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Enjoying Wine and Beer in the Augusta GA area

Ruffino Riserva Ducale Oro Chianti Is A Great Gift For Dad

Ruffino Riserva Ducale Oro Chianti Classico 2014, Itally

Cost: $40-42

This Sunday is Father’s Day, and it is often difficult to find just the right present for dad.

My father is no longer alive, but I struggled every year to find the right gift. Like many fathers he would tell me he didn’t really need anything. He was just happy seeing me and talking to me. So I would inwardly groan while trying to figure out a gift to make him happy.

I didn’t understand fully what he was talking about until I became a father. And he was right. By the time I became a father I really didn’t need anything. But I do want my children to be a part of my life.

So I can’t help you with the relationship piece, but I can give you an idea for a gift that will put a twinkle in his eye. And if he’s a great dad he might even share it with you.

Get him a special bottle of wine. Sure, he can buy wine for himself, but look for a bottle that has special meaning for him or for you. It might be a particular winery he is fond of, or a particular varietal. Or the label might catch his eye. Or the story behind the wine might warm his heart. You are only limited by your imagination and what you tell your dad when you give him the bottle of special wine.

One wine that caught my eye this year is the Ruffino Riserva Ducale Oro Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2014 ($40-42). It is an outstanding wine, with rich fruit flavors balanced by a crisp acidity. Because it is such a good food wine you might make it even better for your dad by cooking something he likes.

This wine was named to honor the Duke of Aosta who in 1890 appointed Ruffino as the official wine to the Italian royal family. The first version came out in 1927 and was called Riserva Ducale (reserved for the duke).

Riserva Ducale Oro (reserved for the duke gold) appeared in 1947 and is only produced in years of exceptional harvest. It gets only the best grapes and receives extra aging before release. It is worth the wait.

In the glass the wine is a brilliant ruby red with some garnet highlights. As you pour it into the glass you will start smelling the powerful aromas of plum, cherry and tobacco with eucalyptus and pepper.

The powerful fruit flavors are balanced by fresh acidity. The long finish shows notes of plums and herbs.

Fermentation took place in temperature-controlled stainless steel vats over 10 days, with regular punch downs. The wine then was transferred to concrete vats for malolactic fermentation.

The wine was aged for 36 months, the first 12 in concrete vats, followed by 12 months in Slavonian oak barrels and then 12 months in barriques and tonneax. The wine then spent additional months in the bottle before its release.

The complexity of the wine is typical of sangiovese and Chianti Classico. It is made up of 85 percent sangiovese, 10 percent merlot, and 5 percent colorino. 

So whether your dad is king of the castle, duke of his domain or all around chauffeur and chef, he deserves a bottle of Riserva Ducale Oro.

Winery: Ruffino is located in the heart of Tuscany, and its history is rooted deep in the region. Cousins Ilario and Leopoldo Ruffino began the Ruffino empire in 1877 with a small winery in the town of Pontassieve near Florence. The region by then already had a centuries-old tradition of producing outstanding wines.

What makes the region so exceptional for wine grapes is the mineral-laden soils and the perfect climate. Dry summers are marked by hot days and cool nights influenced by the Mediterranean Sea.

The cousins produced great wine and as word of that quality spread, the winery flourished. Their motto became “here we make ideal wine.”

By 1881 Ruffino Chianti won a gold medal at the Milan Wine Exhibition. That was followed with a prize at the 1884 Nice Exhibition and another gold medal at the 1885 Antwerp Exhibition. Famed opera composed Giuseppe Verdi also became a fan.

With all the buzz around Ruffino wines the Duke of Aosta decided to check out the wines in 1890 and loved them. He was so impressed he named Ruffino official supplier to the Italian royal family.

In 1927 Ruffino released its first vintage of Riserva Ducale. Shortly after that Ruffino began to export its wines to the United States and elsewhere. Ruffino Chianti was the first Chianti imported to the United States.

After World War II Ruffino bought the first of its Tuscan estates, the Villa di Montemasso in the Chianti Classico region. The company has continued to buy new vineyards and became one of the first wineries with vineyard estates in Italy’s best-known wine-producing regions: Chianti Classico, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.

Ruffino produces a wide variety of outstanding wines, including prosecco, orvieto, pinot grigio, several Chiantis, some super Tuscans like Modus and Alauda, a Vino Nobile Di Montepulciano and a Brunello di Montalcino.

Goes with: We had this outstanding wine with one of the soups I love to make, vegetable beef. When I make a big pot of it for our Wednesday church lunch, I make extra so I can have it for several meals at home. When I was single I often made a large pot of this soup and ate it every night for a week.

The smooth, complex fruit flavors of the wine are a perfect match for the rich, savory soup flavors. As the meal went on, it seemed to bring out more flavors from the wine, which continued to open in the glass for at least an hour after I uncorked it.

This is a soup I had as a child, made by my mother and grandmother. You start with chunks of good quality beef. I also like to put in a beef shank. As the beef simmers in water to make a rich broth I cut up all the vegetables and dump them in.

Everyone uses their own favorite vegetables, but I put in onions, leeks, new potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, celery, corn cut off the cob, okra and parsley. I also add some canned diced tomatoes, a couple of cartons of beef broth, Better Than Bouillon and salt and pepper.

I let it simmer for at least an hour and serve over noodles.

The wine also would pair well with traditional Italian dishes such as pasta Bolognese, wild boar ragu, and eggplant Parmesan. It’s also great with classic American dishes such as grilled ribeye and roasted vegetables.

If you have questions about wine you can email Dennis Sodomka at

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