Under his spell: Walter Speller, a prince among Italian wine writers

walter spellerIf you’ve ever attended a high-end wine dinner, you know that it’s rare for the speaker to command the guests’ undivided attention as the evening wears on.

Rare-wine-induced brio is often accompanied by a joyous din that can trump even the most celebrity of commentators.

But such was not the case last night when Walter Speller (above, center) delivered three brilliant and concise talks, each before the service of three remarkable flights of wine that included 1964 Antoniolo and Cappellano, 1967 Barbi, 1968 Mastroberardino, and 1977 Quintarelli among others.

Thanks to his many years living in Italy writing about wine, and the intimate time he has spent with winemakers there in their cellars, Walter wields matchless acumen and authority on the wines of Italy. And he converses on them with unrivaled earnestness and probity.

I, like everyone else in attendance at the excellent Maialino in Gramercy, hung upon and insatiably relished his every word.

quintarelli emailThe occasion was a collation held in his honor by my good friend Jamie Wolff, owner of Chambers Street Wines.

Walter was in the city of five boroughs to celebrate the release of the fourth edition of the Oxford Companion to Wine, edited by Masters of Wine Jancis Robinson and Julia Harding.

I can’t wait to dive into Walter’s new entries on Italy. Not only because I know that I will devour them with gusto, but because, I, too, have fallen under his spell.

Notes on the wines to come next week. Buon weekend a tutti!

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