This past 10 days, in between all the last minute preparations for vino roma (like begging wine distributors and reps to sell me wine, please, and when they consent to do so, after many mails and calls, wait for them to deliver), I have been taking part in a lot of wine events here in Rome, most of them thanks to A.I.S., the Italian Sommelier Association, of which I am a proud member.
There was a vertical Barolo tasting (vertical not meaning that we were standing all the time, as one of you asked in an email, but that we tried different vintages of the same wine from one winery – in this case Marchesi di Barolo) where I got to drink the oldest (non-sweet) wine of my life, a 1947 vintage, which was very, very good, smooth as silk and velvet, no tannins to disturb your palate, and with very fine, warm fruit aromas.
There was a 2004 Barbaresco tasting with 23 different wineries, where I got to try the first Gaja of my life (I mean the original, Piedmontese, Gaja, not one of his experiments elsewhere – the next day I had the 2nd and in 10 days I will be drinking more and getting to know Mr. Angelo Gaja himself, so I will hold my evaluation of Gaja back till after that event, he is called a “volcano-like man”) along with La Spinetta and Ceretto.
And then there was the Bibenda Day. Bibenda is Italy’s best Wine Mag and is affiliated with A.I.S. Every year they organize a day, where the members get to experience a guided tasting of 25 of the best wines to be found, Italians and international ones, rotating every year, from several (old) vintages. I drank the most expensive wines of my life during this evening: nothing under €60, the most expensive at €500, some were invaluable because not on the market! The picture at the beginning is from this tasting. Do you see the perfect accuracy? 50 rows of perfectly prepared tasting tables for a total of 500 tasters at this event: everything was perfectly organized.
They really thought about everything; there were 6 glasses, a spittoon for each taster, booklet of the wines to taste, a booklet for your tasting notes, a pencil, a napkin, bread and cheese, water….The rows and everything on the table were accurately set, the tasting began on time (all the A.I.S. events- 4 up to now – have been on time and well organized, I have to say, we had been expecting anything but good organization based on our experiences in the last two months here in Rome, but A.I.S. is nothing less than perfect) , the excitement was palpable. I really was nervous (in a good way), I have to admit, I knew I would drink wines better than any I had, and so many of them.The tasting was divided into 5 parts, the bubbly, the white, the red – Italians, the red – international, and the sweet. For each part the 90 sommelier on duty (all very friendly and professional) served the wines for that part in our glasses (each part had 3 to 6 wines, a total of 25 wines) and a different specialized moderator for each part talked about the wineries and the wines and did a tasting of each wine, relating his/her thoughts about the wine.
My highlights were:
The bubbly: 1995 Ferrari Riserva del Fondatore Spumante Metodo Classico (I loved the base wine of this spumante most; among 1989 Ca’del Bosco and the champagne from Krug, Jacquesson and Bollinger, all 1996)
The white: 1987 Terlano Sauvignon (this was really hard, as I loved all the whites: 1998 Chardonnay Tasca d’Almerita, 1984 Cabreo, 2006 Riesling Dellchen Dönnhof, 2004 Meursault-Genevrières Jobard and 1991 Chevalier-Montrachet Jadot)
The Italian red: 1995 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Valentini (this was the most “ready now”, doesn’t mean others won’t be grand when their time comes: 1999 d’Alceo Castello dei Rampolla, 1999 Sassicaia, 1998 Sorì San Lorenzo Gaja and 2000 Barolo Giacosa)
The international red: 1999 Chateau Margaux (this was also the most expensive wine – aside from some which were invaluable because not on the market at all – with €500 for a bottle. I loved, loved, loved this wine, it was the best one for me in this evening of superlatives. Other international reds were 2002 Chambertin Rossignol-Trapet, 1998 Latour, 2001 Le Méal Chapoutier, 2002 Relentless Shafer and 2001 L’Ermita Velles Vinyes Alvaro Palacios)
The sweet: 1932 Marsala Ambra Dolce Florio (this being the oldest wine I have ever tasted – the record which has been broken twice within a week -, others were 1996 Rotenberg Vendange Tardive Humbrecht and 1975 Sauternes Suduiraut)
If you want to see all the wines we tasted, here they are (pictures courtesy of Bibenda):