Beppe D’Andrea, the international brand ambassador for Ruffino, was the featured speaker at a recent wine tasting and seminar on Italian wines hosted by Century Wines. Ruffino has been making wines in Tuscany and other areas of Italy since 1877 and it is now part of the Constellation Brands portfolio of wines. Beppe gave an informative and entertaining presentation on the history of winemaking in Tuscany, including past and modern production methods, formation of the Chianti and Chianti Classico regions, government regulation of the IGT, DOC, DOCG and Riserva designations, the origin of the black rooster image on Chianti Classico labels, and even the background for the creation of the popular Italian dessert Tiramisu, meaning “lift me up.” His talk included tastings of eight of Ruffino’s wide range of wines, three whites and five reds, accompanied by Italian meats, cheeses and breads. The white wines from Ruffino served at the seminar included: Ruffino Prosecco – a non-vintage sparkling wine from the Prosecco DOC region of Veneto in northeast Italy. Produced by the Charmat Method from 100% Glera grapes, this extra dry sparkler was pale yellow and had plenty of tiny bubbles, along with delicate aromas of apple blossoms and citrus fruits, and clean, crisp flavors of apples, pears and a touch of honey. 2012 Ruffino Orvieto Classico – a dry white wine from grapes grown in the tufa (chalky limestone) soils of the Orvieto Classico DOC region of Umbria in central Italy. 40% Grechetto, 20% Procanico and 40% other local white varietals, including Verdello and Canaiolo Bianco. Pale straw colored, with floral aromas and flavors of golden apples, citrus fruits and almonds. Good structure with a balance of fruit and acidity and a touch of minerality on the medium finish. 2012 Ruffino “Lumina” Pinot Grigio – another dry white wine, made from 100% Pinot Grigio grapes grown in the Delle Venezie IGT region of Friuli Venezia Giulia in northeast Italy. Lumina means “illumination of the moon,” shown on the label. Light yellow in color, with clean aromas of flowers and fruit, crisp acidity and flavors of apples, pears, sage and mint, along with elegant mineral notes on the finish. We’ll have tasting notes on the red wines from Ruffino in our next post.