Of course it would be inappropriate had I not made reference to the ‘eloquent’ and oh so lovely Apollonia from the Godfather I, considering the fact this is a Sicilian wine tasting I am about to talk about!
Last week on Wednesday I received a call from one of my places of work, Enoteca Sileno, asking me if I was aware I was working the following night assisting with the Sicilian Association’s Wine Tasting event that would be taking place in the function room. I was not aware, however the manager said I would just need to help close the Retail section downstairs then head upstairs to give them a ‘hand’. To me, that infers pouring wine, or merely helping out in some small, mindless way.
How wrong could I be?!
The next day, the Thursday, I finished at my other work (Wine House) by 7pm, bolted to the Flinders Street trams and made it to Enoteca in record time. Upon entering the building I saw Pat downstairs who informed me I did not need to close up but should just head straight on up as they had just started the session. OK! With my apron on, I dashed up the stairs and as I began the ascent I started to hear a microphone with the owner John Portelli about to introduce the other ‘guests’ before saying, ‘…and our other guest should be arriving shortly…’
I stumbled and fell up the last step causing a loud thwump to reverberate through the room. Regaining my composure I looked up where thirty or so members of the Sicilian Association were careening their heads towards me. ‘Who’s the nong making all the noise?’, I bet they wondered!
I slowly walked over to John where he welcomed me to sit next to him at an empty seat on what looked like the ‘Panellist’s Table’.
Sorry?…A Panellist’s Table?…Holy crap… What has he gotten me into?
I greeted the crowd with ‘Buonasera‘ as I was introduced to everyone with John blurting a spiel about my involvement with wine, Italy and the 2011 Lorenzo Galli Scholarship program of which he was very proud to have hosted this year. I still had not had the chance to be informed by anyone on what my participation would actually be, but it soon became apparent when in front of me lay eight glasses of wines.
Over the next two hours what basically ended up happening was that John would retell the story of a Sicilian producer and something interesting about the region, then hand over the microphone to me to discuss the wine (and I would like to add in the least wanky manner) plus answer any questions pertaining to the tasted wine. Thankfully after the discussion of the first wine, the nerves went away and I pretty much just blabbed like I normally would at work for what I think about a tasted wine.
The list of wines was delicious for a beginners class. We stopped after the whites to eat a simple Sicilian dish of bucatini pasta with cauliflower, breadcrumbs, pinenuts, sultana’s soaked in Marsala with plenty of good EV olive oil drizzled on top and parsley tossed throughout. It was so ridiculously awesome, I was getting paid to eat and I had not even expected to be fed at this gig! Rapped!
Barone Sergio Alegre’ Grillo 2008 – $34.80 – Made from Grillo, Sicilia IGT
An attrative nose of white floral gardenia and minerals. Hints of tropical perfume, light-bodied, with a good linear structure and fine, non-abrasive acidity.
Tasca d’Almerita ‘Regaleali’ Bianco 2008 – $35.00 – Made from Inzolia, Grecanico & Catarratto, Sicilia IGT
Tight and crisp, showing notes of yellow citrus with a minerally finish. Superclean, with a refreshing acidity. Flavour profile broader than the Grillo.
Tasca d’Almerita ‘Regaleali’ Rosato 2007 – $32.90 – Made from Nero d’Avola & Nerello Mascalese, Sicilia IGT
Comparable to Castagna’s Allegro Rose’ in herbal notes, sour plum and cherry character with hints of basil, sage, lemon pith and a long finish. A nice surprise!
Rallo Nero d’Avola 2006 – $29.80 – Made from Nero d’Avola, Sicilia IGT
A lighter, still fruit-dominant wine showing some pleasant bottle-age characters. Tannins very approachable and enjoyed by the crowd.
Barone Sergio ‘Sergio’ Nero d’Avola 2007 – $37.50 – Made from Nero d’Avola, Sicilia IGT
A beast compared to the Rallo. Big, rich, darker blackberry fruits with a lovely peppery spice, all things nice :-) . The palate is full and generous with dry, grippy tannins to balance. This is a great example of Nero d’Avola and a fantastic wine to win over any Shiraz lover!
Chalmers Nero d’Avola 2009 – $29.00 – Made from Nero d’Avola, Murray Darling NSW
This is Australia’s first commercial release from the variety. It is made in the lighter style (think Pinot-esque) and has a nose of lifted red fruits with a savoury palate of cherry and spice – Kim Chalmers
Rallo Marsala Superiore Secco NV – $24.90 – Made from Inzolia and Catarrato, Marsala Superiore DOC
This Marsala is aged in small oak casks for at least two years before bottling. Amber gold in colour, it has an intense bouquet with a delicate dry finish and persistent rancio aftertaste. The perfect touch to finish the night!
The aftermath involved me going down to the Enoteca Retail store where I was not really sure what was going to be the response from the audience. I was tickled pink to find that I had about ten couples and individuals come up and thank me for my comments, having understood the way I talked about the wines and the relaxed, informal way in which we had conducted the tasting. Or simply put, they liked the unwankified ‘cut of my jib‘ (Note to self to inform Oxford Dictionary on my newly created word). It certainly makes you feel more confident to give it a go a following time, that’s for sure. I had to thank the boss John afterwards for pushing me in that direction because otherwise I would have ‘crapped my dacks’ (so to speak) and been stupidly nervous beforehand. I suppose it works being thrown in the deep end!
“Io lo so l’inglese! Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday, Saturday…