Roger Jones attends the Tre Bicchieri Gambero Rosso tasting lunch hosted by Enotria&Coe and discovers two sparklers, four whites and four reds that should be on your list. The lunch was a way of celebrating the fact that Enotria&Coe’s Italian buyer, Sergio de Luca, has been buying Italian wine for 33 years and that the company has clear expertise in this category.
Enotria&Coe’s Tre Bicchieri Italian Christmas feast celebrates Italian buyer Sergio de Luca’s 33 years of Italian inspiration
With the tasting season having quietened down it was a relaxed gathering with many of the UK’s top wine correspondents last week at Jacob Kennedy’s authentic Italian haunt; Bocca Di Lupo. Fundamentally it was a celebration and tasting of the winners from the Gambero Rosso’s Tre Bicchieri 2017, followed by an ‘old school’ long lunch with traditional Italian fare.
In case you don’t know Gambero Rosso is an Italian publishing group that awards wines ‘Bicchieri’ – three or ‘Tre’ being the highest award for ‘extraordinary’ wines. All of the wines at the Enotria&Coe tasting lunch had been awarded Tre Bicchieri.
As a refreshing introduction on a warm winter’s day in Soho the Lambrusco di Sorbara del Fondatore, Cleto Chiarli, 2015 was a masterful luscious bright sparkling wine, a bitter/sweet balance with raspberries and wild herbs, a glowing frothy light red top to the glass welcomed us to a surprisingly expressive wine at a retail proce of £13.75
Moving up a price tag to the Giulio Riserva 2005 from Giulio Ferrari at just under £60 this was an outstanding Metodo Classico sparkling wine that had evolved beautifully.
Full flavoured, layered, delicate rich buttery croissants, fine precise citrus background, this is a sparkling wine that oozes class and would be perfect as an aperitif to celebrate Christmas or any other day and, due to its structure, was also a great match to the Quail, Chestnut and Polenta dish we were served.
Colterenzio Sauvignon Blanc, La Foa DOC, 2014. I have always been a fan of Sauvignon Blanc from Italy, and the best show how well this grape can perform. 50% of this wine has been aged in oak, giving a texture and purity that lifts the wine to become a serious style that we sometimes lack from the New World.
There is a lovely nose of floral and delicate herbs, the oak is balanced giving a fresh crispness, but still holding a pleasant textured body. With a selling price just shy of £30 it is not a Hen Night Sauvignon, but it certainly is suitable for fine food and enjoying in moderation.
Jermann Pinot Grigio IGT, Vinnaioli, 2015 This Pinot Grigio celebrates how good the Pinot Grigio grape can be. Soft delicate stone fruit, clean bright flavours, delicious light citrus overtones. Priced at £21.50 retail this certainly delivers and is a fabulous match for cooked shellfish such as scallops.
Colli di Lapio, Fiano di Avellino, Clelia Romano, 2015. Oddly enough I was introduced a few years ago to Fiano by an Australian winery called Fox Gordon. Their aptly named Princess Fiano, firstly made in 2008, was a revelation to me and encouraged me to look at this grape in a new context.
The Colli di Lapio version certainly brought back memories of the classy Aussie imposter, this a fabulous wine at £19.50 a bottle. I love the purity, precision and brightness of this wine, it is slightly textured but has a lovely candid peel essence to it. This is a wine that highlights all that is wonderful about the Fiano grape.
Otella Lugana Molceo Reserve, 2014. This comes from the Veneto region and the grape is Turbiana (Trabbiano di Lugana). Not being an Italian specialist this was new to me, on the nose it was reminiscent of a Semillon/Sauvignon. Herbaceous, bright and citrus on the nose, on the palate there is a good balance between minerals, citrus and floral notes.
And now we move on to the reds….
Italian reds can be a minefield often with too much tannin and very tight fruit, but I was pleasantly surprised by the quality and value of the wines that I tried at this tasting. It was also important to see how these reds evolved with the food.
With a retail price of £18.95 this wine had a delicately perfumed nose enticing you into the glass. It had a good balance of lifted bright berries, gently tingling the palate; as it evolved intense raspberries and tayberries, pomegranite evolved, there is a lingering gently silky finish which leaves a beautiful bouquet on the palate, with hints of juicy white cherries.
This is a superb, unique wine made from 60% Nero d’Avola and 40% Frappato, its bright, youthful style reminding me of a classic New World modern Pinot.
Umani Ronchi, Conero Campo San Giorgio Reserve, 2011. Everything about this wine shouts out class from the smart Burgundy- style bottle, to the way it has aged gracefully and to the bright, forward, easy drinking style. Priced at £47 this is great value for a wine of this structure, harmony and elegance.
Made from 100% Montepulciano this is a fabulous wine that has meaty, light lamb juices running through it, controlled fine red berries, savoury background, just a lovely, juicy, mouth lickering wine, definitely a great match with light game dishes such as Golden Plover or Grey Partridge.
Mandrarossa Cartage 2012 From the South West of Sicily this 100% Nero D’Avola has a deep herbaceous nose, cherry, blackberry and plums some black pepper spice, long and juicy. Priced at £17.25 with a 14% alcohol I would recommend this with some blue cheese such as Perl Las from Wales.
Santadi Latinia 2010. A luscious but dry dessert wine from Sardinia. Soft golden raisins, long lingering purity of savoury honeyed sponge, this wine has the ability of filling the palate with sweet flavours but still controlling the intensity. Flavours of orange blossom, cloves and with a perfect balance of savoury flavours making a perfect dessert wine. The grape is Nasco an ancient variety.
Sergio de Luca, Enotria&Coe’s Italian buyer for 33 years certainly showcased some fabulous wines and explained that many of his original suppliers were still on board and, whilst much has changed, that we should still look at the traditional values.
It was a great way to spend a Tuesday with many trade friends enjoying Enotria’s generous hospitality with an array of lovely rustic dishes from the Bocca Di Lupo’s kitchen. More importantly it was a great place to showcase some class Italian wines.