Shining (Wine) Stars From Italy
Mon 26th October 2014
Today, Doctor Wine aka Daniele Cernilli brought his latest Italian Wine Guide to London to a trade exhibition in my old stomping ground, the Copthorne Tara Hotel in West London’s Kensington.
I attended his master class and he began by explaining that he had (over his career) tasted over 150,000 Italian wines and from that experience had now selected Italian wineries and wines worthy of recommendation in his guide.
He began with the Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore di Cartizze Vigna La Rivetta which he described as the Rolls Royce of Glera driven Prosecco. I found it quite ordinary. He then went on to emphasise that what we had tasted before (in our life-times) and before this experience he had given us, was not Prosecco as it should be – this was Prosecco as it is.
So farewell to my favourite Saturday Italian pre-lunch tipple, Waitrose San Leo!
As the afternoon progressed and we were instructed through several reds from Friuli and Toscana and – significantly – from Veneto. There was almost universal acclaim for two Amorone wines – Amorone della Valpolicella 2004 and an Amorone della Valpolicello Classico 2007. These were superb. The latter was very rich, elegant; with both wines there was a mention of chocolate. I asked Signore Cernilli what he thought the Classico might well accompany and he replied, “Venison with chocolate sauce.” I can’t wait!
Indeed there were other nuggets in this broad terroir: a beautiful Collio Sauvignon 2013 whose bouquet was full of herbal scents and on the palate a lot of peach; plenty of body, little acidity but an enchanting, lasting taste of wood, pine maybe, or even oak – I would call this wine my “Writer’s Shed.”
The Oreno 2011 was a classic Bordeaux type red and again had a haunting after taste of wood, this time, weeping willow. This was actually a communal description since when Doctor Wine had described it as perhaps “willow” a fellow taster (who was bi-lingual) added the “weeping” word much to Signore Cernilli’s delight, hence salice piangente.
There was then a Val d’ Arno di Sopra Ruschieto 2011 which was very dry to my taste and heavy on the tannin, described by Signore Cernilli as moving toward sunflowers; well maybe dead sunflowers as I have seen blackened so sadly in so many fields in Europe. A wine therefore, perhaps, for steak and burnt onions?
The Bolgheri Sassicaia 2011 was described as tobacco and cherry, I would have added grain to the grape, flavours of cognac … but a wine with heavy eye lids and that musty go to bed in the attic room bouquet.
Later, I tasted a couple of charming wines in the hotel’s Shannon Suite where at least fifty Italian wineries had come to exhibit: a Vermentino di Gallura Monteoro 2013 from (not surprisingly) Sella and Mosca, was complex, had dignity and length but because of its most delicious, perfumed, delicate and exotic bouquet, a wine surely made to accompany the grander oriental dishes.
How I wish I were both master chef and a master of wine, so that I could create the sexiest combinations!
My favourite wine overall was the Val d’ Arno di Sopra Ruschieto 2011 from a small (organic) winery in Valdarno di Sopra. The owner, Ettore Ciancico, modestly describes his wines as “fresh, pleasant and well made.”
They are much more than that – such modesty is rare.