Thursday, December 20, 2007

Mini Vertical #2: 1997 vs. 1999 Riserva Ducale 'Oro'

After last night's mini-vertical I realized I have a whole cellar full of mini-verticals - a theme for this year's holiday season! Tonight's spaghetti and meat sauce dinner screamed for a Sangiovese so I brought out this mini-vertical (blinded), which has been in the works for some time.

The 1997 Ruffino Riserva Ducale 'Oro' comes from the Chianti Classico appellation of Tuscany, and recent vintages were made from 85% sangiovese and 15% colorino. Dark ruby red and rust-coloured at the edge, it started out very flat on the nose - pruney, but not much else. Then (1.5 hours later) it opened up...roses, white cherries, musk, leather, tobacco, cocoa, and some tarriness and flintiness, even some wintergreen? Very attractive, and equally so on the palate - velvety tannins and dry cherry fruit, this was a very well-balanced, classy wine. Could rest in the cave, but no need - it is drinking very well today.
cork. 13% alcohol
Score: 17/20
Price: $40.50 (SAQ)

The 1999 Ruffino Riserva Ducale 'Oro' was a lighter ruby colour in the glass, fooling some tasters into thinking this was the older bottling. Quite aromatic on the nose - very smokey, with blackberry, musk, tobacco, tar, flint, and some meaty/cheesey notes. On the palate it was crisper, with nice pepper and nutmeg, but a bit angular and unbalanced. Terribly interesting, but just not coming together the way the 1997 did. Could that be two more years in the cellar? I suspect it goes beyond that. Stick this one away and try it again in 2009.
cork. 13% alcohol
Score: 16.5/20
Price: $44.95 (LCBO)

Overall, these wines were far more similar than they were different, with both coming from outstanding Tuscan vintages (although the experts seem to declare the '97 vintage superior, which fits with tonight's result). Note that the 2001 was last blogged here from London, and these older brethren were equally impressive.

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