Words by: DUNCAN QUINN
There are few things more likely to win me over than a warm welcome after a long day. Especially when that welcome involves a breathtaking view, vines as far as the eye can see, and accommodations in a restored farmhouse in the middle of nowhere.
Getting to Biserno is an exercise in orienteering. And not just because of the dirt roads, streams and cypress lined tracks which lead you there. Because it's not on the GPS. Even if you are in a fancy new Benz with the most up to date maps our teutonic friends can provide. So it's reserved for the lucky few who are willing to make the pilgrimage in the name of discovering something truly special. Who seek to arrive in oenophile paradise. With accommodations fit for a king. And fairytale views.
Once settled, our delightful hostess obtained the reservation we needed for some much required victuals. Needless to say only a small, informal, deli-like canteen in Bolgheri could offer you every super Tuscan you'd ever care to try. And then some. With local wild boar. Which, of course, we did.
The legend and vision behind the vines laid out before us, the Marchese Lodovico Antinori, was not around. But his right hand man, Andreas, was kind enough to indulge our questions from the sublime to the ridiculous. And also to spin us the tale of Biserno as an amuse bouche to cracking a few choice bottles with Helena Lindberg, winemaker extraordinaire. Everything indeed does look, feel and taste better with a story. And Biserno certainly has one.
Born into a family known for wine in the region for generations, and responsible for Tessuto di Ornellaia no less, the plot that was to become Biserno was once to be annexed to Ornellaia. Yet following a feud and a sale it became the new project of Lodovico Antinori. Ornellaia left to its own devices next door to peek over the fence at the new new thing.
Wine is such a personal thing. And the experience of drinking it so tied for me to the company, the surroundings and the subjective moment being shared, that I find it hard to score points in a vacuum a la Parker. Of course there are wines which are often meteoric and rarely unexceptional. The Margaux, Palmers, Orions and Ornellaias of this world. The ephemeral stars to which all aspire. But equally a liter of Euro 1.50 rosé in Provence on the right night, with the right company, in the right little village, can be an experience difficult to match. So it is with this in mind that I can say that Biserno is something special. On so many levels. From the ethos behind its conception, to the choices of grapes cultivated, and (of course) the final proof in the pudding – the wines themselves. Ranging from the wild boar emblazened Insoglio del Cinghiale to the reserve Lodovico the wines encapsulate a passion and a skill for blending the fruits of the vines into deep, complex, combinations of flavors and colors.
I don't like the froo froo language of tasting snobbery. So lets just say that the Insoglio is very good, and the Bisernos tend towards the exceptional. Of the ones I was lucky to try as part of a vertical tasting, I'd have to say the 2008 was my favorite. Although it will be a bigger favorite of the necrophiliac in me in about ten more years. It has the structure and tannins to mellow into something really unique. So I hope I have the chance to visit these realms again to rekindle an old flame and see if time has treated her well. Until then I'll settle for the Pino di Biserno for my daily drinking. With the Biserno buried away in a cobweb ridden cellar awaiting the light of the dawn of another day. And a special day deserving of it.
All in all it would have been the perfect opportunity for lunch to become dinner…but we had to move on to our next appointment hundreds of kilometers away. So it was with a long face we waved goodbye, and blasted off through cypress trees raising a cloud of dust with hopes to soon return.
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