Friday, February 09, 2007

Dilegua, o notte, all'alba vincero' *

Sometime around 1983, samples arrived from a Mosswood Wine Company. Gerald Asher, who dabbled in wine importing along with writing for Gourmet magazine, sent a note along with a wine called Gavi di Gavi, from an estate called La Scolca. We loved the wine and brought a bunch in. At the time there weren’t very many good white Italian wines available, and the La Scolca was a hit. It was rich and refined, delicate and able to wean the locals off Pouilly-Fuisse, which was the popular wine at the time, even in Italian spots. I remember Franco Bertolasi at Café Royal went crazy for the Gavi. He was a believer.

This week, at lunch, I tried two other wines from La Scolca, the Rosa Chiara and the Pinot Noir. While it is still chilly outside, spring will return. The Rosa Chiara, a dry rosé (80% Cortese, 10% Barbera, 10% Nebbiolo) from Piemonte, is a gentle harbinger.

On the label, it says “Sur Lie” in French, indicating the wine is left in the fermentation tank in contact with the lees, deposits of particulate matter. Character, spice. Good stuff, Maynard.

A pale salmon color, this was a delicate and delicious wine. We often go looking for pleasant rosé wines from Italy, and this is one to seek out. A very pretty wine.

The other wine from La Scolca that we tried was a Pinot Noir from Lombardia. A couple of years in small French oak complement a wine that is floral and peppery. “An earth-bomb", my associate called it, and rightly so. Again, a delicious red wine.

The Soldatis are a famous wine family in Piemonte, and they have elevated the image of Italian wine onto the world stage with their Gavi di Gavi. It is not a wine to sit and taste in 30 seconds and then pass judgement on. It is of its own world and makes the conditions whereby it will be enjoyed and evaluated. And that is at a slow dinner table with friends and candles and food and lots of time to enjoy it.

These two wines, the rosé and the red, are welcome additions to the Italian table. Seek them out, take the time to find them, and take even more time to enjoy them. You’ll be back.

Imported into the USA by Frederick Wildman

*Depart, oh night, at dawn I shall win.

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