Not everything that is virtual gives satisfaction, but when it comes to Snooth.com’s virtual wine tastings we eagerly look forward to them, because they give The Advice Sisters a chance to connect with other wine lovers and media around the country, and sometimes, in other countries. (As readers of this site know, we are huge fans of Snooth.com and particularly of their virtual wine tastings. We’ve waxed poetic about the fun and excitement of Snooth’s virtual wine tastings in previous articles ( Read: We Love those Lodi Wines! A report on a SNOOTH Virtual Wine Tasting ; Snooth’s Virtual Wine Tasting Takes You to Argentina ; One of the Most Civilized Things in the World: Hemmingway Loved It & The Advice Sisters Do, Too! ; a Virtual Wine Tasting is a Can’t Miss Experience for Wine Lovers); Hooray for Vouvray & Virtual Wine Tastings (you’ve gotta try them).
We do so not just on snooth.com’s own excellent chat room, but also on Twitter @Advicesisters and also on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alisonblackman (if you participate on Snooth we are “AdvicesisterA”).
Earlier this month Snooth.com held another one of its signature virtual wine tastings, featuring the Chianti’s of Ruffino and Gran Selezione Chianti (a recently established high-tier in the Chianti denominazione that accounts for just 10% of Classico production) from Ruffino.
Snooth.com”s virtual wine tastings allow reviewers, wine professionals and interested oenophiles from around the world to participate in a wine tasting featuring really knowledgeable experts. Consumers are provided with the wie selections in advance so they can purchase them. In this case, Snooth.com provided us (as media)with all four of the wines being featured. These were:
- Ruffino Aziano Chianti Classico 2012
- Ruffino Ducale Chianti Classico Riserva 2011
- Ruffino DOCG Chianti 2013
- Ruffino Riserva Ducale Oro Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2010
With four excellent Chianti’s to sample, The Advice Sisters decided to share the love with some like-minded media and friends and invited them to join us in the wine tasting not in the virtual world, but with us in person. As we have written before, Snooth.com virtual tastings provide a great opportunity to host friends and family for a dinner party featuring new wines. Snooth.com is an excellent venue for this type of event since the site has participation from over a million wine lovers and wine professionals from all over the globe. Unfortunately, bad weather and other circumstances made the experience less of a gathering than we had hoped, but still, quite a nice event, participating with others online.
For the Ruffino tasting, participants were guided through the wines by Master of Wine Christy Canterbury and Ruffino Winemaker Gabriele Tacconi. Ms. Caterbury has hosted these virtual events in the past and helped to ensure that we were able to plow through four excellent wines in the hour allotted.
Founded in 1877 by two brothers, Ruffino is located just outside of Florence in the Tuscan countryside. After the Second World War, Ruffino purchased the first of its Tuscan estates, the Villa di Montemasso in the Chianti Classico region and has continued to grow into one of the largest producers in the region. Famous for its Chianti’s, Ruffino has always embraced tradition and history, the company’s wines have a style that has been the benchmark of Tuscany, Italy for many years—earthy, terroir-driven, high in acidity, and restrained.
I am old enough to remember when wine in America consisted of large jugs of something called “Chablis,” Portuguese wines in strange shaped bottles, and Chianti’s in squat bottles wrapped in straw. Today, few Chianti wines are still packaged in those traditional squat bottles in baskets, and the quality of the wines is much higher than those purchased during the Nixon administration.
Chianti is a blend of Sangiovese with smaller amounts of other varietals like Cabernet and Merlot. The dominant Sangiovese grapes are fruity and generally feature cherry on the palette. The wines pair extremely well with classic “red sauce” Italian dishes such as ravioli, pizza, carpaccio and ragu. It also pairs well with the kind of foods that one might traditionally serve with Cabernet like steak or hamburgers.
The tasting began with the Ruffino DOCG Chianti 2013. Priced at around $8.00 or $9.00 per bottle, this is Ruffino’s basic Chianti. The wine presented well. Ruby red in color, the nose was very fruity with (as expected) cherries, and a bit of coffee. The pallete was acidic and lighter than we expected featuring a lot or red fruits, particularly cherries, as well as a bit of lemon. Especially considering the price this is an excellent value and would be a fantastic house wine.
We moved on to the Ruffino Aziano Chianti Classico 2012, which is named after a small region stretching from south of Florence to the north of Siena which is the heart of Tuscanny. This wine is priced at about $12 per bottle and features 80 percent Sangiovese blended with merlot (the classico designation ensures that merlot is used in the blend). This wine was also ruby red, but had a nose that was much more earthy, kind of like a locker room with a bit of chocolate and mushroom. The palette was more spicy than the DOCG, with a mineral finish. This 2012 bottle was a bit tannic, and the fruits were not showing all that well. It would appear that a couple of more years would help open the wine up as the tannins and good acid base would hold age well.
The third wine, Ruffino Ducale Chianti Classico Riserva 2011, featured the 80 year old label that Ruffino is famous for. Ducale is Italian for duke and this label honors a trip made by the Duke of Aosta who journeyed over the Alps to taste the Ruffino wines and who in 1890 appointed Ruffino as the official supplier to the Italian royal family. Priced at just $18 per bottle, the Ducale is 80 percent Sangiovese. The wine had an amazing nose that we can only liken to a spice market. Its color was ruby red, and our tasting notes simply say “wow.” The pallete was rich, with raisins, plumb and other black fruits. The tannins were mellowing and the wine had great acid suggesting it will pair well particularly with Italian dishes. Over time, the Ducale did develop some grassy notes, so this is a pour and drink vintage at least for now, and decanting would probably harm the wine.
When asked about aging, Mr. Tacconi suggested that the Ducale would do well with about 10 years, while the Oro would stand up to 15, after which the structure, color and profile of the wines would begin to change. And while we waited to drink the Oro (remember two people and now three bottles) we did not wait 15 years.
About a week after the tasting we opened the Ruffino Riserva Ducale Oro Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2010 to share with friends. After just 4 years there was some sediment on this wine, so decanting would be a good thing. Priced at about $30 per bottle, this wine is produced only during the best vintage years. This particular vintage was given a score of 91 by Wine Spectator and it did not disappoint. Ruby red to purple in color, other than the sediment the wine was really yet to show age. The nose had the expected cherries along with a bit of licorice, or maybe root beer. On the palate the tannins were balanced but still noticeable and the wine was very fruit forward with a lot of both white and red cherries. At the current price point, this is a wine to buy and store, as it will likely show well for years.
Virtual wine tastings, like those offered by Snooth.com provide an excellent opportunity to try different regions and wine types, or like the wines of Ruffino to relish in a single producer. Keep an eye out for other Snooth offerings, and the next time you are in an Italian restaurant – bet it as fancy as Babbo here in New York, or as simple as the corner pizzeria, keep an eye out for a Ruffino chianti. You really can’t go wrong.
This report was written by wine enthusiast John Dunham for the Advice Sisters