Apr 01, 2014
The wine business is a unique one.
It is a social occupation where meetings are held over alcohol (wine) and in the best case scenarios, food.
Just talking about the product is not enough, you must taste it.
You learn a lot from tasting.
To support the tasting, you talk, sometimes about new technology, exciting new appellations, grape varieties, viticulture, vine training, terroir and a slew of other things.
Often these discussions are philosophical rather than tangible.
I enjoy these types of conversations and I consider myself fortunate to meet and spend time with the people I do.
Perhaps none more so than with Emilia Nardi (right: photo courtesy of Tenute Silvio Nardi)
whom I sat down with last month for dinner at La Terrazza in Vancouver, BC.
Ms. Nardi is the daughter of Silvio, the man who established the Tenute Silvio Nardi legacy and she has managed the company since 1990.
She told me that in 1950, her father (who hailed from neighboring Umbria and owned
a successful family farm machinery company of the same name) recognized something few others did - a great
winemaking region. He had the wherewithal to invest in the region, around a medieval and not well-known village called Montalcino, in the province of Sienna, in Tuscany.
Nardi became only the sixth wine estate in Montalcino.
It was before the Consozio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino even existed.
He purchased the Casale del Bosco estate first (where the winery is located) and he is considered the first foreigner to purchase land in the Montalcino region.
Later, in 1962, he purchased the prestigious 40-hectare Manachiara vineyards.
He was a founding member of the Consozio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino, in 1967.
Brunello is Sangiovese Grosso and Brunello di Montalcino simply means Brunello (Sangiovese) from Montalcino. It is a small grape with a thick skin, which can create powerful wines.
The region received its Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) in 1966 and Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) status in 1980 and now has roughly 200 (mostly small family run) wine producers.
It is a picturesque area with beautiful terraced vineyards.
Ms. Nardi also explained the unique differences in the region where the hill of Montalcino effects the vineyards around it. The soils are volcanic with sand, clay and in Manachiera also quartz and calcareous.
The northern vineyards are affected by cool winds from the north, which lend acidity. The southern vineyards are hotter and produce more concentrated wines. The eastern vineyards seem to be a blessed combination of the other two. It is here in the east where the oldest, the most historic vineyards with higher elevations, sit.
The Casale del Bosco site is north and west of Montalcino and the Manachiera and Colombaiolo sites are located on the precious eastern side of Montalcino.
In total, the Nardi estates are comprised of 36 vineyards and they bottle only ten products, including: a grappa, a late harvest Muscat (Moscadello), a DOCG Chianti from neighboring Colli Senesi in Chianti, and an olive oil.
Tenute Silvio Nardi Rosso di Montalcino DOC, 2011 - This "baby Brunello" is a fresh and juicy young wine with a high-toned berry and cherry notes, flowers, spicebox and leather. It's medium-bodied and although friendly and approachable does not lack structure. ($30-$35 private wine stores)
La Terrazza Pairing: Egg noodles tossed in mushroom tea with wild mushrooms, parsley tips and Parmigiano.
Tenute Silvio Nardi Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, 2011 - A nose of cherries and leather, dried flowers, vanilla and sunbaked earth. The palate shows lovely structure, great freshness with red fruit, tobacco and fine spice. Still plenty of years left in this wine, 10+ years. ($59-65 private wine stores)
La Terrazza Pairing: Risotto with asparagus and baby greens topped with shaved perigord truffle.
Tenute Silvio Nardi Brunello di Montalcino 'Vigneto Manachiera' DOCG, 2006 - The Manachiera label (means sunny morning) came under the guidance of Ms. Nardi in 1995. It is only released in the best vintages and comes from a site of seven hectares. The 2006 vintage was a 5-star vintage (as was 2007). Notes of sunbaked earth, peppery spices, leather underscored with cherry and wild red berries. Still firm on the palate, but with incredible freshness - the hallmark of these wines. The texture is the key in this wine - it is supple with a fine mineral almost sooty character, which begs you to chew on it for a while before swallowing. An iconic wine meant for aging. ($100+ private wine stores)
La Terrazza pairing: Decadent eggplant parmigiana (a classic at La Terrazza - La Parmigiana)
~Daenna Van Mulligen