San Diegans and Southern Californians, please come out and taste with me and Giovanni Arcari at our SoloUva Franciacorta tasting at Jaynes Gastropub this Saturday (February 25) at 4! We have a great crowd coming (be sure to reserve if you plan to stay for dinner afterwards). Here are the details. Thank you for your support. We’ll be pouring exclusively from magnum!
The sun had already set after I braved rush-hour traffic in downtown Alba (worse that you might imagine) and found my way to the Marchesi di Grésy winery late last year after I finished up my teaching duties at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in nearby Pollenzo.
Honestly, the last thing I was expecting when I tasted with Alberto di Grésy (above) was a series of mini-verticals of his extraordinary white wines. But the marquis greeted me with a wonderful tasting of current vintages of his Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay side-by-side with wines that stretched back to 1999.
I’ve been extraordinarily lucky in my lifetime to have tasted old vintages of Gaja’s Gaia & Rey Chardonnay on my occasions. The wines selected by Alberto were yet another example, to my mind, of Langa’s breathtaking potential in producing long-lived and extremely nuanced white wines.
1999 Langhe Bianco Chardonnay! Wow, what a wine! Very fresh with just a slight but delightful note of oxidation, rich in texture but lithe on the palate with notes of stone fruit and flowers.
I loved this wine especially. But aside from a faulty bottle, there wasn’t a bad apple in the bunch.
Collectors with the foresight to cellar Alberto’s whites certainly won’t be surprised by my discovery. And from what Alberto told me (and what I’ve been able to verify on WineSearcher), you can find them in the U.S. in certain markets. It’s hard to believe that they land here for around $25.
You may not be surprised by how much I liked Alberto’s white wines. And anyone who follows Italian wine seriously knows the place that his reds hold in the Pantheon of great wines from Italy.
The 2005 Camp Gros was astounding, still very young in its evolution but already beginning to show its maturity thanks, no doubt, to the ripe vintage. Arguably, it performed the best in the flight of reds but it was just one of the stunning entries in the flight he shared.
And if you follow Italian wine closely, you don’t need me to tell you that the estate produces classic-style wines from one of the best growing sites in Barbaresco. For those who aren’t aware, Martinenga is one “panel” in the Asili-Martinenga-Rabajà triptych, the holy trinity of Barbaresco (for people like me).
But there is one revelation that I can offer here: the Langhetti pronounce Grésy as a French name. In my experience, they say greh-ZEE (and not GREH-zee). In the U.S., the Italianate pronunciation has become the norm. But on the ground in Langa, they say greh-ZEE.
It’s kind of like Quintarelli’s Alzero (pronounced correctly AHL-zeh-roh and not ahl-ZEH-roh) or Tucci’s timpano (properly pronounced TEEM-pah-noh and not teem-PAH-noh). Americans have been pronouncing them erroneously for so long that the pronunciations are now accepted as legitimate, however alternate, scansions.
Quibbling aside, I thoroughly enjoyed visiting with Alberto, a lovely man, and his cellar master, the inimitable Jeffrey Chilcott. Super fun people and exceedingly gifted tasters thanks to their natural abilities and immeasurable experience.
Alberto’s taste in music ain’t half bad either…
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