If somebody were to ask me what I love about Italian wine, a big smile would spread across my face and my eyes would light up… I love Italian wines just as much I appreciate other great wine producing countries and regions.
To understand why I came to love Italian wine so much perhaps I should offer some background of my wine related career. I worked for more than 10 years near the Italian border in Engadin, a large mountain area near St Moritz which is famous for Engadin Ski Marathon and the hotel where I worked, Hotel Waldhaus, a place which attracted a lot of philosophers and free spirits. I went to the famous wine fair in Verona several times and visited various wine areas, including Valtellina, Venetia, Piedmont and the Tuscany.
I also travelled to places like Rome, Napoli, Umbria and Marche. I know the wine area of Sued Tirol especially well as I worked at Schloss Sonnenburg for almost one year. My last adventure in this great wine producing country was in 2012 when I travelled with four Sommelier Assistants from the St. Regis Resort and the Laguna Resort in Bali. We visited Piedmont, Tuscany and Venetia and since then my wine list at the St. Regis Resort in Bali is graced with more than 100 wines from Italian wine areas.
Schloss Sonnenburg in Sued Tirol, Italy
I would like to start this voyage of discovery in terms of Italian wine by sharing a lyric I wrote in 2010 when Gaja Gaja, the daughter of Mr. Angelo Gaja, hosted a wine dinner in our Astor Ballroom. I wrote these words especially for the event.
Il dio dell’ebbrezza
Mentre ancor sognando, camminavo, seguendo il corso delle nuvole,
fra viti popolate di ciottoli ed erba, forti come muscoli,
lasciando che il profumo della campagna,
come quello delle castagne arrostite, inebriasse i miei sensi
e mi sembrava di sentire il sole come lava che irrompe dal vulcano,
e si espandeva cosí, come una tomba, un’immensa tranquillità in me,
permettendomi di immaginare l’eternità.
I venti, come le dita di un bambino, accarezzavano le mie guance
e risvegliavano in me l’amore per la natura
e quando poi il vino,
brillante come sangue fresco, sorso dopo sorso, scendeva la gola,
udii all’improvviso la voce del dio Dioniso che mi diceva:
“Figlio mio, è qui che devi restare e
solidificandoti a vite come questi miei figli, diventare il dio dell’ebbrezza”.
Children Of Wine God Dionysus
Ones I followed the train of clouds, dreamingly,
I rove between vines
which were strong like muscles,
and surrounded by small flints and fresh grass
My senses were intoxicated
by the parfuem of the country
which were like the smoky breath of roasted chest nuts,
I felt the sun on my shoulders,
which were like volcano fire.
There was the unfolding of a grave yard,
a never experienced freedom
which spread in myself out
and I had the perceive
to foresee eternity.
Aah, how the wind
caressed my cheeks,
gentle like tender fingers of children,
The call of love for Mother Nature
was awakening my soul
And when my glass of wine
which was sparkle
like fresh blood
streamed into my dry mouth, sip of sip
there I hear suddenly
the voice of wine god Dionysus
“Son, here you must remain,
to grew stiff and grow
like my vine children
for your goal has been
to become yourself a god of wine.`’
Hotel Waldhaus Sils\Maria, Switzerland
Work Places of the Author
Our group of Sommeliers and Sommelier Assistants visited some of best wineries and areas in Piedmont in my opinion, including Pio Cesare which is located in the famous truffle-producing town of Alba where we also stayed. We were lucky enough to tour perhaps the most famous winery in Italy, Gaja in Barbaresco. We saw Mr. Elio Altare and his charming daughter Silvia in La Morra and we went to the Matteo Corregia winery in Canale d’Alba. Some of the most famous wines that they make are also found on the St Regis’ wine list and they include:
– Gaia & Rey Angelo Gaja, Chardonnay, Langhe, Barbaresco 2008,
– Gavi Pio Cesare D.O.C.G. Cortese, Alba 2011,
– Matteo Correggia Arneis, Roero, Canale d’Alba 2011
– La Val Dei Preti, Matteo Corregia, Canale d’Alba, Roero 2009
– Barolo Vigneto Arborina, Elio Altare, La Morra 2007
– Pio Cesare Barbaresco Il Brico D.O.C.G., Alba 2007
– Barolo Ornato, Pio Cesare, Serralunga d’Alba 2007
– Barbaresco, Angelo Gaja, Langhe 2008
– Sperrs Nebbiolo & Barbera, Angelo Gaja, Langhe 2005
RED WINES: ALL WINES MADE WITH NEBBIOLO:
In the Tuscany area we visited the Bolgheri Region and the famous village of Montalcino. Bolgheri became famous because of the world famous wine Sassicaia. It was the first region in Italy to declare their wines as “table wines” because they used foreign wine grapes, which in those days were not allowed by the government. Wineries like Guado Al Tasso, Sassicaia, Ca Marcanda, Castello Banfi, Pieve Di Santa Restituta, Col d’Orcia and Poggio al Tesoro welcomed us to some great tastings, lunches and dinners.
The wines I would recommend are all red, please see below:
– W Dedicato A Walter, Poggio Al Tesoro Allegrini, Bolgheri 2007, Cabernet Franc
– Sassicaia, Tenuta San Guido, Bolgheri 2008, Cabernet Sauvignon & Cabernet Franc
– Solaia, Tenute Marchese Piero Antinori, Firenze 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangoivese & Cabernet Franc
– Tignanello IGT, Tenute Marchese Piero Antinori 2010, Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon & Cabernet Franc
– Guado al Tasso, Tenute Marchese Piero Antinori, Bolgheri 2009, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc
– Pieve S. Restituta, Brunello di Montalcino, Angelo Gaja 2008 Sangiovese
– Gineprone, Chianti D.O.C.G., Col D’Orcia, Montalcino 2009 Sangiovese & Cabernet Sauvignon
– Belnero IGT, Castello Banfi, Montalcino 2011 Sangiovese
– Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, Castello Banfi, Montalcino 2008, Sangiovese
– Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG, San Polo, Allegrini – Lo Cascio 2005 Sangiovese
And finally we took the trip to Verona where the most well-known wine of Italy originates, the Amarone. The wine is made from dried grapes over a period of 3-4 months. Here we made a visit to the wineries of the very welcoming Madame Marilisa Allegrini. She served us a lunch at her Villa Della Torre in Fumane, and we visited the Villa Girardi which houses the biggest barrel in the world.
RECOMMENDED RED WINES ARE:
– Amarone della Valpolicella Classico, Allegrini, Fumane 2007, Rondinella, Corvina & Molinara
– Amarone della Valpolicella, Villa Girardi, Verona, Venetia 2008, Corvina, Rondinella & Molinara
– La Poja IGT, Allegrini, Fumane 2004, Corvina
I believe that everybody who is reading this little article about Italian wines will understand why I love and admire Italian wines so much. Salute !
Harald Wiesmann, Restaurant Manager of the Asian inspired Haute Cuisine Kayuputi and Chief Sommelier at The St. Regis Bali Resort, has a very interesting career history spanning a number of years with different roles in various countries.
His 42 years of international experience has led Kayuputi to receive prestigious awards from the Wine Spectator Magazine (USA) for six consecutive years since its opening six and a half years ago.