Been Drinking Wine – Bibenda Day 2008, and others

Bibenda Day 2008

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.

Marchesi di Barolo 1947

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.

perfect organization

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.

1932 Marsala Florio

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):

Ca’del Bosco Franciacorta Cuvée Annamaria Clementi 1989 Ferrari Riserva del Fondatore 1995 Krug Champagne Brut 1996 Jacquesson Champagne Extra Brut 1996 Bollinger Champagne R.D. 1996

Cantine Terlano A. A. Terlano Sauvignon 1987 Tasca d’Almerita Chardonnay 1998 Tenute del Cabreo Cabreo La Pietra 1984 Dönnhof Riesling Dellchen Trocken 2006 Domaine Francois et Antoine Jobard Mersault-Genevrières 1er Cru 2004 Louis Jadot Chevalier-Montrachet Les Demoiselles Grand Cru 1991

Castello dei Rampolla d’Alceo 1999 Tenuta san Guido Bolgheri Sassicaia 1999 Valentini Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 1995 Gaja Langhe Nebbiolo Sorì San Lorenzo 1998 Bruno Giacosa Barolo Le Rocche del Falletto Riserva 2000

Domaine Rossignol-Trapet Chambertin Grand Cru 2002 Chateau Margaux 1999 Chateau Latour Pauillac 1998 M. Chapoutier Ermitage Le Méal 2001 Shafer Napa Valley Syrah Relentless 2002 Alvaro Palacios Priorat L’Ermita Velles Vinyes 2001

Domaine Zind Humbrecht Alsace Pinot Gris Rotenberg Vendange Tardive 1996 Chateau Suduiraut Sauternes Ancien Cru du Roy 1975 Florio Marsala Superiore Riserva Ambra Dolce 1932


11 Responses

  1. Brava Hande! Auguri e buona fortuna.
    tutto è cominciato 3 anni fa con l’incontro qualità della vita a Leivi. Sono contenta per Voi. Ciao.

  2. I am so jealous! These look absolutely incredible…

  3. How lucky were you. The oldest wine i have ever had was 1927 par Liqueur Tawny Port, 28 years ago; amazing but to have a 1932 Marsala.
    I once had a 1950 Borgona Barolo when it was 46 years old and it was still a brooding monster of a wine yet hooked me onto Barolo forever.

  4. How much I wish I were there too!

  5. Excellent article and top site.

    I wish that I could visit this area and taste the wine for myself.
    However I have to content myself thousands of miles away here in Aussie with a bottle of the local.

    You just can’t beat a good French drop.


  6. Hearingabout your experience made me wish I were there- it sounds wonderful as well as educational. I have only had Barolo wine once at the restaurant of the same name in Washington DC, and it was definitely memorable!

  7. Marion,
    invece, sono 5 anni! Non si può credere, no?
    this really was a once in a lifetime experience. Seems like everyone likes a Barolo, but I have to say, there are lots of more great Italian wines. Have a look at And though my favorite at this tasting was a French wine, generally (for everyday drinking) I do prefer Italians, I have to say. They go a lot better with food!

  8. I’m going to taste my first Barolo soon. After reading your post I need to taste it…also because yesterday I read of the “Risotto with Barolo”. And now I’ve print out the recipe

  9. […] blog di un’amica e scoprire improssivamente che non si è mai assaggiato un vino. Così tramite Food Vagabond ho scoperto il Barolo. Barolo mumble mumble, ma io non lo sconosco oltre il nome. Allora son […]

  10. I want your job! We brought back a pretty good bottle of Barolo home from Italy last year and I was crossing my fingers that it didn’t get broken in my suitcase on the way home. We’re waiting to drink it.

    The picture of that super old, dusty bottle being poured is a beatiful sight. I’m sure you didn’t take this event for granted!

    amy @ we are never full (

  11. Jonathan & Amy,
    heh, my job I am not giving away (am so glad I found it myself!), but you can have a job like this, too! I created my job myself actually and am so very happy about every day of it. And: Barolo is one of the wines where you could really wait for some time. If you write me which one exactly, maybe if I know it, I can tell you more.

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