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Senior editor James Suckling joined Wine Spectator in 1981 and retired in 2010. As European bureau chief, he was based in Tuscany and tasted the wines of Italy, Bordeaux and Port.
James Suckling

One of Italy's Best Whites

Antinori Umbria White Cervaro della Sala 2006

James Suckling
Posted: August 19, 2009

I had the owner of IMG Artists, Barrett Wissman, for dinner a few nights ago at my house, and I figured he was tired of eating Italian food. He was in Tuscany during the Tuscan Sun Festival, a weeklong event in Cortona showcasing some of IMG's best artists. So, for something different, I served him a simple Greek salad with chopped cucumber, peeled tomatoes, red onions, black olives and fresh mint from my garden. A lean grilled hamburger made from Chianina beef and topped with mozzarella, lettuce and tomato followed. It was simple and yummy food.

But what to serve with the Greek salad? I thought a fresh but rich and slightly oily white would be the right match. So I opted for a 2006 Antinori Umbria White Cervaro della Sala, a blend of mostly Chardonnay with a touch of Grechetto. The latter is one of the main white grapes used to make Orvieto.

In any case, the white went wonderfully with the fresh, crunchy salad, which was served with toasted Tuscan bread with fresh olive oil and sea salt on top. The wine's apple pie, tropical fruit and mineral character on the nose and palate combined well with the crisp, refreshing flavors in the salad. I gave the wine 94 points, non-blind. Cervaro remains one of the best whites of Italy.

The burgers were to die for since the meat was so flavorful and I mixed in some pressed garlic along with salt and pepper. I served two young reds made near my house: 2005 Sette Ponti Toscana Oreno and 2004 Fattoria Petrolo Toscana Galatrona. Wissman loved the latter, saying he had never had such fine Merlot before.

He is certainly a man of taste, considering the incredible classical musicians and vocalists IMG represents, including such great names as Joshua Bell, Angela Gheorghiu and Jean-Yves Thibaudet. I think he enjoyed the great wines and simple food combination.

WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review for Antinori Umbria White Cervaro della Sala 2006 (94, $50).

• For more information, read James Suckling's blog about a vertical tasting of Cervaro. Plus, get our quick lists of Top Values and Easy Finds among Italian whites.

Gary Long
Palm Beach , Fl —  August 19, 2009 10:11am ET
Don't see much Galatrona in Fl, but I agree with Mr Wissman they make excellent Merlot
Tony Wood
Brighton U.K. —  August 19, 2009 11:50am ET
Hi James
Do you feel the 2006 Cervaro is a little less oaky than previous offerings?
Horacio Campana / Butler Me
Monterrey, Mexico —  August 19, 2009 7:17pm ET
James, What exactly is Chianina beef?

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