If you’ve been to Italy before you’ll know that this country is all about food, wine and fresh, pure ingredients. Ruffino has been making wines in Tuscany since 1877. Their Chianti is the #1 selling brand in Canada and I can see why – it’s delicious. Ruffino Brand Ambassador Beppe d’Andrea took us on a tour of five of their best wines. Upon arrival at Queen Margherita, their Pinot Grigio – Lumina - was handed out. It was crisp and went down, maybe, too well.
I am more of a red wine girl so I was excited to try the Chiantis and Ruffino prides themselves on their grapes. The Chianti DOCG retails for about $15 at the LCBO and is a smart price point for wine. It’s made from 70% Sangiovese grapes and the remaining 30% is a mix of different reds, which made it smooth and slightly fruity.
Next up was the Riserva Ducale ($25) made with 80% Sangiovese and 20% Cabernet & Merlot grapes. This wine is aged in oak barrels for a minimum of two years. Ruby in colour, medium body and a peppery finish, I loved this wine. It’s perfect for an autumn night in.
The Ruffino Modus was third in line for our tasting and is made from 50% Sangiovese, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Merlot grapes. Beppe described this wine as a wine of the winemaker while the Chiantis are wines of the vineyard. The Chiantis are created with the perfect pure grapes while the Modus is a balance of all good things, making for a more complex wine. This is a full-bodied wine that sells for $29 at the LCBO.
To end the wine tasting we tried the Riserva Ducale Oro ($44) which is aged for about three years. The blend of grapes in this wine is the same as the Riserva Ducale but the difference is that the grapes all come from the same vineyard so the quality of this wine is 100% controlled. Because of this, the Riserva Ducale Oro can only be made every couple of years depending on how the harvest.
After the tasting, we moved onto the Neapolitan pizza-making. The chef show us how to work the dough and we were off on our own creating a pizza! On weekends, these guys make about 300 pizzas a day.
The wood fired oven reaches 900 degrees - baby, that’s hot! I opted to make a traditional Margherita pizza. This pizza is named after Queen Margherita. Before her, pizza was basically peasant food. The Queen saw what they were eating and had a craving for pizza as well - so from then on pizza became food for everyone.
A famous pizza maker named Raffaele Esposito then created, in her honour, what would become the Margherita pizza with tomato, basil and cheese – all of the colours in the Italian flag.
Beppe emphasized that the quality of their lives makes the quality of the wine. Good, healthy and happy people are only capable of creating the absolute best. And I totally believe it. --- Jessica Blaine Smith