Ruffino Il Ducale A Modern IGT

If I were a winemaker in Italy’s Tuscany region and wanted to make a Chianti wine, I would have to make it according to parameters set by Italian law.  A specific blending of traditional grapes, for example, and a specific time or means of aging is dictated by law.

But say, I wanted to make a quality wine by straying outside those strict parameters.  There was no way to label that wine, other than “vino da tavola” or table wine, a designation for simple wines with few regulations or whose grapes were grown outside established quality zones.


In the 1960’s and 70’s, some winemakers frustrated with the limitations of the law, decided to begin making world-class wines using non-traditional grapes, even though they would only qualify for the basic table wine designation.   The now famous Antinori Tignanello, a blend of traditional Sangiovese with Bordeaux varietals Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, is the wine that really shook up the Italian wine industry with its non-traditional composition.

Italian law caught up with the trend and created a new designation in 1990, Indicazione Geografica Tipica, or simply IGT, to give these fine wines a quality designation.

All this being said, I plucked the Ruffino Il Ducale off my shelf.  It is an IGT, blending the traditional Tuscan Sangiovese grape (60%) with non-traditional Merlot (20%), and Syrah (20%).

Il Ducale is ruby red in color and holds aromas of cherries and nutmeg along with licorice and herbs with a bit of oak.  The palate is soft and offers cherry flavors along with oak and vanilla with a zing of spice and acidity.  The finish is dry and allows the cherry to linger.

The wine was so pleasant—not a huge powerhouse demanding attention, but rather a well-made wine with quiet style.  It was even more pleasant with the addition of cheese!

Particularly, a roll of fresh goat cheese somehow made the wine sweeter and lovelier, which, frankly is a mystery to me.  The slight pungency of the cheese disappeared in a sweet, creamy partner with the fruit of the wine.

Cheese just makes everything better!

The Ruffino Il Ducale perfectly fits the IGT label.  The winemaker has blended non-traditional grape varieties with the traditional Tuscan grape to create a modern, stylish wine of quality.

About the author: Sue Navratil

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