There are still times during the course of my job when I have to stop and pinch myself just to make me believe that certain things are happening.
For instance, when I found myself in the midst of tasting 57 top-of-the-line Italian wines, with masters classes provided by the legendary editor-in-chief of THE Italian wine guide Gambero Rosso Marco Sabellico (with the effervescent Lorenzo Ruggeri), I really thought I was dreaming.
I wasn’t (and no, I wasn’t drunk).
I wasn’t kidding about the 57 wines, either.
Sampling that much wine with awesome speakers was an amazing opportunity… After all, mastering Italian wines is a bit of a challenge (every corner of Italy produces wine). The key takeaway I’ve always had with Italian wines is that somehow, they always find a way to make their wines to match their food (I did not survive the tasting without having pasta… I just had to).
So, tongue numb and forever spoiled by sampling some of the most beautiful Italian wines, I came up with a few of my personal favorites from the showcase.
Note: These were lifted from my actual tasting notes… I actually included the terms “That’s what a dead deer on a highway could potentially smell like… Gamey and incredibly flinty,” somewhere in my paper. I’m saying to encourage people new to describing wine. Yes, people should write the first thing that comes to their minds upon the first smell or taste. Unless it’s a certification exam, if the first thing that one can think of is “manggang hilaw”, that’s perfectly fine. 😉
- Lunae Bosoni – Colli di Luni Vermento Et. Nera 2015 (Liguria)
Peachy, stone fruits, herbs, sage, basil… I needed to pair this with pesto, stat!
- Gaja – Barbaresco 2012 (Piedmont)
One can never go wrong with a Barbaresco. Historically, these wines from Piemonte are consistently divine (and pricey!). It took a while for this particular wine to open up, but it was phenomenal when it did.
- Allegrini – Amarone della Valpolicella Cl. 2011 (Veneto)
This prompted my seatmate, legendary wine enthusiast Jay Labrador to happily exclaim, “That’s lovely”. It was indeed lovely… Rounded and chewy, with just a touch of sweetness.
- Barone Pizzini – Franciacorta Animante Brut (Lombardy)
Clean, with notes of citrus and honey, plus a little mint and… Balsamic vinegar from Modena…? Added to tropical fruits (like papayas and pineapples) and flowers… This bubbly Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Blanc combo begged to be paired with food.
- Livon – Braide Alte 2014 (Friuli Venezia Giulia)
Very feminine with floral notes of violets and roses… Extremely aromatic with smells of citrus fruits and candied pineapples (that reminded me of my favourite Aji Ichiban dried pineapples). Balanced out by tastes of herbs, tea, and sweet spices (probably caused by the use of old oak barrels).
- Primosic – Collio Ribolla Gialla di Oslavia Ris. 2011 (Friuli Venezia Giulia)
I knew things were getting interesting when we were presented with orange coloured wine. It wasn’t like anything I’ve ever had to evaluate… I felt it needed its own classification. It had smells of tertiary aromas (strong notes of aged wood), but balanced on the other end of the spectrum by herbs and orange peel. Even the food pairing is quite polarizing, as it can work well with both dried fruits and white meat. It got its color from going through the same procedure as red wine (including the skin of the grapes during fermentation).
- Cottanera – Etna Bianco 2014 (Sicily)
Admittedly, the biggest reason for featuring this is because it came from the same area as Mount Etna (one of the world’s most active volcanoes). This is a surprisingly gamey white, with elements of minerality and spice to it, rounded off with a feminine, elegant texture… I daresay I can have this as an alternative to my white Burgundies.
Was it just another day in a wine specialist’s life? Maybe (I mean, the incredibly raw tasting notes just show what I do), but I’m not complaining.
Apart from the awesome 57 Italian powerhouses, the event also exhibited some of Italy’s finest wines… It was so hard to choose a favorite.
What’s your favorite Italian wine? Cheers!
*Grazie Mille to Marco and Lorenzo of Gambero Rosso for the time and opportunity, and the wonderful people of Felicitas Global (especially Miss Airene and Miss Smita, you are amazing for inviting us to your wonderful event!)