Italian Masters 2011, NYC: Memorable Tastings
February 8th arrived to find me traveling by morning train across a very pastoral Connecticut quieted by fallen snow.
I’m returning to New York City for the Italian Wine Masters Grand Tasting, an event featuring producers of Conegliano-Valdobiaddene Prosecco Superiore, Chianti Classico, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Brunello di Montalcino.
After having tasted several unimaginative Prosecchi, I pause a moment: my mouth is now filled with deliciousness. I look up from my glass and see the face of a young producer, Domenico Vazzoler of Vigne Doro, coming into focus. If you love distinctive Prosecco, it is a name you’ll want to remember. The Prosecco wines of Vigne Doro show brilliantly restrained sugar and clarity of flavor. I found them massively drinkable.
Other Prosecchi that caught my attention and which I absolutely must mention here include those from Bellenda – their Prosecco Miraval and charmat method S.C. 1931 are stunningly good – as well as very enjoyable tastings from producers Giavi and Drusian.
IMHO, Cantina Crociani shines as one of the brightest stars in the constellation that is Vino Nobile. I was happy to find Susanna Crociani seated behind Cantina Crociani’s tasting table today, pouring the estate’s Rosso di Montepulciano 2009, Vino Nobile 2007, Vino Nobile Riserva 2006 and Vin Santo 2003, brilliant, well-made wines that communicate balance, grace and depth. I found the Vin Santo 2003 especially lovely.
I also tasted superb Vino Nobile from producers Contucci, la Ciarliana, Casale. Applause applause !
It was tough work to find wines from Montalcino that impressed more than did Uccelliera’s Rosso di Montalcino 2009 and Brunello di Montalcino 2006. But, wines of Fattoria “la Lecciaia” stood out nonetheless – I loved their Rosso di Montalcino 2008, Brunello di Montalcino Vigna Manapetra 2006 – as did those of Tenuta Collosorbo, whose Rosso & Brunello di Montalcino were among the best I tasted. Also delicious was that producer’s Sant’Antimo Rosso.
Early during the Vintrospective timeline, I wrote about a wine that filled me with emotion: Casa Emma Chianti Classico Riserva 2001. I was happy to be able to taste Casa Emma’s new Riserva vintage on this trip, as well as the Chianti Classico normale: polished, soulful wines which benefit from wood treatment that never becomes overbearing.
Sometime ago, I tasted the Chianti Classico Riserva known as il Grigio San Felice and became an instant fan of Tenuta San Felice. On this day of Italian Masters, that estate’s Chianti Classico 2008, il Grigio San Felice Riserva 2007, and Poggio Rosso 2006 all impressed with elegant, lip-smacking flavor and depth.
I ended the day with Italian Masters in the Sommelier Room, an exclusive tasting opportunity of fine vintage wines from many of the event’s top producers. Highlights included Cantina Crociani Vino Nobile 1999 that was sacred in its clarity; Tenuta di Gracciano dell Seta Vino Nobile 1988 which I will describe in one word – glorious. Col d’Orcia Brunello Riserva 1980 displayed complexity beyond imagination. I thought the Sommelier Room tasting opportunity was a brilliant idea that really illuminated what the producers / wines could achieve over the long term.
Looking forward to Tre Bicchieri – back in NYC later this week…