We hear from Beatrice, our Italian sommelier who was very excited to share with Members and their guests some top picks from her home country. There is a real appetite for exploration of the off-piste Italian vines, so it came as no surprise that it was a huge success and one that will certainly be repeated…
Last week, I hosted an intriguing Masterclass on the vinous gems of Italy, tasted alongside a selection of Italian cheeses. Italian wine without the flavoursome cheeses to pair simply doesn’t do the glass justice…!
2014 Marco De Bartoli, ‘Terzavia’, Spumante Metodo Classico Brut Nature
2016 Fiano di Avellino, Ciro Picariello
2016 Grüner Veltliner ‘Aristos’ Cantina Valle Isarco
2014 Malvasia, Skerlj
2014 Etna Rosato, Girolamo Russo
2017 Pinot Nero, Joseph Meczan, J. Hofstätter
2015 Nebbiolo, ‘Perbacco’, Vietti
2012 Etna Rosso, ‘San Lorenzo’, Girolamo Russo
Mozzarella di Bufala (fresh cheese from cow milk, originating from the Campania region)
Pecorino Sardo (a hard cheese from sheep’s milk from Sardinia, quite intense flavours)
Gorgonzola Dolce (savoury blue cheese, originally from Lombardy – this cheese is creamy and has a fantastic, delicious sweetness)
Monte Vecchio (hard cheese from the surrounding areas of Verona in the Veneto region, very intense flavour)
I always love to select wines from lesser-known areas of Italy, to help our Members discover the country – Italy is a stunning wine-making country yet isn’t so easy to get to grips with.
I couldn’t miss the opportunity to welcome everyone with a glass of Italian sparkling, made from 100% Grillo from Sicily, by Marco De Bartoli, the iconic producer of Marsala. A beautiful match with hard cheeses like Pecorino.
We had three different styles of white wines to kick-off the Masterclass, a classic Fiano (traditional pairing with the Mozzarella di Bufala!) from a young and up-and-coming producer Ciro Picariello, a delicious fruit-driven Gruner from Alto Adige and a Malvasia Istriana with 5 months of skin contact.
Our Members were passionate about discussing these wines and understanding why they preferred one style over another – they were all fascinated by the history of the wineries, and the many different tasting notes found within the bottles. Some Members preferred the easy, approachable Fiano and others loved the Malvasia! One of the many enjoyable things about wine – it is entirely about personal preference.
For the reds, I tried to pick lighter wines, considering the warm summer weather, but I would be doing the country a disservice if I didn’t put a Sangiovese and a Nebbiolo in the line up!
We began with a Pinot Nero from one of the best areas in Italy, Trentino Alto Adige, before we moved on to a young, yet structured Nebbiolo from Vietti – another iconic producer. This wine had distinctive fruity characters and was an easier glass than the Barolo, a wine that boasts a big tannic profile from Castiglione Falletto. Beyond Tuscany and Piedmont, Etna is another up-and-coming area that more and more wine lovers are discovering, where single vineyards (Contrade) are showing diversity and very high quality. To produce wines from this volcanic terrior is a challenge – to make them great is a true reward. We tasted an Etna Rosso from Girolamo Russo, the top Contrada of San Lorenzo, and last but certainly not least, my favourite Sangiovese from Mr Claus Reimitz.
2015 shows pure yet concentrated red sour fruit, balanced with layers of rosemary and thyme. This is the most classic and truthful Sangiovese, and one that I always recommend.
The conversations flowed into the evening, and it was a true pleasure to introduce Members to at least one new producer from my home country. Italy is a treasure trove of grape varieties, terroirs and producers – there is always something new to be discovered…