Indoors, in the grand hall, over 200 red sacks were lined neatly on a long wooden table….six glasses on the table in front of me
It was silent..a peaceful silence…except for the sound of soft footsteps as our sommeliers refill our glasses…the occasional whisper…the occasional comment…
I began. I began my day in Castello Marchionale in Taurasi. A day, where I and a team of international journalists, sommeliers, and wine critics would try, taste, and rate 28 Taurasis. Paolo De Cristofaro, (Gambero Rosso, Tipicamente), our host, explained our mission. Not only would we need to taste the 2007 vintage, but we would have to answer various questions and give our opinions. Questions such as what types of aromas floated out of the glass at us…what did we sense…mature fruits? Dried? Cooked? Were the aromas mineral…vegetable…spices? I would be asked to give my opinion on the wines structure, its balance. How would I rate the vintage…mediocre? Sufficient? Good? Optimum? Did I find it excellent? And what about its aging potential? What did I think about that? What did I think about its tannins, acidity, alcohol level?
An incredible opportunity for me to participate in, to observe, and learn from professionals who perform this activity on a daily basis. The norm for them…exciting, challenging, and at times a little overwhelming for me.
So I took my time with each glass, observing the color of this young Taurasi staring back at me. Each glass sharing its fragrance. Some intense, others less. Some reminded me of mature cherries, others cherry jam. Some with spices, some not. As I tasted, I was reminded how my aglianico, version Taurasi can be tannic, well structured and elegant. I was also reminded that some Taurasis need time.
I looked at my watch, 3 hours had passed. Time for a quick lunch provided by Marennà (Feudi dei San Gregorio). I took this opportunity to chat with a few new friends. A wine critic from Sweden, one from Poland. A handful of wine writers for L’Espresso, Wine News, Slow Wine, Decanter, Bibenda, and Duemilavini to name a few. Writers who gave me tips, advice, encouragement. That extra push that I would need as I continued the tasting.
After lunch, having finished the Taurasis, I continued tasting the other wines available during this blind tasting. (A total of 50 different wines) Aglianicos from 2009 -2008-2007-2006 and Taurasi Riserva 2006-2005-2004-2003. The tasting room was nearly empty at this point and I enjoyed the solitude, the silence. As I handed in my rating sheet, Paolo handed me a list. A list revealing the names of the wineries who participated in the tasting next to the number of each bottle. I checked my notes, I checked the list. I saw old favorites, I discovered new ones. I poured myself one last glass from bottle number 31. A glass of wine to enjoy as I looked out the window and saw snow falling. Snow falling silently on the streets of Taurasi. The perfect wine, the perfect moment to reflect on my day.
My day tasting Taurasi.
In a medieval castle…with stone walls…and stone floors.