There was something different in the air last Thursday at Città del Gusto. I was there for another Wine Lab, my third. A quick look around, I noticed the usual key elements.
Hosts, journalist Paolo De Cristofaro and Raffaele Del Franco…CHECK.
Pizza King Michele Leo...CHECK.
Chefs Antonio Russo and Giovanni Pastore with their amazing menus…CHECK.
Ais Napoli Sommeliers, this time Guisy Romano and Pino Savoia….CHECK.
Panel of experts to include enologists Fortunato Sebastiano and Vincenzo Mercurio….CHECK.
Cool booklet full of facts, figures, etc so I could follow along during the wine tasting…CHECK.
Twelve wines to try…CHECK…HEY!!!
Here we go, something different about the wines. I knew they would be Taurasis….a wine made from my favorite grape, aglianico, and named after my home away from home away from home. I knew there would be 12 different wineries-Caggiano, Mastroberardino, Bocella, Colli di Lapio, Contrade di Taurasi, Di Prisco, I Favati, Il Cancelliere, Salvatore Molettieri, Michele Perillo, LuigiTecce, and Tenuta Ponte. I knew the vintage would be 2005.
What was different, then? Well, this would be a blind wine tasting, meaning we would try each wine without knowing which was which. The bottles were covered up. Paolo made us work Thursday night.
He began the evening with a brief intro on Taurasi. I love Paolo’s style and how he always has a ‘link’. The link for this Wine Lab was a comparison with the Taurasi wine and a book he read in his childhood, ‘C’era Due Volte il Barone Lamberto’ by Gianni Rodari. A popular story for those who grew up in Italia. It basically tells the story of a rich man who paid people around him to constantly say his name. He believed that this would keep him alive. His nephew, over his head in debts, invited these ‘kiss-ups’ to lunch, where he drugged them and made them sleep. The rich baron dies, but at the funeral…well he stopped there. I guess I have to get the book….He also compared Taurasi to a Brad Pitt movie where he plays Benjamin Button. You know the story, Brad gets younger as the film goes on. As if he gets a second life.
In some ways, Taurasi is like this. Getting a second life.
So onto the tasting. Paolo handed out a ‘scheda descrittiva’, basically 2 pages, 21 questions that we would have to fill out as we tried wines on our own. Questions like, ‘Which wines seem closed aromatically. Which wines have vanilla, coffe, or a toasty aroma? Which are generous, meaning have an aroma of fresh fruit, cocoa, spices? Which seem elegant? Which have a higher level of tannins? Which are smoother? Which…? And so on, and so on…
Wow. Unexpected, but challenging.
I had the pleasure of sharing a table with Clelia Romano of Colli di Lapio. Though I must admit, when she asked me which was my favorite, I was a little nervous when I gave her my answer. My ‘favorites’ are my ‘favorites’ for a wide variety of reasons….the aroma, a memory, what I ate with it, you get the picture.
I was surprised to see that one wine, produced in the same year, could have so many diverse flavors and aromas. It was interesting to learn that, once the wines were revealed, the similarities between wineries in the same small geographical zone. It was interesting to see the differences in the younger wineries as opposed to the granddaddies such as Mastroberardino and Molletieri. It was a golden opportunity to hear from the enologist (wine makers) who shared their vast knowledge and experience with an audience of 50 plus Taurasi lovers. It was also another great Wine Lab at Città del Gusto.
The next Wine Lab will look at Calabria,; a horizontal wine tasting between Gravello and Duca San Felice Riserva Librandi on the 14th of April.
Save me a seat in the front row…