Three Glasses for Riserva Ducale 2017

When in late nineteenth-century farming Tuscany, wine was simply a source of nourishment, white and red grapes together, foot pressed, energy for a day’s labor in the fields, flasks and demijohns, Ruffino had already been producing an ambitious wine for decades, for special occasions, to be forgotten in the cellar and left to evolve during a slow rest.

This wine’s reputation, known back then as Chianti Stravecchio, quickly grew as far as the northwestern borders of the newly formed Kingdom of Italy, where the Duke of Aosta resided. This illustrious figure, a wine connoisseur, paid a visit to the Pontassieve winery and he fell in love with Chianti Stravecchio after tasting it, thereby appointing Ruffino as official supplier to his court.

In 1927, Ruffino, for the winery’s fiftieth year, decided to dedicate his most exclusive wine to the illustrious admirer who came from afar and preferred Tuscan wine over its French counterpart, despite the geographical closeness. That’s how Riserva Ducale came about, the Riserva of the Duke.

Over the years, the story of Riserva Ducale has intersected with history: many bottles were destroyed by bombings during the Second World War, when the Pontassieve cellars were mistaken for the neighbouring station; others suffered the mud and ire of the Sieve and Arno rivers in 1966 during the great flood of Florence. And yet, in the early 1980s – inconsistent years for Tuscan and Italian wine - Riserva Ducale graced the leading restaurants of the world in a crescendo that culminated a few years ago in the proclamation, according to a survey by a top US magazine, as the best-known Italian red wine in North American restaurants.

During its long life, Riserva Ducale has also often appeared in successful movies and TV series. Rocky Balboa, the famous Italo-American boxer, is filmed with a bottle of Riserva Ducale in his Philadelphia trattoria. In more contemporary New York, Anne Hathaway, the actor in “The Devil Wears Prada” sips the iconic wine at a dinner with friends. We find Riserva Ducale alongside Jack Nicholson in “Blood and Wine” and with the lively group in the sitcom “Friends”. From screen to royal life, Riserva Ducale has been served at banquets for the Swedish royal family, Queen Elizabeth II, Charles de Gaulle and the Pope. And many more besides…

With the 2017 vintage, released to market in recent months, Riserva Ducale celebrates its ninetieth consecutive vintage, with an exceptional recognition, one of the many with which this wine has been honored during its “career”: the Gambero Rosso Wine Guide has awarded “Three Glasses”, the most prestigious prize for an Italian wine.

This achievement places Riserva Ducale at the pinnacle of world winemaking. Only a few wines can boast such a continuity over time combined with such high quality and widespread market presence. For 90 years, choosing a bottle of Riserva Ducale, whether savoring the freshness of the new vintages or the complex and charming of more mature years, means sipping the true essence of Chianti Classico. Happy anniversary, Riserva Ducale!