May 24, 2013

Tuesday 21 May, KL

Luce Wines Master Class held at BERJAYA University College of Hospitality, organised by Albert Wines and Spirits together with the Sommelier Association of Malaysia (SOMLAY)

Peter Ferguson, Global Sales Director for Tenute Luce Della Vite,  Montalcino, commenced the session with a very informative potted history of the Estate and its owners, the Frescobaldi Family.

The family has been making wine in Italy for many years; in fact 1063 is the earliest record they have of planting vineyards and producing wine in Tuscany and they have a wine order in their archives from King Henry 8th.

They have been very innovative in their wine-making over the years; they imported non-Italian grape varieties as early as the 18th century and were among the first to move to smaller French Barriques to age and soften their wines as well as using “gravitational flow” in their wine-making process to ensure the quality of the wine they produce.

The first wine we tasted came from Attems, an independent estate owned and run by the Frescobaldi Family, this is their only vineyard outside of Tuscany. They obtained the vineyard from the Attems family in 2000. They were impressed with what they saw as a unique terroir which includes terraced slopes offering equal light to all vines, excellent light reflection from the nearby sea, protection from the north wind, a warm climate offering excellent growing conditions and cool evenings helping to provide that all-important concentration of flavour. The soil here is Ponca, a stratified sandstone and marl giving the wine both minerality and finesse.

Attems Pinot Grigio 2011, Venezia Giulia IGT, Friuli, Veneto (RRP MYR100+)

Pale gold in colour. The wine had a deliciously complex nose; aromas of citrus, pear, apple and peach. I detected herbal and floral notes, Peter said he thought it was not unlike the smell of a hawthorn bush. There were hints of minerality and a soft spices.

The palate was fruit-forward with refreshing flavours of grapefruit, melon, pear and peach. Minerality ran through the palate, however the characteristic that struck me most was the wonderful texture and weight of the wine; it was smooth and creamy with much finesse. There was a gentle spiciness at the back of the palate and a very long lingering finish.

I am a fan of Pinot Grigio as you can tell from my other posts; this wine is very much of the style I enjoy and whilst it is probably not going to get past the budget committee for an average weekday wine this would be a very enjoyable weekend aperitif. Equally it could be a match for some characterful Asian and, of course, Italian dishes. Peter had apparently tasted it in Thailand recently with a rabbit dish.

Our next wines were the reds of Tenute Luce della Vite, another independent estate belonging to the family. It was set up in 1995 as a joint venture project between Vittorio Frescobaldi and the late Robert Mondavi, (who was, himself, the son of Italian emigrants from the Marche region to the United States).

The estate will be certified as organic in 2014 although it has been farming on an organic and environmentally friendly basis for a much longer time. Everything to do with the viticulture (vine-growing) is by hand and extremely labour-intensive. As an example Peter told us that an individual vine would normally require 30-40 hours of attention but at Luce the time spent is more like 85 hours.

Luce was the first wine in Montalcino that was not a Brunello (100% Sangiovese) and is a blend of Sangiovese and Merlot, a move that means the wine is made outside of the DOC/DOCG quality regulations. Many “super-tuscan” wines can, as such, only be labeled as the lower category IGT.  In most cases, however,  the excellent reputation of these wines tends to speak for itself.

Lucente Toscana IGT, 2008, this vintage is reported as having a blend of 50% merlot, 35% Sangiovese and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. (RRP MYR200+)

A deep ruby colour, aromas of black fruits; blackberry, cassis, cherry, plum. It also has tobacco, liquorice and leather notes. The fruits follow through to the palate, cherries and plum in particular, and are still extremely youthful in nature. The tannins are nicely integrated and are balanced by the still high levels of acidity. There is a very long finish.

Lucente is in fact the second wine to Luce and is aged for 12 months in oak and is produced with a more contemporary flair. The grapes for this wine being not as intense as those used for Luce and coming from vineyard blocks that are unlikely to have the capacity to age for as long.

Luce Toscana IGT, 2007, 55% Merlot, 45% Sangiovese. 24 months oak age (RRP MYR450+)

An even deeper shade of ruby than the Lucente. Aromas of cherry, plum and blackberry, vanilla, leather, herbs and spices. The palate confirms those very intense fruit flavours with layers of cedar, vanilla and leather harmoniously blended. The tannins are smooth, round and soft and in perfect balance with the still vibrant acidity. The texture of the wine is incredible, extremely velvety, it caresses your tastebuds and finishes with great length.

You would need an impressive wine budget to regularly have this wine in your cellar. However for any special occasion in which you may feel like rewarding yourself then I can highly recommend it. I have placed it on my wish list! If your budget doesn’t run to Luce then of course Lucente would offer a more affordable and equally satisfying experience.

The above wines are available in KL but not in any retail premises. You can taste them in the following establishments:

Attems Pinot Grigio – Chinoz On The Park in KLCC.

Lucente –Garibaldi Italian Restaurant in Bangsar

Luce –Garibaldi, Cantaloupe in Troika, Tatto Italian Restaurant in Hampshire Place.


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