellent wine in bad (excuse me, “difficult”) vintages.  They just make less of it–in this case, about 15 percent less than average–by performing a severe selection and selling off what’s not up to snuff.

Enough background.  The wine, a blend chiefly of Sangiovese (85%), Merlot (10%) and Colorino, is delicious with the classic melding of fruit, earth and acidity for which great Chianti Classico is known.  It’s a savory and ripe combination with lip-smacking Tuscan acidity, which is just what you want to keep it fresh during a meal.

The vintage speaks in the approachability of this wine.  It’s a fine choice for drinking now, but having had many Riserva Ducale Oro, even from “difficult” vintages, I know that they evolve beautifully, so there’s probably no rush with this one either.  I scored it at 93 Points, and recommend it enthusiastically.

Posted by Michael Apstein on July 7, 2019 at 5:04 PM