An Interview with Beppe d’Andrea, Ruffino’s Senior Global Brand Ambassador, at VanWineFest 2024

Mr. Beppe d'Andrea, Ruffino's Senior Global Brand Ambassador
Mr. Beppe d’Andrea, Ruffino’s Senior Global Brand Ambassador

I was invited to sit down with Mr. Beppe d’Andrea, Ruffino‘s Senior Global Brand Ambassador, to taste a selection of their wines and talk about the winery and other wine topics while Beppe was attending VanWineFest 2024.

In 1987, Beppe began his career with Ruffino and has never looked back. Initially working in the vineyards, he soon joined the winemaking team. During his first season in the cellar, Beppe made white wines and later, as cellar master, he made Ruffino’s Chianti Classicos and other red wines. In 1989, Beppe earned the AIS Professional Sommelier certification.

My Interview with Beppe d’Andrea

Beppe: In my time, wine education was to start working in the vineyard before you could work in the winery, in the cellar. If you want to touch the wine, you need to understand the means to produce the grape.  But now times are different.

Karl: I tell wine people if I can go to the winery, walk through the vineyards and see the soil, then I can better understand the wine.

Beppe: Exactly.  We just purchased a vineyard in Bolgheri.  We have eight properties scattered through Tuscany and a property in Fruili where we make our Pinot Grigio wine. Sangiovese is our main grape in Tuscany. What is important is quality.

Karl: Are you saying with the Pinot Grigio, there are more younger people drinking these wines? there are worries about younger people not drinking as much wine.  What are they drinking?

Beppe: Yes, younger people are drinking Pinot Grigio.  Gen Z drinks much less and RTD cans.  Something important is that we don’t make wine to follow the consumer.  Now the trend is for Pinot Grigio. What if we  plant more of these vines, but then maybe the trend in five years is for Chardonnay?  What do we do? Regraft? The only way for us is to make the best wines possible.  Not only the juice but also the quality of life.  In 2006 we started to convert all of our vineyards to organic.  In 2025 all our vineyards and wines will be certified organic. This is what the consumer can see.  The consumers cannot see that we only use electric cars, that we use solar panels at the winery, we recycle water, and we are pushing industry to produce electric tractors. We are doing this for the quality of the wines and for Mother Nature. Without Mother Nature, we cannot make anything.

Karl: Here we had 2 winters with temperatures below -25 degree Celcius. Last year about 40% vine damage.  This year around 95% vine damage in the interior or BC.

Beppe: The temp in Rome today is 16 deg Celcius.  In March.  It never happened before.  If you look at the vines, they are ready to start one month earlier.  If there is frost, that can affect the vines.  We need to prune differently to protect the vines.   We in the wineries, as well as media, have to let people know about this issue and the need to address climate change. We need to research everything to make quality wine and to help the environment.  We also need to share our research so every winery can improve the quality of their wines and care for the environment.

Karl: Do you like to use international grape varieties as well as indigenous varieties in winemaking?

Beppe:  In Bulgheri we only have international grapes, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. In the case of traditional wines, we are trying to use more indigenous grapes. For the Gran Selezione wines there will soon be restrictions (1-2 years) that all grapes used must be indigenous.

Something important is that all the wines are already made organically, but will be certified organic next year.

Karl: Many wineries are going organic and biodynamic.  Are you finding that those wineries spending that extra care makes the soil healthier?

Beppe: Yes.  When you have organic soil you can see that it is alive.  When you use lots of pesticides the soil is like stone. In our vineyards between the vines, we grow fava beans, which are nitrogen-fixing. It is more expensive, but we have to do it.

To make wine every year is not easy as something always changes. Our goal is to make the best wine possible every year.  We have very dry summers, but no forest fires.  We have wild boars and deer that ruin our vines.

KarlThank you for your time and for allowing me to taste your wines with you.

My Wine Tasting Notes

Ruffino Modus IGT 2020 – a single estate wine made with equal amounts of Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Every year the blend changes depending on the quality of the grapes.  As the grapes mature at different times, we had to ferment and age them (with different oak treatments and duration in barrel) separately before blending.  I was told that 2020 was a fantastic year for wine production in Italy, although we were suffering from COVID.  This wine has a deep, translucent garnet colour.  Medium intensity ripe red fruit nose.  It has a smooth mouthfeel.  Medium intensity acidity and tannins. Red fruits, capsicum, peppery and minerality on the palate. Medium-plus length. 4.5 stars

Ruffino Riserva Ducale Oro Gran Selezione 2019 – made with 85% Sangiovese grapes, 5% Merlot and 10% Colorino. This wine was first made in 1947 and has only been made 32 times in the past 70 vintages.  The grapes come from a single estate in Castellina in Chianti.  This wine has a medium-intensity translucent garnet colour.  Nice cherries, oak, sweet spices and candied cherries on the nose. Medium-bodied, smooth and round mouthfeel.  Red fruits and oak on the palate.  Medium acidity and medium-plus tannins.  This wine should be able to age for many years.  Medium-plus length. 4.5 stars

Ruffino Aqua di Venus Pinot Grigio 2022 – This wine was made in honour of Botticelli and his paintings. This wine has an aroma of pine needles.  It is dryish with medium acidity.  A mix of pine needles, stone fruits and honey on the palate.  Medium-plus acidity and medium length. 4.5 stars

Gabriele Tacconi, Winemaker Video

In 2016 I interviewed Ruffino’s Chief Winemaker, Gabriele Tacconi, talk about the history of the Ruffino winery in Tuscany, Italy, and two of their wines: Ruffio Riserva Ducale Oro Chianti Classico Gran Selezione and Ruffino Modus IGT, during VanWineFest 2016.  You can watch the video at this link.

Author: mywinepal
Drink Good Wine. That is my motto and I really want to help you drink good wine. What is good wine? That can be a different thing for each people. Food also loves wine so I also cover food and wine pairings, restaurant reviews, and world travel. Enjoy life with me. MyWinePal was started by Karl Kliparchuk, WSET. I spent many years with the South World Wine Society as the President and then cellar master. I love to travel around the world, visiting wine regions and sharing my passion for food & wine with you. Come live vicariously through me, and enjoy all my recommended wines.

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