Italy’s 10 leading fine white wines7th February, 2013 by Rupert Millar
7. Marchesi Antinori, Castello della Sala “Cervaro della Sala”
Grape variety: Chardonnay/Grechetto
Classification: Umbria IGT
Average price per bottle: £31
Hopping over to the western side of the Appennines now to the stables of the famous Antinori.
Without doubt better known for red Tuscan wines, the Antinori family purchased the achingly beautiful mediaeval Castello della Sala (pictured) in neighbouring Umbria in 1940 – though winemaking there did not really take off until 1979.
A number of wines are produced, largely white and including a pudding wine called Muffato della Sala which is often highly rated on WA, and a 100% Chardonnay, Bramito del Cervo.
However, it is the Cervaro della Sala, which rules the roost. The Chardonnay in the blend is macerated on its skins for four to six hours prior to undergoing alcoholic fermentation in French oak.
The wine is aged on its lees for a minimum of six months during which it goes through a complete malolactic fermentation. It is given a further 10 months of bottle age before being released.
Jancis Robinson MW noted that the 2007 (16.5 points) was, “not quite as like white Burgundy as it used to be!” but it is clearly the driving inspiration.
Doctor Wine, a.k.a Daniele Cernilli, notes a comparison vertical tasting of the Cervaro and Drouhin’s premier cru Clos du Mouche last year, which was organised by Piero Antinori and Frédéric Drouhin, in which the Italian wines more than held their own.
The first vintage was 1985. Grechetto makes up usually no more than 10% of the final blend and it plays a bigger role in the dessert wine.
Nonetheless, it is one of the chief grapes in the nearby white wine area of Orvieto, where it is sometimes known by that name also.