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Bottle%20copy%201.jpgThis is Parker's chart (from his website) showing how they shape up today, in 2008. And yes, those are US$ prices on the right. (The 2000 vintage was the last we were responsible for at Collelungo; eventually we sold the business in 2002  — anno domini finally caught up! — but our successor, Lorenzo Cattelan, continues to make highly-prized wines and the agriturismo is still welcoming visitors. Take a look at the Collelungo website.)

Well, Parker certainly set the cat among the pigeons. I don't know about 'vintage of the century'; it was more like the Surprise of the Century for us. We knew Alberto had made a superb wine for us, but this was beyond our wildest dreams.

As The Economist was to report (September 18, 1999): 'These days a high score [from Parker] speaks louder than ecstatic adjectives. It can catapult an unsung estate to stardom; high scores all round can touch off a buying frenzy.'

fruits.jpgThe accolades started coming from all sorts of unexpected corners. We received the Grand Prix d’Honneur from the Hamburg Wine Salon. Two silver awards from the Mundus Vini wine show, also in Germany. Then something even more extraordinary: top billing at a wine love-in staged by the Las Vegas Wine Institute, in tandem with the Luxemburg-based club for wine aficionados known as the 'Grand Jury Européen'. Professionals from two continents gathered over four days at Vegas’s Hotel Bellagio before announcing their verdict:

Out of 25 Chianti Classicos tasted, we came first;

Out of all the wines on show — European and American — we came fifth. (A French wine won first prize, followed by two Italians and a Californian Zinfandel.)  Further down the list there was Mouton Rothschild (17th), Margaux (20th), Latour (40th)...  We were evidently doing something right. 

winespectator.jpgWine Spectator joined the fan club ('Clever winemaking here. A new producer to watch,' reported European Editor James Suckling). The Wall Street Journal placed our '98 Classico among seven it picked for its tongue-in-cheek Dow Jones Chianti Index.  Several British and European periodicals picked up the story — but none of them knew of the hand-wringing and agonizing that had preceded this accident.

decanter.jpgThe British magazine Decanter commented: '"Englishman buys abandoned farm in Chianti": not exactly a Stop-Press headline. Read "Foreign owner breaks 90-point barrier in Parker with first vintage," however, and you're bound to sit up and take notice.' Later, the magazine held a blind tasting and that same '97 Riserva was Highly Recommended.  

Germany's gourmet magazine Der Feinschmecker (February 2002) included our '99 Classico in the Top Hundred wines chosen by famous German sommeliers — 'Die 100 Weintipps der besten Sommeliers.'

But for someone who had spent all his previous life immersed in the world of British newspapers it was especially gratifying to receive praise from the London Press: 

The Independent (August 1999): 'A characterful beauty with classy aromas of cedary spice, almost burgundian in its sleekness and sumptuously ripe red berry fruit.' — Anthony Rose

The Sunday Times (September 1999): 'Top-notch Chianti Classico.' — Joanna Simon

Financial Times (April 2000): 'Excellent wines.' — Jancis Robinson

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                   This was just a glimpse  of  the story. 

                   For the rest,  please read the book. 

 

 
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Special thanks to NORA FELLER, dear friend and brilliant photographer, for the use of the best pictures on this website. We're flattered: just take a look at her  website and see whose company we're keeping. And a huge GRAZIE! to our local friends who have been so wonderfully kind and helpful during our years in Chianti. 

                          

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