As the newest member of the sales team, I’ve learned firsthand that BI don’t tend to do things by halves. Usually, a tasting with over 20 producers exhibiting over 70 wines would satisfy even the most ardent Italian wine lover... but in our Hatton Garden offices, one can always hear the rustle of envelopes being pushed. We aimed for our 3rd annual ‘Great Winemakers of Italy’ tasting and its accompanying producer dinner to present the best Italian wines on the market, all while giving customers an insider’s view into the processes and personalities behind their production.
We think we might be on the right tack. Last Wednesday, on the eve of the Italian tasting, I was lucky enough to attend a comprehensive but incredibly relaxed dinner at 28°-50°, where a selection of these enigmatic winemakers presented their top choices to a handful of BI customers and staff. Here's what we tasted:
Aperitif, served with:
Pieropan, Soave Calvarino, 2004
Welcome drinks came without bubbles on this occasion, but this peach, citrus led aperitif had a fine mineral edge which really was a perfect kick-start to the evening. It is somewhat difficult to find a Soave in this ‘traditional’ style, focused on freshness and minerality that rewards cellaring, but I have to agree will Antonio Galloni that “Pieropan’s wines have proven to age gracefully”.
Charcuterie platter, served with:
Pieropan, Soave La Rocca, 2004
Next up was the Calvarino’s fatter sister, the La Rocca 2004 - and big can definitely be beautiful. Aged on its lees in oak barrels for a year following fermentation, La Rocca is a less traditional and much richer style of Soave, but it remains perfectly balanced with a cleansing acidity. A much more exotic wine, with a rich honeyed character, hints of spice, and a subtle nuttiness – delicious!
96 pts, AT
Parmesan Risotto served with rocket and truffle dressing, served with:
Fattoria di Monsanto, Chianti Classico Riserva, Cinquentenario, 2008
This Cinquentenario is a special bottling commemorating the 50th anniversary of Fattoria di Monsanto. Made using fruit from a very select parcel of vines it is a fitting tribute to the property. Classic Chianti notes of fresh cherries and plums, with complexity in the form spice and a hint of menthol. The racy acidity make this a great match to the parmesan risotto, but I would be tempted to tuck this away for a couple of years.
92 pts, AT
Fattoria di Monsanto, Chianti Classico Riserva, Il Poggio, 1977
A recent re-release from the estate, and a brilliant example of how beautifully these top quality Chianti’s can develop – if somewhat of an acquired taste. Fully mature aromas of caramel, leather and dried fruits follow through on to the palate, but a surprising level of depth and structure remain, along with the trademark acidity. Not for everyone on my table, but it won me over…
93 pts, AT
Ox cheek served with horseradish and truffle puree, served with:
G.D. Vajra, Barolo Bricco Delle Viole, 2007
Time to bring out the heavies. Still very young, this intense and tannic wine is already revealing the raspberry fruit, perfume, and layers of complexity that Vajra is renowned for, with suggestions of the spice and earth which come with further development. It would be great to revisit this wine in a few years, but for now it struck me as incredible value.
97 pts, AT
Selection of Italian cheeses, served with:
G.D. Vajra, Barbera d’Alba Superiore, 2009
An outstanding Barbera d’Alba packed full of dark berry fruit and a bit more of a mineral presence,but less savory than the evening’s previous Vajra. Concentrated and utterly delicious.
92 pts, AT
Cinnamon crème brulee with apple compote, served with:
Fattoria di Monsanto, Vin Santo La Chimera, 1995
Grapes dried on rush mats and aged in sealed oak with alternating phases of fermentation result in a total volume of less than a third of the original juice. Lengthy production makes this wine the “least profitable” in the Monsanto range according to proprietor Laura Bianchi, (and guest for the evening), but it was also unique, intriguing, and a brilliant conclusion to a fantastic evening.
94 pts, AT
For those that missed out on the dinner, or in fact the tasting, there is hope! The wines that we all enjoyed are available through the website or via your account manager…so get stuck in!
[For more information on BI Events and Tastings, please contact your account manager or visit our Events and Tastings page]