Thursday, September 02, 2021

By the Bottle: Emily Huang

Wine lovers on wine and the vinous life.

I met Emily in Barolo a few years ago, where we were both attending Collisioni at the invitation of Ian D’Agata. Emily lives in Taiwan, and on social media her nom de plume is @unpoalticcia. She radiates a quiet serenity, or as we used to say in Rome a couple of millennia ago, “Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi.” She is essential to the future of wine and Italian wine. I learned some new things from our exchange below. So glad she contributed and participated in this series, please give Emily a warm welcome.

What wines do you have standing up right now?

I am having a Freisa from G.D. Vajra. I found it most interesting is the spark between the wildness in Freisa and the elegance from Vajra. Theirs is a bigger wine with darker fruit accents than usual, but that like all Freisa wines ages extremely well and expressing aromas and flavours with age that are remarkably similar to Nebbiolo’s.

To be honest, I am so obsessed with Italian native grapes and Freisa is really one of the greatest, but the simple truth is that the country has just so many great wine grapes, many of which most wine lovers have never even heard of, it is nothing short of amazing.

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

I have just had a Baricci Rosso di Montalcino 2011. The aroma and body is simply fabulous. Perfect timing to taste, but it can still be aging for a few more years. Baricci is one of only four estates to own vineyards in what is the true Montosoli hill (and not the enlarged Montosoli area of today) and his wines speak of what is arguably Montalcino’s best terroir. But Montalcino has a bunch of terroirs that are first rate amidst what is far too large a denomination: for example, the Canalicchio di Sopra area right next to Montosoli is very close in quality to it.

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

The best would be sitting in the glass room in the vineyard in Italy, especially in the harvest season, watching the busy people working on the wines for next vintage that I am drinking. 

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

There is one particular variety from Emilia-Romagna called Centesimino. It’s an aromatic red variety that boasts a charming floral aroma, and has gentle acidity. It’s perfect for aperitivo, but can actually be made as a full-bodied red wine that will stand up to hearty meat dishes such as stews, and delivers a fantastic sweet Passito too.

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

I admire Ian D’Agata for sure, who is also my mentor. He is a living (walking?) encyclopedia, not just in wine, also in food, in culture, in history and sometimes, even a life coach. He uses simple expression to explain complex subjects, for example: Italian wines. In this way, I feel more encouraged and I have more motivation and passion to dig into the Italian wine field, and to organize and walk my own path.

Do you count any wine as guilty pleasures?

Wines can never connect with guilty. It’s only pleasure.

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

Sting bought a Tuscan winery since he tasted a Barolo?! How funny is that?!

I need to make sure that I am able to distinguish from Barolo and Super Tuscan or Chianti wines.

What moves you most in a wine?

The philosophy of wine maker or winery owner.

Wine is connection between nature and human being and wine maker tell its own story by the expression of wines. Wine maker is like magician, every move, every step he/she does, it’s glorious and full of surprise.

Which styles do you especially enjoy drinking?  And which do you avoid?

I like delicacy and elegance in wines. Powerful and way too intense can be enjoying as well, but it really depends on the occasion.

What wine might people be surprised to find in your racks?

French wines. 😛

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

Still waiting for the best to come. Never too late for a surprise 😜

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

Steven Spurrier, Kerin O'Keefe, Aldo Vajra and more…

What wines are you embarrassed not to have drunk yet?

Let’s say “a lot…” still have super long list to catch up with…

What do you plan to drink next?

As an Italian wine geek, I’d say any Italian would do.

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