Vertical tasting of Prosecco Giustino B. Valdobbiadene doesn’t age, it improves
Giustino Bisol, 96 years old, worked until he was 87. He wasn’t there on the evening of 8th March at the imaginative table of Pietro Leemann, in Milan. He is at a stage in his life when he prefers to avoid high society. But his son Paolo and granddaughter Isabella remembered him worthily. As well as speaking about him, however, the wine bearing his name was tasted: Giustino B., a super Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG that has been produced for 20 vintages and made from a selection of historic vineyards, in the high and medium hills, in San Pietro di Barbozza, Santo Stefano and Saccol, to celebrate Giustino’s 50 years of work, the man who founded Ruggeri.
Long-term human relationships
It is necessary to contextualise the role of the Ruggeri winery within that of Valdobbiadene. First of all, as for most of the local medium-sized wineries, it uses numerous producers who deliver their grapes: about 110 of them. Long-term human relationships. “In Valdobbiadene,” says Paolo Bisol, “I understood that we couldn’t have created a winery, not even in 300 years. We are surrounded by tiny plots of land, remarkably under a hectare. Transferences are rare, prices sky-high and the slopes are steep enough to make vinegrowing unprofitable, if not done directly by the owner and the family.” Here, in fact, the situation is broken up into rather arduous terraces, often in the hands of “part time” vinegrowers, unlike in Conegliano, where large estates dominated. Just to give you an idea, a metre of vineyard in Valdobbiadene costs 80 euros, compared to 35 euros in Conegliano. So why focus on Valdobbiadene, as businessmen, and not turn east to Fellettano-Coneglianese, where the vineyards are more regular, can be worked with machinery, and the estates are bigger?
Why focus on Valdobbiadene
It seems that the grapes are different. Giustino Bisol, in love with the hills where he was born, has never thought of doing without the fineness of these grapes. Therefore his son, “I considered it a privilege to be able to work the grapes of the best vineyards in Valdobbiadene and my love for the land has always been understood by those vinegrowers who would have preferred to earn less, rather than hand over their grapes. The same sense of duty, the same anxiety about quality. I tenaciously pursued the Cartizze grapes (today we crush more than 10% of the grapes from this cru) and those from the areas of Santo Stefano, San Pietro, Saccol and Guia. I have spent a lot of time with the farmers, I have drunk hectolitres of wine with and without sediment, directly from the vats. There is a guarantee that I can give my clients: everything that goes into the bottle comes from grapes crushed at home, from vineyards and vinegrowers that I know personally.”
Giustino B., the vertical tasting from 2015 to 1997
And so far, this is promising for the quality. Coming to the tasting of Giustino B., it confirmed it was a sparkling wine with class, and above all positively moulded by time: as a young wine (today we find the 2014 vintage on sale) it offers white flowers, herbs and apple. But we totally agree with Paolo Bisol’s statement, after drinking it: the great Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG gives its best after 3-4 years. In fact, even longer. Of all the wines tasted, the one that won me over for its balance, originality and substance was the 2008 which is 7 years old. Younger, Giustino is a brilliant young boy, but sometimes incomplete, then it becomes an elegant lady, for few, not for everybody. Giustino B., this great Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG confirms what also others, such as Nino Franco, have been saying for a long time: the image of Prosecco as a fragile wine, to drink young or even earlier, is completely false and it is , above all, a pity for anyone who loves great wine.
The evening unfolded with a menu created between Pietro Leemann and the three-star chef, Massimiliano Alajmo, with “Beans and bananas”, “Coconut and Himalayan curry soup”, “Risotto with green peppercorns, beetroot and black curry” (my personal favourite), “Winter roots and buds cooked at a low temperature” and a marvellous “Macondo” , i.e. a chocolate and fig cake with a Sicilian guava cream, spiced ice-cream, hazelnut foam, all raw, nothing cooked.
Giustino B. 2015 (Still with sediment). Sharp, citrusy nose, yeast and Granny Smith apples. Excellent acidity, champing at the bit and promising. Still needs moulding. 87/100
Giustino B. 2013 White flowers, apple, celery, catmint. Intense on the palate, lingering, balanced acidity and alcohol, sweet finish still not perfectly integrated. 90/100
Giustino B. 2012 Aromas of wisteria and fresh hay. Good balance, quite a lingering finish, with sweet toasty notes. 89/100
Giustino B. 2010 A serious nose, chalk dust, scattered with tropical fruit. Good freshness, bitterish, floral and restrained finish. 88/100
Giustino B. 2008 Notes of talc, yellow flowers, undergrowth, lemon pie, peach blossom. Silky on the palate, a touch of confectioner’s cream, lingering and fresh. 93/100
Giustino B. 2005 Aromas of citron rind, moss, mushroom. On the palate there is a vegetal note, excellent supporting acidity. 88/100
Giustino B. 2001 Golden colour, talc and confectioner’s cream, broom and wine spirits. Round on the palate, with hints of chamomile flowers. A little extravagant on the palate, velvety, decadent but charming. 85/100
Giustino B. 1997 Powder puff, confectioner’s cream, very balanced on the palate with a pleasantly toasty finish (coffee powder). 90/100
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