IN VINO VERITAS
The year for Italian wines in the Philippines may have been 2013, as a number of wine distributors began promoting both value-for-money and higher-end wines for the Filipino market. Join F&B World as we toast to the diverse selection of divine Italian vin
The year for Italian wines in the Philippines may have been 2013, as a number of wine distributors began promoting both value-for-money and higher-end wines for the Filipino market. Join F&B World as we toast to the diverse selection of divine Italian vinos that have entered the dining scene.
WINEMAKING TRADITIONS FROM PIO CESARE
Pio Boffa is just about as Italian as you can get. The 5th generation owner of Pio Cesare, one of Piedmont’s most historic wineries believes in tradition, and in the wines he produces—opinions that he shares in a passionate, engagingly direct, voluble manner. Along with a few other Italian wineries, he has turned his eyes to the Philippines, to introduce us to the versatility and food-friendliness of Italian wines.
A wine dinner at The Mandarin Oriental’s Tivoli introduced Pio Cesare, which produces some of the region’s top Denominazion di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) wines—Barolo and Barbaresco—both made from the intensely aromatic Nebbiolo grape.
A surprising find was the Piodilei Chardonnay Piedmont 2010, single-vineyard, barrel-fermented, very crisp and fresh with some flint and spice notes, it brought out the summery flavors of Chef Remi Vercelli’s Scallops and Preserved Lemon Tartare with Mushroom Salad. Signor Boffa explained this particular Chardonnay came about because he felt that it was time to see if the terroir could produce a white wine with the elements of a red wine—depth, complexity, and aging potential.
The dishes that followed were designed to showcase Pio Cesare’s Barolos and Barberas—two of each, a single vineyard and a classic (from multiple vineyards), to give everyone the opportunity to experience what Signor Boffa explained as “the way Mother Nature can make two different jewels when everything else is the same—the grapes, the terroir, the winemaker.
The Barbera d’Alba DOC Piedmont 2010 was produced in the classic style, and was a lighter wine with lots of spicy, ripe fruit. The Fides Barbera d’Alba on the other hand was a single-vineyard wine, complex, juicy with cherries and ripe fruit flavors, and a balanced acidity. In April, Signor Boffa told us proudly, it had been named the best 2010 Barbera by Decanter magazine.
To pair with Braised Veal Cheeks with Truffle Sauce—lip-smacking, with a sauce that was so intense it was almost black—we drank Barolo, said to be Italy’s greatest wine. The grapes for the Barolo DOCG Piedmont 2008 come from the wineries family-owned vineyards, with the balance sourced from growers who have provided grapes for Pio Cesare for generations. Grapes from different locations each lend the wine their own characteristics, in this case producing a Barolo with great intensity and firm tannins, perfumed with wild berries, vanilla, and spice. The Pio Cesare Ornato Barolo Piedmont 2008, on the other hand, was single-vineyard, and expressed, Signor Boffa noted, the beautiful and unique quality of its terroir. It was full-bodied, with a velvety texture, and notes of leather
and toasted nuts. Both were wines with long aging potential.
A TASTE OF TALAMONTI
In contrast to Pio Cesare, the Talamonti vineyard-estate banners the wines of Abruzzo, a region in wild and mountainous central Italy. Most of Abruzzo’s wines are produced by large cooperative wineries. Talamonti’s 32 hectares produce wines from classic Abruzzo grapes—Trebbiano D’Abruzzo, Montepulciano D’Abruzzo, and Pecorino. During a dinner hosted by Wine Depot at Shangri-la Edsa’s Paparazzi restaurant, the wines were showcased beautifully by Chef de Cuisine Roberto Cimmino’s elegant, fresh flavors. Buttery burrata and organic cherry tomatoes enhanced the crisp, cutgrass and citrus notes of Trebbiano D’Abruzzo, Talamonti Trebi 2011 and a lightly-cured seared salmon filet with pea shoots and mint butter complemented the Cerasuolo D’Abruzzo, Talamonti Rose 2012. Like the Trebbiano, the Cerasuolo was fresh and easy-drinking, very summery with juicy berries and melon notes. Both wines are easy on the pocket, and would be perfect for hot Philippine summers.
Montepulciano D’Abruzzo Tre Saggi 2010 (named for the Three Wise Men) is Talamonti’s flagship wine; deep red with tinges of violet, it was silky, with the earthy notes and dark berry flavors that are classic for a Montepulciano. A mediumbodied wine, Montepulciano D’Abruzzo Moda 2011, soft and intensely fruity, showed just how perfectly Italian wines are made for food as it brought out all the nuances of a “wipe-your-plateclean” Maccheroncini with Italian Sausages, Truffle, and Chorizo.
Unlike the smaller operations of Pio Cesare and Talamonti, the Zonin Winery is Italy’s largest privately owned vineyard and winemaking complex. The Zonin-labeled wines, particularly the Prosecco and Pinot Grigio Classic are easy drinking, value-for-money, and excellent for summer drinking. At a recent dinner with the winemaker at L’Incontro, wines from Castello D’Albola in the Chianti region were introduced.
Most Filipinos know Chianti (which is made from the Sangiovese grape) as the cheap Italian red wine in a squat straw-covered bottle, not realizing the medium-high acidity and juicy fruit notes that make Chianti a very food-friendly wine. The Castello D’Albola Chianti Classico proved this in its pairing with a simply done Gnocchi with Mozzarella, Bacon, and Pomodoro sauce. The Chianti Classico Riserva, so named because it must be aged in the winery at least 27 months, was another food-friendly wine with hints of dried herbs, good acidity, and the aroma of ripe fruits. In tandem with this we were served the Castello D’Albola Accaioilo, a blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon. It was more full-bodied than the Chianti Riserva, velvety, with ripe cherries on the nose, and a bit of vanilla in the background.
WHY ITALIAN WINES?
Many Italian wines have long aging potential, but just as many are made to be drunk in their youth, enjoyed anytime without waiting for a special occasion or a special meal. And while the best are quite expensive, wine distributors in the Philippines, also carry a range of good quality, value-for-money wines. While many would believe that navigating the wines of Italy is a difficult task, given the many unfamiliar grapes and regions, the reward is in the drinking of these wines that are made for food. Something that Filipinos, who share with Italians a passion for food, should take advantage of.
Perhaps the last word should go to Signor Boffa, who in an interview with Golden Wines, Inc.’ s Sherwin Lao said, “When we release the wines, it is for drinking. The Italians created wines for (the) pleasure of drinking with food. So even if a young wine like a Barolo is austere, it will still be good to taste with food.” Pio Cesare distributed by Golden Wines, Inc. Tel. (02) 638-5025 Available at The Mandarin Oriental Manila, and Finestra at Solaire.
Talamonti distributed by Wine Depot
Tel. (02) 890-1041 Zonin and Castello D'Albola distributed by BestWorld Beverage Brands, Inc. Tel. (02) 637-8491
Gnocchi Sorrentina with a Castello D’Albola
Insalate Frutti di Mare
paired with Zonin Pinot Grigio Classico
Pio Boffa explains Pio Cesare's array of wine
Talamonti Tre Saggi