The Ruffino winery, not far from Florence, Italy, was among the very first to export Chianti to North America, but its history goes back to 1877, when it was founded by cousins Ilario and Leopoldo Ruffino. The original premise was to further Tuscany’s reputation, making clean, precise, delicious wines. After the Second World War, Ruffino began a purchasing regimen, establishing prestige estate vineyards in Chianti Classico, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, and Brunello di Montalcino.
Gabriele Tacconi was pouring some of his wines during the most recent Vancouver International Wine Festival. He is only the third winemaker at Ruffino since the 1920s, and has a world of experience and knowledge at his disposal. “It is much different making wine today,” he says. “We have the technology, and the ability to be consistent in our wines, with all the accumulated knowledge.” Global warming, for an example, “does not affect us as much as you might think. It is all a matter of knowing when to pick the grapes, the precise time.” That time may vary year to year, since warmer temperatures beget earlier harvests, but Tacconi notes that “we still get ripe fruit almost every year. And the fermentation and blending, we know how to do that!” He smiles, a gregarious person whose love for his work is more than abundant.
He pours a glass of Modus, which is Ruffino’s version of a super Tuscan, with generous amounts of cabernet sauvignon and some merlot in the blend. “The colour,” he says. “I just love this wine. It is a more difficult wine to make than the Chianti wines, because of the cabernet, which needs to be fully ripe. But it is an interesting challenge, to make Modus.” It is inky dark purple, and shows hints of violets, chocolate, even some brambleberry, wrapped around what Tacconi calls “amazingly soft tannins”. Built to last, this wine can be enjoyed over the coming two years, while rewarding perhaps a decade in bottle, if you keep it that long.
Ruffino makes a nice Prosecco, reasonably dry, along with some still white wines, and the Chianti, including a famous and highly regarded Ducale (named after the Duke of Aosta, an early patron of the winery) and a superb Riserva Ducale Oro, along with the Modus. As it began, so it is today, all about presenting the absolute best quality the region can provide.
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