A couple of weeks ago, I was looking for a wine to accompany my recipe for pasta Bolognese. Obviously, Italian wines were on my short list. --- However, it's tricky trying to pair wine with a complex dish like pasta with Bolognese. There's a lot going on there.
Yes it's a meat sauce, but there are other flavor elements working as well. Good Bolognese has a certain creaminess (some recipes, including mine, incorporate milk or cream), as well as saltiness from Parmigiano-Reggiano and some smokiness from the meats, not to mention tomato acidity.
I perused my cellar and remembered that I had a bottle of the newly-released Super Tuscan wine from Ruffino: Modus 2011. So, I popped the cork and tried it with the Bolognese. Bingo! It was a very good match.
Modus is Latin for "the way" or "the method," and this Modus vintage brings together three noble Tuscan grapes: Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. If you look closely at the bottle's label, you'll find an homage to "the method" in the form of something resembling an eight-point compass. The points are meant to represent all the elements which go into creating Modus: the vines, the sun, the soil, the life, the time, the fruit, the manner/method, and ultimately, the wine. Ruffino Modus is said to be a sum of all these parts, in balance.
Modus is a blend of 50% Sangiovese, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 25% Merlot, mostly from Ruffino's Poggio Casciano and Santedame estates. After malolactic fermentation, the wine is aged first in American and French oak barrels, and then rests in stainless steel tanks until bottling.
Open the wine and you'll be met by intense fruit aromas: dark red and black fruits that are prototypical in Sangiovese. There is good structure in the wine from the Cabernet Sauvignon, and the addition of Merlot helps smooth and round out the wine. Ruffino Modus 2011 is well-balanced and harmonious, with soft, silky tannins: a Super Tuscan that tastes like a lot more wine that its low sticker price of $22.99 would suggest.