Blown away by Barolo

blown barolo.jpgThe Wine Society of India held an exquisite five-course dinner paired with fabulous northern Italian wines in the company of Dr. Cristina Maddalena of Luciano Sandrone, Piedmont and The House of Schiopetto, Friuli. This elegant event took place at The Tasting Room, Mumbai. Sandra and Farhad Bhabha, from Berkmann wine cellars co-hosted the event. Suneeta Sodhi Kanga, Sommelier India correspndent in Mumbai was present.
Left: Sandra Bhabha from Berkmann cellars, David Banford, from the Wine Society of India, Dr. Chistina Maddalena and Suneeta

According to Dr. Cristina Maddalena, the Schiopetto family has been in the wine business for three generations. Giorgio Schiopetto, who owned Ai Pompieri, a famous old inn in Udine, passed on to his son Mario his love of good wines, which was to bring him renown as the founding father of modern wine-making in the Friuli region.
While we were enjoying the first course Herb-crusted Arabian Sea pomfret with aioli and blueberry vinaigrette matched with the Schiopetto Colio Pinot Grigio 2007, Chris told us that before turning to wine making, Mario traveled far and wide in Europe in search of quality wines in the famed German and French wine cellars. And it was German technology blended with French finesse that enabled him to realize his dream. During his travels abroad Mario learned the art and refined methods of making excellent wines.
Pinot Grigio is one of the world’s most popular wines. Also known under the French moniker, Pinot Gris, it is a chameleon of a grape. It is produced in a range of styles, from the light fruity Italian style that has gained popularity, to a more mineral, flinty rich wine favored by the French – particularly in Alsace – and emulated by many in the new world. This one was actually creamy, delicate and zesty.
The second wine that we tasted from the Schiopetto cellar was the Schiopetto Tocai Friulano 2007. The Carpaccio of tenderloin with wasabi mayonnaise and fresh roquette salad married well with it. The wine has peach pit and orange aromas with a follow through to a full body, with mineral, honey and dried apricot character. Flinty and intense.
Chris tells us that self-taught and gifted with exceptional intuition, Mario Schiopetto launched into the wine business in 1965 when he rented from the clergy in Gorizia an old company that he later purchased in 1989. He promptly converted it into a shining example of simplicity, technology and sensitivity. Here he enhanced and developed the know-how and skills he had acquired during his travels abroad – invaluable experience that he passed down to his children who successfully run the company today.
Winemaker Mario Schiopetto passed away three years ago, but he left behind a powerful legacy. His pioneering efforts put the Friuli region, in far northeastern Italy, on the map as one of the world’s great white wine regions. By extension, he enabled Italy to become a credible player in the world of fine white wines.
Luciano Sandrone is considered to be one of the leading producers from Barolo in the Piedmont region of Italy. Chris leads us through an evening of three wines, including one of his elegant but powerful and highly acclaimed Barolos.
We were all blown away by the breathtaking purity and definition of Sandrone’s 2004 Barolo Cannubi Boschis. A translucent dark ruby, this weightless yet sumptuous Barolo bursts from the glass with layers of dark ripe fruit that coat the palate with stunning grace and elegance. As it sits in the glass notes of licorice, tar and sweet toasted oak gradually emerge to complete this magnificent wine. The texture is polished and refined. One of the highlights of the vintage, Sandrone’s 2004 Barolo Cannubi Boschis is not to be missed. Anticipated maturity of this wine is 2012-2024! The New Zealand braised lamb shank with sweet potato mash that the Tasting room served us went well with it.
The story of Luciano Sandrone can be told in just a few words.Years of hard work as a cellarman, the purchase of his first vineyard on Cannubi hill, the first acknowledgements and then excellence.
The first harvest took place in 1978: since then the attention of Luciano and his brother Luca has been devoted entirely to the vineyards, fully aware that only perfectly selected grapes can be used to create a wine which lives up to the well-deserved fame that Sandrone enjoys all over the world.

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