If you have room for only one book on Italian wine, this is the one to have. Daniele Cernilli (Doctor Wine) is Italy’s foremost wine critic. He created and edited Gambero Rosso for 24 years before beginning his new annual review, The Ultimate Guide, as well as numerous other wine-related media activities. The book hits all the highlights of Italian wine—the best producers and their best bottlings from Siciliy to Alto Adige. It also evaluates wines using two ratings, one for quality and one for price or value. We like this approach very much.
We had the opportunity to lunch with Daniele and some of Italy’s outstanding winemakers at Maxwell in DC the other day. The wine lineup, and the food, was astounding. Maurizio Zanella [shown here], the sparkling wine pioneer who put Franciacorta on the map, led us on a tasting of some of his wines, including the truly elegant Cuvée Annamaria Clementi that spends ten (10!) years on the lees. Tessa Donnadieu of Vinchio-Vaglio Serra, showed us her mineral rich 2016 Il Griso Roero Arneis from Vezza d’Alba as well as the beautifully balanced 2015 I Tre Vescovi Barbera d’Asti Superiore. In addition, we had the 2013 Querciabella Chianti
Classico, a wine that today is made following vegan-biodynamic principles; the lithe and complex, earthy Cotarella 2010 Le Macioche Brunello di Montalcino; the fresh and silky 2008 Bertani Amarone della Valpolicella Classico; as well as numerous other delicious wines.
The tasting was a trip down memory lane for us as we’ve visited many of the regions and wineries highlighted in Danielle’s book. We’ve explored the Piedmont, Tuscany, the Veneto, Friuli, and Sicily over the years, and our reports on the wines of those and other regions can be found on our home page at www.iwinereview.com.
We had not been to Maxwell on 9th St NW before, and we were very pleasantly surprised by the richness and sophistication of its cuisine. We started off with charcuterie and crudité with carrot tahini, followed by nduja toast, falling-off-the-bone braised lamb shank, and a wide variety of Italian cheeses accompanied by several offerings of wines from Torre San Martino in Romagna and Fattoria Le Pupille in Grosseto in Tuscany’s Maremma.
Thanks to Allison Levine of Please the Palate for organizing this extra-special event.