Words, wise or otherwise, about wine

Jermann Vintage Tunina 1997

Italian wine is often a bit of a mystery for me. I’ve drunk plenty of it over the years, I’ve done a bit of study on the place, read the books and spent holidays in Tuscany but I always feel overwhelmed by the sheer complexity of the country’s grapes, styles and idiosyncrasies. It’s often said that Italy has over a 1000 different indigenous grape varieties, how on Earth do you begin to get a handle on that?

Not one to be unduly deterred and applying myself with fortitude I went along to the annual Italian tasting hosted by Decanter magazine at the Institute of Director’s in central London. The big names are often at this tasting and it’s an ideal opportunity to taste wines from Sassicaia, Gaja, Antoninori and many others that I wouldn’t ordinarily get a chance to. Interesting as these wines are, you generally know what to expect and the real pleasure lies in exploring the plethora of wines from unfamiliar regions and varieties, which is how I came across Vintage Tunina 1997.

Made from a blend of grapes grown in the Collio region of Friuli in Italy’s North Eastern corner this was quite simply the best white wine I tasted all day, by a long way. The grapes come from an area of 16 ha called ‘Ronco del Fortino’ and are first selected and then harvested about 2 weeks later than the non-selected grapes. Tunina is apparently the name of the first owner of the vineyard and also the name of Casanova’s poorest lover, who the wine is dedicated to. Poured out of an impressively labelled double magnum, this blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Malvasia, Ribolla Gialla and Picolit (yes, I know…!) was delightful. Powerful enough to fight through some of the tannic brutes that I had already tasted but keeping a sublime balance that kept  every component of the wine in delicious harmony.

The nose is almost like a Clare Valley Riesling, full of lime, chalk and tension but with a veneer of light smoke. Fascinating palate right from the first sip with a profusion of meadow flowers and ripe fruits with a rich vein of honey and just edging into maturity. There’s a remarkable richness to this wine that apparently doesn’t see any oak ageing or undergo any malo, but perhaps that explains the clean and focussed acidity that balances the wine beautifully. Elegant whilst retaining an electrifying power that suggests there is more to come. 95/100

Jermann website

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