Bibemus boards the Brunello train. With surprise guest, Jean Claude Van Damme

10 Jul

During June’s waxing crescent moon and under the watchful eye of team Bibemus, fourteen Italophiles converged in the darkness outside the Carlton Wine Room and craned their necks towards the sparkling night sky.

Together they chanted:

star light star bright, wine, quote, poem

Adapted by La Donna del Vino

The stars twinkled back at the happy group. Their wish would be granted.

Guest List

Krystina Menegazzo | Matt Paul | Jane Faulkner | Anthony D’Anna

Michael Trembath | Dan Sims | Marcus Ellis | Mark Protheroe

Mark Walpole | Stacey-Lee Edwards | Penny Grant | Nazareno Fazio

Ben Knight | Anthony Barham


Seafood appetiser

Entrée pork belly, neck and pancetta, pear, fennel, carrot

Main braised rabbit with mushrooms

Sides of broccolini, chilli and lemon

Dessert of soft and hard cheeses, pear , lavosh and quince paste

Wine List

Bracket One: Franciacorta NV

Bellavista Gran Cuvee NV | Montenisa NV

Monte Rossa NV | Ca del Bosco NV

Bracket Two: Brunello di Montalcino 2007’s

Mastrojanni | Poggio Antico | Casanova di Neri

Costanti | Querce Bettina | Il Palazzone

Argiano | Fuligni | Frescobaldi Castelgiacondo

Bracket Three: Brunello di Montalcino 2001’s

Mastrojanni | Casanova di Neri | Fuligni

Bibemus’s wine club Brunello dinner in the depths of the Carlton Wine Room cellar

Bracket one summary – Franciacorta

Franciacorta is Italy’s most famous region for the production of Spumante, or bollicine (“little bubbles”, or sparkling wine in Italian). The wines are made with the same grape varieties as Champagne, being Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (Nero). However in place of the Pinot Meunier that the French use, the Italians use Pinot Bianco. Both Franciacorta and Champagne undergo their secondary fermentation in the bottle, a process known as methode champenoise. Admittedly on a global scale, Franciacorta is not the most recognised sparkling wine area, but hey, do they have the history, marketing prowess and budget of Champagne? No. Yet they should be commended for their efforts as a region that has gone from producing two thousand or so bottles in their first vintage in 1961 to around 10 million bottles today (in contrast Champagne produces 300 million bottles per year). 

Within the first bracket the Monte Rossa looked the most fresh, floral and with the best balance between the acidity and dosage. The Ca del Bosco on the other hand looked clumsy in the line-up straight after it. The Montenisa had a weaker acid finish but super nutty flavours and the Bellavista appeared the most elegant with delicate acacia honey flavours and a more defined nutted finish. The Franciacorta bracket was the perfect start to the evening and a nice exploration of different styles amongst some key sparkling producers.

Bracket two summary -Brunello di Montalcino 2007

Montalcino is the name of the town at the epicentre of an arid grapegrowing area. It produces Tuscany’s most prestigious wines. Brunello is the name for the strain of Sangiovese that is grown in the vineyards surrounding the Montalcino town.  This particular Sangiovese is commonly referred to as Sangiovese Grosso and is known to be superior in quality over a myriad of other Sangiovese clones. The wines produced here are therefore called Brunello di Montalcino when they have had the prescribed 48 months ageing (the earlier released versions that do not fit this mould are called Rosso di Montalcino).

The 2007 vintage is the latest release for the Brunellos from the Montalcino area. Climatically, 2007 temperatures were above average for most of the year but never achieved the hot spikes that were seen in 2003. Cooler nights maintained the grape’s acidity and allowed greater development of aromatics. Many of the great wines come from the centre of town where higher altitudes assist in achieving overall balance. They are wines that will drink better earlier over the cooler 2006 vintage.

The favourite wines in this bracket were:

The Fuligni for its chocolate panforte spice, barky and building tannic structure and salt & vinegar chip lift.

The Mastrojanni for its intense red fruits, maraschino cherry and bold mid-palate spice, with great focus and structure.

The Poggio Antico for the fantastic length and bold framework with flavours of crushed flowers, black cherries, spice with superb acidity.

The Querce Bettina for its approachability, bright acid and aromas of vanilla, spice and testa di maiale around a softer frame.

There were fortunately fewer disappointments overall which came from Argiano with its overuse of oak, imbalanced flavours and hot finish, as well as Castelgiacondo with subtle hints of liquorice all-sorts that were otherwise overpowered by paint thinner aromas (volatile acidity [VA] can be good in small doses [as seen in Fuligni amongst others], but not in a case like this).

Bracket three summary – Brunello di Montalcino 2001

The final bracket was to check how Brunello di Montalcino 2001’s from three great producers were looking. The favourite of this bracket and a highlight of the evening was the Fuligni. The wine was fresh and represented the quintessential example of a great Brunello wine. With an ultimately savoury line, it was still strident and bright with a generosity in flavour towards spiced red fruits and lovely superfine tannins. The Casanova di Neri was a darker breed and offered chocolatey tannins with smoked paprika and barbecue flavours. The more elegant style as seen in Fuligni was ultimately the winner on the night. The Mastrojanni was also looking youthful, yet with flavours straddling the herbal spectrum alongside cherry liqueur, spiced quince and a lively grip to finish that Michael Trembath commented ‘danced around‘ in your mouth.

I imagine he was thinking of this:

Jean Claude Van Damme doin’ his thang for Trembles

Long live Bibemus.

4 Responses to “Bibemus boards the Brunello train. With surprise guest, Jean Claude Van Damme”

  1. Matt Paul July 10, 2012 at 11:11 PM #

    Hilarious, I’m sure Trembles would appreciate the Van Damme moves!

  2. petit4chocolatier September 4, 2012 at 8:56 AM #

    The Querce Bettina sounds a little different with the vanilla flair. The Mastrojanni and Poggio Antico sound delicious!

    • La Donna del Vino September 5, 2012 at 6:48 AM #

      Soooo delicious 😉
      Where are you based? Have you tried much Brunello before?

    • petit4chocolatier September 5, 2012 at 9:18 AM #

      I was originally from NY state and grew up mostly with mom’s side of the family from Naples, Italy. I now live and work in Clearwater, Florida. I have only tried the Brunello once! Your blog gives me inspiration to try new wines!

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