Highlights from Armit Wines Annual Italian Tasting


Whether sommelier, collector or just an avid fan of Italian wines, expectations were high at this year’s annual Italian tasting.  On show were exciting new releases from Querciabella and Agricola Punica, some of this year’s 2013 Gambero Rosso ‘Tre Bicchierei’ wines and for the fortunate few: masterclasses of Giacosa and the iconic Redigaffi from Tua Rita. The tasting took place at the Worshipful Comapny of Haberdasher’s by Smithfield Market and from my recollection it was the best location I’ve been to for an event like this- spacious, well lit by natural light and of course surrounded by art and history.    
The always vivacious Bruna Giacosa along with winemaker Francesco Versio and Master Sommelier Xavier Rousset led a small group of people through vintages of the red label riserva wines from the Giacosa estates. This was followed by Stefano Frascolla, owner of Tua Rita and Master Sommelier Isa Bal guiding the select group through five vintages of the 100% Merlot Redigaffi. I overheard a few conversations afterwards, I would say this was a not just educational but exceptional.  
We were fortunate enough to have great representatives from the wineries present, all bringing their own approach and style to the event. I was paired with Elisa Sesti in the evening, her eloquence in the room was only matched by the wines she was showing and in particular the 2006 Brunello di Montalcino.  Almost directly across the room was the wonderfully relaxed Sebastiano Rosa from Agricola Punica He and I reminisced about the last time we had met six years ago in San Francisco and how the wines have evolved in that time. Only getting better of course!
This of course leads to the exciting new release of his white wine Samas, a sun-kissed blend of Vermentino and Chardonnay from Sardinia, soon to be available for summer (if we have one!). Querciabella was showing their new wine: Turpino. From both their Greve and Maremma estates, it is a blend of syrah, cabernet franc and merlot. I already have a few listings for it when it gets here.
Crowds gathered around Manfred Ing to learn more about Querciabella and their biodynamic wine making  techniques which are not just fascinating but remarkable.  Completely vegan they have been instrumental in taking a humane approach to biodynamic production.  Their passion and attention to production is evident in the quality of the wine produced. On the other side of the room was the equally passionate and dynamic Maddalena Pasqua di Bisceglie from Musella. I have a tendency to be quite conservative when it comes to upholding regional wine laws, but seeing her reminds me that the most important part of wine production is loving what you make, not making what is expected. Her white and rosé wines highlight the minerality and terroir that comes directly from her family’s historic vineyard, the 100% Corvina Rosé del Drago is my ideal pink wine both enjoyable with food and quite delicious on its own.
Not to be overlooked was the side by side pairing of Sassicaia and Ornellaia - what a treat!  The stunning appearance of the 25th Anniversary bottle of Ornellaia was a real eye catcher, the juice inside was pretty stunning as well.  The 2010s of both wines were highlights to an overall fantastic tasting and hopefully everyone’s expectations were fulfilled.  
Three for now:
Tiefenbrunner Pinot Bianco, Alto Adige 2012
Tua Rita ‘Guisto di Notri’ Tuscany 2004
Musella Rosé del Drago, Veneto 2012
Three for later:
Giacosa Barbaresco Albesani Santo Stefano, Piedmont 2009
Sesti ‘Phenomena’ Brunello di Montalcino Riserva, Tuscany 2007
Sassicaia 2009
Favourite wine cellar tweeter:  Manfred Ing@bottleofgrapes
Blog by: Shana Dilworth-Thomas
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