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

F&B World - - Contents - By CJ Jun­te­real

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.

ZONIN CLAS­SICS

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

Chi­anti Clas­sico

In­salate Frutti di Mare

paired with Zonin Pinot Gri­gio Clas­sico

Pio Boffa ex­plains Pio Ce­sare's ar­ray of wine

Tala­m­onti Moda

Tala­m­onti Tre Saggi

Tala­m­onti Trebi

Tala­m­onti Rose

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