03
Dec
10

in pursuit of the juiciest wine: day seventy (Ruffino Modus Toscana 2007 vs. Monte Antico Toscana 2006)

Tonight there will be a battle. No blood will be spilled nor any wine, but much wine will be drunk. This challenge comes in the wake of the announcement of the Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of 2010. It fact, this battle is really a battle with Wine Spectator. It’s David and Goliath battle, but this time David has a grape.

Tonight’s giant coming in at 96 point and #25 on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of 2010 with a price of $35 (on sale for $19.99 at Mahan’s) and wearing a wine label over a cork is the Ruffino Modus Toscana 2007. Woo woo.

And in this corner a little Italian wine that no one has heard of and with a low, low Mahan’s sale price of $9.99 and wearing a screw-top top is the Monte Antico Toscana 2006. Yay yippie.

Ruffino Modus Toscana 2007 vs Monte Antico Toscana 2006

Ruffino Modus Toscana 2007 vs Monte Antico Toscana 2006

As you can see these are both Toscanas, so it should be evenly matched, but let’s look at the numbers.

The Modus is 50% Sangiovese, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 25% Merlot.

The Monte Antico is 85% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Merlot.

The Modus will have a bigger body, but the Monte Antico will have the bigger rustic spirit. At least that’s what the odds makers are saying.

All right guys. Clink glasses and come out drinking.

(But first a disclaimer. Last night I opened another bottle of the Modus. I think I had a cold when I did, but it didn’t taste like it should. It tasted dark and earthy and tobaccoy. The tobacco can be expected from the Sangiovese, but not the rest. Oh, and I’m wearing my new glasses, too. My first wine post with my new glasses. My first pair of glasses.)

So here we go. Allons-y.

The glasses of wine come out slowly and present their colors and menisci (the plural of meniscus).  The Modus has a shorter meniscus and with more color. Oo a jab to Monte Antico. Monte Antico counters with a brighter top color. Below the menisci, both wines, however, are solid purple in color and equally opaque – the Modus, though, is about 98% opaque and the Monte Antico is about 95% opaque. The first round goes to the Modus with shorter, deeper colored meniscus.

Round Two. The Nose.

Round Nose

Monte Antico comes out smelling like bacon, flowers, and carmalized sugar (my girlfriend picked up on the latter). And there is some jam, too – strawberry jam. That’s good a solid, berryful comeback for the Monte Antico.

The Modus challenges back with a deeper nose of tobacco and leather and with a bouquet of flowers, more flowery than the Monte Antico. These flowers are like lilies, Easter liliers says the girlfriend. This nose is more balanced, too.

When I returned to the Monte Antico, the nose wasn’t as delightful as before. The Modus gave an upper cut to the Monte Antico with its lilies. The Monte Antico seems a bit stunned and is a bit wobbly.

Ding ding. Monte Antico has been temporarily saved by the bell.

This round goes to Modus, too.

Round Three. The Tasting.

Round Drink

The Modus comes out with a swagger and leads with dark berries (dark cherries and cranberries) and finishes with tartness, flowers, and a dry finish. This wine is getting excited and styling as it’s showing off its long, clingy legs. The taste reminds me of an old, sturdy, rocky, bald mountain under a clear blue sky. From its peak you can see the Mediterranean Sea.

Can the Monte Antico counter? Does it have what it takes? Can this David stand up to this Goliath?

Tasters clean their palates, and here comes Monte Antico. (Tip on cleansing the palate: Use water at room temperature. Don’t dull the taste buds with cold water.)

The tobacco nose rushes out of the glass before I even begin to taste. The nose has recovered. It’s stronger, faster, better. It seems bionic. It seems six million dollars.

Six Million Dollar Man

The Monte Antico is completely different. It leads with some sourness then turns quite juicy and finishes with caramel. What a counter. It’s body is a little lighter than the Modus, but what a little spar it just had. It’s delightful. It makes me think of a fair with cotton candy. It makes me think of the movie Big when he is at the fairground and right before he leaves to go get his wish from Zoltar.

Zoltar Speaks in Big

Ding ding ding. That’s the end of the battle. Who wins.

The girlfriend scores it 10-10, 9-10, 10-8. The burnt sugar and finish of the Monte Antico won it for her.

This judge scores it 10-10, 10-9, 10-9. The complexity and depth of the Modus won it for him, but he sure loves the playfulness of the Monte Antico.

For price, the Monte Antico wins. For quality, the Modus wins.

I’d say the Modus is like 91.5 points and the Monte Antico is like a fully loaded 89 points, and probably 90 points. (I just looked it up, and the Wine Spectator gave it 90 points, too.)

Now, I’m going back and forth between the two and it’s getting nasty. I need food interruptus. I need bread and onion-fig jam.

Wait. Hold on. There’s an after-the-match scrum with the onion-fig jam and ciabatta bread.

Monte Antico comes out swinging. Oh, it’s a wonderful complement that smooths out the wine and brings out the onions.

Modus counters and says, “Hey, man I ain’t that dry. With this jam I’m chill. I’m a complex mo fo.”

That’s it. That’s it. They are both winners.

And aren’t we all when we drink good wine.//


5 Responses to “in pursuit of the juiciest wine: day seventy (Ruffino Modus Toscana 2007 vs. Monte Antico Toscana 2006)”


  1. 1 chris
    March 26, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    I just tried the modus last night. I personally think WS was way off with the 96 pt rating. I agree with you completely – this is a 90ish pt wine. I dig the dryness but where was the fruit? I give it credit for the finish but it lacked the full-frontal fruit I was expecting. That said, after having it sit for an hour it was definitely better. The modus makes a great alternative from other commonly found wines, but it lacks a “delicious” factor that I think can be found in Robert Mondavi Napa Valley, Catena Malbec or a Ridge Three Valleys, which all price the same and honestly simply taste better.


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