Tag Archives: italy

Poise, elegance, balance – a Nureyev wine

You forget just how steep the vineyards can be in Tuscany. Rolling hills, lone cypress trees, hilltop villages and medieval fortresses, yes, they all spring to mind when you think of Chiantishire. But, crikey, this is a steep slope.

We are at the top of the hill and the vines on both sides are majestic, the patterned seersucker rows stretching hypnotically into the distance. This is EM Forster country, but all I can think of is: I hope this driver knows what he is doing. There are four Land Rovers in single file formation, and our driver waits until the one in front has negotiated the slope before engaging the gears. And away we slither.

But, of course, we need not have worried. Riccardo Giorgi and his team are not only excellent winemakers, but they are expert at manoeuvring four wheel drives around the vineyard. And what a vineyard!

Tenuta Perano lies in the heart of the Chianti Classico region in Gaiole. And the reason for the procession of four wheel drives is because Frescobaldi have invited 50 or so of their distributors from around the world to enjoy their first sight of the new estate. Later on there will be hot air balloons, a presentation from Lamberto Frescobaldi and a steak cooked by rock star Panzano chef Dario Cecchini.

Two things strike you immediately: the altitude (“it is 500 metres above sea level compared to 250 metres for Nipozzano,” Lamberto Frescobaldi tells me later, over dinner). And the estate lies in a beautiful amphitheatre which catches every last drop of the sun. This is balanced by the tramontana wind, which sweeps through at night to lower the temperature. It is this combination of altitude, vineyard siting and the free draining galestro soil that gives the Perano wines such character.

The estate now produces three wines, a Classico, a Classico Riserva and a Gran Selezione “Rialzi”. “There will be no IGTs from here,” says Lamberto. I can’t wait to taste them over dinner.

But first, I almost come a cropper in the hotel air balloon. It all looks a bit precarious and the wind isn’t helping, but I manfully haul myself into the small basket with three other distributors, all of us wearing looks of trepidation. The weather is playing up, and it takes a long time before lift-off, and when it does the hot flame which our pilot blows into the balloon seems to come perilously close to my head. These days I haven’t got much up top and for a moment I worry about getting my bonce singed. Meanwhile, one of the spectating distributors shouts up to the pilot: “Don’t lose that salesman – he’s my best man and sells thousands of cases!”

When we eventually make it back down – thank God – we are then taken on a tour of the winery – probably the most pristine I’ve ever seen.

And then comes the T-bone!

The legendary showman Cecchini (strapline: Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter) enters to a blaze of klaxon horns. “To the table!” he exhorts, kissing everyone, and dishing out huge wedges of beef. It is complete chaos but no-one seems to care. The steak is sublime – and doesn’t he know it! Later on I queue to get my photograph taken with him like some fawning teenager. But, then, everyone else does.

Meanwhile, I listen to Lamberto talk about the wines. “We are looking for poise and elegance, and balance here,” he explains. He tastes the Classico. “This is a Nureyev wine,” he says.  The Riserva has more weight, but the tannins are sweet and soft. “This is a feminine wine,” he says. And then we move on to the Gran Selezione, the Rialzi, which means rise in the land. “This one is masculine,” he says.

Talking of masculinity, here comes the marching Cecchini again, now singing. Best to keep my head down, eat his steak and drink the wonderful wines.

Michele Chiarlo is the Picasso of the wine world

“We are – and always will be – only Piemonte,” says Michele Chiarlo.

We are standing in the cellars at Chiarlo’s Calamandrana winery and the still sprightly 83 year-old is telling his audience of worldwide distributors where his priorities lie. We are the lucky ones who have been invited to his annual symposium, and Michele, who still visits the winery every day, is proudly showing us around the barrel room. The Alliers oak tonneaux are gleaming, but as Michele explains; “I want to capture exactly the terroir and not the oak. These here are merely to prepare the wine for release.”

This terroir-driven focus has always been at the heart of the Chiarlo philosophy, further proof of which is Michele’s insistence on producing single-varietals rather than blends and only using indigenous grape varieties. This philosophy has been infused into his sons, winemaker Stefano and Alberto, who takes care of sales and marketing. The focus is rooted in an exceptional collection of vineyards in the Barolo and Barbera appellations.

But it wasn’t always like this. Michele chuckles; “fifty years ago, when I started making Barbera, people thought I was crazy.” But the proud owner of La Court has had the last laugh. “We have made our reputation with Barbera.” It continues to this day: the first vintage of Cipressi Nizza was immediately hailed as Wine of the Year by Wine Enthusiast.

And while the Cerequio and Cannubi Barolos are world class, the Barberas are world WORLD class, and you have to think this is where his heart ultimately lies. We decide immediately to christen him the Father of Barbera. Michele laughs sheepishly. A lifetime of accolades has not changed an essential humility.

But when Stefano takes us into the vineyards, he is keen to emphasise the family’s Barolo heritage. “Every Barolo producer wants to have a piece of Cannubi,” he says, scrambling over the unique terraces which characterise the vineyard. And from where he is standing he can point upwards a couple of hundred metres to where the ultimate Barolo vineyard, Cerequio, lies – the extra altitude the defining nature.

So, this then, is Michele Chiarlo. Exceptional vineyards; exceptional wines. A sixth generation wine family rooted in Piemonte’s terroir which has built up a worldwide reputation, underlined by a stunning collection of 90-plus points from Parker, Suckling and the Wine Enthusiast.

And yet.

This only tells half the story.

So far, we could be talking about any number of winemakers. There is something else, and it is difficult to put a finger on it. But then you walk around the amazing Chiarlo Art Park at the La Court vineyard. This diverse selection of world-class modern art dotted incongruously around the vineyard may help explain the attraction of Chiarlo. This modernity also finds reference in the stunning series of labels which adorn the great wines. Has there ever been a more eclectic, stylish and individual set of labels? And maybe it also finds reference in the style of the wines, which, in the Classico selection, allow the consumer to enjoy at a relatively early age – key for the restaurant trade, but in the individual Cru, also remain true to the ageing tradition.

It is this fascinating juxtaposition between tradition and modernity which lies at the heart of the Chiarlo appeal.

Looking at the art selections, I pipe up: “Michele is the Picasso of the wine world.”

“Yes,” says another distributor. “He even looks a little bit little Picasso!”

WOTM: Basilisco ‘Sophia’, Basilicata 2017

Kicking off 2019 we have chosen a wine that ticks all the boxes. This vegan wine from award-winning producer, Feudi di San Gregorio, is ideal if you are planning on embarking on Veganuary or even if you are looking for a wine to add some fire to your shelves, from its volcanic soils.

In a nutshell:

A lovely perfume reminiscent of fresh flowers, nectarine and apricot over an opulent texture and a lovely mineral bite on the finish.

The producer:

Basilisco is Feudi di San Gregorio’s winery in Basilicata, located in the  commune  of Barile, in the very heart of the Aglianico del Vulture DOCG. The vineyard sits at altitude and the vines are grown in volcanic soils, surrounded by olive trees and nourished by the warm Italian sunshine, conditions which are ideally suited to southern Italy’s flagship variety, Aglianico.
The vines are farmed organically under the watchful eye of Pierpaolo Sirch and have been certified as organic from the 2015 vintage.

The wine:

The grapes were exclusively harvested by hand at the optimal level of maturity and ripeness for each micro zone in the vineyard. The berries were fermented in stainless steel vats under temperature controlled conditions. Following  fermentation, the wine was rested on its fine lees with regular lees stirring, which added texture and complexity to the resulting wine. The wine was made in an unoaked style, retaining the characteristics of the Fiano grape and expressing the terroir of the vineyard.

The last eruption of the Vulture volcano took place 130,000 years ago and since then nature has restored its balance, creating a terroir with extraordinary features.

For further information on the Basilisco ‘Sophia’, Basilicata 2017
or any other Basilisco wines, please contact your account manager. 

Fire in the booze!

From Santorini to Soave, some of the world’s most interesting and talked-about wines come from vineyards planted on volcanic soils. It comes as no surprise that there’s been an explosion of interest in these ‘volcanic’ wines from sommeliers and wine merchants alike.

So what singles out these wines among all the others? Certainly the mineral-rich nature of volcanic soils plays a massive part, as does the finite-availability of wines from such specific sites. It’s true that vines grown on plain old clay or limestone can be world-beating, but you can find these soils in every wine-growing region of the world.

The ‘wow factor’ and story of behind volcanic wines shouldn’t be overlooked either. These vines grown on ancient soils really do take terroir to the next level with their mineral characters, fresh acidity, salinity and distinct longevity. The sight of green shoots and leaves emerging from the black volcanic soil is as ethereal as its gets in the vineyard.

According to Jamie Goode in his book The Science of Wine: From Vine to Glass, wines from volcanic soils are said to be riper, weightier, richer, and with texture and minerality that make them age worthy. Quite an attractive list of assets, but where do these characters come from?

Volcanic soils are rich in potassium, calcium, iron and magnesium, as well as other elements, which can contribute greatly to a wine’s mineral profile. Potassium-rich soils tend to produce wines with an almost almond-edged and savoury finish, while black volcanic soils enhance the citrus, peach and apricot aromas. They all enjoy a wonderful freshness.

Add to this the fact that volcanic rocks constitute high levels of macro-porosity in soils which allows water to be delivered to the roots of vines very slowly. This water-retaining property can be a lifesaver during a dry growing season when vines must rely on groundwater to survive.

The aspect of the volcano itself and the altitude at which many vineyards are planted also help to produce top quality fruit, as does the unflinching determination and attitude of generations of viticulturists who have risked eruptions to plant, tend and harvest vines. Simply put, these are very special sites, and they look awesome too.

Here’s a few volcanic suggestions from our portfolio.

Feudi di San Gregorio, Greco di Tufo, Campania, 2017:
“An aromatic and mineral wine showing flavours of peach, melon and citrus over a creamy texture.”

Ca’Rugate, Monte Fiorentine Soave Classico, Veneto, 2016:
“A beautifully layered wine with a rich flavour of ripe pineapple through to a fresh, mineral and lemon finish, full of flavour.”

Gaia Thalassitis Assyrtiko Santorini 2017:
“Explosive minerality with fresh lemon zest on the nose, crisp acidity on the palate and underlying floral notes. Refreshing with a crisp, mineral finish.”

Domaine Lavigne, Saumur Champigny Vieilles Vignes, Loire, 2016:
“A red Loire showing typical Cabernet Franc rhubarb and graphite character with a refreshing dryness on the finish.”

Chateau Grand Pré, Morgon, Beaujolais, 2016/2017:
“Rich, fleshy and balanced, with an appealing sauvage nose of green plums, chunky cherries and a hint of smokiness and spice.”

Basilisco, Teodosio Aglianico del Vulture, Basilicata, 2014:
“A full bodied and concentrated wine with aromas of soft fruit, plum and Morello cherry. Well balanced through to a dry, lingering finish.”

WOTM: Tenuta Ammiraglia, Alìe Rosé, Toscana 2017

Alìe Rosé, located in Magliano in the Maremma on the southern tip of Tuscany, the Ammiraglia estate boasts 150 hectares of vineyards that blanket gently rolling hills overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea.

In a nutshell:

Aromas of white flowers, wild cherry and citrus peel, with
velvety peaks of minerality resulting in a dry and herbal
finish.

The producer:

The wines of Tenuta Ammiraglia represent the Frescobaldi’s expression of modern Tuscan wines: influenced and inspired by the Mediterranean sun, sea and coastal breezes. The modern Ammiraglia winery, designed by the architect Piero Sartogo, is reminiscent of the prow of a ship pointing towards the sea. Perfectly integrated amid the hills and covered with greenery, it combines the most recent technological innovations with respect for the land and surrounding nature. The wines of Tenuta Ammiraglia are distinguished by the freshness, minerality and richness of the fruit.

The wine:

The berries were carefully selected and immediately pressed without any maceration, capturing just a hint of the colour from the skins, resulting in the delicate rosé colour. The grapes were then fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel for three  months, retaining the purity of fruit and aromatic expression. The wine did not go through malolactic fermentation. The Syrah was blended with a touch of Vermentino and the wine spent one month in bottle, prior to release.

Serving suggestion:

The berries were carefully selected and immediately pressed without any maceration, capturing just a hint of the colour from the skins, resulting in the delicate rosé colour. The grapes were then fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel for three months, retaining the purity of fruit and aromatic expression. The wine did not go through malolactic fermentation. The Syrah was blended with a touch of Vermentino and the wine spent one month in bottle, prior to release.

 

Royal Ascot 2018: What to expect

Hallgarten recently became Official Wine Supplier to Ascot Racecourse, exclusively supplying all still wines to the world’s most famous racecourse.

The partnership will see Hallgarten supply wine across the site, including at Royal Ascot. Michelin-Starred chefs Simon Rogan, Philip Howard and Raymond Blanc OBE will all showcase a specially selected range of wines in their respective restaurants during the Royal Meeting.

Royal Ascot is one of the most iconic race meetings across the world – there’s nothing quite like it. From the Royal procession, to the style and fashion, to the strawberries and cream (and the racing of course), over 300,000 people are expected to attend.

There’s a lot to consider across the five day spectacle, we’ve taken a closer look at what you can expect.

At Royal Ascot’s award-winning, fifth-floor restaurant, On 5, with its extraordinary garden terrace offering panoramic views of the racecourse. What will Michelin starred Philip Howard be pouring with his signature menus…

White:

Tenuta Ammiraglia, Massovivo, Toscana, Vermentino 
A lovely, intense straw colour, which leads to an impressive bouquet of fragrant blossom and exotic fruits, along with a fascinating vein of earthy minerality which is classic of this area. Fresh, crisp and sapid, but well sustained by its structure, it has an intriguing hint of almond on the finish.

Swartland Winery, ‘Founders’, Swartland, Chenin Blanc
An expressive Chenin Blanc, showing vibrant aromas of ripe passion fruit, guava and pineapple, underpinned by refreshing citrus notes. Well balanced with a full, fruity palate and a refreshing minerality on the finish.

Rosé:

Gérard Bertrand ‘Gris Blanc’, Pays d’Oc
The palest of salmon pinks, this is a wonderfully pure, fresh flavoured wine, with vibrant fruit aromatics. The fruity characters are echoed on the palate, which has a lovely minerality and a zesty finish.

Red:

Saint Clair, ‘Origin’, Marlborough, Pinot Noir 
Aromas of sun-kissed dark berries, boysenberry and freshly picked blackberries, are interlaced with toasted wood notes and a hint of dark chocolate. The palate is full of sumptuous dark berries, layered with freshly ground coffee beans and dark chocolate. A hint of cinnamon spice leads into a savoury finish.

 

Raymond Blanc OBE returns as chef-in-residence to the sixth-floor Panoramic Restaurant, which offers one of the finest views across the track and down the straight mile. What will Raymond be pouring this year with his gastronomic menu…

 

White:

Domaine Tabordet ‘Laurier’, Pouilly-Fumé
A classic Pouilly Fumé showing minerality complemented by notes of exotic fruits, tangerine, pink grapefruit and spicy undertones. The palate is powerful and refreshing and delivers a long, flinty finish.

Rosé:

Château de l’Aumérade ‘Cuvée Marie Christine’ Rosé, Cru Classé Côtes de Provence
A lovely pale powder pink hue, with refreshing aromas of grapefruit leading to succulent peach and apricot on the palate. Fruit forward and full, with a hint of spice, this elegant rosé has a refreshing acidity and a long finish.

Red:

Domaine de la Ville Rouge ‘Inspiration’, Crozes-Hermitage 
Deep red, intense aromas of red fruits and black olives. Spicy and peppery notes with silky tannins. An elegant and silky textured wine.

 Sweet:

Château Suduiraut, Castelnau de Suduiraut, Sauternes
This elegantly rich wine shows orange peel and mineral notes on the nose. The palate is full bodied with almonds, spice, honey and candied fruits through to a lovely, lingering finish.

 

Chef Adam Handling, of The Frog E1 and Frog by Adam Handling in Covent Garden, makes his Royal Ascot debut in 2018 as he takes his role as ‘Chef in Residence’ of The Balmoral – a brand new Fine Dining restaurant within the Royal Enclosure.

White:

Gérard Bertrand ‘Terroir’ Picpoul de Pinet
A complex nose, full of citrus and floral notes combined with white peach, exotic fruit and a hint of pineapple. The palate is rich with zesty fruit and a livewire acidity which keeps your taste buds tingling. The finish is long and well rounded.

Rosé:

Saint Clair,’Origin’, Marlborough, Pinot Gris Rosé
Pale salmon in colour, a refreshing rosé with lifted aromas of sun-ripened strawberry, whipped cream and spiced pear. Beautifully balanced and finely structured on the palate with creamy fruit flavours of raspberries and strawberries leading to a hint of spice on the finish.

Red:

Gérard Bertrand ‘Naturalys’, Pays d’Oc, Syrah
A deep colour, with shimmering hints of violet. Generous nose, packed with red fruit and spice. Supple, aromatic and impeccably elegant on the palate, with refined tannins and lively fruit flavours offset by subtle herbaceous aromas.

Sweet:

Quady Winery, ‘Essensia’, California, Orange Muscat
Vibrant orange in colour, this wine delivers luscious sweet oranges and apricots on the palate. The bittersweet orange marmalade notes balance well with the zesty citric acidity.

 

What else to expect by numbers…

56,000
bottles of Champagne

80,000
cups of tea

21,000
jugs of Pimm’s

7,000
rumps of English lamb

3,000
kilos of beef sirloin

3,500
fresh lobsters

 

Winemaker profile: Stefano Chiarlo

For generations, the iconic Chiarlo family has produced some of Piedmont’s truly great wines and winemakers. Stefano Chiarlo, Michele Chiarlo’s current Oenologist and Vineyard Manager, runs the winery alongside his parents and brother.

Founded by Stefano’s father, Michele Chiarlo in 1956, the family owns 60 hectares of vineyards and produces single varietal wines from indigenous grape varieties. The winery remains in the town where Michele was born and the family are proud to represent this area, where Michele is a leading figure in the Piedmont wine industry.

Following time spent studying Oenology at the Enological School in Alba, and after a period of National Service following his graduation, Stefano joined Michele Chiarlo in 1991.

Initially working as Assistant to Oenologist, Roberto Bezzato, Stefano was responsible for managing the vineyard and the vinification of Gavi, a hugely important wine for Chiarlo and Piedmont. Following seven years learning the trade at the winery, Stefano became chief winemaker in 1999 (a very good vintage for Nebbiolo based wines).

His winemaking philosophy centres on creating wines which are elegant, with subtle use of oak and respect for the varietal and terroir.

Away from the winery and vineyard Stefano, along with his father and brother, is a keen Torino football supporter. He also enjoys skiing, visiting good pubs and is a lover of the sea.

We are proud to list 14 wines created under Stefano’s watchful eye at Michele Chiarlo in our portfolio, from the iconic Barolos, to the pioneering Barberas, the immensely important Gavis and the delicious Moscatos. For more information on any of these wines, visit our website.

Castello Pomino Winemaker’s Dinner

On Halloween we went to the Ristorante Frescobaldi, London, for a dinner hosted by Castello Pomino winemaker, Livia Le Divelec, who guided us through the unusual and exciting wines of Pomino’s mountain environment and the unique history of the estate where Chardonnay and Pinot Noir were planted for the first time in Italy in 1855.

Pomino boasts an environment unique inTuscany: a perfectly-balanced ecosystem of vineyards, fir forest, chestnut trees, and olive groves. The estate covers 1,458 hectares lying along the wooded slopes of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines, with 108 hectares in vineyards, at elevations ranging from 300 to 750 metres.

Ristorante Frescobaldi London is the first standalone restaurant and bar in the UK from the famed Frescobaldi family of Tuscany.

Canapés

A selection of canapes, paired with  Leonia Brut 2012, Metodo Tradizionale Millesimato

The wine had an initial aroma of intense bread crust and patisserie, which gave way to a fresh bouquet of spring flowers with citrusy hints, before ending with spiced nutmeg and thyme leaves.

The sparkly starter was a perfect tipple to pair with the canapés of traditional Tuscan meats, fish and cheese.

Antipasti

Sea bass tartar with artichoke and fresh salad leaves, paired with Castello Pomino 2016, Pomino Bianco d.o.c.

2016 Bianco had an intensely flowery, frangipant and jasmine nose, mixed with fruitier notes of apricot and quince. In the glass it releases exotic scents of tropical fruit and fresh cardamom.

Primi piatti 

Rabbit tortelli with winter tomatoes and olive taggiasche, paired with Pomino Pinot Nero 2015, Pomino d.o.c.

An explosion of fruity aromas with a prevelance of cherries and blackberries mixed with cinnamon, cloves and notes of tobacco an coffee.

Secondi 

Turbot with topinambur pumpkin and crispy artickhokes, paired with Pomino Benefizio Riserva 2015 & 1997 vintages, Pomino Bianco d.o.c.    

(On the left) The 2017 Benefizio is a barrique aged white, elegant and distinctive with a rich array of aromas and flavours such as apple, pineapple, citrus and honey.

(On the right) The 1997 Benefizio was a unique experience, a deeper amber colour yet retaining its acidity and freshness superbly. The bottle ageing had developed the honey notes, baked apple and hazelnut.

Dolce 

Pear strudel and hot custard cream, paired with Vinsanto di Pomino 2008, Castello Pomino, Pomino Vinsanto d.o.c.

To finish a sweet delight, on the nose; spicy notes of vanilla and nutmeg. The palate was enveloped by elegant softness, while the finish brings back memories of toasted hazelnuts and walnuts.

WOTM: Poderi Parpinello, Vermentino di Sardinia DOC Ala Blanca 2016

In a nutshell:

The Poderi Parpinello, Vermentino di Sardinia DOC ‘Ala Blanca’ 2016 is a wine that is full of flavour of ripe tropical fruit, lime and pineapple coulis with a spicy finish.

The producer

The Parpinello family have run this 30 hectare estate and winery with dedication and passion for three generations. Giampaolo Parpinello and his son Paolo strive to reflect the Sardinian terroir and reveal the typicity of the wines. The vineyard is situated on a gentle slope between Alghero and Sassari in the North West of the island. In order to reflect this typicity, modern winemaking technology is successfully combined with traditional farming methods, resulting in high quality wines with intense aromas and flavours, evocative of the terroir from which they originate.

The wine

The wine was traditionally vinified with a temperature controlled maceration and fermentation at 15°C. No wood was used during vinification in order to preserve the varietal characteristics of the Vermentino grape, whilst also expressing the elements of terroir from which it hails.

The tasting note:

Elegant and fine aromas of ripe tropical fruits, with an intriguing hint of bitter almonds and a lovely spicy finish.

WOTM: San Marzano ‘Tramari’ Primitivo Rosé Salento IGP 2016

Summer is almost upon us and so it’s time to crack out the nectar of summer – rosé. To celebrate the start of the warmer months, our Wine of the Month is a 100% Primitivo wine from San Marzano.

In a nutshell:

Made from the Primitivo grape, this is a very appealing pale and tangy rosé with aromas of roses and wild strawberries against a creamy background of Mediterranean spice.

The Producer:

In 1962, 19 vine growers from San Marzano, whose families had farmed the land for generations, combined their efforts to establish ‘Cantine San Marzano’. Through the decades this cooperative has grown significantly, attracting over 1200 vine growers, using modern and technologically advanced vinification techniques to produce elegant wines, while paying homage to the ancient Apulian wine traditions. Nowadays, the fusion of time honoured tradition and passion, with contemporary techniques, enables this winery to produce wines with distinctive varietal and regional characteristics, which distinctly reflect the local terroir.

The Wine:

A skin contact maceration took place for several hours, followed by a partial drawing off the must. Fermentation took place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks, preserving the aromatics and the fruit characteristics of the Primitivo variety. Ageing then continued in stainless steel to retain the freshness. This is a very modern wine, made from the Primitivo grape variety, which is an uncommon characteristic for a Salento wine.

Tasting note:

A softly coloured rosé with intense aromas of wild cherries and raspberries, combined with an attractive hint of Mediterranean maquis -the local aromatic shrubland. Elegantly styled and slightly off-dry, with a refreshing finish.

Ca’Rugate at the tre bicchieri tasting

Today we are part of the great and the good in the plush surroundings of the Church House Conference Centre at Dean’s Yard in Westminster – which is an interesting place to be during a General Election campaign.

We’re here for the annual Gambero Rosso tre bicchieri tasting and I’m showing off the award-winners from our wonderful Ca’Rugate winery. Based in Brognoligo di Monteforte in the heart of the Soave Classico region, Ca’Rugate is one of my all-time favourite producers. We started working with them about four years ago (we couldn’t believe our luck!) and since then it has been a real thrill to introduce their wines to our customers. They made their name with their amazing selection of Soave wines (check out their history of tre bicchieri awards), but in recent times they have won just as many awards for their Valpolicella wines.

Today I am showing the Monte Fiorentine Soave Classico 2015, the Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso 2015 and the Punta Tolotti Black Label Amarone 2012.

Award-winners to the left of me, award-winners to the right of me, but punters are queueing up at my table – and it’s definitely not because of my good looks. Word has got out and everyone wants to taste the Soave. It lives up to its reputation, caressing and undressing the palate with a seductive allure of hazelnuts and cream, cut through with a water-on-pebbles minerality. My job is sooo easy when the wine is as good as this.

But just as gratifying is the reaction to the reds. One particular wine “counsellor” becomes my best pal by bringing over client after client to taste the ravishing and voluptuous Amarone, surrendering themselves to the heady concoction of blueberries, blackberries, cherries and spicy oak. The tasters look at me in awe. Nothing to do with me, I tell them; it’s all the work of Michele Tessari and his team.

The Ripasso is equally well received. It is the subtle touch of sweetness on the finish which lingers on the palate which causes everyone to pause, stop, gaze into a faraway space and reflect on the beauty of what is in their mouth. The senses surrender.  It is the way the taster looks at you as if to say; “Thank you” which brings the smile to your face.

It was at the beginning of the 20th century that Amedeo Tessari, Michele’s great grandfather, first sensed the quality of the land and began making wine. Amedeo, a modest man,  would probably have felt out of place among the finery of Dean’s Yard. But his legacy lives on.

The wines continue to beguile.

 

Try something natural… Ancilla Lugana, 1909, 2015

In a nutshell:

Produced without the addition of sulphur, this wine has a super ripe pear and white peach character, textured with a very long and saline finish.

The wine:

The grapes were destemmed and lightly pressed, followed by a cold maceration on the skins. A slow fermentation took place in steel casks at a low temperature. The wine was aged on its fine lees, in stainless steel casks for five months, then saw further bottle ageing for one month, prior to release.

Tasting note:

52391-1909_hdIntense aromas of grapefruit and citrus fruits are combined with intriguing undertones of jasmine and elderflower. These sensations come to fruition and linger deliciously on the palate, harmoniously balanced with notable body and the discovery of unsuspected warmth.

Try it with:

A food loving wine, this accompanies antipasti, bruschetta, risotto and grilled white fish with a twist of lemon.

The producer:

Ancilla Lugana is located on the shores of Lake Garda in North East Italy. The estate comprises two vineyards: La Ghidina, located in Lugana di Sirmoine, the heart of the production area of some of the most elegant whites in Italy, and Cadellora, situated in Villa franca di Verona. It is run by Luisella Benedetti, the third generation of women to run this estate, having inherited the farm from her mother, who inherited in turn from her mother, named Ancilla.

Ancilla was an extraordinary, energetic woman, who worked the fields and got up at 3am every day make her wine producing dream come true. Following in the footsteps of her grandmother, with the passion for the land in her blood, Luisella Benedetti gave up her career in finance and took over the family business in the early 2000’s.

With a hands-on approach, Luisella is involved in every aspect of winemaking and viticulture. The lifelong commitment of her grandmother and mother is a passion now shared by Luisella, which is clear to see in this exciting and pure collection of Lugana wines.