PORTOFINO: Spent the weekend here watching the Zegna Regatta, a sailboat race for mostly Swan, Wally and Transpac boats. The race, sponsored by the fashion house Ermenegildo Zegna, is now in its 25th year and has become one of the cool spring events in Europe, with plenty of weekend parties in this small northern Italian village on the Ligurian coast. The warm weather has finally set in!
This was my first time to Portofino, and it’s one of the most beautiful coastal villages I have ever seen in Europe. It’s worth the detour, with its beautiful little cove and quaint piazza with restaurants and chic shops. The sea is like one giant piece of emerald with its deep, bright, blue-green color.
On the wine side, however, the friends I was with became obsessed with having a steak, and we decided to head down the coast to Tuscany for dinner on Sunday. We met up with consulting enologist Luca d’Attoma, who works for Macchiole in Bolgheri, among other top wineries in the region. This winery often tops the best in its region, including Sassicaia and Ornellaia, particularly with its pure Merlot, Messorio, and its Syrah, Scrio. We had dinner in the tiny Ristorante La Cantina di Tafi Luca, near a vineyard D'Attoma is developing for himself in Riparbella, in the hills about 45 minutes south of Pisa.
D'Attoma brought a bottle of the 1999 Scrio to the dinner. And it was much better than when I tasted it from bottle in the summer of 2002. (I only scored it 88 points; perhaps I had a less-than-perfect bottle?)
Last night, the 1999 Scrio was drinking beautifully, with a rich, yet subtle structure and wonderful plummy, spicy, peppery and light gamey character. (I scored it 92 points at dinner.) It reminded me of vintages of Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle I used to marvel over in the 1980s when I covered the Rhône for the magazine and lived in France. Unfortunately, only about 10 cases of the Scrio come to the United States each year.
D’Attoma also brought a magnum of a pure Syrah that he made with his wife at her family’s wine estate, Fattoria La Torre, near the town of Lucca. The wine is called Esse, and he only made it in 2001 because he got in a fight with his brother-in-law. Only 290 cases were made, and I am not sure any made it to the States. Shame about both that and Luca not making the wine anymore. I scored the wine 95 points a few years back for the magazine, and it’s as good as ever. It’s stupendous, with rich and decadent flavors, round and soft tannins and a long, long finish.
Syrah works well in Tuscany. And it goes well with huge slabs of grilled Tuscan beef, French fries cooked in olive oil and spinach. Stay tuned for my Tuscan tastings this summer, and I will steer you towards some good Syrahs.
Troy Peterson — Burbank, CA — May 15, 2006 4:23pm ET
Guus Hateboer — Netherlands — May 16, 2006 5:30am ET
Chris Lavin — Long Beach, CA — May 17, 2006 6:05pm ET
James Molesworth — May 18, 2006 9:09am ET
James Suckling — — May 19, 2006 5:50am ET
Brian Larky — Napa, CA — May 30, 2006 1:59pm ET
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