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Alberto Antonini’s wines from home and away
Last week I had the good fortune of attending an event at Vancouver Urban Winery with one of the wine world’s brightest luminaries. Dubbed “A Conversation with Alberto Antonini,” the evening was a peek into the brilliant mind of the man himself, a superstar winemaker who travels the world, selecting winery projects to work with where he sees incredible potential. Alberto actually hits British Columbia a few times every year to work with Summerland’s Okanagan Crush Pad, but we’ll get to that in a bit.
A Tuscan-born veteran of the industry who made wine at notable places like Frescobaldi and Antinori in Italy, his global consulting began years ago with a friend in Argentina who simply called him up looking for his help. Jumping at the opportunity, partially because he thought Argentina to be an interesting and exotic place to apply his craft, it was the start of a new career that’s now found him consulting in Chile, California, South Africa, Spain and elsewhere. He despises the title “Flying Winemaker,” because he feels that many of those who embrace that label apply a generic recipe wherever they go, creating a global sameness in the wines they work with, regardless of the place they come from. Alberto’s vision is different; cultivating wines that speak to their terroir, expressing a sense of place with as little winery intervention as possible.
He came of age in a world where both vines and wines were pretty much doctored; polluted with pesticides and herbicides, a few added enzymes here, a splash of tartaric acid there, and has come to learn that there’s a better way. He says that the more he knows, the less he does, in the goal of building genuine, honest wines that taste like the land where they grew.
Here are some of those wines he’s had a hand in:
Poggiotondo 2011 Toscana Bianco | Tuscany, Italy | $14.99 | BC Liquor Stores
This is actually home base, his own winery that delivers this bottle of Tuscan sunshine. A pleasant blend of Vermentino, Ansonica and Malvasia that shines with lemon, mineral and herbs.
Poggiotondo 2009 Chianti Superiore | Tuscany, Italy | $31-34 | Private Wine Stores
Aged in French oak for a year, this is true Chianti composed of Sangiovese with a wee bit of Merlot, offering dark fruit and a unique complexity from the soil that contains fossilised seashells and limestone.
Greenstone 2008 Shiraz | Heathcote, Australia | $44-48 | Private Wine Stores
Want a big, jammy, sweet and heavy Aussie Shiraz? You’re in the wrong place! Some of the oldest soils in the world and an elegant hand make this a beautiful wonder; full of upbeat berry fruit, pepper and gleaming minerality. Special occasion-worthy!
Altos Las Hormigas 2012 Malbec Clásico | Mendoza, Argentina | $15.99 | BC Liquor Stores
Re-think Argentinian Malbec with this wild-fermented beauty that brings lively currants, spices and a hint of espresso.
Haywire 2011 Pinot Gris | Summerland, British Columbia | $19.99 | BC Liquor Stores
Alberto is encouraged by the Okanagan’s climate and terroir, both of which he feels deliver wines with elegance and finesse. This concrete-egg-fermented Gris brings both, carrying guava, peach, lime and a wonderful richness.