Many Italian exhibitors from the province of Livorno in Tuscany came to the beautiful Zunfthaus zur Zaffran on Monday to present their wines and olive oils. The Italian Chamber of Commerce had organized some workshops and degustation for the entire day.
I met with a few owners of family owned estates like Kahnh Nguyen & Franco Batzella for Batzella winery, Pini di Nelusco for Azienda Agricola Rigoli, Daniele Petricci and her husband for Petricci e Del Pianta and Mark Mahan reprensenting Fonte di Foiano olive oil’s farm.
Franco Batzella introduced to me his wines with great passion. The first one he let me taste was TAM (2008), a Bolgheri Superior, 2/3 Cabernet Sauvignon – 1/3 Cabernet Blanc. The wine is left in barriques up to 2 years and planted on sand and clay terrain. No wonder the wine got the name of Tam, meaning passion in Vietnamese. When I told Franco his wine was just delicious he responded “Bolgheri is the Margaux of Italy!”
Mrs. Batzella, Kaknh Nguyen, with a Master in vineyard-winery management, is originally from Vietnam. She and her husband spend over 20 years in the United States working in finance at the World Bank. When they took an early retirement they bought some vineyards, 3km away from the beach. In 2003 after three years they finally produced their first wines.
The Batzella winery estates, covering 7,5 hectares, are on the Italian West coast in the Maremma. 55,000 bottles a year are produced there..
I also tried Pean (hymn to the Sun god Apollo), a Bolgheri red left in French oak barriques for 1 year. It is the most sold bottle of the estate and goes well with red meats and desserts.
Franco and Khanh also have wines with Viognier, Syrah and two kinds of grappa. Their wines have received numerous prizes from the Decanter Magazine, Dei Vini, Wine Advocate Robert Parker, Wine Enthusiast Magazine and Wine Spectator.
In 2010 Khanh published a book “Stories of hands and wine”/ “Storie di Mani e di Vino”, which is a collection of photos telling the story of wine making.
The friendly owners of Petricci e Del Pianta farm had good value quality wines like the 2008 Nubio a Val di Cornio planted in the hills of Sand Lorenzo. The Cabernet Sauvignon left 2 years in barriques has a deep red ruby color. The Cerosecco (2009), a Merlot/Cabernet-Sauvignon is also good.
The family also makes Tuscan extra virgin olive oil, the Olio dell’Assuanta, produced on 4 hectares on some hills. The entire farm covers 22 hectares,100 meters above the sea level. The wines are exported to Germany and Belgium.
Mr. Pini di Nelusco talked to me about his Tuscan wines. He has been in the business for the last 20 years. Today three sons and one father work there and make about 25,000 bottles yearly.
The beautiful coffret N’ Etrusco attracted my attention. It is perfect for gifts he said and it reminds us of the Etruscan, who once came on our land. It is the first year on the market.
I tried the dessert wine Impressioni di Settembre (Impressions of September), as delicious as its beautiful amber colour!
His most sold wine is the Montepitti, a mix between Sangiovese (70%) & Merlot (30%). In addition he makes grappa, extra virgin olive oil and honey.
In the middle of the room were a couple stands promoting the Slow Food fair going on in Zurich from November 8th-10th. It was possible to try some cheese with truffles, truffle butter, balsamic vinegar, Zurich honey and wonderful marroni cake from Meier-Beck.
At the exit you could taste numerous olive oils from the farm Fonte di Foiano. A friend of the family, Mark, an American who moved to Tuscany a few decades ago, was there to represent it and give olive oil’s tasting. You could feel the passion while he spoke.
The olive groves are located a few km away from the beach 50 to 150 m above the sea. The owner decided to leave his haircut job in the 1970’s to buy his farm explained Mark. He bought and abandoned farm and worked really hard. His olive oils have won many prizes in the world like a Gold Medal in Los Angeles in 2012. This year it received the first prize from the Feinschmecker (top 12 of best extra virgin oils).
The Extra Virgin di Oliva Fonte di Foiano Grand Cru was spectacular with great smells of artichokes as Mark pointed out. But Mark’s favourite is the Extra Virgin Monovarietale Pendolino.
The family also makes a coffret with various olive oils and offers some with lemon or red peppers.
Some of these products can be found in Switzerland otherwise you may have to take a trip to Tuscany!