Royal Cliff hosts Italian Wine Seminar

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Sitting at elegantly-laid tables arranged in classroom fashion and with wine glasses at the ready, members of the Royal Cliff Hotel’s deVine Wine Club recently enjoyed an informative evening learning about Italian wines May 30. The seminar was given by Salvatore Campione, who comes from Sicily and whose passion for culture and gastronomy led him to a career in the wine industry. He’s the National Sales Manager for Independent Wine & Spirit (Thailand) Co. Ltd., a company that’s been in the wine business for more than ten years. It has more than two hundred wines in the catalogue and distributes to over three thousand outlets ranging from hotels, restaurants, supermarkets and convenience stores. It also supplies airlines and duty free shops.

Using plenty of colourful visuals, Salvatore Campione gave an informative and detailed talk on the history of wines in Italy and also explained the Italian system of wine classification. He also provided interesting and detailed background information for each wine as well as useful tasting notes. Incidentally, all the wines are available from IWS and you can contact Salvatore directly at [email protected]

Salvatore Campione takes the participants on a whirlwind tour of the historic Italian vineyards.Salvatore Campione takes the participants on a whirlwind tour of the historic Italian vineyards.

On each table there was a selection of six tiny snacks delightfully served on six equally tiny plates. Each snack of course was intended to go with each wine and I was impressed how well the evening had been planned. The presentation was immaculate and typical of the impeccable standards at deVine Wine Club events.

Each guest was provided with a document which contained an “aroma wheel” and several pages to make notes, although I didn’t see many people actually writing very much. The aroma wheel is an ingenious way of helping you to identify aromas in wine and was invented in 1984 by Ann C. Noble. More elaborate aroma wheels have since been developed and the deVine Wine Club uses a version produced by Aromaster. You can download your own copy from the Aromaster website. It’s free, too.

The evening began with a Zonin Prosecco, a delightfully light and refreshing sparkler with crisp acidity and a surprisingly long finish. It would be a perfect apéritif. It was followed by a Pighin Pinot Grigio 2012 with delicate floral aroma of banana and a pleasing touch of acidity. The next wine was blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio; a lively, brightly acidic wine called Le Rime from the distinguished company of Banfi.

The red selection started with a text-book Chianti from Zonin, exuding all the rich earthy aromas of the Sangiovese grape. This was followed by a glass of Centine – another excellent wine from Banfi. It too is a Sangiovese-based wine, but blended with Cabernet Sauvignon which adds power, and Merlot which brings softness. And what a difference this makes. This dry wine has real personality with a very refined, elegant taste.

Finally, there was the superb Zonin Valpolicella Ripasso 2003, an intense ruby-red colour with complex cherry and chocolate aromas. On the palate, there’s plenty of black fruit, a good tannic grip and a delightfully soft, light finish. Valpolicella Ripasso is the “big brother” of Valpolicella and made by having a second fermentation using the skin of the grapes utilized for the production of Amarone. At eleven years old, this splendid wine is far removed from the simple Valpolicella that you find in most Italian restaurants. It’s complex, rewarding and in some ways, a revelation and a most appropriate ending to an informative and enjoyable evening.

deVine Wine Club members and guests engaged themselves in a most informative evening learning and tasting excellent Italian wines.