The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

A View from a Tasting

Posted on | October 19, 2010 | Written by Will Di Nunzio | No Comments

This past Saturday we had a terrific tasting event at our Studio del Gusto: France vs. Italy. Since as far back as I can remember, these two countries have been forced to measure up in almost everything—empire, architecture, art, fashion, soccer and, of course, food and wine.

On Saturday, wine was clearly the competition at hand. However, because it wouldn’t be fair to designate a winner from such a small selection of wine, what we experienced on Saturday was less a contest than it was a study. We paired up a French wine with an Italian wine for a total of four pairs, or eight wines. I then helped our guests compare each French and Italian wine to each other. What follows are my notes from last Saturday’s tasting.

Fantinel NV Prosecco Brut Extra Dry vs. Bereche NV Brut Reserve

Although the Bereche is a lovely NV Champagne with good acidity, the genteel simplicity of the Fantinel took the lead (by a single vote) as an ideal wine for aperitivo and desserts. However, I have to be honest here and acknowledge that I’ve had many exceptional Italian sparklers, and the world of sparkling wines unquestionably belongs to the French.

Aldo Conterno 2006 Chardonnay Bussiador vs Domaine Latour Giraud 2006 Mersault Les Narvaux

Aldo’s Chardonnay is a wonderful representation of the grape, and our guests chose it for its elegant oak, notes of vanilla and soft minerality, but the preferred wine here was the smooth Meursault by Giraud, an outstanding white burgundy with a delicate bouquet and a lighter body than the Bussiador.

Canalicchio-Franco Pacenti 2004 Brunello di Montalcino vs. Chateau Haut Bages 2004


This was a tough choice for many because the wines were not identical. However, our guests had fun comparing the legendary Bordeaux to the legendary Brunello. This particular Brunello happens to have a slightly lighter body than most, yet it still maintains its rich flavors. The Haut Bages, a 5th growth Bordeaux, was a smooth and easy drinking wine that’s ideal for everyday. There was some debate, but the Brunello was the preferred wine here. We should keep in mind that we’re talking about a 5th growth Bordeaux and not let the victory go to our head.

Giacomo Conterno 2005 Barolo Cascina Francia vs. Domaine de Montille 2005 Volnay Le Mitans 1er Cru

The Gran Finale! There was no instant decision on these two incredible wines. Given that both wines could use a few more years, I was sure to give enough the air so that we could enjoy the fruit, silkiness and elegance of both of these wines. Being a huge Conterno fan, I hoped that the group would lean toward that, but it was an even split. Both of these beauties were superb!

Ultimately, it was an even game, which makes sense because the real winners of the tasting were the tasters themselves. When the wine—and the company—are good, there are no losers, only a big pile of win.


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