The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Winemaker Sebastiano Rosa, International Man of Awesome

Posted on | July 27, 2012 | Written by Josh Rubenstein | No Comments

At The Principal with Kavita Faiella and Sebastiano Rosa

The whole wine world is aware that Hong Kong is rocking, but our fair city is still very misunderstood. On a day-to-day level, Hong Kong people love to discover what’s new and they are surrounded by a multitude of choices and perhaps too much information, if such a thing exists.

So when Sebastiano Rosa, best known for his work at Tenuta San Guido (Sassicaia, Guidalberto, Le Difese) and Agricola Punica (Barrua, Montessu) visited us on short notice, we were both honored and in a mad scramble to organize interesting events. We wanted to share Sebastiano with Hong Kong, while also wanting him to come away with a real understanding of the city, its culture and its wine market. Fortunately, Sebastiano is very inquisitive and curious, so he allowed himself to better understand Hong Kong in a way that many visitors miss.

The highlight of Sebastiano’s visit was our evening at The Principal, still relatively new and an immediate star in HK’s restaurant scene. Wine Director Kavita Faiella was kind enough to join our dinner, and quite honestly she is reason enough to visit The Principal. Go with friends and become anti-social, losing yourself in the superb wine list she has put together.

The evening, like all of our events during the visit, featured wines of Sebastiano’s influence, including the emerging star, Sardegna’s Punica 2007 Barrua, a Carignano-blend that follows the Super-Tuscan blueprint of honoring local varietals among Bordeaux grapes. We actually served this last, after a 1997 Sassicaia, and it paired beautifully with an incredible selection of regional cheeses. As we bring more of this wine to Hong Kong, I have a really positive feeling for how it will be received.

Sassicaia, Guidalberto (Sebastiano’s “little boy”), and Le Difese not only shone at The Principal, but also at Dow Kee Restaurant in Wanchai, where twelve of us dove into a superb Cantonese arrangement, culminating with BBQ Roast Pork and succulent Suckling Pig. Le Difese and Guidalberto each showed us that the hype surrounding the 2009 vintage at Tenuta San Guido is justified. Both are stunners, and among the greatest vintages I’ve tasted of each. The Guidalberto in particular showed uncommon approachability and incredible balance in its youth, but it easily has another ten years of greatness ahead. It was only natural for us to wonder aloud how great the 2009 Sassicaia will become.

“Awesome” was the word Sebastiano used continuously throughout the meals, though he said it as if he’d been spending months trying to find the perfect descriptor. Perhaps such a mentality allows the wines of Tenuta San Guido and Agricola Punica to enjoy such international appeal while also remaining very distinctly Italian. Upon his departure, we heard the simple phrase we were all hoping to hear from “that James Bond winemaker,” as one top Sommelier referred to Sebastiano.

“I’ll be back,” he said.

We look forward to welcoming Sebastiano Rosa back to Hong Kong this fall for an extended visit.

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