Madeira garnet gradually lightening out to wide orange edges. Sharp, shallow fruit, mired in Sunday-morning street vomit and the gamy brown vegetal moldiness one only finds at hog-farms and the back of a grocery store. Wet sidewalk chalk outlines Ruffino’s bretty dreams smoldering in flaccid yellow-leaf effigy.
We’ve all had these wines a million times, and they always look WAY better in the bottle than they smell and taste. I’ve actually had the chubby little blue bottle quite a few times, and it is arguably the best one of the group–at all of $9. See, it follows that old Chianti adage: If it’s not good as Chianti, there’s no point classico-ing it or classico riserva-ing it. So many Italian restaurants have the Ducale tan on the list as a prominent feature and I gave up ordering it LONG ago–often in favor of a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, primitivo, Barbera d’Asti or something 1/3 its price. And I revisit the gold often enough to remind myself how horrid they are.
This one is EXACTLY as I remember them from every other time: something that sets Chianti back several decades and one of the MAIN reasons I carried a stigma against Sangiovese for almost all of my early wine years. For probably the first 20 years of my wine-life, I HATED Sangiovese and was happy to tell you so. Why? All I had been exposed to were wines like THIS.
In the mouth, more dearth of goodness. The grimy spectre of out-placed tannin shadows over everything, laughing heartily at your futile search for fruit. Watery caramel nothingness passes as an entry, frosted with the teensiest red-Skittles liqueur before it all gets lost in the massive green bitter oakleaf-ticture of tannin. “And like that,”–Usual Suspects reference–*poof* he’s gone.”
It saddens me–NO it REVOLTS me–this is one of America’s shining Chianti figureheads.
2010 RUFFINO Riserva Ducale ‘Oro’ Classico Chianti DOCG Toscano Italy 14.5