WINE REVIEW JULY 2019

FROM WICKER WRAPPED CANDLE HOLDERS TO CONNOISEUR'S CELLARS

Fiasco in the world of wine is a long necked straw wrapped bottle of Italian Chianti. In today’s lingua franca a fiasco is the word applied to an event or plan gone awry. Not that the original fiasco was necessarily a flop regardless of the questionable quality of the wine because the millions of bottles sold during the 1950’s and ‘60s got the Italian wine industry back on its feet following the devastation of WWII. Much of that success owed to the popularity of the fiasco bottle as a candle holder on many restaurant tables rather than the routinely insipid but inexpensive wine inside which sold for the equivalent of about Baht 50 each. 

Fast forward to today where it is still possible to buy a fiasco of very drinkable Chianti for about Bt700 but also selected Chianti of collector quality priced well into five figures a bottle--sorry, not in a fiasco. It is in-the-glass evidence of the impressive progress made in not just Chianti but throughout Italy in viticulture and the winemaking process during the past relatively short four decades.

Bangkok sommeliers recently enjoyed the experience of learning how one of Chiantis newer wineries evolved at a master-class seminar and tasting held at Gaysorn Plaza’s Riedel Wine Bar & Cellar. Querciabella, beautiful oak in Italian, started in 1974 in Chianti’s Classico district by Sebastiano Castiglioni, has been cited by major wine critics as one of the premier examples of an Italian winery done right from the beginning.

Querciabella’s director of Asia exports, Florent Mougin, presented a detailed report on the winery’s development starting with meticulous selection of vineyard sites and varieties of vines to be planted then on to organic farming and finally to total biodynamic winemaking. Castiglioni’s commitment “…to creating extraordinary wines without causing harm or disrupting the delicate balance of nature,” was borne out in the tasting that followed.

Rated 97 points by Decanter magazine Querciabella’s 2015 Chianti Classico made from 100% sangiovese grapes and aged 12 months in French oak are a poignant example of monumental strides this style of Italian wine has made since the fiasco bottles of the 1960s. Full bodied, redolent in black cherry flavors with palate pleasing long lasting finish it’s a perfect fit for a rich pasta Bolognese.

Borrowing from the Antinori family’s resounding success with their famed Sassicaia blend of red wine from the Bhogeri district in Chianti, Querciabella has also been extremely successful with their cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, merlot and syrah grapes. The icon of their three red “super Tuscan” blends, Camartina, is produced only in exceptional years and at a scant 15,000 to 18,000 bottles. A standout wine, the sommelier guests at the tasting marveled at the recently released 2008 vintage for its complexity and layered flavors. To no one’s surprise the winery judges the Camartina to evolve gracefully over the next 20 years. A surprise finale to the tasting was a white dessert style wine blended from late-picked chardonnay and pinot blanc labeled as Batar. Buttery with a hint of sweetness it’s a natural with a plate of mixed cheeses.

Querciabella wines are now on the wine lists of Bangkok’s expanding range of premium hotel and independent restaurants. Definitely a must-try for Krungthep’s growing legions of gourmands!