FIRST Glorious GAMBERO ROSSO Roadshow in Singapore!
By Dr. Michael Lim The Travelling Gourmet
The indomitable Travelling Gourmet delves deeply into the wines featured during the 1st visit by the “Red Prawn” (Gambero Rosso)…
MOST wine and food connoisseurs in Italy if not the world, know of Gambero Rosso, arguably Italy’s most famous food, travel and wine magazine. Started in 1985, it provides meaningful insights into ‘saper vivere’ which means the Italian way of life. La dolce vita includes food, wine and beautiful women, but that is another story…
The 5th Edition of the Gambero Rosso Top Italian Wines Roadshow came to sunny Singapore for the first time on 27, October, 2011. The event was inaugurated by my friend, Italy’s Ambassador to Singapore, Anacleto Felicani. Later, I had a tete-a-tete with affable Luigi Salerno, the Director General of Gambero Rosso, and then we proceeded to taste the numerous excellent wines from the wine regions of Italy. There were wines from 51 famous award winning producers for tasting. On offer too were complimentary Wine Seminars to enable wine lovers to learn and appreciate about the intricacies of Italian wines. Italy has 20 wine regions with many outstanding world class wines.
Importers and the wine press tasted the Roadshow producers’ wines attentively & appreciatively, and were particularly interested in reds (65% of the market), especially softer red wines. Aromatic white wines and Spumanti & sparkling wines attracted much interest as they are perceived as being more compatible with Asian cuisine. The English-language edition of Vini d’Italia (Italian Wines) is well-known to trade professionals here and highly respected. The tasting seminars were very full with almost all those registered being professional sommeliers and wine journalists. Those who were present for the Roadshow and Wine Seminars were indeed privileged to taste and savour many superb and very expensive wines.
In sunny Singapore at present, France has 38% of the market. Due to SOPEXA’s marketing efforts and also the ‘snob’ appeal to the ‘nouveau riche’, many perceive French wines as the highest point of the consumer pyramid in terms of quality and quantity. Australia comes second with a 24% share. Australian wines, some of which are labelled ‘fruit bombs’ are generally less complex wines that are easy to drink everyday. In 3rd place are Italian wines with over 6% of the market. Premium Italian labels are to be found on the best wine lists in top Italian and European restaurants as well as in the numerous & sophisticated wine shops in Singapore. Chilean and New Zealand wines are increasing getting a market share too due to their good price to quality ratio. The good news is that the market is growing despite the Euro crisis. In 2010 Singapore imported some 22 million bottles, of which 50% were re-exported to nearby countries in South East Asia! The lower value of the Euro versus the Singapore Dollar may also benefit Italian wines by making them more affordable to wine lovers in Asia.
I was happy to see Marina Cvetic, the widow of mi buon amico, Gianni Masciarelli, who makes the most fabulous wines in Abruzzo. Marina told me about her new Agriturismo which Gianni had shown me when it was still under renovation. One of their best wines is the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo marina Cvetic 2007…deep purple in colour, firm yet not aggressive tannins, Rosemarino bouquet on the 2nd nose, silky tannins and a medium finish.
Another friend I bumped into was Dino Addis of Cantine Gallura in North-East Sardinia. Dino with his ‘3 Musketeers’ beard’ makes the benchmark Vermentino di Gallura Superiore Genesi, one of the great aromatic white wines of the world.
Cavit’s Trentodoc Altemasi Graal Brut Riserva was a delicious sparkling wine made by the ‘metodo classico’ that I savoured, as well as their Teroldego Rotaliano Masso made from Trentino’s most famous red grape variety.
Another winery in Tuscany that I have visited twice before, also showcased its wines. Colle Masari /Grattamacco produces an eclectic wine blended from Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon & Merlot aptly named Grattamacco!
Donnafugata is undoubtedly one of the world’s great wineries on Italy’s largest island, Sicilia. Donnafugata means ‘escaped woman’ and it originates from Maria Calorina, the wife of Ferdinand IV of Bourbon who escaped from Napoleon’s army, and found sanctuary here in the early 19th Century. The story is immortalized in the novel “Il Gattopardo’ (the Leopard) by Guiseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa. I was delighted to taste Ben Ryè Passito di Pantelleria 2009 from the small island of Pantelleria with vivacious & pretty Giulia Lazzarini, the Export Manager. The windswept island of Pantelleria is off the coast of Sicily. I savoured figs, candied orange peel, apricots, peaches, mango, toffee…a long persistence. This dessert wine, so good with foie gras, oysters and cheese, is to kill for…
Tasting Ben Rye with Guilia Lazzarini
Another friend’s fabulous wine, Costa Russi Langhe Nebbiolo by celebrated Angelo Gaja, always pleases your palate with its good balance and complexity. Gaja’s Barbaresco is another winner from Peidmonte.
Domini Castellare di Castellina winery in the heart the Chianti region also showcased its excellent wines. I like the fleshy and full bodied I Sodi di SanNiccolo 2005 made with 85% Sangiovese and 15% Malvasia Nera
Italian sparkling wines are also superb especially with Cantonese Tim Sum and I enjoyed Nino Franco Spumanti’s Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Brut Rustico very much. Pleasing apple and peach flavours plus only 10g/l of residual sugar makes this palate friendly aperitif a winner. When I am in the Veneto,I always join the locals and have Prosecco with breakfast. We jokingly call it “Caffe Veneziano”!
Villa Medoro’s Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Colline Teramane Adrano 2007 has smoky notes of ham with soft ripe tannins and it brought back memories of my visit to their winery, and also of my friend, the charming & beautiful winemaker, Frederica Morricone.
So many wines to taste and appreciate…so little time…that is always the adventure you embark on when you are The Travelling Gourmet. Always remember, life is like wine, enjoy it before it turns to vinegar!
Wineries at the Gambero Rosso Top Italian Wines Roadshow 2011
Cantine Due Palme
Colle Masuri – Grattamacco
Di Majo Norante
Domini Castellare di Castellina
Fattoria del Cerro
Feudi di San Gregorio
Gruppo Italiano Vini
Guido Berlucchi & C.
Marchesi di Barolo
Medici Ermete & Figli
Nino Franco Spumanti
Poderi dal Nespoli
Rocca delle Macie
Ruggeri & C.
Tenute Donna Olga
Tenute San Guido
Tenute Sella & Mosca
Valle Reale Velenosi