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giovedì 24 gennaio 2013

Fiorano! Turning the impossible into a wine by the glass

Above, Fiorano labels, the Semillon to the left and the Bianco (Mavasia di Candia) to the right.

There are a few articles floating around about Prince Alberico Boncompagni Ludovisi and his magical wines.  When the prince took over the estate just outside of Rome in 1946 he replanted the vineyard with Bordeaux grapes (with the exception of Malvasia), a practice way ahead of it's time.  After the 1995 vintage he ripped up all of his vineyards to protect his name and keep anyone from making his wines.  

Up until the year 2000, 14,000 bottles laid in the cellar covered in the mythical white mold. At that point their responsibility was passed onto Italian wine writer, Luigi Veronelli.  They were then dispersed accordingly and 13 years later they have found their way onto the wine by the glass program at Maialino in New York City.

The four bottlings of Fiorano we are currently pouring on the Lazio Enomatic program:

Age-worthy Semillon in Lazio?

Each of the bottles are interesting in their own way.  The Semillon's are quite deep and complex wines, while the Malvasia's are a little brighter and hit you with a salty acidity right away.  The 1988 Semillon was the bottle everyone seemed to agree on as being the most complex and most suitable for those 25 years of cellar aging, tasting of deep caramel notes, nuts, spices and dried flowers.  The 1995 Malvasia was incredible as well, prancing on the palate with a lightness and it tasted like ocean water, burnt oranges and dried flowers.  One thing to note is that during the tasting every second bottle we opened tasted so differently from the first, wether it was slightly more or less oxidized or just it's own personality that it carried. This is really a case of intense bottle variation and the wine you taste upon opening will be a whole other beast once 15 minutes passes.

However, this still leave's us with the obvious question: Why and how is a 25 year old Semillon from Lazio drinking so damn fine right now? Semillon as a variety seems to only prove itself in Bordeaux and Australia's Hunter Valley.  Even in Bordeaux it is still blended with Sauvignon Blanc which plays a crucial role in the finished product.

Jancis Robinson (Vines, Grapes and Wines) writes of Semillon as ''A very odd grape indeed. It is grown, often extensively, all over the world.  In most of these vineyards it sits around sullenly like an overweight schoolgirl, showing awkward fatness or just plain dullness in the wines it produces.''

The secret must lie somewhere between the soil, the magical white mold, the large mold covered barrels used year after year and the Prince's love for his vineyard and wines.  It is quite an honor to be talking about and pouring these wines in a Roman Restaurant in 2013.  These wines will never be made again, and someday soon enough won't ever be seen or tasted again.  A magical moment in wine history indeed.

Maialino Wine Director Liz Nicholson joined by Prince Alberico's children from Lazio.

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