Tuesday, 7 July 2015

A Visitor from Italy - Jeffrey Chilcott from Marchesi di Gresy

At the beginning of last month I had the pleasure of meeting Jeffrey Chilcott, the cellarmaster for Marchesi di Gresy, who are based in the Piedmont region of Northern Italy. The winery is based in Martinenga, Barbaresco which for me is an area that produce some of Italy's greatest and aromatic wines, predominantly from the red grape Nebbiolo, but have added Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay in to there repertoire.

Marchesi di Gresy is made up of four estates, the estate in Martinenga became the property of the Marchesi di Gresy family in 1797, adding to their property in Monte Aribaldo that they had acquired in 1635. They also have properties in Monferrato, La Serra south of Asti and close to it Monte Colombo. Alberto di Gresy in 1973 decided to stop selling his grapes to other merchants which were used to set the benchmark price in the markets of Alba and start to produce his own wines. Included in the property in Martinenga, is the only Barbaresco Cru Monopole which only Marchesi de Gresy can mention on their labels.

Jeffrey had bought a selection of his wines for us to taste covering the Langhe, Monferrato his Barbaresco Cru and single vineyard, there were two wines that really stood out for me, but here are the others. The 2013 Langhe Sauvignon Blanc had some lovely green fruit flavours with a slightly richer texture from the lees stirring, and the perfect touch of acidity. 2012 Villa Martis Langhe Rosso, this is a blend of 60% Nebbiolo and 40% Barbera with french oak and large neutral oak barrels used. It was delicate and aromatic on the nose with some lovely fruit and a well balanced structure from the tannins and acidity.

The last two I tasted were two wines from the Martinenga Monopole, the 2008 Barbaresco Martinenga, this wine was everything you'd expect it to be and possibly even more. With a very pale red colour and a garnet rim showing signs of it's age, it had some lovely dark fruit, smoke, leather and spice aromas, with them all coming through on the palate giving it a meaty character. It still had plenty of soft and silky tannins with just enough acidity to clean them from your palate, making it a very stunning glass of wine. We then tasted the 2005 Barbaresco Camp Gros Martinenga, this single vineyard site is the pride of the estate and has been produced since 1978, only in exceptional vintages though. Considering this was three years older than the previous wine, in the glass it looked and smelt richer and with more depth, it had all the characters of the first Barbaresco but you could be mistaken for it to be a lot younger. This again was a stunning glass of wine and you could see what an exceptional wine this vineyard site can produce, this will last for another 10 years without any problem. Both of these wines were exactly as they should be, but they aren't cheap, ranging from £47 - £54 for the 2008 and £69 - £77 for the 2005.

The first of the two that really caught my eye was the;

2012 Langhe Chardonnay,
I'm not usually the biggest fan of oaked Chardonnay, but this one was stunning, produced from fruit grown on the Martinenga, Monte Aribaldo and La Serra estates it had this lovely bright golden colour to it. The wine starts it's fermentation in Stainless Steel tanks for the first couple of days before then being transferred into oak for further fermentation and maturation. This gave the wine a wonderfully rich and creamy texture with hints of baked green apples, nuts and lanolin, the nutty characters really started to shine over the fruit on the palate with a balanced acidity that stopped it from being over the top and making it a very enjoyable glass of wine.

The second was the;

2007 Monferrato Rosso,
This wine is produced from 100% Merlot which is grown on the La Serra and Monte Colombo estates and was not starting to show any signs of it's age yet. It spends around 30 months in French barriques before spending a further 22 months in bottle the wine is also allowed to go through malolactic fermentation. With all this you get a deep red colour with aromas of macerated dark berry fruits with some hints of spice and smoking coming through, lovely fine and silky tannins and just enough acidity to make them all combine perfectly and produce another stunning glass of wine.

It is hard to find a bad wine in what we tasted, the Barbaresco's were, as I had expected them to be, stunning, but when you compared them by price to the other wines, the Langhe Chardonnay (£25 - £29) and the Monferrato Rosso (£16 - £18) were the real stars that shone out for me. I'd like to say a massive thank you to Jeffrey for taking the time to come and show me his wines.

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