Scarpa Barbera d'Asti I Bricchi 2001, $78
There is a much mistaken assumption that age and wine wisdom always go hand in hand.
This was further impressed upon me when I found myself at a prestigious wine lunch with a few (older) American wine importers during the recent Vinitaly, the annual wine trade exhibition in Verona, Italy.
When the conversation turned to a much-talked-about tasting the day before, opinions clashed.
'I am not sure how long you have been tasting wines, but to me, a wine is all about the after-taste,' one of them said snidely.
I did not bother to tell him that I subscribe to the after-taste and length of a wine (among other things), but I just happen to believe that the legendary 1997 Italian vintages we tasted the day before had more life in front of them.
Alas, he was older (the slight wrinkles and his rotund stomach built up from years of indulgence were giveaways) and we Asians are always polite to our elders.
However, wine wisdom does not happen just because one is older.
My meeting with a winery representative during the same wine fair proved just that. Just listen to 21-year-old Martina Piera Zola from Antica Casa Vinicola Scarpa talk about the new credo - the first in Italy - that she has just introduced to her family business.
I fell in love with the wines from Scarpa when I chanced upon them last year. It's for the same reason contemporary fashion magazines keep running features of Audrey Hepburn: Both have sheer classical elegance.
The winery, based in the Nizza Monferrato area in Piedmont, Italy, has been a forerunner in the prestigious Barbera production for the last 150 years.
Under the direction of former owner Mario Pesce, the winery was already consciously producing wine the 'au naturel way', such as avoiding the use of fertilisers, before the trend today.
Ideas preached by Pesce, such as 'In Piedmont, a wine that cannot be accompanied to the greatest dishes in the gastronomy, is not a great wine' or 'Wine is not meant like an industrial drink, but a handcrafted thing', were further distilled into the credo that Martina, whose family bought the winery in 2001, introduced during Vinitaly. Part of the credo is to be consistently responsible in the wine business.
On why she will want to introduce a credo, she explained: 'It's important to have a credo, like the other renowned wineries in the world, so that we can have consistency and be true to our customers and suppliers.'
Spoken like a wise young person indeed.
This wine from 100 per cent Barbera grapes has good weight and boasts red cherries, a hint of violets, and slightly tarry notes. A soft wine with fresh acidity.
Pasta dishes, salami, boiled meat dishes.
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