A few years ago Michele and I were invited to a friend’s house for dinner. There were 12 people and everyone was asked to bring a bottle of wine. One of the guests brought two bottles of wine, one of which was the 1974 Fiorano Rosso from Alberico Boncompagni Ludovisi Principe di Venosa, a winery located 30 minutes outside Rome. Followers of my blog know that this may be my favorite wine.
I took this guest aside and explained that since he had two bottles there was no reason to open the Fiorano for so many people. It may have been the tone of my voice or the look on my face and he said to me, “Here, take the bottle home.” I promised I wouldn’t open the bottle until one of our Fiorano dinners when he could join us. Unfortunately, it did not workout and he told me I could drink the wine without him.
Alessia Antinori, granddaughter of the prince is the owner of Tenuta Fiorano, which is just a short distance from Rome. I have visited the winery a number of times. Alessia also has an apartment in NYC. Recently we met in Chinatown for lunch and she brought the 1993 Fiorano. After drinking the wine we decided it was time for another Fiorano dinner. Alessia invited us to do it at her apartment. I also invited the person that gave me the 1974 Fiorano. Not only could he make it this time but he said he would bring a bottle of the 1971!
There were 7 of us for lunch. We opened a magnum of Champagne to start but it was oxidized–too bad. So we moved on to the wines.
Alberico Bianco 2015 100% Sémillon Tenuta Fiorano After a careful manual selection, the best grapes were destemmed and soft pressed. Fermentation in casks and the wine completed its six months of aging in puncheons. The wine was aged in bottle for a minimum of 24 months. This is an exceptional balanced wine with complex aromas of subtle tropical fruit, hints of citrus fruit and a slight touch of vanilla with a very pleasing finish and a long aftertaste. This is Alessia’s wine and it is very special. Alessia said it is a white wine that will age and I agreed. In fact I told her it was a white wine as good as the Sémillon or the Malvasia di Candia that her grandfather made!
Le Montrachet 1986 Jaffelin 100% Chardonnay The grapes are harvested by hand and then directly pressed in a pneumatic press. Alcoholic fermentation takes place in French oak barrels of which 40% are new. The lees are stirred (batonnage) occasionally during aging which lasts for about 13 months. This is how they do the white wine now but it may have been different back in 1986. The wine was showing signs of age but was very drinkable and was a lovely combination with the stracchino, a mild and creamy Italian cheese.
Next we had Brasato al Porcini, beef braised with porcini, red wine and tomato sauce. With it we had a puree of cauliflower and potato, brussels sprouts and roasted asparagus.
Fiorano Rosso is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot from Alberico Boncompagni Ludovisi Principe di Venosa. Burton Anderson, in his landmark Italian wine book Vino, called Fiorano Rosso “the noblest Roman of them all”. The Prince’s few acres of vines are planted along the Appian Way about 20 kilometers southwest of the center of Rome and almost right next to Rome’s second airport, Ciampino. It is the best cabernet/merlot blend made it Italy and one of the best in the world! In my opinion–and I am in the minority here–one of the best places in the world to grow Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot is in Lazio close to Rome. The Fiorano Rosso is all leather and cherry with a great finish and aftertaste. The last vintage made by the prince was 1995.
Fiorano 1985 This wine had to be decanted because it was too young but the leather and the cherry was all there. All it needs is time to develop.
Villa Antinori Villa del Chianti 1949 This wine was showing its age, still drinkable but not for much longer. A few weeks ago in Rome I had the 1975 in magnum and it was drinking very well. One of the guests brought this wine for Alessia.
Chateau Margaux 1986 Made from 75% Cabernet Sauvignon , 20% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc. This was a classic Bordeaux. 1986 was a classic year, however the wine needed more time to develop.
It was a wonderful lunch and a chance to taste different vintages of Fiorano Rosso along with other older wines, not to compare but to enjoy.