What better way than to regain your composure than searching for a prime spot looking onto the square to sit and order an Aperol Spritz, it was almost lunch time after all! A quick 2xAperol Spritz, a small plate of Parma Ham and Rock Melon, and I was on my way again back down to SignorVino for the last show of the day, as I needed to head back to the hotel to start getting ready for my evening flight.
Standing in the doorway with a big smile on his face was the Sommelier for the wine shop, it only struck me afterwards while I was sipping on my wine that happy, familiar feeling we get when someone recognises you and makes you feel so at ease, I felt like I could have been anywhere in the world with old friends…it could have also been the wine making me feel so nostalgic, but I am getting ahead of myself so let us start back at the beginning of the end!
I walked around the hundreds of wine bottles on display, pausing every once in a while to stop and read a label, to imagine the characteristics of the liquid inside and the complexity of the vintage it was captured and bottled in. Many labels captured my attention, called out to me to release them with promises of euphoria and endless memories, like a stubborn child not wanting to go to bed I refused, I ignored, I kept on walking.
I walked and searched each shelf until finally I stood in front of a caged glass door, behind it lay bottles of Super Tuscan Sassicaia, famed Chianti Producer Castello di Ama, Orange wine Godfather Josko Gravner (we love this wine – a story for the future though!), Amarone King Guiseppe Quintarelli, Barbaresco champion Gaja, the legend of Brunello di Montalcino Biondi Santi and many, many more. This was the adult equivalent of kid in a candy store… As I stood mesmerised in front of all these wonderful wines trying to decide between drinking a Barolo or a Super Tuscan, a shy bottle caught my eye, I say shy because of the vintage, not because of the name on the label, I went over picked up the bottle and held it in my hands just staring at it, as if to try and gather some type of extra information from the glass.
The name on the label is Giacamo Conterno, the wine in the bottle, Barolo, and the vintage was 1993…A very mediocre vintage with not much finesse or complexity, a cold and wet year that showed very little promise of aging or getting any better by all educated accounts.
The Sommelier looked at me and kind of shrugged his shoulders and crunched up his face to show me of his uncertainty in selling me this particular bottle. I held the bottle in my hand for a moment longer and then returned it to the shelf, I wasn’t about to spend almost 200 Euro (AED800) on an average bottle of wine! Now by no means is Giacamo Conterno an average producer, far from it, he is one of the best and in most Barolo collectors top 5, but we are but custodians of the land and if Mother Nature and Baccus don’t party all night long and produce a good vintage there is nothing a winemaker can really do about it.
I moved on to the next wine on the shelf, picking up the bottle, feeling the glass in my hands and the paper labels under my fingers, I did this three or four times but my eye kept wondering back to the bottle of 1993 Barolo, there was something about that wine that kept calling to me.
The Sommelier kept showing me bottle after bottle, each one an amazing producer, an incredible wine and all very good but all young vintages. I was in Milan, a city with romance, with the arts, with history and I wanted a wine to match this feeling…
…to be continued!