This time Roberto Giuliani takes the stand.
Who knows what Giulio “Bicchierino” Gambelli would think if he knew there was a prize dedicated to him, for the “young winemaker who best interprets the Gambellian style of winemaking.” He, who wasn’t a winemaker, but had an unequaled nose, able to note the slightest defect in a wine, and also identify “extraneous” grapes and their percentages, or even the distinctive grasses in the ground cover between the vines.
Sangiovese was his daily bread, and he knew all its ins and outs, every strength and weakness, and could tell which plot of land it came from, and if it had ended up, perhaps, in the wrong wine. A legend, but above all a simple man of yore, with the rigor and ethical backbone that is so difficult to find today.
These are the reasons for this prize, which doesn’t have the presumption to say which wines are better – this is not our goal – but rather which young winemakers come closest to the vision of a wine that faithfully displays its history and lineage in the glass, from the varietal to the terroir to the vintage, all with absolute cleanliness and perfect technique. Great respect, therefore, for the raw materials, and wines that clearly express their varietals and terroirs.
The prize was established by IGP and ASET, the Association of Tuscan wine and food writers.
The final tasting session, which was blind, was held Sunday January 20 2013 in the offices of Winesurf; it was directed by our host, Carlo Macchi, and tasting were Stefano Tesi, Kyle Phillips, Francesca Pinochi, Paolo Valdastri, Marco Gemelli, Andrea Gori, Aldo Fiordelli and me. The one person missing was Luciano Pignataro, who was revocering from dental surgery that would have flattened even Muhammad Ali.
In the space of three hours we evaluated 74 wines from all over Italy, five types of wines made by 19 winemakers who were less than 36 years old (in 2012): 5 Bottle-fermented sparkling wines, 12 Whites 2 Rosès, 52 Reds, and 2 Dessert wines (The complete list is here).
The winning winemaker will be announced on Tuesday Febriary the 19th in the course of the Anteprima Chianti Classico Collection, scheduled to take place in Florence’s Stazione Leopolda.
The tasting was strictly professional, with Vania Bimbi and Walter Nencini, AIS Sommeliers of the Valdelsa Delegation, pouring the wines in flights of 5. Following their evaluations the tasters recorded their impressions on the tasting sheets, which they then signed, put into envelopes,and sealed.
General impressions: We found most of the wines to match the spirit of the prize; they were on average good, and there were a few excellent peaks, perhaps a few fewer than we might have expected, but it was overall a good tasting. I was especially pleased to note that those who employed wood did so with discretion, while the varietals were recognizable in almost all cases, as was the terroir of origin.
I won’t discuss individual wines because one could identify the winemaker from them, but do want to touch on Carlo’s choice of spittoons, which were decidedly non-standard, a cross between salad bows and the bowls Italian hair dressers use – and that he has no need for, having sold his hair on Ebay years ago – recycling, I suppose. If you guess the winner, he might send you one!
Alcide, Poggibonsi’s gastronomic father.
I doubt anyone would be surprised to hear that food and wine writers have, among their many bad habits, that of eating well when their stomachs begin to grumble. And after a morning spent tasting 74 wines we certainly couldn’t depart on empty stomachs! So we turned to the Hotel Ristorante Alcide in Viale Marconi, 67/A.
Alcide is an important landmark for Poggibonsi; the family has been in the business for 150 years, running at first a
trattoria, then a restaurant, and now a hotel as well. Now it’s managed by Roberta and Angela Ancillotti, who can trace their roots to the 1600s, while the kitchen is handled by Giacomo, Loris and Ciro, who serve up sober, flavorful dishes, in particular fish, and indeed the restaurant is best known for its cacciucco, which Alcide Ancillotti first offered in in 1849 to a group of laborers from Livorno who wanted a taste of home. We of course tried it, and it was an excellent choice!