Tasting with the Stars

20190410_111124Tenuta Sant’Antonio offered journalists and experts a wonderful opportunity at Vinitaly 2019: a series of guided tastings with famous somms. Special mention honors go to the four Castagnedi brothers for organizing this event. The whole Italian Grapevine team was involved in covering the three tastings.

The excitement of a glass-filled table…

On Monday, a vertical tasting of Lilium Est Amarone Riserva 2004, 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2011 was conducted by no other than … Luca Gardini! Just take a look:

The popular and controversial Luca performed his show to a packed room, with people jostling for photos and autographs. Beyond the celebrity factor, another reason to clamor: the fantastic wines being poured. As Gardini implored us to finish our glasses, insisting (rightly so!) that great Amarone Riserva should never go to waste, the room was abuzz over the changes in color and bouquet.

The ever-present and vigilant Paolo Castagnedi (next to Luca, above left) spoke about the cantina, its history, and the soil, adding a nice personal touch.

Such a lovely display of bottles and corks

On Tuesday, the featured wine for the vertical tasting was Télos, a Garganega blended with Chardonnay, and our featured and fearless leader was Antonio Paolini, famous food&wine journalist of L’Espresso Guide fame. The vintages were 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2012. And then they pulled out the 2018, just to give us an idea of what is coming…

Yours truly duly taking notes

Good terroir doesn’t lie, as they say (in Italian, the expression is Buon sangue non mente, or Good blood doesn’t lie, but you get my point.)

This tasting proved just how great the potential is for this Amarone area to develop its white wines, especially white wines with ageing potential. The patience that goes into making wine! The 2017 vintage had that green apple acidity and the aroma of a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc; by the time we got to the 2012 vintage, all the plummy, buttery notes of the Chardonnay had me thinking lemon cheesecake.

A beautiful display that shows evolution in color

On Wednesday, it was Adua Villa‘s turn to lead a heady tasting of Tenuta Sant’Antonio’s Recioto, Argille Bianche, flanked by Lorenzo Simeoni, an eminent historian at the Academy of Sciences and Letters, a Knight of the Republic for his work on wine.

Recioto, for those who may not know, is a sweet dessert wine that uses the same grape varieties as Amarone: Corvina Veronese, Rondinella, Oseleta, Molinara. Professor Simeoni enlightened us on the historically privileged position of sweet wines, something that the 21st century has forgotten.

The vintages were 2011, 2006, 2004, 2000, and a very surprising 1998, the only one to have been aged in Slovenian wood. While it’s all about keeping that freshness through a balanced acidity, have to admit, the yummy quality on the only wood-aged vintage won hands down. Will there be a change in the wine-making technique after this tasting? Back to the future?


Serious tastings, highly educational and entertaining. Mille grazie to the organizers and hosts, and hats off to the experts who led us through three verticals.

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