Wine news February 2011

Mona Lisa outrage

mona lisaA claim circulated by Sky News that the sitter for Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous painting of the Mona Lisa was a man has got Princess Natalia Guicciardini Strozzi all hot and bothered. Ms Strozzi is the latest generation of an ancient Tuscan lineage, and proprietors of Tenute Guicciardini-Strozzi. Ms Strozzi, who will be in London on the 22nd February 2011 to present her wines at Osteria Dell’Arancio on the Kings Road, is particularly put out by the claim since she has recently established that she is a direct descendant of Lisa Gherardini del Giocondo, aka Mona Lisa. Sky News carried the story of Silvano Vincetti, chairman of the Italian national committee for cultural heritage, who presented evidence that the face of the Mona Lisa in fact belonged to Gian Giacomo Caprotti, a male muse of Leonardo’s who appeared in other paintings. Whether Mr Vincetti or Ms Strozzi – who grew up in a Florentine house that boasted Gregory Peck, Hubert de Givenchy and Rudolf Nureyev as guests – is right about the identiy and gender of Da Vinci’s model for the painting we may never know…

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Lady in full-bodied red

de burghChristie’s has announced the sale of fine and rare wines including rarities from the private cellar of Chris de Burgh, which will take place at Christie’s King Street saleroom in London, on 24 March 2011, at 10.30am. Comprising 320 bottles and 84 magnums of wine, principally red, The Private Cellar of Chris de Burgh is estimated to fetch in the region of £200,000, whilst the sale as a whole is expected to realise over £750,000. Estimates for individual lots range from £500 to £90,000. “I started thinking about selling a selection of wines from my collection about five years ago,” comments Chris de Burgh. “Looking at the economics of the wine trade and how the business of selling wine fluctuates, I decided now was the right time. Every wine I’m selling I’ve actually tasted, one way or the other, so I know what I’m missing, but I think the time has come for someone else to enjoy them in my stead. My wife, daughter and I much prefer to drink white wine, but I’ve greatly enjoyed collecting all sorts of varieties, and vintages, from all over the world. I’ll be having an intense review of my cellar to fill the spaces made by this sale – I can now focus on the remainder of my collection.”

sweet young things

winnersDenmark’s Michelin-starred ‘Formel B’ restaurant has won the Wines of Roussillon Dessert Trophy European final, which took place in Perpignan on 24 January 2011. Pâtissier Daniel Kruse and sommelier Jacob Christiansen came on top for their dessert entitled ‘Citrus fruits in all their glory, a homage to the flavours of Roussillon’, served with 2009 Muscat de Rivesaltes from Domaine Pouderoux. In the process they saw off the competition from five other European delegates from Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands, Spain and the UK. Interestingly, the UK was represented by the team of sommelier Andrea Briccarello and pastry chef Daniel Fancett of Galvin La Chapelle, who clinched the UK title in October 2010 with their unique creation of ‘Lemon bavarois with citrus fruit salad and basil sorbet’, which they paired with the same wine: the 2009 from Domaine Pouderoux.

cork fighting back?

bottleThe press release comes from Amorim, the world’s biggest manufacturer of cork products, so must be seen in that light, but it is interesting that one of South Africa’s leading vineyards, Klein Constantia, has moved away from screwcap and returned to natural cork to seal its top white wine, the Perdeblokke Sauvignon Blanc. Klein Constantia’s head winemaker Adam Mason said the decision to seal the wine with Amorim’s natural cork was driven by concerns over the wine developing reductive characters under screwcap.The Sauvignon spends almost 10 months on the lees before bottling, then another 10 months in bottle before release. “With this style of maturation there is a higher risk of developing sulphide characters, says Mason, “which – in my opinion – is exacerbated even further under screwcap.” Amorim’s director of marketing and communication Carlos de Jesus pointed out a return to cork by “a number of wineries that had previously moved away.” He went on to say, “The US market is a case in point with the latest wine sales data from A.C. Nielsen showing that premium wineries in the US are continuing to increase their use of natural cork closures.”