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An Italian affair

May 19, 2019

The Italian wine journalist Riccardo Gabriele of PR VINO was kind enough to invite me for dinner at Buona Terra on May 6th 2019 during a short stopover in Singapore. With the exception of the Carpineto and the Tommasi, all wines were supplied by Riccardo. I must admit I’ve yet to really come to grips with Italian wines. Most people tend to gravitate towards the usual established big names, but the fact is Italian wines offer far greater diversity in geographical locations and grape varieties than most other regions so much so that it demands the same degree of dedication as one would for Burgundy if one is to fully understand Italian wines. All wines were popped and poured on-site with the exception of the Tommasi and Carpineto. They all surprised me with their excellent craftsmanship, refinement and sophistication. Many thanks, Riccardo, for an excellent evening. Till we meet again, happy drinking.

20190506_202720.jpg2018 Fattoria Fibbiano Fonte delle Donne. An equal blend of colombana and vermentino planted in the Pisa hills of Tuscany, this lovely white exudes lifted tones of cool morning dew, light green fruits, grassy elements and icing, highly effusive. Fresh and supple, very well-layered with excellent presence and concentration of crisp citrus and white flowers with very well-defined acidity, developing a more pronounced dry salinity before finishing with a great minty persistence. Quite excellent.

2017 Assuli Lorlando Nero D’Avola. From 100% Sicilian nero d’avola vinified for early drinking but you wouldn’t have guessed at all by its brilliant deep ruby that revealed a forward balance of wild berries and raspberries with a deep fragrance of dark currants amid some earthiness, seamlessly structured with supple ripeness and fine acidity as it tapered to a gentle finish amid gentle overtones of spice and black pepper. In spite of its unassuming origins, this is wine of great refinement and craftsmanship. Excellent.

2017 Abrigo Giovanni Dolcetto Di Diano D’Alba Superiore “Garabei”. Comprising 100% dolcetto from a single vineyard planted in 1968, this wine proffers a powerful lift of raw red fruits, quite brightly lit on the full palate with broad swathes of warm fruit and ripe wild berries laced with mild vegetal traces. Excellent in concentration and fullness, displaying clean precision on a bed of ferrous minerals though a tad too acidic initially, developing softer inner detail over time. Very fine.

2016 Abrigo Giovanni Barbera D’Alba “Marminela”. Deep garnet red. Shut on the nose though the full palate is brightly lit with a predominance of red fruits, quite fleshy with good acidity and integration with a warm alcoholic trail amidst characters of bramble and briar. Made from 100% barbera derived from two vineyards (in Grinzane Cavour and Diano d’Alba) sited 230 metres altitude and aged for nine months in concrete vats.

2016 Carlo Baccheschi Berti Poggio del Sasso “Merah”. Made of 100% sangiovese from the region of Montalcino, this deeply colored wine exudes a warm glow of gravel and red fruits with shades of vanillin. Full, fleshy and delicious but still a tad congested in spite of its attractive acidity, finishing with good linearity amidst a bit of dry minerally glare without betraying its 15% abv.

20190506_195339.jpg2013 Tommasi Amarone della Valpolicella Classico, courtesy of Simone Marghieri, decanted on-site. Blend of four grapes, mostly corvina, from two plots by the lake. The grapes are air-dried on bamboo racks in temperature-controlled facility for 100 days, losing 40% of grapes in the process and matured in old oak barrels aged 5-8 years for three years. Displaying a deep garnet red, this flagship of Tommasi opens with enticing aromas of sweet incense and ripe dark plums, rather full as expected but open, massively proportioned with a lovely rich intensity yet classically balanced, structured with velvety tannins that oozed with highly refined gorgeous sweetness.

2004 Carpineto Vigneto Poggio Sant’ Enrico Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, decanted on-site. Deep purple, beautifully nuanced and lifted in its deep bouquet that found full expression on the palate, highly generous in violets, blueberries, red plums and dark currants with some early secondary characters framed within a supple finely-detailed tannin structure that stretched out with a rich luxurious elegance. Excellent in concentration, ripeness and balance, tapering to a long spicy finish with a lovely biting intensity. This is really a wine of great sophistication but still far from its peak. A single vineyard bottling released only in exceptional vintages, this is truly outstanding. Antonio Zaccheo can be very proud of his work at Carpineto since 1967.

2009 Ca’ D’Gal Vite Vecchia Moscato D’Asti. Luminous light golden hue. Beautifully lifted in its unique bouquet, a complex kaleidoscope of perfumed citrus, lemongrass, dense incense, mint and menthol with an illusion of fizz, gently concentrated with further notes of pears and fig. Highly alluring and effortless, almost ethereal in its gentle sweetness. Most lovely.

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