AMARONE. 1974 – RUFFINO
by Paul Kalemkiarian Sr | January 1983
When you visit the Ruffino people in Italy, you get the feeling everything is under control. They are one of the giants of the Italian wine industry, yet all details are handled like it was a personal enterprise. They were on my itinerary last November, on my Northern Italian wines and foods survey trip. I visited their vineyards and winery in Pontassieve. This charming town is nestled in the hills of Tuscany between olive orchards and vineyards. Ruffino makes a variety of wines here, but foremost is their Chianti, still made by the old traditional “governo” method.
I spent a day with them, learned a lot about their wines, did some comparison tastings, and experienced authentic Tuscan cuisine at Ristorante Girarrosto (if you are ever in Tuscany, a detour is worth a visit to this eatery. Their roasted meats are unequalled, and the antipasto with Tuscany virgin olive oil is a feast in itself).
The House of Ruffino was started by two cousins in 1877. Ilario and Leopoldo Ruffino lived in Tuscany, and their claim to fame was their tireless effort to make the best Chianti possible. Over the 106 years, the firm which is still family owned, has added other wines to their line. It was their Amarone that started my interest in researching their wines.
The full name for this wine is Recioto Della Valpolicella Amarone. It comes from the Veneto wine region of Italy, and is a made from the same grapes as regular Valpolicella ( a well known, young red wine from that region). The grapes are local ones: Corvina Veronese, Rondinella and Molinara. The lower and middle portions of better bunches of grapes are removed and the “rece” or ears of the bunches are left on the vines to mature fully. They are picked, dried on racks in well ventilated rooms for 40 – 50 days, then crushed and vinified. The resulting wine is at least 14% alcohol, full bodied and dry.
This Amarone is brilliant brick red. Deep fragrant bouquet with complexities still developing. It has a full body, glyceriny, with a flavor that explodes in your mouth to a fruity, dry, bold character that shows breed. The long finish ends with hint of bitterness that is complementary. Serve at room temperature (65*) with robust red meat entrees, roasts and steaks or sharp cheese.
Cellaring Notes: Will mellow and develop further complexities for up to 15 years. Well worth tracking.