With Father’s day fast approaching I have seen a lot of ads from Bunning’s for power tools. Power tools I do not need and don’t really know how to use. They do look pretty good though. Especially the cordless ones with the same power pack. How cool are they.
I manage to get by with a lawn mower and a drill. For everything else; well, that is what neighbours are for.
Likewise I am seeing a lot of ads from Dan Murphy’s for Whisky’s and Whiskey’s. On a side note the “e” is pretty important.
If there is no “e”; it means we are talking about Whisky from Scotland. With an “e” means everywhere else. My brother works for a Whisky company in Scotland and they take that “e” very seriously. Lawyers at 10 paces etc!
You can probably guess that the traditional Fathers day gifts don’t mean a lot to me.
What do I want; well wine, wine and a little more Italian wine; and oh, a pair of shoes.
Last weekend I attended the Italian Food and Wine Festival and a series of master classes, held with a bevy of local experts and a few Italian winemakers.
What a great way to spend an afternoon. Six hours of sniffing and spitting that is all tax deductible.
It was held at the Sydney Town Hall, which is a pretty impressive building. I still find this hard to believe, but I have never stepped inside the Town Hall before. Someone described it as the Tardis – bigger on the inside than it looks from the outside, but that is doing it an injustice.
But onto the wines! I have to admit, Italian wines have proven a little hit and miss for me. The great wines are bloody sensational, think Super Tuscans, Valpolicellas etc, and the cheap wines are as they should be, simple and easy to drink. It is the wines in the middle I just don’t get. The wines in the $25- $60 price point I tend to drink and concentrate on. In my opinion these wines just don’t cut the mustard. Sure they are OK, but they are $20 a bottle too expensive.
I know the importers will claim exchange rates and local taxes, but that is a weak excuse when you are asking me to pay $60 for a wine that is worth $30. Plus I don’t seem to have this issue with the other major wine regions.
Now that is off my chest; some highlights and there were a lot.
The white wines really impressed from the South of the country, from the Regions of Basilicata and Campania.
I will give you the names of a few of these wines but to be honest, unless you are Italian, the names are overly complicated and meaningless.
2012 Casa D’Ambra “Frassitelli” Ischia Biancolella DOC was a particularly impressive white wine. It had an incredible melon and citrusy, almost oily nature. Very complex and very enjoyable.
Just to summarise – Case D’Ambra is the name of the winery – Frassitelli is the name of the vineyard. Ischia Biancolella DOC is the sub region on the larger region of Campania and in case you wanted to know. The grape variety is Biancolella. But that is not that important. (I told you it was complicated)
But the real highlights were the Super Tuscans from Tuscany and the Valpolicellas from Veneto (Amarone etc). These are wines rightly regarded as the best in the world and they did not disappoint. Expensive, but pretty bloody sensational.
A stand out was the 2006 Quintarelli Ca Del Merlo Veneto IGT. Again a complicated name; but a beautiful wine. Giuseppe Quintarelli, is Veneto’s most important producer and has received justifiable fame and fortune for their near-mythical Amarone style of wines. These are in the +$500 category, but this Ripasso style was just sensational and a little cheaper, but not much! (Ripasso and Amarone are made in a pretty unique manner, which I will write about in another blog)
The wines of Piedmont received another master class, with the near mythical and expensive wines of two small villages; Barolo and Barbaresco. I have never been a great fan of Barolo and Baberesco. Just like, I have never been a fan of Red Burgundy and Pinot Noir. The value for money just does not work for m. They are just too expensive to drink. Fun to taste though!
These wines are unique to the region of Piedmonte, with no other region in the world coming close to producing a wine similar to these ethereal wines. It is the unique combination of the grape (Nebbiollo), the climate – cool and foggy, the geography, the sense of Terroir and history.
These wines are generally well above $150 and whilst very enjoyable with the right food. Strike that. They can be sublime with the right food; but when drunk in a tasting environment they can be a little harsh. The wines are very tannic, with only subtle aromas and flavours. But with food, they are very very different.
What I discovered is that I like the Modern Style, and this opens the whole debate of Modernist vs. Traditional, which is always in the conversation when you mention these two wines.
I have come pretty late to this debate, only to find the debate is almost over.
The bulk of producers now sit somewhere in the middle of these two styles. However in the 1990’s this debate was quite the topic. You see the traditional Barolo was made in large old oak, which needed decades, before the harsh tannins would soften to become half way drinkable.
A few of the younger winemakers had a look at Burgundy and Bordeaux and introduced some of their winemaking techniques and their small barrels, producing a darker, richer more approachable wine that could be enjoyed a few years after release, rather than decades.
The Traditionalist argued that these were not Barolo, but rather an aberration. A bit harsh, but as I said it was quite a hot topic, with families and friendships ripped apart.
You can guess what happened next. The famous US journalists and magazines of the time (Robert Parker & Wine Spectator) jumped on board the “NEW” wines and the scores and prices reached amazing heights. In the late 80’s you could buy Barolo for $20-$30. Now these same wines are $300-$500
Like any trend, the pendulum will swing to the extremes, but will eventually head back to the middle. So it is with Barolo. Today there are very few wines on the extreme and most find themselves in the middle.
I did however discover that I enjoyed the Modern style a little more, as the wines have a richness and fleshiness still, whilst retaining the floral and cherry elements that make the wines so elegant and compelling.
However this was the complete opposite of the experts on the panel, who liked the more traditional wines.
But this is why I like wine so much. There are no right or wrong answers.
Everyone’s tastes are different and at the end of the day it is all up to the person who is paying.
So have a great Fathers day and enjoy a nice glass of wine. I will be drinking the Quintarelli Ca Del Merlo with a nice veal Ragu.
Matt the Bullionaire