Ruffino is one of Tuscany’s best known wine names, and this house, established in 1877, returns with a trifecta of top wines just in time for the holiday season.
First up is Ruffino’s proprietary take on the “Super Tuscan” category, with the appropriately named Modus 2011 (Vintages #912956, $29.95, October 31, 2015 release date). Modus roughly translates as “in the mode” or “the method,” and the grapes and techniques used here certainly do result in a genuinely fabulous, structured red, approachable now but built for solid, medium-term cellaring.
The blend for Modus in the 2011 edition is primarily Tuscany’s native Sangiovese, with the remainder consisting of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. The grapes are sourced from some of the best Ruffino estates: the Sangiovese comes from the Poggio Casciano property close to Florence, the Merlot from the town of Montepulciano (not to be confused with Montalcino, look it up), and the Cabernet Sauvignon from several sources including the Solatia and Gretole estates in the heart of Chianti zone. We are talking about very specific, top grade vineyards here.
As for the wine style, expect to find a mix of dark red and black fruits (cherries, plum) and a dose of cedary new oak (from aging 12 months in small barriques). On the palate, firm but ripe tannins, and a moderate level of acidity. The lengthy finish bodes well for a wine which continues its unprecedented 90+ point streak across more than a dozen consecutive years since the first review from Wine & Spirits for the 1998 vintage.
The current Modus 2011 clocks in at 95 points and ‘Best of Class – Super Tuscan’ at the 2014 Sommelier Challenge International Wine Competition. Further scores include 91 points from James Suckling with the following note: “A red with blueberry and blackberry character, plus hints of licorice. Full body, chewy tannins and a walnut, berry and dark-chocolate aftertaste. Very extracted but outstanding. Better in 2016.” (jamessuckling.com, Oct 20, 2014) Look no further for local critic content from our friends at Wine Align, with a rating of 89 points from John Szabo, MS: “A typically ripe and plush, wood-informed wine in the style that has made Ruffino’s Modus successful … Solid and satisfying all around.” (winealign.com, tasted October 2015). Finally, Ruffino’s Modus 2011 is a “Recommended Best Buy” by Michael Vaughan at vintageassessments.com. Great notes, but my advice, as always, is to couple these scores by buying a few bottles and letting your own palate be the final arbiter of quality.
Next up in this season’s offerings from Ruffino, is the Greppone Mazzi Brunello di Montalcino 2008 (Vintages #926402, $49.95, Nov 14, 2015 release date). This is a single estate Brunello from a solid vintage, located at a higher elevation within the DOCG. Just hitting maturity, this balanced, limited-availability wine won’t last long. Oh, and also rated 93 points by Kerin O’Keefe of Wine Enthusiast: “This opens with fragrances of blue flowers, bright red berry and slate. The vibrant palate delivers crunchy wild cherry and strawberry accented with spice, licorice and mineral notes. It’s impeccably balanced, with bracing but fine tannins and nervous acidity that needs time to soften and develop fully. Drink 2016 – 2028. (Nov. 2014)
Finally, the upcoming December 12, 2015 Vintages release will see a repeat parcel of the inaugural vintage of Ruffino’s Riserva Ducale Oro Gran Selezione Chianti Classico 2010. (Vintages #353201, $46.95, Dec 12, 2015). I say “inaugural vintage” here, despite the fact that this wine has been produced since 1947, because this is the first year that it qualified for the new, top-tier Chianti category called “Gran Selezione.” What this means is longer ageing and 100% estate grown fruit, and overall, unparalleled higher quality.
Here, James Suckling honours the Riserva Ducale Oro Gran Selezione 2010 with a score of 95 points, with the following note: “A soft, silky red with berry and spice character plus hints of violets and lavender. Full and powerful, super-integrated tannins and a long, long finish. Drink or hold.” (jamessuckling.com, Oct 20, 2014). As for solid local critic content, take your pick from four top Wine Align critics, all above 90 points. Here’s an extract from the 92 point score by Michael Godel: “A definitive and defining vintage for the arch-classic Chianti Classico Riserva, exhibiting all the distinct and necessary character for both the genre and the house. … Has real density and presence. Classic Sangiovese, unwavering, never failing. Drink 2016 – 2022. Tasted June 2015” (winealign.com)
And there you have it: three fine wines from Ruffino which might just fit nicely into a Vintages three bottle wooden gift case. Yum. – Eugene Mlynczyk MW, Constellation Brands
Ruffino is a winery owned by Constellation Brands, a Good Food Fighter. Please support the businesses and organizations that support Good Food Revolution.