Being Modern without betraying Authenticity
Can a wine combine modernity and authenticity?
It's not an easy job. It depends only on the winemaker's sensitivity. To use a metaphor, if the winemaker wants to be a mother to the wine -instead of just being a midwife-, then the job is quite certainly destined to fail.
There are several examples of wines that are impeccably made but lack authenticity -and therefore personality- because the winemaker had the urge to show off his technical skills. A great conductor guides the orchestra to offer the best performance to the paying audience, but he does not go down on the stage to steal the soprano's role! Many winemakers are like that, they can't stay away from the stage, thus their wines can't properly sing. These wines become winemaker's wines. However the conductor's role is fundamental, so why not just sticking to it? Let the wine sing, let it express his own personality and authenticity. Don't worry, the standing ovation will go to the full ensemble!
In this post I wanted to report 4 wines I have recently had the opportunity to drink and which, in my opinion, represent great examples of modernity married to authenticity.
Clockwise from top-left:
Argiano Solengo 2012 - I love here the combination of black and bold, yet fresh and vibrant, flavours combined with the Tuscan earthy and herbal notes. Spicy and minerally-driven palate, great length. Delicious now, but also lots of potential for this age-worthy super-tuscan from Montalcino. Very good value for money in relative terms to other super-tuscans.
Sine-Qua-Non Stock Syrah 2012 - This has been the biggest surprise for me. I never had SQN in my life. I had lots of prejudices and it has always been out of my budget. I was lucky enough to taste this at a dinner with friends and suddenly this reminded me that being a 'partisan' when speaking of wine does not pay off. Having preconception limits our discoveries. I was expecting a super-extracted jammy fruit punch, whilst I met a spicy, floral, yes big but pristine, authentic wine. I really enjoyed this. In a blind tasting I would mistake this for a new-wave South Africa Syrah. Of course do not look here if your target is maximising quality-price-ratio.
Cos d'Estrournel Goulee 2010 - Another modern approach to Bordeaux which still preserves a lot of the dark earthy/mineral essence of St Estephe (the northernmost of the principal communes of the Médoc). Authentic early-drinking claret offering good value for money.
Terrazze dell'Etna Cirneco 2010 - This is a pretty young operation started in 2008 by Palermo-native Prof. Nino Bevilacqua, with the guidance of consulting enologist Riccardo Cotarella. The estate counts today 36 hectares of vines, combination of autochthonous pre-phylloxera Nerello Mascalese -mainly devoted to red and rose production- and allochthonous cultivars such as Chardonnay and Pinot Nero -mainly devoted to sparkling wine production. This Cirneco has very well calibrated tannic structures and good mulberry core enriched by ashes and flinty/mineral tones. It is 'modern' in the same sense as a Terra di Lavoro (read Cotarella) can be 'modern', which means modern in a very clever and respectful way.