Blue Chip Wines of Italy tasted

TignanelloHalf way through Vinitaly 2010 and my teeth already need re-enamelling! The two great tastings yesterday were the 12 ‘Blue Chip’ wines of Italy – a computer-generated list looking at the total production of a wine, its price and its market share. Harshal Shah tells us about some of the wines he tasted.

Where several wines of a producer came up on the list, the producer was asked to select one to show in the tasting. This was the case with the wines of Marchesi Antinori. Both the Super-Tuscans of Antinori (Solaia and of course, Tignanello) made the list but only Tignanello was presented.
Some of the highlights included the ’08 Nussbaumer Gew├╝rztraminer from Cantina Tramin of Alto Adige. The wine was presented by winemaker Willi Sturz and showed wonderful intense tropical notes on the nose and palate: layers of lychees, roses and apricots along with subtle spice. Although quite rich on the palate I have no doubt this wine would do perfectly with Indian cuisine.
Mastroberardino (whose wines are in India through Sovereign Impex) had their 2005 Radici in the line-up. This 100% Aglianico (native red of Campania) is grown in the historical ‘ash-infused’ soils from Mount Vesuvius and so (the winemaker told us) the wines have a slight smokey character. And indeed, there were some interesting meaty/smoke bacon characters in the aroma. This was a wonderful, rustic wine that was more spicy and herbal than fruity. Overtones of tobacco leaf and cigar completed the profile of this wine.
The last three wines in the selection were the big guns – the 2006 vintage of Ornellaia, Sassicaia and Tignanello (presented by Ferdinando Frescobaldi, Sebastiano de la Rosa and Piero Antinori respectively). All three are the latest release and showed just what a great vintage 2006 was. They each had an elegance and silky feel to them. The tannins were soft yet firm and chalky. The Sassicaia was a bit floral and perfumed while the Ornellaia (arguably the ‘weakest’ of the three) was much more stalky and meaty. Tignanello 2006 was powerful with subtle red fruit. It felt like it was floating on my palate. Quite magical!

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