Tuscany: Tales of the Past, Present and Future
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Tuscany: Tales of the Past, Present and Future

By Mark DeWolf

National President Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers, Manager Food & Drink at The Chronicle Herald

Tuscan Wine and Sun

While I live in Halifax, my heart and soul are in Tuscany.

With its relaxed landscape of rolling hills and cypress trees and mixed agriculture of vines and olive trees, nothing says “good living” like Tuscany. Not even Martha Stewart.

Steeped in the history of Renaissance art, and aristocracy, it is here that all things wonderfully Italian come together. It’s no surprise that Tuscany is the heart of both tradition and innovation in Italian wine culture due to the hills between Siena and Florence, a region better known as Chianti Classico.

In the last four decades a period of modernity was ushered in the mid-90s when the portion of International varietals (Cabernet, Merlot) was increased to up to 20 per cent of the blend of Chianti.

Many producers at the time also increased their use of barriques (small barrels). Now, the pendulum has swung back to traditional in terms of the blend and use of oak. The wines themselves are purer, fresher and more modern thanks to better winemaking techniques.

The results can be fantastic.

Traditional Tuscan Wines

A great representation of a wine with a mix of classic- and modern styling is San Fabiano Calcinaia Chianti Classico (Nova Scotia: NSLC, $26.98). San Fabiano Calcinaia Gran Selezione is also available in Ontario (LCBO, $42.95).

I may be biased as Caparzo Winery near Montalcino in Southern Tuscany is my home away from home.

Often, I bring groups to stay in a villa overlooking its vineyards. I love the wines of this hilltop town. These 100 per cent Sangiovese wines which must be aged for 4 years before release. They are ethereal, savoury, rich and well-structured.

One of my go-to Brunellos is Caparzo Brunello di Montalcino (Nova Scotia: Bishop’s Cellar $55.00/Ontario: LCBO, $49.95).

The 2013 Caparzo Brunello di Montalcino was given the #17 spot on Wine Spectator’s 2018 List of the Top 100 Wines of the Year.

The last time I tasted this wine it delivered on its promise of classicism. This is an elegant Brunello, made from 100% Sangiovese and aged only in large old barrels; no barrique. It showcased the coolness of the vintage, with lots of cherry fruit and savoury, herbal tones.

Non-Traditional Super Tuscans

Of course, much of the hoopla around Tuscan wines is centered on the non-traditional Super-Tuscans (containing varying amounts of non-traditional Cabernets, Merlot, Syrah, etc.) as it is for its great semi-traditional Chiantis, Brunellos, and other faithfully Sangiovese-based reds. The driving force behind the movement was Piero Antinori.

His launch of Tignanello in the early 1970s – on the heels of Sassicaia’s rise to fame – helped to propel the non-classic wines of Tuscany to international stardom.

At our recent tasting we sampled his 2016 Antinori Villa Rosso (Nova Scotia: NSLC, $32.79/Ontario: LCBO, $26.30), a mix of Cabernet, Sangiovese and Petit Verdot. It was the perfect modernist style with lots of polished red fruit, vanilla-like oak notes and soft tannins.

What would a good wine tasting be without a show stopper? Our final wine was the Castiglione del Bosco Prima Pietra (Nova Scotia: The Port by the NSLC, $64.81) made from grapes (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot) sourced from the clay and fossil-rich soils of their vineyard which sits on a hill overlooking the Tuscan coast. The grapes for the wine are grown using organic and biodynamic methods and undoubtedly with care and attention to detail. The wine itself was dense and rich, showing lots of pure fruit flavours, complimented by mineral-edged notes and a powerful finish. Enjoy this wine with grilled T-Bone steak – it would make for a ‘delicioso’ combination.

The Prima Pietra is not available in Ontario, but the stunning Castiglione del Bosco Campo del Drago Brunello di Montalcino (Ontario: LCBO Vintages, $114.00) is.

What Is The Best Age To Lead?
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What Is The Best Age To Lead?

One of the most desired characteristics in new hires is leadership. It’s no surprise then that many executives define leadership as the capacity to translate vision into reality.

The means by which leaders translate ideas into outcomes are varied: emotional and social intelligence, comfort with ambiguity and conflict and the ability to focus on key items that could develop or damage a desired outcome.

So, when tasked with identifying leadership in candidates, are there any clues that managers, team leads and executives can look for?

Where Are Leaders Found?

Recent research suggests that the answer may be more obvious than we think. In fact, while several mental faculties decline as we age, other cognitive abilities can stay stable or even improve.

In 2009, Denise Park, a psychologist at the University of Texas at Dallas, and Patricia Reuter-Lorenz at the University of Michigan set out to show that the brain has more flexibility than previously thought.

They posited that as the brain’s cognition runs into challenges it will find new ways to work around them. This flexibility was called the Scaffolding Theory of Aging and Cognition (STAC).

In other words an older person may use more regions of the brain to accomplish a task than a younger individual, but both people could do the job equally well.

Judgement Like Wine

As companies wrestle with how best to identify and work with experienced professionals, the cognitive benefits associated with experience are particularly interesting:

As adults accumulate more experience, the cognitive function associated with solving interpersonal or abstract problems often improves.

Further, the ability to value and perceive the future equally to the present generally improves with age.

Finally, the ability to regulate emotions and cope with difficult situations and negative feelings also gets better with age.

What does this mean for employers? According to Quartz at Work’s article on the research of Darlene Howard, a psychologist emerita at Georgetown University, it means that for most people, the ideal time to tackle leadership roles is in their 50’s.

What about for boomers and experienced professionals? Although physical limitations increase as retirement draws near, seasoned individuals increasingly have the mental faculties required to lead others through abstract, complex and emotionally fatiguing problems.

Emerging science has proven that there is room to excel in the workforce for the 50+ crowd despite what the world might of those approaching retirement.

For the skeptics, a look at the CEOs of the top 10 companies in the world (Walmart, Apple, Amazon, General Motors, Exxon Mobil,CVS Health, Mckesson, UnitedHealth Group and Berkshire Hathaway) shows that nine of these companies had CEOs over 50 with seven CEOs in this list being between 50 and 60.

Whether it’s a short-term hire, a project lead or an executive, science seems to be showing that wisdom works.