Simply Italian Great Wines Asia Tour 2011 Singapore
Made it out of meetings just in time for the guided wine tasting presented by Istituto del vino italiano di qualita grandi marchi at Simply Italian Great Wines Asia Tour 2011 (Singapore), as part of the World Gourmet Series Wine & Restaurant Experience.
Good to be able to put a taste to some of the wine regions/grape varietals we’ve been studying (with over 2,000 native grape varietals in Italy alone, it’ll take more than a lifetime to cover everything!), and very interesting to hear that for most of the wineries, it’s all about La Familia.
The wines presented were meant to represent the best of many of the wine-growing regions in Italy, reflecting their unique grape varietals, geography, climate, processes. The wine tasting seminar was chaired by Dr. Michael Lim (ML) who writes at The Travelling Gourmet. Wine order and very random notes (with atrocious grammar):
Carpene Malvolti – Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Cuvee Oro (dry)
Sparkling wine from northeast of Italy in Conegliano-Valdobbiadene area in Veneto, made from 100% prosecco (name of grape also name of wine), made using the charmat method by the now 4th generation of the family since 1868. They called the wine “champagne” until 1924 when they were obliged to change it to “prosecco”. The wine presented was dry with sugar about 23g/l. Very very light yellow, white flower aroma, long-lasting bubbles, an easy drink. ML: goes very with dim sum – har gao, seafood – oyster, lobster.
Alois Legeder – 2010 Tenutae Lageder “Porer” Pinot Grigio (Demeter-biodynamic)
From the Alto Adige region, north of Veneto and at the border with Austria – one of the coolest regions in Italy and with high altitudes of more than 1000m. Most of the fine wines are grown on these slopes down to the valley. Alot of the wines from this region are in the German style. Pinot grigio isn’t too acidic in structure so it is popular because you can drink alot of it. This white is made according to Demeter-approved biodynamic methods. ML: good with cold salads, cold smoked salmon, seafood – lobster, sashimi.
Ambrogio e Giovanni Folonari Tenute – Il Pareto Rosso Toscana IGT Nozzole 2007
A Folonari from the 8th generation of the wine family presented this wine. He said that they were concerned to work with native grape varietals and the soil to produce wines that were distinctive though not necessarily better than others; the average quality of wines all over the world had grown in recent years but the problem he saw was that they didn’t have character or origin. So he and his father set out to acquire vineyards in the most exciting places in Tuscany to get wines with distinctive character that showed the terroir. The wine presented was 100% cabernet sauvignon with strong terroir imprint – not just typical Cab Sav spice but also earthiness, hints of leather, gamey-ness – characteristics more likely found in aged sangioveses (like Brunellos). Also the acidity didn’t make the wine fruity or jammy but made it good with food. Interesting to see this from an international variety. Was aged in French oak – part new, part one year old. ML: good with roast beef, roast lamb, meat dishes
Marchesi Antinori – Guado Al Tasso Bolgheri DOC Superiore 2007
From a famous wine-making Florentine family which has been making wine since they joined the guild in 1385. Pere Antinori is known in Italy for having turned quantity into quality wines through experimentation. The wine presented was from Bolgheri, at the coast of Tuscany. Bolgheri is traditionally better for Bordeaux varieties (hence the varietal composition of the wine presented – cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc (and petit verdot)). The whole region was once owned by one family – there were two daughters – one married Antinori and the other, another man who would go on to make the eponymous Sassicaia (well, actually, he was more into horses but he borrowed Antinori’s winemaker who came up with a nice blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc). The wine presented was the first vintage of Guado Al Tasso – still a bit fresh. ML: goes well with Sichuan beef in black pepper sauce.
Umani Ronchi – Cumaro Conero Riserva DOCG 2007
From the Marches region. 100% Montepulciano. ML: Good colour extraction. On the nose, medium to long finish – chocolate and cocoa finish (third nose). Good with Cantonese roast duck with crispy skin and Imperial baked chicken with wolfberries and red dates.
Lungarotti – Rubesco Riserva Vigna Monticchio Torgiano Rosso Riserva DOCG 2005
Two sisters make this wine (power frau! presenter’s mother and aunt). They are now in the third generation of winemaking since 1962. The presenter’s grandfather started to make quality wines in Umbria at a time when no one else was doing so – yes, outside of cities, everyone had his own personal vineyard for his personal consumption, but no one had a winery with constant attention to quality of the vineyard (pruning activities in winter, harvesting in July). The wine presented, Vigna Monticchio, came from a vineyard on top of a hill, clay soil, West exposure. Barrique 1 year and 4 years in bottle. The grandfather believed strongly that bottle aging was very important for the wine to breathe and get better. 70% Sangiovese and 30% Canaiolo. Complex with notes of cherries and progressively, spices and cocoa. ML: good with pork in soya sauce (tau yu bak), beef bourguignon.
Rivera – Il Falcone Castel Del Monte DOC 2005
From Puglia, the heel of the boot. 70% Nero di Troia, 30% Montepulciano. ML: on the nose, strawberries, red berries with some licorice. Medium to long finish. Good balance – dry and robust, tannins are silky and soft – because there was frequent pumping over which made the tannins softer. Not over-oaked like Australian wines. Good with curries and Singapore laksa. (liked this one.)
Tasca d’Almerita – Rosso Del Conte Contea Di Sclafani DOC Tenuta Regaleali 2006
Alberto Tasca d’Almerita, from the 8th generation of the winemaking family, represented this Sicilian winery. He spoke of the difficulty and excitement of getting to know Italian wines because of all the varieties and regions there. Sicily has a great range of regions from vineyards at sea-level to 1000m, clay to sandy, weather conditions. Rosso del Conte means rose of the count. Alberto’s uncle heard so much about how good Chateauneuf de Pape was, went to have a look, returned and swore to make the best wine in the world from the vineyard in the middle of Sicily. It was far from influence of the sea, good for ripeness but challenge was to get acidity. Grape varieties: Nero d’Avola and selection of best red varietals authorised by DOC. ML: first nose – coffee. Good with chicken satay with peanut sauce.
Argiolas – Turriga Isola Dei Nuraghi IGT 2006
From Sardinia, Turriga is a blend of 4 different grapes (85% cannonau – same family as grenache, 5% carignano, 5% malvasia nera, 5% bovale?), aged in French oak and then in bottle for 15-18 months. On the nose, first impression is complexity. Good with suckling pig and lamb. ML: good with pecorino cheese with honey, beef rendang.
Michele Chiarlo – La Court Barbera D’Asti Superiore Nizza DOC 2007
From Piedmonte which close to the French border and is famous for its white truffles (peak of season now). For great food, they needed great wines to pair with. There’s the Barolo, Barbresco, and Barbera. Barbera has been in the shadow of the first two in the past because it was usually just used as a house wine but not for a quality wine. Founder of the Chiarlo winery has always been focused on the Barbera. He believed that great wines can only come from great vineyards – a lot of attention on the terroir. Nizza is a small area that produces Barbera – unique, small production. Spends one year in a large cask, after which it moved to a small cask, and then blended together and bottled. ML: i was the first gourmet to match mooncakes with one of their dessert wines. This wine goes well with roast goose.
Mastroberardino – Radici Taurasi Reserva DOCG 1999
From Campagnia in south of Italy, known for sun and sea and buffalo mozarella. Family has been producing wines for 7 generations. Campagnia was the campania felix of the Roman empire – strong culture of food and wine (as Pompeii shows). There are 3 DOCGs in the small area – link between terroir and wine. The wine presented was one of the 3 DOCGs – the Taurasi – name of the village in the centre of the area of production. 100% aglianico grown in chalky clay soil with strong influence of nearby Mount Vesuvius volcano gave particular personality to the wine. Now, the attention has turned from international varietals to classical varietals that come from Italian soil. “Radici” is the name of the property (single vineyard). This is a reserva – a little longer aging – 30 months in wood, 18 months for bottle refining. The vintage, 1999, is quite young for a Taurasi. They don’t produce every vintage since not all might be highest quality – the last jump was in 2002. ML: good with wild boar meat. (i liked this one too.)
Biondi Santi Tenuta Greppo – Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2006
One of the most important winemakers in Italy, especially for brunello di montalcino. One of the family created it in 1888 with a clone of Sangiovese Grosso to make the Tuscan wine. Colour is bright ruby, taste is elegant with well-balanced acidity and tannins, though a bit young.
Pio Cesare – Barolo DOCG 2007
100% Nebbiolo. ML: on the nose, ripe morello cherry; on third nose, spices and cloves. On palate, hints of roasted meats and spices and the tannins are evident but elegant. Persistence of the wine – flavour remains long. Good for pan-seared tuna, fish soup from Marseille. (i really liked this one.)
Masi – Costasera Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2007
Started in 1772, 7 generations ago. From Veneto, near the town of Romeo and Juliet, Verona. In Valpolicella, there are three grape varieties – Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara, dried for 3-4 months on bamboo trays to make a more concentrated. Thanks to apassimento process, even though the wine is dry, very smooth, a gentle giant. ML: good with Cantonese style Emperor pork ribs, sweet and sour pork.
Donna Fugata – Ben Rye Passito Di Pantelleria DOC 2009
From the small island of Pantelieria, Sicily – volcanic island, sunny and windy so that the vines have to be cultivated in low-tree type. 100% Zibibbio (muscat of alexandria!). Harvested for one month and there are several harvests. Natural drying process outside and then fermented, the next harvest is then added to the fermented wine. Challenge is to balance the sweetness and acidity and freshness. Rich and pleasant – 200g of residual sugar. On the nose, southern italian – apricots, figs. Good with bitter chocolate – a meditation wine. ML: good with foie gras and oysters. Complex aromas. (This was the most popular for many of the tasters. I went behind to snap photos of the bottles and returned to find my glass missing – it had been emptied by a stranger who had taken the neighbouring seat and he was looking rather happy.)