Thank you for your patience this week… On Tuesday evening it felt like a it had been a month, now we’ve made it to Thursday, and it feels like a year. We are ready for a nice drink.
We mentioned yesterday that we’d be turning attention to some of our best suppliers importing from the old world. This week we are focusing on Italy, and the best it has to offer from a vinous level… Nebbiolo and Sangiovese. These are two of the worlds great grape varieties and form the majority of Italy’s red wine identity. We are offering two wines that showcase these varieties with class, varietal expression, some Italian rusticity, aroma, flavour, concentration and class. The wines are from Primavera Selections, one of the sharpest importers of Italian wines in Australia, with an encyclopedic knowledge of the history of Italian wine, balanced with a finger on the pulse of the current state of play.
The Nebbiolo is from the region Valtellina and produced by Sandro Fay. It is a beautifully aromatic and elegant Nebbiolo from Northern Italy. The Sangiovese is further south in Tuscany (Central Italy) and is by Monteraponi, a Chianti from the cooler (and higher) parts from the region. It sits above most other Chianti’s with concentrated dark fruits framed in perfect tannin, the wine has just right finesse and flow. The pack consist of three bottles of each.
Sandro Fay Valtellina Superiore ‘Costa Bassa’ Nebbiolo 2016
Unfortunately, it is dark and tough times for the regions in Northern Italy. Whilst it is home to Nebbiolo, some of the prettiest and classiest wine on the planet, right now it is close to the epicentre of the Italian epidemic in Bergamo. This is a wine from the Valtellina region in far Northern Italy (not Piedmonte, which is in the North West). The producer is Sandro Fay who has been making wine in the region since 1973.
Almost all of Fay’s wines come from the Valgella zone which gets a little tempering influence from nearby Lake Como. The vineyards range between 400m and 800m on soils of is mostly primary rock and sand which provide a silkier, red fruited and perfumed version of Nebbiolo. It leans to an earthier Pinot Noir than a classic, tannic Barolo. Whilst Sandro Fay first commercially produced wine back in 1973, recently his son Marco (winemaker) and daughter Elena (sales & marketing) have taken over the reins, so it’s truly a family managed Estate. They are an underground estate that are just making inroads on an international level, as is the Valtellina region.
The grapes are not picked until the second half of October, which is incredibly late, but the environment allows long flavour development and ripe, silk like tannin. The wine is brickish orange in colour, flavours are wild red fruits and savoury herbs, with a kick of fresh mint. It is light to medium bodied, an awesome silky but present tannin that balances with acidity. It will go with almost any plate of food, but duck breast or confit duck with salad will pair very well. A mushroom pasta or risotto will also do. It will age for ten years, building more earthy flavours, though is drinking well now.
Monteraponi Chianti Classico 2017
Monteraponi is a tiny estate owned by the Braganti family since 1974. It sits on the road between two of the most famous, quality driven towns of Chianti, Radda and Castellina. The estate is a cluster of preserved buildings which date back to the 10th century and hold architectural and historical importance.
Monteraponi is widely considered a member of Chianti Classico’s top level. Like many of the quality drivers in Chianti, Monteraponi farmed and sold fruit, until 2003, when Michele Braganti started to produce and sell his own wines, diverting their much sought after grapes away from other local buyers. The Monteraponi estate has about 10 ha of vineyard, planted at altitudes between 400-570 metres, planted on a property of 200 hectares of natural amphitheater-like slopes.
The combined efforts of high altitudes, good sites, fastidious farming and minimal approach in the cellar produce radiant, fresh, layered and interesting Chiantis. This is no exception. The Chiantis are fermented in cement tanks before ageing in large old French and Slavonian botti (very large oak barrels) for 16 months. The wine is lively, with aromatics of red berries, cherry, violet, sandalwood and tobacco leaf. The flavours persist on the palette, with dark, concentrated fruits, a freshness and austerity and class, length and polish. It is great Chianti and finer than most.
It will age well, five years at least, but can easily be enjoyed whilst young over the next six months. The press have awarded 93 Suckling, 92 Enthusiast and 90 Vinous… all three are Italian gurus.
Both wines are classic expressions of the two most noble varieties of Italy. They were brought to us by one of the smartest heads of Italian wines in the country. They populate top wine lists all over the country and are worth being enjoyed by you, over the next few months, while you dine at home.
We hope you are well, safe, keeping sane and are bunkering down. Now is the time to stay in with loved ones and enjoy some simple pleasures.
Tom and Dan