Saturday, February 16, 2013

Italian Merlots: Tua Rita's Redigaffi (Suvereto, Tuscany)

According to Kate Bailey (Italian Merlot Wine,, there have been three waves of Merlot cultivation in Italy: (i) a late-19th-century initiative by vintners in the hillside region of Trento City and in the Vallagarina Valley: (ii) an early-20th-century spread through Veneto, Friuli, Trentino, and Alto Adige, the northeastern portion of the country; and (iii) a more modern advance in Tuscany, the central part of the country and the former bastion of Chianti.  In this series of posts (and as a precursor to an upcoming tasting), I am exploring the world of Italian Merlots.  I began the series with a profile of Tenuta dell'Ornellaia's Masseto and continue today with Tua Rita's Redigaffi.

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 (

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.

Tua Rita's Redigaffi has received early and ongoing acclaim.  It was the wine of the year in 2002 Guide Espresso. Robert Parker called the 1999 vintage "as close to perfection as a wine can get" and then made perfection a reality in the 2000 vintage.  In an more recent posting (#196 August 2011), the Wine Advocate stated that "Redigaffi remains a unique and powerful expression of Merlot from the Tuscan coast."

This is one of the standard bearers in the Italian Merlot march.

©Wine -- Mise en abyme


  1. Fantastic desciption about Tua Rita Redigaffi !!
    One of the fantastic four Merlot in Italy!!
    Cheers...Roberto Curiel