35 Years Young

The national association of the Women of Wine, Le Donne del Vino, is turning 35 years old. And to celebrate, a tasting was held. Led by the talented and lovely Cristina Mercuri, a WSET Diploma holder who is well on her way to being the first Italian female Master of Wine, the tasting was called ‘New Trends – Wine to the Moon and Back. I’m still not sure what that title means, but if you’re in Verona this week for Vinitaly, you are also being treated to a full moon in the romantic city of Romeo and Juliet. The new President of the Association, Daniela Mastroberardino, presided.

Cristina’s introduction framed the picture with climate change shaping consumer trends: millennials are going to count more and more as wine drinkers in the coming years and their concerns about the future are leading to a trend in sustainability. Can I say just how much fun it is to attend an in-depth, informative tasting that is more of a master class?
(Just an aside: there are more and more highly qualified wine educators and presenters these days, as a young crop of Italians attempt or even achieve the status of Master of Wine. More on this in an upcoming post!)

The first wine we tasted was called 369 from Ca’ Da Roman, a wine from the Veneto. This is a winery with a mission: hybrids, resistant grape varieties made into organic wines. A 100% Sauvignon Gris, this flinty, crisp, refreshing wine had a touch of green apple and floral notes. A gastronomic style and delightful surprise.

The second wine we sampled was from Argentina’s famous Mendoza region: a winery called Finca Feliz took out some of their Malbec vines and put in Criolla. What a great idea! On the nose, dark red fruit and smoky notes. A light cherry red color, this wine is refined, with low alcohol, a light body, slender, but also fruity and juicy with silky tannins.

Wine number 3 was from Provence, Chateau Sainte Roseline Cuvée La Chappelle de Sainte Roseline, Côtes de Provence. Uncanny, but 30% of all wine consumed in France is rosé. Can’t say that about Italy. This is a beautiful, restrained wine that gives you stone fruit, herbaceous notes and some pear drop. Delicious!

The fourth vintage was the unusual Zurlie from Massimago. Oddly enough, this wine is a Valpolicella blend of typical grapes: Corvina, Rondinella, etc but it is a white wine – and unique in the Veneto.
The fifth wine we tasted was an orange wine from Sicily, the Caruso Minini winery’s Arancino, made of 100% Catarratto. Fruity an dfloral, if you do it right, orange wine can be delicious. Apricot, raisins on the nose, orange peel, and a hint of vanilla, with just 12.5% alcohol, this is a wine you can drink more of. Fresh and Mediterranean, this is a wine for all seasons.

The final two wines were a blind tasting, masterfully conducted by Cristina Mercuri with an interactive technique. Have to say, given the color, yours truly was inclined to say this was a trick question and maybe the two wines were the same. But they weren’t the same either on the nose or palate. The impact was dramatically different. Hmmm, what to make of this? Cristina tried to have us reflect on a difference in age, or perhaps heat levels during harvest, but for me that was not the key, as neither wine seemed old or the victim of heat – mature maybe, but not old. Only the first one was complex and intriguing with lemon, citrus, mineral notes, stewed apricots, flint, Mediterranean brush and petrol. The second wine had an imperceptible nose and a more evident evolution if not to say oxidation. It had definitely lost some of its luster.

In the end, the joke was indeed on us, as both were Solo Sole from Poggio al Tesoro, and both were the 2014 vintage, only the first delightfully complex and tasty wine was bottled with a screw cap, while the second had a normal cork. What a difference! Solo Sole is Vermentino from Tuscany, in particular from the Bolgheri region and comes from the Allegrini estates.

All in all, a wonderful, fun way to celebrate the Donne del Vino anniversary. Where can I find my screw cap? That is clearly the way to ward off the evils of aging….

Happy camper Yours truly on location in Verona!

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