When life takes a turn…
A bit of a personal story before I share a wine adventure that I wish upon every lover of great wine.
Fifteen months ago, my husband and favourite travelling companion had a terrible accident. He fell down cement stairs head first landing him in intensive care with a brain injury,unable to walk and barely able to talk. Life changed in an instant. The love of my life, partner in wine, in travel, in all those mundane day-to-day things you take for granted, was not there. And no one could tell me what the future would look like, or whether he would ever be back. Those were dark days.
Miraculously,within a relatively short time, he fought his way back. Different in some ways, and wonderfully familiar in others. Better. ( He actually tells people he is smarter.) But because of the type of brain injury, he could not drink for a year.
The relevance to this entry, is because we got to share our first glass of wine together since the accident in our favourite place in the world.
And maybe Bacchus the God of Grapes took pity on a wine lover being forced to abstain for that long, because that evening, we were invited to a blind tasting by 10 wine producers of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG at E Lucevan Le Stelle Wine Bar.
Vino Nobile, along with Brunello di Montalcino and Chianti, are the three celebrated gems of the Sangiovese grape. In 1980, Vino Nobile became the first to receive the Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) designation. It must be aged for two years before release and is characteristically full-bodied with firm tannins.
This evening we were testing the new releases of the 2011.
Ten numbered bottles at the bar, a score sheet and a room full of producers and wine lovers. There was nothing formal about this tasting – it was a chance to talk with the producers and for people like Cinzia, who owns the bar, she gets to know what kinds of wine appeal the most.
Oh what a night! I was completely intimidated until Cinzia told me that only one in ten producers can identify their own wine, let alone all 10. Vittorio Bagnasco, who produces Lamberto, blamed the fact he had a cold. Great excuse, I told him.
They all come with stories.
Vittorio has been producing wines at Lamberto for 10 years. Before that he was a documentary cameraman and Director of Photography for feature films when he decided to take his love of wine one brave step further.
Dr. Alberto Brini of Il Conventino Wines – had just that day made a bid to the LCBO to get his organic wines into their stores. He looked about 25 and like all of the producers, utterly charming. His wine was ready before the label.
And Cinzia, the event organizer – I found out that night, was a marine engineer before she toasted a new career and opened up the wine bar and B & B.
All the wines were rated for colour, nose and taste. We ranked them and tried to guess the producer. The wines ranged from elegant and silky to tannins that packed a serious punch.
Of course, whenever I ambled my way to the bar for a refill, I peeked at some of the marks. The producers tended to be quite generous with their marks, while some of the wine lovers were, in my opinion, much too tough.
Valdipiatta, a small winery making a significant mark, came in first place. The 2007 Riserva is available at Vintages. It was my third pick ( and my husband’s first pick – I told you he says he is smarter now).
Il Conventino ranked second – and producer Brini was one of the few who correctly identified his own wine.
Montemercurio Messaggero came third. I loved this wine – the colour and nose were quite subtle, but exploded on the palate.
And while I only managed to match one wine with its proper label – it was the chance to preview some of excellent wines that will hopefully one day soon be available in Canada.