On 12 October at The Dorchester, Attilio Scienza, Professor of Viticulture at Milan Univiersity, and Peter McCombie, a likeable Kiwi MW based in London, presented the “Wines of the Volcanoes” tasting.
Italy has more volcanoes than any other country, which perhaps explains something about the national temperament. The four dry white, three red and one sweet white wine tasted were all made from vineyards on or near volcanoes, or on volcanic soils – which is not the quite the same thing!
Some of the wines had a mineral note but otherwise it would be hard to discern a volcanic influence.
2009 La Vis Muller Thurgau Maso Roncador Trentino DOC
Good acidity for a MT. Stone fruit character on the nose.
2009 Cantine del Vermentino Funtanaliras Vermentino di Gallura DOCG
Softer, richer nose than the first wine. Lower acid. No oak.
2009 Coffele Cà Visco Soave Classico DOC
Imported by my friend Nick Belfrage so it must be good! Brighter gold than before. Honeysuckle nose. Fatter than the previous wines but finishes clean.
2009 Fontana Candida Luna Mater Frascati Superiore DOC
An attempt at a “serious” Frascati, the 14% alcohol perhaps creates the weight of this wine. Peter McCombie spoke of its “phenolic grip” – that’s bitterness to us non-MWs – which “some people might find a bit of a challenge.” Cheesy flavours in the middle and smoke on the finish – interesting for a Frascati. Probably fine with a risotto or something.
2004 Villa Matilde Camarato Falerno del Massico DOC
Mainly Aglianico. Tinged by garnet, with some volatile acidity on the nose but Peter was “pretty relaxed about that!” Porty, raisiny fruit and tannins like Lennie Small – big and rustic; powerful but gentle. Those tannins are balanced by good acidity.
2004 Vinicola Benanti Serra della Contessa Etna Rosso DOC
Now this is a real volcano wine, made on the slopes of Etna. Lighter colour than before. Cherry fruit, surprisingly soft, but some spice too. Lots of acid – 450 meters altitude. Big, sweet tannins on the finish. Sicilian wine in excelsis.
2006 Feudi di San Gregorio Taurasi DOCG
Aglianico again. Deepest colour yet. Some oak on the nose. Very dry tannins but not hard – there are some nice fruit tannins to counter the brutal wood tannins. Plenty of acid too. Try to 2015?
2008 Donnafugata Ben Ryé Passito di Pantelleria DOC
The island of Pantelleria is closer to Tunisia than to Italy, pointed out Professor Scienza. The colour of a Sicilian sunset. Gorgeous nose of marmalade and apricots. Very rich and sweet but not sticky. Yum. Outstanding. Very unique. I drank my glass.