Provence wine – Domaine Ruffinnato
Perestrello Geller continues his journey of discovery unearthing the best Provence wine
Some vineyard visits are destined to stick in the memory. Christian Ruffinatto, the vigneron at Domaine Ruffinatto happens to be Mayor of Menerbes. As a result of Mayoral duties he’s rarely available for tastings. Step-up super-Mum. If the weather is good, then she offers visitors a glass of provence wine on the porch of her house, if, as was the case when I visited, the mistral is up, then its inside in the kitchen.
In the oven a large portion of boudin was simmering away with some potatoes. On the hob was a rich hearty soup slowly reducing down. Madame was in discursive mood, we covered the Italian migrant immigration (Ruffinato as you might have guessed is not a Provencal surname) in the years before the First World War, and the propensity of Italian labourers to take a fancy to the local Provencal girls. We moved on to the tribulations in the local property market, and the impossibility of parking a car in Menerbes. Next it was truffle hunting and her husband’s expertise. There was a trip down memory lane to the days when it was possible to find 30 kilos of truffles in a day, as opposed to the current three. And all this before a glass of Ruffinato was sampled. I felt so at home, I almost pulled up a chair and sat down for lunch. There was no doubt Madame could have chatted through the meal and on into the afternoon.
But being the professional I am, I did get around to some tasting. The domaine is tiny consisting of 10 hectares of individual parcels of land which have been purchased by Christian. He’s adding land slowly concentrating on old vines. Production is limited and no doubt as a result of over-work at the Mairie things were charmingly chaotic. The 2014 white was yet to be bottled. The 2013 white sold out. The entry level Ruffinato red, was available to taste but not to purchase because the next batch had yet to be boxed. The rosé was available, as was the old vines Infante Ruffinato red.
I tasted them all, save the white. The pink was a pleasing coral colour, with a surprising depth of fruit flavour, making it excellent with light Med inspired cooking. Both reds were intense in colour, and heavy on the palate, but well balanced with rounded tannins and plenty of succulent fruit flavours. I took 6 bottles of the Infante red, at 17 euros a bottle. The entry level Ruffinato red retails at 10 euros a bottle, and the Rosé 8.
All in all a wonderful tasting experience.
Provence Guru – The Insiders’ Guide to Provence, top tips:
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