Sunday, October 16, 2011

Italy, home again, and an exciting new venture

A couple of weeks ago I went on a jaunt to Italy for a week, on a conservation holiday organised by BTCV. We stayed in a cottage in the grounds of Villa Piancini near Spoleto in Umbria, a beautiful spot, and inbetween the hedge-trimming, digging and wheelbarrowing I was looking forward to getting a chance to try the local vino.

In the cottage we mainly drank Montepulciano out of enormous demijohns, which served its purpose, but on our last night we were taken into Spoleto for dinner and a look round a delicatessen. This proved to be a treasure trove of Umbrian delights, including some very ancient-looking cheese, and a tasting of various types of truffle (including the rare white truffle) pastes and mushroom paste which were sensational. They had lots of exciting-looking wines too, and I was keen to go back afterwards and buy some, but sadly the opportunity had passed, damn it. The restaurant across the road reminded me of old favourite Caves Madeleine in Beaune, as they had wine on shelves on the walls behind us and several times we had to pull our chairs in so that a bottle could be reached. We sat at a long table and seemingly never-ending plates of salami, cheese and bruschetta were wheeled out, along with delightful red wine jelly and white wine jelly. To drink, we had a white which was very nice but I failed to make a note of its name, and then a Montefalco made by Scacciadiavoli which was sensational - powerful and subtle and reminding me of good claret. It was a really enjoyable, convivial evening.

I therefore picked up a bottle of Montefalco while at Rome airport to try at home. We had it the other night, and while it wasn't quite as good as I remembered the Scacciadiavoli version, it did share some characteristics, particularly a sort of tobacco/tarry thing going on. Very different from Burgundy, a bit of a monster at 14%, but good with red meat.

I'm still kicking myself for not getting some Tignanello grappa while I had the chance. There's only one thing for it - I'll have to go back.

Back to Burgundy: one night last week G kindly contributed a bottle of Nuits St Georges Les Chaliots 2007 from Felettig. This had the most wonderful nose - I wrote "heaven in a glass". Black cherries and dark chocolate. On the palate it was a little chewy and savoury, G said sinewy. There seemed to be a bit of a mismatch with the nose and we decided it needed more time to knit together. It did get better over time, which would suggest that 90 min in the decanter might have helped, but the conclusion was that we needed to leave it for 3 years. I'm quite surprised, as most of the 2007s are drinking now, but I'm sure this will be worth the wait.

And finally, an exciting new venture - ACC has set up a new company called the Burgundy Portfolio! I was delighted to attend his inaugural tasting last week and it was good to see some familiar faces and some wines from new producers. Highlights for me were the Bourgogne Blanc from Domaine Terres de Velle, the 2004 Pierre Jamain Blancs de Blancs vintage champagne, the 2009 Bourgogne Grande Ordinaire from Domaine Guy Castagnier and the Chambolle-Musigny 1er cru Les Combottes from Felettig which is an old friend.

But the jewel in the crown was the 2008 Beaune from Domaine Emmanuel Giboulot. Once again this showed Giboulot's deft hand and it was a beautiful, delicate, soft and ethereal wine. Everything I'm looking for in a Cote de Beaune red. It was fabulous and I immediately snapped up a case and raved about it to anyone who would listen. At £25.65 (a special offer for those attending the tasting) I thought this was very reasonable value. I wish the Burgundy Portfolio all the best and am looking forward to the next tasting in a couple of week's time!

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