Italians at the Dorchester Hotel

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Poggio al Gello

Recession? What recession? The credit crunch apparently hasn’t hit the Italians as the annual Wines of Tuscany tasting (sponsored by the Italian Trade Commission) was held at one of London’s poshest hotels, The Dorchester in Mayfair. Can’t get any nicer then that. I’ve been slowly educating my tastebuds to the wines of Italy but there are so many different varieties that it’s hard to try them all. The Italians like to say that “every village has it’s own grape” and with over 2,000 varieties, you could spend a lifetime just sampling all of them, a pastime I would gladly take up.

The tasting covered  the DOCG’s, DOC‘s and IGT‘s of Tuscany only and included over 70 producers and their wares. I know they’re trying to sell me their wines but really, those Italians are sooo charming and friendly. It probably helped that I went late and I think some of them were definitely taking samples along with everyone else. At least that’s what it seemed like!

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Poggio al Gello producers

The first table I talked to were the folks of Poggio del Gello, a small vineyard in the Montecucco DOC which is in southern Tuscany. All of their wines are organic which was a common theme at the tasting. Almost every other producer seemed to be organic. They had 3 wines but the most interesting was the Pugnitello which is an ancient, indigenous vine of  Tuscany. If I understood them correctly (their English wasn’t so pretty and my Italian is crap), it was only re-discovered about 20 years ago and in 2004, Poggio planted 2000 plants and  began producing wine in ’07. It’s a very small production, only 500 bottles but they are planning on increasing production. The wine itself is quite floral and spicy on the nose with a deep, intense colour. It was full bodied with persistent black fruits, hints of anise and a wonderfully spiciness about it. I was enjoying it but time to carry on.

I then spotted a wine called “Psyco”. Gotta give it to those Italians they are good at catching the eye. The Psyco is a Rosso di Toscana IGT  produced by the Villa la Ripa winery overlooking the medieval town of Arezzo. It’s made by a psychologist, hence the name. He also has another called Neuro but it wasn’t on show, darn. Anyway, despite it’s name, the Psycho ’05 was a delicious, smooth and velvety wine, intense red fruits on the nose and palate. The wine is classified as a Tuscan IGT be

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Psyco, killer!

cause it’s made from 50% sangiovese and 50% cabernet sauvignon but the vineyards have been in existence since Roman times.

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Italian pink

I tried a rosé made up of sangiovese and canaiolo. It was minerally and light but a bright pink, almost shocking pink! It was a bit prickly on the palate with sweet, ripe red berries and cherries.  It was zippy like riding around on a Vespa, the wind whipping around my hair.

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Tiberio's range

 There were so many great wines on show but my favourite producer had to be Enzo Nocentini from Tiberio. He was so passionate about his wines, I became an instant cheerleader right then and there! His family has been making wine there since 1831 and Enzo, the 5th generation, still likes to make his wines just like the very first Nocentini winemaker, without added yeasts or enzymes, a  real “natural wine”. Enzo even had a lab printout with a chemical analysis of everything that was in his wine to prove how pure it really is – remarkable.

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As well as the usual sangiovese, Enzo also produces a 100% Canaiolo. What’s interesting aobut that is that Canaiolo is usually a blending grape added to sangiovese to give it a bit of colour and structure. The Canaiolo ’06 was a deep ruby colour, soft and supple but not overpowering as the dark colour would lead you to believe. The fruit was subtle but I did detect cherry and black pepper. Enzo recommended the classic Italian roasted chicken to go with it and assured me that me and my loved one could drink the whole bottle with no ill affects the next day. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that is a fairly normal occurence in my house, whatever we drink!

I could go on but the best thing to do is to just go out and pick up an Italian red or white and start drinking, you won’t regret it!

3 Comments

  1. Hi There
    I just stumbled across your blog. Awesome. I will be adding you to my blog roll so that I can follow you for your wine inspiration. If you are keen, please also come and check our my blog.

  2. Oh my God. You called them “varieties,” not “varietals.” A girl after my own heart…. But seriously, nicely done blog. Very cool to get this slice of the English wine scene. I’ll look forward to checking in from time to time.

    Cheers,
    A California Guy in Oregon

    • Hi Pete,
      D’Oh! Well, that’s what I get for writing at 12 am and proofreading at 1am! I really do know what a varietal is ;-)

      Thanks for writing, comments always appreciated!

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