Blended from Sangiovese, Syrah, and Merlot grapes, the 2016 Ruffino Il Ducale is a solid Super Tuscan. The winemaker describes it like this: “Ruby red color. The bouquet is very intense and pleasantly complex, with notes of cassis, cherry jam, plum, and vanilla. Syrah offers pleasant spicy notes, while the Sangiovese brings red and black fruit and herbs, and the Merlot adds its characteristic roundness. A modern Tuscan wine born from Ruffino’s century-old winemaking tradition, the 2016 Il Ducale is a well-balanced, full-bodied, harmonious wine with a pleasant freshness. The first notes are bright and fruity with round, elegant tannins. The finish is long and satisfying with refined notes of ripe fruit, black pepper, and vanilla.” Knowing that winemakers tend to be biased about their quaffs, and given the lack of other reviews, I decided my own reaction would have to do. And as it happens, I am tasting the wine (with lunch) as I write. My thoughts? First, it needs an hour or two to breathe. Second, what people smell – the bouquet – and taste depend more on the taster than the wine. In this case, the bouquet is complex, challenging the taster to figure out what the various aromas are. Maybe you can sense cassis, cherry jam, et al., and, if you can, more power to you. I find it difficult, but I can say the bouquet is intriguing. The taste is, too, supplemented by the distinctiveness of Tuscan terroir. I’d rate it 88-90 points. The price? One store – Luekens Wine & Spirits – is offering it at $5.99, but I’m not sure it’s the same wine. Otherwise, it’s usually available at $13-15.

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