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Tua Rita

You would expect that the producer of Redigaffi, one of the world’s most renowned Merlots, crafts that sought-after bottling in surroundings that signify and complement the wine’s prestige. You would expect, to be honest, a certain air of grandeur, a certain imposing reserve and majesty. Tua Rita, however, has resolutely kept itself outside that realm. In fact, so modest and unassuming is the “estate” that it might strike you as the home of, at the very most, a house of local importance—an impression that is undoubtedly heightened by the medieval origins of Suvereto, the town in which Tua Rita is situated.

Indeed, when Rita Tua and Virgilio Bisti purchased the estate in 1984, they were essentially beginning a family story—not a fairytale-in-the-making. But their terroir had other ideas….You see, Tua and Bisti planted international varietals Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, which were served particularly well by soils rich in clay and silt. Those initial plantings, in fact (totaling 7.5 acres), figured in none other than the revered Sassicaia, a practice that ended when Tua Rita commenced estate bottling in 1992. While this certainly constituted a significant qualitative development, it wasn’t attended by any international designs. Nevertheless, vintages from the early and mid-1990s of flagship Giusto di Notri (a Bordeaux-styled blend) and the aforementioned Redigaffi enjoyed critical success. Then came a 100-point rating for the 1997 Redigaffi—a reception that took both Redigaffi and this quiet Maremma cellar far beyond their village, precipitating a formal investment in the winery’s vineyards and operations.

Though Redigaffi has been a cult catch since ’97, turning in stellar vintage after stellar vintage, Tua Rita has remained true to its artisanal ideals and more remarkably, its modest demeanor. That spirit, in fact, prevails at Tua Rita, most notably in the persona of owner Rita Tua. Seemingly more a denizen of the kitchen than of the cellar, Rita Tua exudes the classic warmth that is the provenance of the Italian grandmother; the palpable human quality defining the estate is channeled through her ingratiating vitality.

The estate’s current portfolio provides a comprehensive stylistic album of the Maremma and bears the signature of Tua Rita’s famed consulting enologist, Stefano Chioccioli, who mentored under Franco Bernabei and Vittorio Fiore, the latter of whom was instrumental in the development of Chioccioli’s intense renderings: Giusto, widely regarded as the icon of the second generation of Super-Tuscans, has been joined by Rosso dei Notri, technically in the entry-level position, but never quite drinking there. It is sourced from proprietor Stefano Frascolla’s (the son-in-law of Rita Tua and Virgilio Bisti) tiny 6.5-acre estate (which he purchased in 1997). Perlato del Bosco brings out Sangiovese’s opulence—in initial vintages as a monovarietal and currently, with a contribution by Cabernet Sauvignon. The white counterpart to Perlato is an aromatic, concentrated blend of Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, and Riesling; Lodano, the portfolio’s only other white, is equal parts Riesling and Chardonnay. Redigaffi continues to turn out performances that make it one of Italy and the world’s foremost expressions of Merlot—not to mention one of the hardest to acquire. While its place as such is pretty secure, Tua Rita’s monolithic monovarietal Syrah—which debuted in the 2001 vintage—is well on its way to establishing its own varietal benchmark. The climax of this somewhat accidental Super-Tuscan story seems to be still in the making…