Thursday, September 08, 2011

Garantito IGP: Bibbiano, Sangiovese at Half Speed

This time Stefano Tesi Takes the Stand:

This article cannot but begin with apologies: Apologies to Leonardo di Vincenzo, the brewmaster of the La Birra del Borgo Brewery, the co-protagonist of this post who should appear at the top. However, since space is at a premium (for me as I can only include one picture in my posts, though not for my IGP Friends, who will I hope be freer with their images), I hope he will forgive me if I place, beside the faces of the Tommaso and Federico Marocchesi Marzi and their winemaker, Stefano Porcinai, the face of Giulio Gambelli, the legendary "Bicchierino" who has followed the estate's wines for decades, giving them character and style.

And I really would like to know what the great Giulio thinks of L'Equilibrista, a beer from Sangiovese must (must from Bibbiano of course) that they began to make in 2009, after Tommaso Marocchesi and Leonardo Di Vincenzo thought it up, almost as a lark, at Vinitaly.

It is true that the Marrocchesi marzi family has been making wine in the hills of Castellina in Chianti for five generations and almost 150 years. A century and a half, given the times, would be equivalent to a continuity of many centuries in times past. It was therefore inevitable that the owners should have come up with something original. Thus, alongside Invigna, the annual wine summerfest the brothers organize in the vineyards, came beer, to the grea t delight of the invited.

An enticing product, I'll admit, in many ways: how it was conceived, the technique, its taste, its color. It's the result of a 50-50 blend of fresh Sangiovese must from Chianti and Duchessa wort; Duchessa being the farro based beer from the brewery in Borgorose, which ferments with wine yeasts, and referments in bottle with Champagne yeasts. After a year in the cellars, the brewmaster disgorges it, and adds liqueur d'expedition made from distilled Duchessa. Thus is born L'Equilibrista, unfiltered and unpasteurized.

A beer that tastes like wine, or a wine that tastes like beer. That goes down like beer, but has the alcohol content (10.5%) and body of a wine. In short, a great drink. You swish it in the glass, looking for the term for the color, and come up short. Red gold tending toward orange, vinous aspect, moderate compact head. No getting around it, it brings must to mind. The nose is striking thanks to its complexity and at the same time its freshness, there's farro, barley, toasted accents, and the unmistakable aroma of wine, and finally a rich of yeasts and bread crusts, just like Champagne. And that odd vinousness comes forth on the palate too, with underlying acidity that binds a long complex structure supported by an alcoholic spine that makes it noteworthy, suitable for substantial dishes. Even though you can simply sip it on its own, enjoying the sun setting over the hills of Chianti, and it will be perfect.

It's odd that this birragne (beer-Champagne, my term) comes in part from, and he'll be the first to admit it, a modest beer drinker such as Tommaso Marrocchesi, and a winery that has nothing of the "brewery" about it, with solid straight forward wines that are invariably elegant, untouched by the vagaries of fashion, and traditional without being boring. The total opposite of the wildness writers associate with beer. Perhaps the name, L'Equilibrista, wasn't by chance.

Published Simultaneously by IGP, I Giovani Promettenti. We Are:
Carlo Macchi
Kyle Phillips
Luciano Pignataro
Roberto Giuliani
Stefano Tesi

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