Monday, October 31, 2011

The Italian Extravaganza:All that Sparkles..

Veni,Vidi,Vici-those 3 famous words by Julius Ceasar would perhaps find a new interpretation if I were to use them. Such is the beauty of this wonderful country called Italy!

I have been in France for a while now and totally love it! The process has been one beginning with admiration and gradually converting into love. Just like France, there’s something about Italy which is equally fascinating but the way I connected with this country is faster than I would have imagined. 
From their simple yet elegant cuisine to the richness in history exuded from the architecture and the extent to which art disguises itself so wonderfully in the most basic of things, the pull factor towards Italy for me as a tourist, blogger and wine lover was over-the-top!

As I mentioned in my previous post, the last couple of weeks have been adventurous and exciting. You might differ on what I call ‘adventurous’ if you aren’t a wine lover or a foodie like me but for those who consider wine hedonism a virtue and never fret at the thought of an indulgent meal every alternate hour, you would relate to what I am saying. 
To make sense of my jabbering, read on. This is first in the series of what I call the ‘Italian Extravaganza’; a title I feel almost sufficiently epitomizes my experience in what the Greeks called the ‘Oenotaria’ or ‘the land of vine’.

The scene is set in Italy but I travel to France,Spain,England and USA all in the same morning? Don’t be fazed-just fill in those question marks in your head with a sit down tasting of 10 wines from the aforementioned places and you have the answer. The pleasure is doubled when those wines are sparkling. I was fortunate to have begun my sojourn on this auspicious note during the EWBC '11.

Many wine lovers reading this would maintain that there is no better way to get started in the morning than with a flute full of sparkling wine! It gets even better on a fine weather day with millions of bubbles gently spluttering in your glass that have travelled from such diverse corners of the globe! So in my attempt to avoid getting carried away any further, here is the lineup of wines that were tasted during the event (in the same order that they were served) along with some explanations & brief tasting notes:

The flight of first 5 wines
Ridgeview Cavendish 2009 from Sussex, England
While the English decide on what to call their sparkling wine, Ridgeview is not a name unheard of. They have been producing wines for a while and have earned accolades for their quality. As for this particular wine, the nose for me was reminiscent of red apples with fresh citrus notes on the palate and a pleasant acidity. What was also peculiar was the slight saltiness on the finish-a characteristic also prevalent in the following wine.

Denbies Cubitt Reserve 2006 from Surrey, England
Notes of flint and white flowers on the nose, medium-medium (+) acidity on the palate and the tartness of a ripe green apple accompanied by lemon like citrus notes. Again, that stone-salt character was evident which I guess is typical to English sparkling wines owing to the ‘terroir’.

Chateau Frank 2006 Blanc de Blancs from New York, USA
This was the first time I tried a New York sparkling wine and I have to admit, I fell for it instantly!
With aromas of gooseberry, yoghurt and toast, this promised to be a quality wine and it was indeed terrific. A well balanced wine on the palate with a medium-long finish, this one is highly recommended.

Lenz Winery 2005 Cuvee from New York, USA
Just like its predecessor, this one was impressive too. On the nose, I could pick up floral, honey-like notes while on the palate the wine had medium(+) acidity though well balanced with a medium to long finish. Citrusy notes well prevalent. Again, a wine I would recommend if you can get your hands on a bottle.

Majolini Franciacorta Brut Electo, Millesimato (Vintage) 2005 Brut, Italy

(Majolini pronounced mayo-lee-ni; Electo means ‘first’)

Coming to Italy, this was the local flag bearer from Northern Franciacorta accompanied by another one from Il Mosnel served later in the flight. Mind you, I didn’t mention Prosecco which seems to take away all the limelight when we talk about Italian sparkling wines. Just to bore you a bit further (as some would already know), Franciacorta is the name granted exclusively for the DOCG sparkling wines coming from the place by the same name, located in the province of Brescia in Lombardy. Though still wines are also produced in the area, they are named and classified differently, say for example DOC Terre de Franciacorta.
Having rested for 5 years on lees, the fact was quite evident on the nose with yeasty, mushroom-like aromas. On the palate, this wine had a good overall balance with buttery, vanilla notes and a medium acidity making for an interesting finish.

Raventos i Blanc Extra Brut Gran Reserva de la Fianca 2006, Spain

Cava is still the category I have wanted to be excited about but I guess it’ll take some time. With a developing lemon, flinty nose, the wine was light bodied with medium levels of alcohol and acidity. I still believe in the potential of Cava but don’t have much to add in this space.

Cava Recaredo Pas Dose Reserva Particular 2002, Spain
This was a more exciting wine than its counterpart. Toasted bread and flinty aromas on the nose, this was a super dry Cava with a developed, ripe fruit character and a medium(+) finish but for me was still average in terms of overall quality. Note: Personal opinion, no offence to Cava patrons!

Another star in the tasting, this one pleased me and exhibited well the potential of Franciacorta. A lovely, developed nose reminiscent of peaches and honey, the palate was equally pleasant. Again a bone dry style, the wine had a crisp acidity & was well rounded with a long finish. Would have loved to take a bottle home!

We now reach France and there’s something about the way Champenois make their wines. This one had an interesting nose of red apples and honey with crisp acidity on the palate. Well rounded, this is a delicious way to add some spice to life.

Piper-Heidsieck Brut Rare 1988,Champagne,France
And what better way to conclude than trying the big daddy of all. To keep my mind away from any biases, I approached this wine with utmost neutrality making sure that the golden digits ‘1988’ don’t influence my opinion. But one sniff and developed aromas of peaches, honey and vanilla with slight undertones of almost smoke and ash (by all means pleasant) came gushing in. The magic continued on the palate with similar fruit aromas as on the nose and this fuller bodied wine impressing beyond words. I did crave for more but rare things I suppose should be enjoyed in rarer quantities!

With the day beginning on a high and some wonderful wines discovered, the foundation was laid down right for what would be one memorable trip!
There were great meals that followed and even more wonderful wines tried and I can’t help but say this about Italy- “I went,I saw,I was mesmerised

More to follow soon...


  1. Nice one mate ... keeps me a bit updated on the world of wines ... it seems like i never studied any ever. Life is become numbers and hospitality is becoming the rate of expected return for investors. Where are the good old days when we thought that Hospitality was about serving great food and wine and enjoying it ....

  2. I would like you to contact me in regards to using my name and breaching copyright

  3. Curtis,could you please share your contact details?There seems to be some confusion regarding this.

    1. Hi Curtis,hope you received my last response in regards to the issue you have raised.Would look forward to interacting soon!