Lifestyle

The fine art of unnecessary things

  • Table wines: the top 100 wines of 2018 will be announced after the annual New York Wine Experience this month. Approximately 18,000 wines are blind-tasted and reviewed and rated on a combination of quality, availability and cost
  • The top 100 wines of 2018 will be announced after the annual New York Wine Experience this month. Approximately 18,000 wines are blind-tasted and reviewed and rated on a combination of quality, availability and cost

During a recent meeting with the special events co-ordinator of one of our fine-art galleries, I commented that she, like myself, has devoted her time to understanding unnecessary things.

In her case, I refer to various coloured liquids applied to canvas and, in mine, the juice of very small fruits that have had their sugar converted to carbon dioxide and alcohol by tiny yeasts.

On Wednesday last, I calculate that, between us, my wife and I spent, in total cost of travel and tickets, about one dollar a second.

We parted with it so we could hear vibrations from a wooden device with steel strings that accompanied a voice and words that have been a part of so much of our lives and conscience. How could we not see and hear Joan Baez on her Fare Thee Well tour?

How could we endure without the arts? With that, I include the art of trapping in the bottle all that Mother Earth and our climate can provide.

While in Philadelphia, I purchased the October 31 issue of Wine Spectator magazine; much of it is devoted to the wines of Italy.

As I will shortly be off on my annual pilgrimage to the New York Wine Experience, I have been wondering which wines will make their “Top 100 Wines of 2018”. These are chosen from approximately 18,000 wines that have been blind-tasted and reviewed and rated on a combination of quality, availability and cost.

I am going out on a limb and suggesting two that I feel have an excellent chance of this honour.

First, there is Castello de Volpaia Chianti Classico Riserva 2015, which is “highly recommended” in this issue with a remarkable 96/100 score.

The magazine comments: “Though saturated with black currant and blackberry fruit and backed by opaque tannins, this red is pure and balanced. Thyme, iron, leather and tar notes gives this complexity, while the finish goes into overdrive.”

It would just be so exciting for us if our house guest of earlier this year, Federica Mascheroni Stianti, could share this achievement with her family. One Italian red outscored it at 98/100, but it costs $700 a bottle; this Volpaia is $32.80.

Two years ago, San Felice winemaker Leonardo Bellaccini stayed with us as he made his way to the Wine Experience and I feel that one of his wines stands an excellent chance of being among the chosen few.

San Felice Chianti Classico 2016 rates a “smart buy” and, for a wine that we will sell for $19.95, it is astonishing that it is rated 94/100.

The description reads, “Expressive and smooth, this hits all the right notes, with pure black cherry, black currant and violet flavours. Touches of earth, iron and tobacco add complexity. Shows fine harmony and length.”

Please note the words “will sell” as our present stocks are 2015, which is no slouch either. James Suckling has given it a fine 92/100 and writes of “black cherry, earth, tobacco, depth and harmony”. The 2016 is being shipped to us now.

Also on the magazine’s “Top Value Wines From Tuscany” is our Castello di Gabbiano Chianti Classice Riserva 2013 with a score of 92/100 and the following: “A lean, firmly structured style, saturated with cherry, currant, almond and salty mineral notes. This feels almost as if the palate is compressed, squeezing out the fruit and mineral flavours on the long finish.” $30.55.

So far, I have just mentioned Classico and Classico Riserva wines, but if you would just like to try the first level, we can offer you Piccini Chianti 2016 for $15.25. Wine Enthusiast magazine rates it 86/100 and says: “This informal, everyday red offers wild berry and dark spice aromas and flavours. It’s fresh and simple, but well made, with soft tannins. Drink now.”

At the top end, we have the new classification of Tuscan wines that includes San Felice Chianti Gran Selezione Il Grigio 2014 that comes only from the winery’s most naturally blessed plots. It is made of 80 per cent Sangiovese blended with ancient indigenous varieties such as abrusco, pugnitello, malvasia nera, ciliegiolo and mazzese.

These varieties contribute to the complexity of the wine, while retaining the full elegance and expression of San Felice’s terroir. I cannot find a rating for the 2014, but Wine Enthusiast gave the 2013 95/100. $38.85.

This column is an advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. E-mail mrobinson@bll.bm or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn has stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554), Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355) and St George (York Street, 297-0409). Visit wineonline.bm