Just a Taste
Let’s face it: wine tasting is an art. I kid you not, it is a true form of art. It is a tough, multidimensional set of skills that takes a lifetime to mature. To be completely honest, I wouldn’t exactly consider myself a wine snob, a refined connoisseur of the finer things in life, or even someone who even knows how to sniff wine properly, but I did enjoy this experience. I learned a lot and had a pretty fun time doing so. I learned a little about how vinification works, about how to differentiate specific wine types, and a little but more on how my good friend ~science~ makes the world go round. Below is my recollection of the events that unfolded last Friday afternoon at La Bucci Nera winery and my thoughts on the experience.
Four Courses: Wine for Each
The first wine we were served was a really nice white wine called “Donna Patrizia.” I enjoyed this wine so much that I even ended up buying a bottle of it to take home with me. When I first smelled the wine, it gave me a strong sense of alcohol and fruit. After tasting, I thought the wine had an intense coolness and reminded me of white peach. I don’t typically enjoy white wine, so I was very surprised that this was my favorite from all of the wines we tasted that day. It was made from Trebbiano, Malvasia, and Grechetto grapes. These grapes had been harvested at the end of September and during the first part of October. Fermentation and maturation of the wine occurred only in stainless steel vats at a controlled temperature.
The second wine presented at the tasting was a deep red called “Syrah.” I definitely would not count this wine as one of my favorites. I usually prefer red wines, but sometimes red wine can have a slightly milky flavor that immediately grosses me out. All I can really say about this wine is that it had that flavor. It was made from 100% Syrah grapes and it was fermented in a stainless steal tank then aged in a French oak barrel for 6 months. This wine had a spicy flavor and left a creamy texture in the mouth. 10/10 would not recommend.
The third wine was a medium red with a pleasant flavor. The name of this wine was “Sassocupo.” It was made from 90% Sangiovese and 10% Canaiolo grapes. It had matured 12 months in a French oak barrel after fermentation. The wine had a hint of wood to it, so this element of the wine might be contributed to how it was aged. I liked this red wine more than the previous, but I wasn’t blown away by it.
The fourth and final wine, the dessert wine, was very dark and vaguely reminded me of whiskey. The name of this wine was “Vin Santo.” It was made from Malvasia, Toscana and Trebbiano grapes. It had a pretty amber color, with an intense smell of liquor and spice. It had a 16% alcohol content and this was easily identifiable even with just my small first sip of it. Overall, the taste was sweet and reminded me of beeswax. The wine was served with biscotti, which was actually quite good dipped in the wine. Drinking this wine was intense, and almost seemed like it could comprised as a meal by itself. I didn’t dislike this wine, but it was certainly different than anything I have ever had before.
This winery seemed to take a very hands-on approach to wine making. They hand pick their grapes during harvest season and then begin processing them within a few hours. They keep the wine in temperature controlled stainless steel vats in order to get the wine to the level of perfection expected from La Bucci Nera. Unlike some other wineries in Tuscany, they also buy a specific strain of yeast to inoculate grapes with, in order to keep the characteristic flavor associated with their wines. The whole process is actually really delicate and requires quite a bit of chemistry knowledge to get the wine just right. For example, I learned that factors like too much sugar or oxygen can completely ruin a batch of wine. It was really interesting to see everything that goes on behind the scenes before a bottle of wine actually shows up on a shelf in a grocery store. I enjoyed this experience because now I feel like I actually understand some of the factors that lead to the different flavors experienced in wines. Hopefully by the time I make it back to the states I will know even more!