When you study wine and open the Italian chapter you can expect to have a few sleepless nights since this is probably the most complex wine producing country in the world, and yet one of the most exciting to explore. It is the only country where wine is produced all over its territory. From North to South, the Alto Adige to Sicily, you will find many beautiful local wines. Historically each region has been very independent and therefore kept strong and diverse traditions – even from one village to another the winemaking techniques can be radically different. Add to this over 700 indigenous grapes, with more than half of them making quality wine, then you will understand that a lifetime might not be enough to go around it.
There were six examples of these distinctive Italian wines presented during a wine dinner at the Italian restaurant Terrazza in Galaxy for just a lucky few. The wines were nicely paired with chef Andrea Fioravanti’s delicate cuisine, flavourful and beautifully presented. The dinner was served in the exclusive glass-house situated in the garden, where the atmosphere brought to mind the words of Baudelaire “Luxe, calme et volupté”. The decor set the scene for our six wine “characters” and by the end of the evening two of them outshone. Our two heroes of the night were a contrasted couple, one from the North and one from the South, one female and one male; the Romeo and Juliet of the evening, but this time without a dramatic ending.
Ladies first, with the most feminine wine of the tasting. Our Juliet was a sparkling from the region of Franciacorta (literally Short France), 2009 vintage, made out of 100 percent Chardonnay (i.e. Blanc de Blancs) and by the traditional method. This is a wine from the Lo Sparviere winery, belonging to the Beretta family, whose name was made famous partly for being James Bond’s favourite automatic pistol in the early movies. Actually the most famous spy of Her Majesty’s Secret Service usually drinks Champagne Bollinger. Instead he could adopt this sparkling without blushing and save the British people tax money (as Brexit now requires), since this wine surrenders little quality to its French counterpart, for a noticeably cheaper price.
This delicate wine with fine bubbles reveals a warm, pale gold colour, develops a nose of brioche (aged 4 years on lees), melon and acacia. The palate is clean and fresh, citrusy, fleeting jasmine with some minerality and a long finish. Perfect by itself, with light appetisers, Yum Cha or of course just for celebration.
Our young Romeo is a red wine from the Puglia region (the heel of Italy’s boot) and made by the Grifo winery in the small town of Ruvo. The symbol of the winery, this “griffin” sculpted on the cathedral for protection also overlooks the elevated vineyards by the sea, which create the perfect terroir for this particular grape. The wine is made out of the unique and uncommon Nero di Troia variety, named for Diomedes, hero of the Trojan war, who brought the grape to Ruvo 3200 years ago. It is said that the grape flourished so nicely there that Diomedes was charmed and stayed much longer than intended.
This Nero di Troia grape gives a light red wine, bright ruby colour (like a Pinot Noir or Gamay), lively with fresh acidity. A nose at first of cocoa bean which quickly develops to clove and cinnamon that almost jump out of the glass. Spicy palate with cranberry and red fruit flavours develop to cigar box aromas, followed by a long finish that leaves the palate light and fresh. Due to its versatility this kind of wine can pair very well with numerous dishes: from grilled fish, Chinese fondue, Chicken curry, Char Siu 叉燒, Mediterranean cuisine…
Both wines fit thoroughly in Macao: fresh, flexible, and easy to drink, yet with complexity that will please new drinkers as much as connoisseurs. David Rouault
David Rouault is a professional classical musician, part time wine consultant and full time wine lover, holding WSET Level 3,
Certified Specialist of Wine and Introductory Sommelier diplomas. www.dionysos.com.mo