With 79 wineries participating, the “Great Wines of Italy” returned to Bangkok on Monday, November 30, making it the biggest event of its kind to be held this year in Thailand’s capital and business center.
Sponsored by JamesSuckling.com the event demonstrated a wide range of wines from the country that is now the world’s largest producer. Such large wine tasting events benefit both consumers who get to taste wines that may not be available in the local market and the producers who seek to open new markets for their wines.
My tasting notes started with a sparkling wine that I have longed to taste because of its reputation and that is Ferrari, not the luxury car. Ferrari’s top cuvée is Giulio Ferrari, named after the winery’s founder. The 2002 vintage was amazing.
The wine rests on the lies for 10 years and is entirely produced from Chardonnay grown at elevation in northern Italy. This wine thus retains a fresh and vibrant character in spite of its 13 years of age.
Next came the 2013 Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc from Livio Felluga, one of Italy’s top white wine specialists from Colli Orientali Del Friuli. Both wines had strong varietal character with enough acidity to compliment many fish or fowl dishes.
Moving to the western side of the northern Italy, I tasted three Barolos from Damilano, Roberto Voerzio and CaViola.
At one time Barolo was a sweet wine as wineries did not have access to modern yeasts that ferment the sugar to the bone, thus leaving residual sugar. The next big change was to move Barolo to the modern taste. In Barolo that meant wine that didn’t take 15 to 20 years to age until ready to drink.
Of the Barolos tasted, the 2009 seemed the most approachable with the Voerzio 2009 Brunate most ready to drink. But airing a wine a few hours can do wonders for approachability. The first Barolo I ever tasted recommended 24 hours of breathing!
A large number of wineries producing Brunello di Montalcino, the elegant but intense wine from Tuscany were at the tasting but I got around to taste just three: Caparzo 2010, Luce 2012 and Ruffino Modus 2011.
The Caparzo Brunello 2010 displayed a good mid-palate and a smooth finish. The Luce 2012 is a blend of Merlot and San Giovese was fruity and pleasing. The Ruffino Modus is actually a “super Tuscan” with Sangiovese blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. A good taste now but better in two years.
I have been a fan of Taurasi, a wine made from the Aglianico grape, for some time. The Donnachiara winery has been around for 150 years in Campania in southern Italy. But the turnaround came in 2005 when the Petito family refitted the winery with modern equipment.
The Taurasi 2012 showed its robust character and the white Fiano di Avellino 2014 displayed its elegant and graceful character.
Moving even farther south, I discovered a relatively new winery from Sicily, Pietradolce. According to the tasting’s head man, James Suckling, Pietradolce is one of a small group of Sicilian wineries that are producing quality wine rather than bulk wine.
I tasted the red Mt. Etna Rosso 2014 made from the local nerello mascalese grape and was impressed. The grapes are grown on 11 hectares of volcanic lava soil at an elevation of 600 to 900 metres, thus making for a cooler climate for grape growing. This wine reflects its unique background and was smooth and balanced all the way down.
I ended the evening with a glass of the Allegrini Amarone della Valpolicella , an old favorite as I used to sell a lot of it when I was in the sales end of the industry. Tasty!
[Article by David Swartzentruber]