Alessia Berlusconi's winery La Contessa is starting a wine partnership with Riccardo Fratus' Franciacorta winery Riccafana at Enoteca 21 in Piazza Duomo in Milan. My title, deliberately provocative, was also created to appeal to all the wine gossips on the web. That there are wine magazines and wine blogs born, often without any title to do so, to elevate themselves to the undisputed gods of wine and judge wines and producers according to fashion or who offers the most is a well-known fact, but when it is prejudice that reigns supreme, I don't know whether to laugh or get pissed off.
This is why I have decided to start today with a small preamble: if you are one of those wine-lovers or if you like to judge people without knowing them, I advise you not to continue reading this article because you will certainly not like it and Perlage Suite is not the wine blog for you! This article tells the story of two young and promising wineries that have decided to work together to grow together... without ridiculous sarcasm or fake goodness. I honestly don't give a damn that Alessia Berlusconi is Paolo Berlusconi's daughter and Silvio Berlusconi's granddaughter. And I don't care what her family did or didn't do because 1. it doesn't concern me, 2. it certainly isn't Alessia's fault or merit. Politics divides men into fans of teams on a par with football, men who instead of working together to build find themselves wasting time hating or criticising each other. And since I don't have time to waste, following politics doesn't interest me, and I find it even more ridiculous to idolise or hate a person a priori for their family background. Instead, I am interested in people, their passion, their being. As Alessia Berlusconi herself said:
[Tweet "It makes more noise a tree falling than a forest growing. @AlessiaBerlu]
Since there is nothing more to add to this sentence, in my opinion, I wish you good reading 😉
Yesterday I left for Milan shortly after 10 a.m... and apart from traffic and various collisions, I finally parked at 12:20 p.m. at the Autosilo Diaz in zone C (which is not a simple ZTL like in all other cities...). Even though I called the car park to make sure I could park there (my usual useless solicitude in the face of collective dishonesty) I got a fine because my car is Euro 3 and cannot circulate between 7:30 and 19:30 in the centre of Milan because it pollutes (in the evening, however, it turns into a full-featured Euro 10 batmobile and doesn't pollute anything because it can circulate without problems... cool, isn't it?)... on the other hand, the parking attendant advised me not to get into the wrong lane or get into a one-way street... but when it came to being able to circulate in the ZTL zone, he reassured me by saying that all I had to do was pay for a card with a pin to be activated on the same day to let the car circulate! But no way: until 7.30 p.m., only Euro 4, Euro 5, LPG, CNG, Aliens and Alsatian Shepherds can circulate. And I kindly paid €12 for less than 4 hours of parking and €3 in tax to the municipality... and now I'm expecting over €70 in fines... whatever!
Nicola Bonazzi, the oenologist in charge of the commercial side of both wineries, was very kind in inviting me and giving me directions. The entrance to Enoteca 21 is in the little porticoed street that corners the pharmacy in Piazza Duomo... too bad there are two pharmacies that corner a little porticoed street in Piazza Duomo! But that's just my luck 😛
Enoteca 21 is really, really nice... a little cold perhaps, but with highly qualified AIS staff. As Alessia herself said, the AIS service is recognisable from miles away... and I was very pleased!
There were about twenty of us around a finely laid table. Restaurateurs and distributors from all over northern Italy were talking and commenting diligently on a very intelligent meeting, which I would also recommend to other wineries. These kinds of B2B meetings, where you taste the product in the right context and have direct contact with the winery, are worth 1,000 cold advertisements or 10,000 e-mails to the trade! The crostini were delicious, the bread good... and I loved the contrast between the savouriness of the prosciutto and the sweet tendency of the sultana bread! The beef tortelli with walnuts had a very good filling, the pastry on the other hand was a bit smooth and chewy (it looked industrial), but overall I liked them and would have gladly enjoyed an encore 😀
The first wine tasted was the Franciacorta Brut Satén Millesimato 0.0 by Riccafana... I really enjoyed it! On the nose, hints of liquorice were magically intertwined with apricot and candied citron! The bubble is a hair to sharpen, but the creaminess on the palate made it crazy pleasant! We followed with a 9.9 by La Contessa... well this wine is an interesting bet! I do not love the genre, and the only prejudice I had when I entered was towards this wine, but I was absolutely delighted to change my mind: drunk slightly chilled, it is the aperitif wine par excellence! I find the 9.9 the way to approach wine for those who do not like wine: it is not a sophisticated wine for connoisseurs, but its drinking I am convinced would win anyone over: from the taster to the neophyte! I imagined it with a grilled eel or with a board of very fatty cold cuts: slurp! I'll tell you, you don't expect it like this: I certainly thought of it as a light wine, but I thought it more 'without depth'.
Dear Intravino, if I were you, I would eat your pre-judgment tomorrow night at dinner, perhaps getting Alessia to give you a bottle of 9.9 to help you swallow it! This wine, made from 3 micro-terroirs of Marzemino, not only do I believe it is truly born in the countryside, in the vineyard, from a strong oenological awareness, but it denotes a great self-confidence due to its bold and daring nature. And you, Alessia, got only one thing wrong in the catalogue: the litre bottle, like hell we are going to drink it in 4/6 people! The 9.9 is so pleasant and drinkable that drinking a 75 cl bottle in 2 you won't even notice it! 😉 Personally, I can only congratulate you on your choice and say touché, you got a good result! It has not lost in colour, a beautiful deep ruby with purple highlights at the edges. It has not lost in structure, the bows are close even if they go down a little fast. It has not lost on the nose, where the unripe plum is barely overpowered by black pepper, a strong vegetal scent and a hint of leather. It has not lost on the palate, where the slightly green tannin is offset by a good freshness and the softness comes from the residual sugar.
Alessia Berlusconi also let us taste her ladies, the white one, which she defines as quieter, and the red one, the caliente woman to be tamed. Perhaps with these two wines, right from the very choice of names, Alessia has manifested her intention to portray her two personalities, the quieter one and the more passionate one. Yet the two ladies I tasted both have a strong, perhaps indomitable personality. The white lady is clearly a 'red disguised as a white', which is also confirmed by the promising oenologist Angelo Divittini, who honoured everyone with splendid tastings.
Also interesting is Alessia Berlusconi's choice to invest in a farm in Capriano del Colle in the province of Brescia, on a hill that I discovered was called 'il mammellone', in a terroir with a microscopic and practically unknown DOC. I have heard rumours that she did not want to compare herself to a more prestigious Franciacorta, and perhaps for a second, somewhat influenced by having read 'everything' when I read about the 9.9, I think I thought so too. But after meeting her, her oenologist Angelo Divittini and her salesman Nicola Bonazzi (whom she shares with Riccardo Fratus's Franciacorta Riccafana) and tasting these two splendid ladies... I realised that her choice hides more culture than commerce... and perhaps even a little fear in exposing herself to the mercy of the a priori aligned eno-montati. However, as she herself says, she is proud to put her face to it because she is proud of what she does.
After all, with a mother who mixed wine with milk in her baby bottle and a husband who only drinks Bolgheri, this girl is right to call herself a 'vine grower by punishment'. 😉
I ended the day in Cologne, as a guest of Riccardo Fratus's Riccafana winery... with a goblet (not to say a bottle) of zero-zero Franciacorta (zero sulphites and zero sugar), as edgy as it is enveloping in its hints of bread crust... I loved it! But that's another story... which I'll tell you in a few days 😉
See you soon,