Last friday it was time for an Italian wine lunch at The Arches in Swiss cottage…The well known Harry Gill joined us and as ever Ivana was at the helm and look after us very well. After a glass of the very good balanced and refreshing house champagne – Comte Audoin de Dampierre Brut Grande Cuvee – we settle into our seats for a white with a selection of cold meats. The white in question was a quirky choice but a dam good one (if I say so myself), Langhe Bianco Rossese 2009 from Josetta Saffirio. I have visited Saffirio and it’s a modern orientated Barolo producer who makes a great Barbera as well as this delicious, 100% Rossese, white. The style of wine it most reminded us of was north Rhone white, think St.Peray. There was a lovely texture some good white fruit. As the wine went from cold to cool it really showed more and more. When I got back to the office I bought some and also the last bottle of 2008 that was sat stray on the system. Can’t wait to try them again.
The steak and thick chips then arrived and obviously it instantly became red wine time. Up first was sadly a rather tired Brunello di Montalcino Pian del Vigne 1997 from Piero Antinori it was hollow and thin of fruit and actually when we re-visited later we felt a tiny bit tainted. Anyway there was lots to get through so on we charged into Barolo Cascina Francia 2005, Giacomo Conterno. If ever you want a top quality Barolo to help explain that Baroli that have balance can be drunk earlier then this is it. About an hour in a decanter and it was singing elegantly, it will continue to grow and develop but is a picture of poise now. I am seriously biased mind you. To follow the Barolo we were back to Brunello with Brunello di Montalcino Tenuta Nuova 1999, Casanova di Neri. A modern style of Brunello from a very fine vintage. It was at a lovely stage with some development but still good fruit. Savoury richness has replaced any obvious new oak coating. The texture was rich but in no way out of balance. A wine on it’s plateau and a lot of fun to drink.
It was now time for Mr Gill to delve into his box of tricks and serve us 2 wines blind the first sadly was very tired but also an abject lesson in going with your gut instinct not trying to second guess the server of the wine. Despite it having seen better days we had a go at naming the wine. I went for early 70’s Tuscany which is irritating as there was a frazzle like character that can only come from old Nebbiolo but I didn’t have the courage of my convictions it was – Barolo Reserva Especial 1969, S.A.S Cerequio. I have had one of two 1969 wines from Piedmont and from what I have heard (borne out in my couple of bottles) that Barbaresci seem to be better than the Baroli. The next wine stumped us all due to its wonderful condition. We were all in Bordeaux and the left bank too but I think I went for the oldest and I was only at 1995. The wine was medium to full bodied, in wonderful harmony, very classically St.Julien on reflection (I think I had said Pauillac) it was Gruaud Larose 1985. If you get the chance to try it then do, great wine. The next wine was not blind and took us to the southern hemisphere – Block ‘3’ Pinot Noir 2010, Felton Road – the first Felton Road I have had actually. It was deliciously fruited, soft but interesting and a very good awakening. Not on the sweet side which for me is a very good thing. I look forward to trying more of their wines.
I almost to left without trying the final wine which would have been a big mistake. It was Passopisciaro Bianco Dolce 2007 from Andrea Franchetti in Sicily. It is technically a passito produced from a blend of many white grape varieties (none of which I know the names of). The grapes were tied on the cellar beams at Tenuta di Passopisciaro to dry for four to five months before extracting minimal amounts of the remaining concentrated juice. A striking, almost luminous, golden amber in colour, it has an immediate wow factor. The nose is extraordinary, a complex blend of savoury and sweet aromatics. Unctuous, honeyed, a decadent, opulent and silky mouthful. This wine is a totally unknown quantity in terms of “drinking window” but that hardly matters as this was the last bottle I know of!!
A cracking way to spend an afternoon!