|current issue: JUNE||Wednesday - 11. December 2013|
Charles and Maria Sebesta, owners and managers of Mezzo Mezzo and Tempus Fugit, two fine dining establishments in the centre of Bratislava, have long been actively assisting in the promotion and discovery of Italian wines in the capital of the Slovak Republic. Increasingly Italian wine producers are casting their nets ever wider realising that east of Vienna there are vast markets that until a few years ago had no access at all to fine Italian wine. Two importers, especially active in bringing delicious Italian wines to the dining tables, hotels and into our homes are La Fattoria s.r.o. in Prague and H-TEAM s.r.o. in Zilina. Working in tandem with the Sebestas, the result is an increasing number of professionally run wine-tastings in Bratislava. I have been to four myself during the last year, of which three were hosted by the inimitable Jiøi Markuzzi, an Italian-Czech who is able to impart his great love for, enthusiasm and knowledge of Italian wines mesmerising his audience with the poetry and lyricism of his descriptions.
Two of the wine-tastings I have been privileged to attend in Bratislava, one during the summer in Tempus Fugit and one just before Christmas in the Pivnica Vinoteky sv. Urbana next to the Primacalny Palace, presented the wines of DONNAFUGATA from Sicily. During the first, Jiøi Markuzzi tempted us with his delicious descriptions so much so that many of us went out and ordered crates of the wines we had tasted. I and all guests to my house were drinking Vigna di Gabri 2006 Contessa Entellina DOC, a beautifully refreshing white Sicilian wine all summer long. Of course the whole point of the exercise is to get the customer to order the wines.
During the second presentation of DONNAFUGATA wines just before Christmas, Wiebke Petersen, the German marketing manager of the company, introduced each wine in Italian, with translation, addition and pure poetic contributions from Mr Markuzzi. The twenty-five or so people gathered (including professionals, restaurateurs, the media and wine lovers) were treated to nine wines in total, four whites, three reds and three dessert wines. I should say at this point that although only one third of the glass is filled, if you really want to taste all the wines, you should only drink about half that amount and (regretfully) pour the rest out because otherwise your concentration becomes impaired. You continue to enjoy the wine but you become less discerning. In short after 6-7 glasses you are more than tipsy and can‘t really work out which wine is truly the best for you in terms of taste, cost and value for money.
On the next page you can read about the wines we tasted that evening. All of them were good. For me however the Chiaranda 2005 - white, Contessa Entellina DOC (Alcohol: 14.16 % vol), the Tancredi 2004 - red, Contessa Entellina DOC (Alcohol: 13.98% vol) and the Ben Ryé 2005 - naturally sweet white, Passito di Pantelleria DOC (Alcohol: 14.11 % vol) were outstanding. The dessert wine, Ben Ryé 2005 is wonderful value for money and competes or surpasses in flavour and quality the most famous French dessert wines at a fraction of the cost!
Anthilia 2006 - white, IGT Sicilia
The perfect maturation of Ansonica and Catarratto have given life to a 2006 Anthilia that is characterized by a distinct enveloping mouth and an optimum equilibrium. It has a broad aromatic bouquet of white fruits and elegant notes of the Mediterranean vegetation. Very pleasant thanks to its distinctive tastiness and freshness.
La Fuga 2006 - white, Chardonnay Contessa Entellina DOC
Sapidity and freshness are the characteristics that distinguish La Fuga 2006. Increasingly effective management of the vineyard, assurance of the equilibrium between vegetation and production and scrupulous operation of the winery have permitted production of this superbly balanced wine. By maintaining its typical personality and unmistakable aromatic patrimony, La Fuga 2006 has yielded particularly fine results.
Vigna di Gabri 2006 - white, Contessa Entellina DOC
Remarkable response by Ansonica in this version of the Vigna di Gabri cru. On the nose, the wine wins immediate appreciation for its aromatic purity and the harmonious intersection of floral and fruity notes. Like the best 2006 whites of this area, Vigna di Gabri has an imposing acidic structure and extremely pleasant sapidity. A Vigna di Gabri that confirms its proverbial elegance.
Chiaranda 2005 - white, Contessa Entellina DOC
Chiaranda offers its own traditional blend of Ansonica and Chardonnay, 50/50. The maturation period of the grapes was monitored with a high number of sampling and tasting to determine the best moment to pick the grape in each small part of every vineyards. After the fermentation, the wine is matured „sur lies“, half in small cement vats and half in 22 different types of French oak barrels in order to respect characteristics of the varieties of grapes. The barriques used, differ by producer, provenance of the wood, method and intensity of the toasting of the wood. For the area of Contessa Entellina, the vintage is one of the best of its history and Chiaranda 2005 will be a testament to this exceptional year: a wine with a good acidity, with a strong personality and extremely refined. The marriage between the fleshiness of the Chardonnay and the elegance of the Ansonica, gives life to a rare complexity. This wine has a long life on the horizon.
Sedara 2005 - red, Nero d‘Avola IGT Sicilia
With the 2005 vintage, Sedara steps ahead in expressing the fruitiness of the Nero D‘Avola grape from which it is made. Having aged 100% in cement tanks, Sedara is striking for its pleasant vinosity. Due to the climatic conditions of the vintage, Sedara has sweet tannins and a good aging potential.
Tancredi 2004 - red, Contessa Entellina DOC
At Donnafugata the 2004 vintage indisputably assured premium red wines with extraordinary elegance. The weather was unusually cool in this vintage and favored slow and harmonious ripening, conferring on the grapes a particularly fine tannin-aroma equilibrium. Both Nero d‘Avola and Cabernet Sauvignon are present through their fruit and smooth tannins that are perfectly melded thanks to meticulous handling of maturation in oak.
Mille e una Notte 2004 - red, Contessa Entellina DOC
This 2004 vintage is a truly extraordinary expression of Mille e una Notte: it is the result of excellent agronomic and enological management that enabled the Nero d‘Avola cultivated at Contessa Entellina to express its best qualities. It is an ample, profound and voluminous wine endowed with a silky structure. Complex and elegant. Thanks to potential longevity it can be much more, a major testimonial to its terroir and an excellent vintage.
Kabir 2006 - naturally sweet white, Moscato di Pantelleria DOC
The 2006 vintage turned in an excellent performance on Pantelleria. Tasting that year‘s Kabir recalls the intense pleasure derived from eating a Zibibbo grape, if you were fortunate enough to be on the island in early September. In Kabir 2006, fruit-rich and meaty-is powerfully predominant. Freshness along with mineral notes (traceable to the volcanic nature of the soil on Pantelleria) round out this wine, which is so versatile and pleasant.
Ben Ryé 2005 - naturally sweet white, Passito di Pantelleria DOC
2005 was cool and rainy. In Pantelleria, the harvesting of Zibibbo began on the sixtieth of August in the precocious areas like „Martingana“ and „Dietro L‘isola“. Very intense perfumes and fleshy, Ben Rye 2005 offers a triumph of citrus fruits, apricot and honey scents. An ideal equilibrium between sugars, alcohol and acidity makes the wine a pleasurable drink and its strong personality renders it unique: Ben Rye 2005 has depth and a memorable fullness. A long life is expected.