Ruffino Riserva Ducale Chianti Classico 2012

Faded ruby color with some translucence; cherry, white pepper, violets, tobacco on the nose; cherry, raspberry, leather, rosemary on the palate.

Full body, good acidity balances velvety tannins, touch of red currant tang on the finish; 80% sangiovese with 20% merlot and cabernet sauvignon to add cab character and merlot softness. Dependable producer and widely available. Excellent paired with Italian cuisine.

The year 2012 was excellent vintage in Tuscany’s Chianti country (provinces of Siena and Florence, see map), and this effort honors that gift from vineyard gods. Riserva Ducale has become a standard for well-made, affordable Chianti. Ruffino is a benchmark maker, dependably committed to quality and a reason Italian wines are respected around the world.

After malolactic fermentation, Ruffino Riserva ages two years in oak, stainless steel, and concrete vats, followed by a minimum of three months in bottle before it is released, thus the riserva designation. Ruffino is the only Italian wine legally allowed to include “riserva” in its name. “Ducale” comes from the Duke of Aosta, who fell in love with the wine in the late 1800s; the wine thus became “the duke’s reserve.” The name first went on the label in 1927. Aosta is a small, bilingual region in the Italian Alps, in the extreme northwest of Italy. The duke is the person depicted on the iconic label.

Ruffino Riserva Ducale Chianti Classico 2012 is solid, food-friendly, easy drinker that will not offend those spooked by substantial red wines but delivers substance at good price for those who do enjoy tasty reds; widely distributed by Constellation Bands. I reviewed this in November 2015 and this tasting largely confirms judgments then; an extra year in bottle has smoothed things out even more. $21-23

Ruffino website

Other photos: Ruffino winery; Tuscan wine regions; Ruffino vineyards