Tua Rita is located in Notri in Suvereto, a small village in the southeastern corner of the coastal province of Livorno. In 1989 the wine region surrounding Suvereto was awarded a DOC (DOC Val di Cornia) and in 2000, based on the distinctiveness of its wines, Suvereto was recognized as a distinct sub-category within the broader zone. In November 2011 Suvereto was elevated to DOCG status with its wines awarded the right to label varietally if the contents were constituted of at least 85% of the named varietal.
The petrified clay soils and the Mediterranean climate of Suvereto provides the perfect environment for fully ripening Merlot grapes. The Suvereto soils are viewed as being richer in minerals and more structured than its more famous neighbor to the north, Bolgheri. Stefano Casadi, winemaker extraordinaire and proprietor of Azienda Agricola Casa Dei, has compared Suvreto to Sonoma and Bolgheri to Napa Valley in order to make a point. He sees the best wines as coming out of Sonoma but the more famous wines coming out of Napa and the same parallel holding true for the two Tuscan sub-regions (swig.co.uk).
The Tua Rita estate, located in Notri in Suvereto, was purchased in 1984 by Rita Tua and Virgilio Bisti. Initially sized at 15 hectares, the estate was blessed with iron- and zinc-rich clayey soils and 100 meters of elevation. Subsequent land purchases have extended the estate size to 32 ha, 20 of which are planted to vine. The estate was initially planted to Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, both used in the production of a Bordeaux-type blend. An extremely hard winter in 1985 led to replantings at high density -- 8 to 10,000 vines/ha -- and all subsequent additions to the estate were similarly planted. Vines on the estate are spur-cordon trained and are overseen by the viticulturalist and enologist, Dr. Stefano Chioccioli.
The Merlot produced by the estate is a monovarietal that is named -- Redigaffi -- after a stream that courses through the property. The Merlot got its start when two left over barriques of Merlot were bottled unblended. The grapes for the wine are manually harvested and, after an initial selection in the vineyard, is transported in crates to the winery. The clusters are placed on a vibrating belt where a second selection is conducted and after which the grapes are destemmed and the individual berries placed into a conical, temperature-controlled vats for fermentation. Fermentation occurs over 25 - 30 days during which time pumping-over and punch-down activities are performed in order to maintain contact between the must and cap.
After vinification the must is lightly pressed and the juice flows down into barriques that reside in a sub-cellar room. The wine is aged on its lees for 18 months in 100% new French barriques after which it is bottled and aged for 6 months before being placed on the market. Annual production of Redigaffi averages 9000 bottles.
This is one of the standard bearers in the Italian Merlot march.
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