La Monacesca, going back to the 1980’s. I’ve had great success with aged Verdicchio, both from La Monacesca and from Garofoli in the Jesi district. Those who know me, know I love Le Marche. These wines develop a nuttiness, almond and pistachio. The texture has a layer of creaminess to mingle with the acidity. They develop, especially when the wines are not manipulated so much. And the wines are not terribly expensive, like some of the white Burgundy wines that were once thought to be ageworthy.
Maria Rosa Gazzaniga passed away. Her passing was briefly noted in the Italian press. In America, nothing. She wasn’t an Aldo Conterno or a Giuseppe Quintarelli or an Antonio Mastroberardino. She was a woman who worked quietly, making white wine in Gavi, Tenuta San Pietro. Anyone who has had her white wines from the 1970’s or 1980’s was in for a special moment. Aged on the lees, organically farmed, these wines were lean and rich at the same time. I ran across a cluster of them in a special cellar in Florence and brought them home. The 1976, which we opened after 20 years, was bright and clear, a triumph. Considering that 1976 wasn’t held up as a particularly great or even good vintage, it was for me an indication that Maria Rosa had stepped in a direction her (mainly male) peers weren’t going. She was looking deeper into the wine, and those wines were looking back. Now she belongs to the ages, like her wines.
they showed a wine that they were very excited about. If anyone here needs reminding, Mr. Soldati had the vision for Gavi as a world-class wine, in a time when red wines, especially from Italy, were fighting to climb that mountain. Now, all these years later, many folks have reached the summit. But Soldati dreamed about his white wine up there on top. Tis past visit, he and Chiara showed me their special project, GdeiG D’Antan. The wine comes aged, ten years, from the winery. All the hard work has been done. It is up to the collector to keep it longer. It will keep. But one must budget for a wine like this. What am I saying? This is a winery that has a track record. We’re not talking white burgundy prices. For my budget, I have placed bottles of their flagship wine the “black label” Gavi dei Gavi, as I have done for years. Still, a wine for which funds must be allocated. But I know when I put the wine in my, cool, dark little closet, something will come from it. I have white Burgundy’s from the 1980’s that haven’t been so lucky.
Even though this cannot be the last word on these matters, this is getting long. So one more, and then we go our own ways.
I have a tenuous relationship with Pinot Bianco. When I was young and broke and going out to a “continental” restaurant (before Italian places were so commonplace) Pinot Bianco from France was the only wine on the list that I could afford and enjoy.
2002 “Rarita” developed a delicious spice. Slight cinnamon. Sour/sweet. Citric. I kept coming back to this wine. The 89 Terlaner (a Pinot Bianco and Chardonnay bend) was woven with spice and balance with a long finish. Still a pup.
White wine that ages well is not for everybody. Some people just don’t like the secondary, tertiary (or the unintended) attributes that develop with long aging. Just like aging for humans, it’s not all pretty. But along the way something can happen. And while we cannot live forever, old wine allows us to travel in time and put off the inevitable, if only for an evening. One can never have too many of these wines in one’s collection.
(ed.note: Even here, space and time limitations didn't allow me to include white wines from Friuli and Sicily, et.al. Perhaps a Part II?)
written and photographed (with the exception of the Viewmaster shot) by Alfonso Cevola limited rights reserved On the Wine Trail in Italy
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