Wine Tasting in Tuscany

A perk of the job, I’m afraid (but also a necessary exercise to search out new wines for our portfolio), is that we get invited to Tastings in all sorts of exciting places!    A chance exchange of e-mails after an enquiry from a guy specialising in Wine Tourism in Tuscany led us to a meeting

Tuscan Wine Tasting Trip Feb 2009

with the delightfully energetic and passionate Fillipo Magnani of Fufluns, a specialist Tour Operator for Wine and Gourmet Tours in his home region of Tuscany, Maremma, the Coast and the Island of Elba. has been going since 1999 and so with a wealth of experience in organizing trips and visits to wineries plus cookery demos and classes, and tasting events, we thought we should meet up and pick his brain for some “Do’s and Don’ts”.

He also acts as a distributor for a small and eclectic range of Wines to sell to Hotels and Restaurants in Tuscany and as he was arranging a tasting of some new wines for his clients, last Monday, he invited us to join him.   Any excuse to drive over the border into my beloved Italy, is not to be missed so we headed down past Pisa and Livorno to the town of Cecina on the coast and joined in one of the most fascinating tastings I have been to in a good while and here are some of the highlights:

•    A Vermentino from Sardinia that actually represented good value (Sardinian wines can be hideously over priced) – all “jelly babies and sherbetty acidity” – the wine was a 2007 from Alberto Loi called “Rivoli”

•    A superb Verdicchio from the Marches region – the Adriatic coast about halfway down the Boot – this was a 2005 Classico Riserva Verdicchio dei Castelli Jesi and showed complex candied fennel, creamy, nutty hazelnuts and a lovely smoky finish.   I’d want a Scallop and Prawn Salad with this, and serve the wine really well chilled – delicious!

particular wine, “Jakot”.  This is Tokaj spelt backwards because the Hungarians get narky (take umbrage!), •    Talking to one of the Restaurateurs about a wine from Friuli we agreed that we really liked this if you use their word – different grape, different wine etc…needless to say, but the same name.  The stubborn and patriotic Italians feel smug that they have managed to sneak their version of the word past the labelling authorities by spelling it back to front yet the word does still indeed, appear on the label. The wine is made by a producer called Princic Dario – the Slovenian name gives those of us who struggle with Italian geography a clue as to where Friuli lies – right up in the North East before it turns the corner into Croatia and the other Balkan states.   It would retail for around the 35€ mark so not cheap – but a delicate, floral and apricot jam wine with a salty, almost oxidised taste.   I argued for a match with a smoked fish dish like Kedgeree perhaps, or a Kipper or Smoked Mackerel Paté but my fellow Wine Taster, Fabio suggested a SaltCod (Baccalao) in a Tempura Batter on a Tomato Risotto and so we poured another glass to discuss further……

And so the afternoon wore on.  As Wine Tastings go this was really fun and enlightening.  We tasted many more unusual wines, a lot of which were produced following the principles of Bio Dynamics, by small passionate producers and growers who believe fervently in true expressiveness of a wine’s individuality. Nigel and myself were both pretty impressed – and, I know you won’t believe me, but basically sober by the end of it all!  So interested in really “tasting” each wine objectively was I,  that I really did SPIT them ALL out!

Helen Brotherton