Thursday, May 20, 2021

By the Bottle: Raffaella Guidi Federzoni

Wine lovers on wine and the vinous life.


This week we’re hearing from Raffaella Guidi Federzoni in Montalcino. She is, from time to time, my muse. But always a friend. She is fierce. She is charismatic. And a consummate wine professional. Raffaella is a thinker and, to me, the embodiment of the best of the modern Italian woman. Not that she or anyone needs my endorsement. But I admire her, and, hopefully do not idealize her too much. But maybe just a little. The world needs more Raffaella’s. And today I am sharing her story.

 

What wines do you have standing up right now?

Sangiovese Superiore Le Papesse 2019 and Sangiovese I Probi 2016, both from Villa Papiano. I am quite intrigued by Romagna’s wines, especially the ones made with Sangiovese. I know nothing about them and it is high time to start learning.

 

What’s the last great wine you drank?

I consider a wine great when it is – or is going to be - unforgettable for its qualities of balance, depth, personality, persistence, promise. In this case the last were actually two, both from the vintage 2017: the future Brunellos from Le Chiuse and Fattoria dei Barbi, tasted secretly and prematurely, one from the bottle and the second from the barrel.

 

Are there any classic wines that you only recently had for the first time?

If the concept of “recently” could be consider elastic in terms of time, as it happened a few years ago, I must quote the Cannonau made by Alessandro Dettori in three different crus: Tuderi, Tenores and Dettori. These wines struck me for being already totally classic.

 

Describe your ideal drinking experience (when, where, what, how).

In the evening, somewhere comfortable, two or three wines maximum, with the feeling of having all the time of the world. And, of course, with the right company which could consist in a small group of friends, or, myself and just one more person.

 

What’s your favorite wine no one else has heard of?

Vino Rosato Valcamonica Martina, made by Enrico Togni. I hope that somebody else apart from me have heard and drunk it because is a little jewel of delicacy and intensity, despite its apparent simplicity.

 

What wine should everybody drink before the age of 21?

Ahahahaha… that’s a very politically incorrect question. I can base my answer only from my personal experience: Lambrusco. This wine could be the perfect imprinting for a future wine lover and nowadays is possible to find excellent bottles, coming from different sub-regions and with slightly different characteristics. Lambrusco is a true wine, a true Italian wine, and a true expression of the exuberance and appetite of life that belong to the youth.

 

What wine should nobody drink until the age of 40?

Old stuff or new born wines. I mean wines that spent a lot of time in the bottle or wines that are not even coming to an age. To understand them some experience and practice is needed. But this is just my idea, please do not listen to me.

 

Who in wine — winemakers, winery owners, writers, retailers, collectors — active today do you admire most?

The list is too long, let’s say that I admire many, I like many, but I don’t idealize anybody.

 

Do you count any wine as guilty pleasures?

I stopped feeling guilty in 1998.

 

Has a wine ever brought you closer to another person, or come between you?

Not a wine in particular, but I confess that recently I found the debate abut the conception of Supertuscans an issue that had created some sort of friction between myself and some wine friends. I am starting to loathe this word, because it represents a lazy theoretical category and not true wines coming from specific areas and varietals.

 

What’s the most interesting thing you learned from a wine recently?

How a wine stays the same in color-nose-taste, even after being opened for more two days. This is interesting but also boring. Certain wines are made to be reassuring, a safe bet. I personally don’t like it; there is too much technique in this and less spontaneity.

 

What moves you most in a wine?

The capacity of changing, evolving, opening or closing and reopening, again with more to the senses. No true wine is fully classifiable or understandable since the beginning of its life.

 

Which styles do you especially enjoy drinking?

Elegant, balanced, with more length in the mouth than width. I gave up wines that were too concentrated, powerful, impenetrable. I also like a certain salinity that shows in the sip and a floral aspect, more than an excessive presence of fruit.

 

How do you organize your wines?

Ehm… I put the bottles horizontally on the shelves in my cellar as they come in and regularly, I check them, because I almost immediately forget their position.

 

What wine might people be surprised to find in your racks?
No one; in my eccentricity I am quite predictable when it comes of choosing a wine.

 

What’s the best wine you’ve ever received as a gift?

A bottle of red wine from Trentino given to me by my younger son. He spent a good share of the little money he had to buy me a present, that makes such a gift so precious.

 

How have your drinking tastes changed over time?

I used to like wines with more immediate impact, fruity and supple, easier to understand. But you have to consider that, forty years ago, the general quality of Italian wines was not as great as it is now. My perception of wine has moved together with a larger possibility of choice and taste.

 

You’re organizing a dinner party. Which three people from the wine world, dead or alive, do you invite?

Thomas Jefferson, Mario Soldati and Lalou Bize Leroy. The first one for his wine vision, the second for his capacity of narrate, the third for her incredible femininity and sense of wine.

 

What wines are you embarrassed not to have drunk yet?

Most of the top Burgundies, but I am not really embarrassed, I hope to have enough time for that.

 

What do you plan to drink next?

Well, I have to dig deeper into the most recent vintages of Brunello di Montalcino and Rosso di Montalcino (2016 and 2019). This is not only for working reasons, also because I like to be updated with what is going on at home. But summer is approaching, therefore I will try to quench my wine curiosity for white wines from Irpinia, Isola d’Elba and North Eastern Italy.

wine blog +  Italian wine blog + Italy W

1 comment:

Mitchell Pressman said...

This edition of "By the Bottle" will be hard to top. Among many thoughtful and wise responses:

"What wine should nobody drink until the age of 40?

Old stuff or new born wines. I mean wines that spent a lot of time in the bottle or wines that are not even coming to an age. To understand them some experience and practice is needed."

Your admiration is understandable.

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