Project Front Foot January 2016 Newsletter

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Here’s the January 2016 Project Front Foot newsletter.

Kit 4 Kids
The UK side of Project Front Foot, in keeping with the recycling mantra of Dharavi, evolves around a Summer Appeal in which we recycle old and unwanted kit from a variety of sources and regions. The duality of our work between city and country has a huge bearing on our request for kit. While the Dharavi Cricket Academy needs everything from helmets to pads our Rural Schools Initiative requires only basic packages of wicket sets, bats and tennis balls. Since the autumn of 2009 we have taken over two tons – and counting! – of clothing and equipment to Mumbai thanks to the generosity of British Airways.

Front Foot Forum
Our monthly newsletter has replaced the planned half-year project review. Instead, the project trustees have decided upon an Annual Report to be published in July once the season has ended.

The signs for our Summer Kit Appeal again look promising thanks to early discussions with project supporters Peter Mason, Steve Archer and Sandy Mitchell.
More pictures of the January action at both the Gymkhana and Shivaji Park can be found by going to our Project Front Foot Facebook page

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2016 Interdisciplinary Conference on Art Crime

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The Association for Research into Crimes against Art (ARCA) is pleased to announce that it will host its 8th annual interdisciplinary Art Crime conference in Amelia, Italy the weekend of June 24-26, 2016.

The call for general abstracts for the conference is now open. Please visit the abstract submission page for details on how to submit an abstract for consideration. The abstract submission deadline is Tuesday, March 15, 2016.

Presenters with topics related to the following areas are particularly encouraged to submit a speaking proposal highlighting the following issues of common concern:

  • Forgery
  • Provenance Research/ Collecting History
  • Museum Security/Risk Management
  • Art Policing
  • Illicit Art Trafficking

For more details on submitting a proposal for this year’s conference, please review the link here for the 2016 Call for Abstracts.

Screen-Shot-2015-10-26-at-18.13.13ARCA’s annual Italy conference serves as an arena for intellectual and professional exchange and highlights the non-profit’s mission to facilitate a critical appraisal of the protection of art and heritage worldwide. Over the course of two days, the conference will serve as a forum to explore the indispensable role of detection, crime prevention and criminal justice responses, at both the international and domestic level, in combating all forms of art crime and the illicit trafficking in cultural property.

Geared towards international organisations, national enforcement agencies, academics, cultural institutions, and private sector professionals in the art and antiquities fields – the Amelia conference follows a long-established commitment by the Association to examine contemporary issues of common concern in the important field of art crime and to further awareness and understanding in the need for protection of art and cultural heritage.

Held in the beautiful town of Amelia (Umbria), the seat of ARCA’s Postgraduate Certificate Program in Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection the conference will include two full days of multidisciplinary panel sessions; a Friday, June 24th ice-breaker cocktail reception at the Palazzo Farrattini; and an Italian “Slow Food” dinner on Saturday evening.

Presentation sessions will be held all day Saturday, June 25 and Sunday, June 26, 2016 in Sala Boccarini inside the 14th century Franciscan Boccarini cloister adjacent to the Museo Civico Archeologico e Pinacoteca “Edilberto Rosa” in Amelia, Italy. Sessions will begin promptly at 9:00 am, with breaks in the morning and afternoon for coffee and lunch.

The 2016 conference will be open to is open to scholars from different disciplines, practitioners, and policy- and decision-makers as well as anyone with an interest in the protection of art and the complexity of art crimes.

Registration for the event will open on February 1, 2016.

Registration Fees:

$120 for both day’s sessions for professionals
$75 for both day’s sessions for university students providing proof of enrollment in an academic program.

Fees for optional transfers and networking events are payable on site at the venue’s registration check-in.

For further information about this 2016 conference please contact the conference organizers at:

italy.conference (at)

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Project Front Foot December 2015 Newsletter

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A message from my friend Vic Mills:

“Please find attached the project’s December Newsletter. An exciting month what with the arrival and distribution of the new kit (shirts, flannels and boots), the first fixtures of our seventh season, the Player of the Month Awards, and a swag of sessions and skill sets at the Gymkhana.




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Season’s Greetings & A Happy New Year from all at Project Front Foot

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A message from my friend Vic Mills:

“Season’s Greetings &  A Happy New Year from all at Project Front Foot

Please click on the attached pdf file to see our very own version – with apologies to Frederic Austin and Frederick Sewards Trueman – of The Twelve Days of (a Cricketing) Christmas”

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A message from my friend Vic Mills:

Just a quick note to introduce PFF’s very first monthly newsletter.

Not everyone is a Facebook fan, so this is a convenient way to keep supporters up to speed with project-related matters both in the UK and Mumbai.

The young fellow on the newsletter cover is Sameer. Born in India’s poorest state, Bihar, his parents sent him to live with his older brother in Dharavi aged 9. He’s been with the project for six years. A talented, hardworking boy he soon came to the attention of our coaches. The last two years he has had trials with the Mumbai U14s and U16s. In May he secured a place at the prestigious MIG Club in Mumbai. He now plays his age group cricket in the same side as Sachin’s son. Not bad for a kid from the sticks.

With all good wishes



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Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux Tasting 2015

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Held annually at the Royal Opera House, this year’s Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux tasting showcased the 2013 vintage.

As usual, I didn’t have much time to linger and tasted only a few wines.

photo-101Chateau Haut-Bailly was hard and with bone-cracking tannins. Too much oak for the less than overwhelming fruit, perhaps.

Domaine de Chevalier was much more supple and smooth. It still had a big tannic presence but they were so much nicer than those of Haut-Bailly.

I always enjoy comparing Langoa-Barton and Léoville-Barton and, when possible, meeting Anthony Barton or his daughter Lilian. She was pouring today. The Langoa was bottled in June 2015 and was still wearing a lot of oak makeup. As is often the case, the Léoville was much finer and sweeter. It’s extraordinary how year after year this château produces a lovely – and relatively well-priced – wine.

Château Lynch-Bages mercifully showed no greenness or hardness. Indeed, it was a bit chocolaty. A good effort and one that is likely to attract generous scores.

This year was the first time I’d attended the afternoon session – usually I come in the morning. But it was much better in the afternoon because everybody had gone to lunch – including the chateaux principals – and it was possible to taste without being knocked over by somebody.

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Negociants Icon Masterclass 2015

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To commemorate 25 years of their presence in the UK, Negociants held an “Icon Masterclass” on 13th October.

Co-hosted by Negociants’ UK MD Simon Thorpe MW, Yalumba winemaker Kevin Glastonbury, and Brokenwood Managing Director-Chief Winemaker Iain Riggs, the tasting was “not designed as a competition… It’s a chance to enjoy the wines and talk about them”, said Thorpe.

The 30-wine selection pitched Negociants’ brands against the Rest of the World, mainly but not exclusively France. It didn’t come cheap: the total retail value of the wines was over £2,000, with an average bottle price of £73.

This was one of the most interesting and impressive blind tastings that I’ve done for a while. And it’s always good to see Riggsy, even if he did insist on wearing Aussie rugby colours.

Icon MasterclassWines were tasted thematically in flights of six. The first was “Dry White 1 – Riesling & Semillon”. Wine 1 was obviously a Riesling – but from where? The sherbetty lemon fruit and profound acidity suggested Germany – but where in Germany? It turned out to be Weingut Dönnhoff Schlossbokelheimer Felsenberg Riesling Trocken GG 2013. At least I got the grape and country right.

Wine 2 had a slightly deeper colour and a richer, more oily nose. The finish was warm, long, and rich – an impressive wine. Alsace, perhaps? No – Jim Barry The Florita Riesling 2010.

The third wine was very toasty, suggesting some age, and for me was cruder than the opening pair, with lip-smacking acidity but less refined fruit. I couldn’t place the Pewsey Vale The Contours Riesling 2009 much to my shame – I’ve been to the vineyard several times.

Wine 4 was super-clean and fresh but wasn’t giving much away. The taut structure didn’t undermine the lovely texture. I guessed that this very good wine was Brokenwood Hunter Valley Semillon but it came from Western Australia – Vasse Felix Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2013. Glastonbury called it a “stunning wine” and I agree.

The fifth wine had an exotic nose, all mango and peaches and cream. Too opulent for me, though it became more savoury with aeration. I reckoned it was dry white Bordeaux but the opulence should have led me to its origins in Sauternes – Chateau Guiraud Le “G” de Chateau Guiraud 2013. This was the only wine in this flight with a cork closure.

Wine 6 smelled like semi-mature Hunter Valley Semillon… It was Brokenwood ILR Reserve Semillon 2007. It wasn’t quite as refined as the Vasse Felix wine but it was still very good. Riggs explained that Semillon grapes are bright green and he aims to capture “that luminosity” in the wine rather than greenness or herbaceousness. This wine has been bottled under screwcap since 2002, which has changed its character: cork used to impart a certain wood character to the wines, reckons Riggs, because cork is from a tree.

Flight 2 was “Dry White 2 – Viognier & Chardonnay”. The first glass was very cold so not very aromatic but nonetheless unmistakably Viognier. It was very tasty, with a bit of oak seasoning, and vaguely familiar… I guessed correctly that it was Yalumba The Virgilius Viognier 2013 (though I didn’t nail the vintage). During the discussion of this wine Riggs mentioned that “the corks we had in the Southern Hemisphere were rubbish”, which prompted the move to screwcaps.

The second wine was also very cold but the palate was big and rich, a vin de garde built to last. Condrieu, perhaps? Yes, Jaboulet Condrieu Grands Amandiers 2013. Plenty of life in this yet.

Glastonbury called the third wine “stunning” but for me The Virgilius Viognier 2005 was drying out.

Wine 4 had a little bit more depth of colour, with a hint of oak-derived gold. The Nautilus Estate Chardonnay 2013 was an impeccable New World Chardonnay – butter, vanilla, and juicy acidity.

CRL2MQYWUAAuRQrThe fifth wine was a bit smelly at first, though I couldn’t put my finger on what the problem might be. It had a decent texture but unappealing flavours. Glastonbury called it “tight and restrained” and a contrast to the former opulence and high alcohol of this wine and other Aussie Chardonnays. The Vasse Felix Heytesbury Chardonnay 2013 embodied the move “from flares to drainpipes” said Thorpe. I think he meant winemaking rather than Aussie fashion.

The final wine of this flight was Domaine Jean-Marc Pillot Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Chaumes 2012. It had a warm finish and I thought was very slightly corked, though nobody else commented on this.

Flight three – “Red 1 – Pinot Noir” – started with a cherry red-coloured wine, with a smell of wood char. Very Kiwi. Nautilus Estate Pinot Noir 2012 from Marlborough had a warm, glowing finish.

Wine 2 had a slightly lighter colour and a lean, focussed nose, suggesting something from Burgundy. Christophe Vaudoisey’s Volnay 2012 wasn’t a great example but it was unapologetically Burgundian.

Turning to brick red, the third wine was a lovely crowd pleaser. Dalrymple Single Site Bicheno Pinot Noir 2012 from the east coast of Tasmania was tasted alongside Dalrymple Single Site Coal River Valley Pinot Noir 2012, which was deeper-coloured and noticeably richer and riper than the previous wine.

Wine 5 had forceful acidity and what Thorpe called “farmyard” reduction. This Domaine Henri Gouges Nuits-St-Georges 2012 was a real contrast to the dense and ripe Two Paddocks The Last Chance Pinot Noir 2012, both of which retail at £50 per bottle.

Flight Four / Red 2 was of Cabernet Sauvignon & Cabernet Sauvignon Blends.

Wine 1 was big, ripe, and self-consciously grand. I thought it might have been one of those ambitious and expensive things from St-Émilion but it was Ridge Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2011. For those who like that sort of thing, that is the sort of thing they like.

The second wine was a bit smelly at first, reeking of Plasticine. It was better with aeration and had good flavours but it remained tight and abrasive on the palate. Yalumba The Menzies Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 was not one of the better examples of this wine that I’ve tasted.

The deep, inky purple core, turning to garnet at the edge, and the distinctly minty flavours of wine 3 made me think of the Clare and Barossa Valleys, though I couldn’t choose from which one Jim Barry’s The Benbournie Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 came (it’s Clare Valley, of course).

A lot of tasters had wine 4 as claret. The cedary, savoury flavours and lovely texture did indeed suggest something good from Bordeaux but I’ve had some outstanding examples from Margaret River in my time and I guessed correctly. Vasse Felix Heytesbury 2011 was the sort of wine that asserts Margaret River as Australia’s premier red wine region.

Wine 5 was clearly claret. Château Ducru-Beaucaillou’s second wine La Croix De Beaucaillou 2010 was a good example of this great vintage.

I thought that wine 6 might be from Coonawarra but Yalumba’s The Signature Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz 2010 is actually an Eden Valley-Barossa Valley Cabernet-Shiraz blend. It was minty and had mellow mid-palate fruit, with some grip on the finish. The 2010’s signatory is Jane Ferrari, Yalumba’s roving ambassador and a good friend for many years.

The fifth and final flight, and third red wine flight, was of Shiraz/Syrah.

I condemned the first wine as being fairly simple. Good job that Riggsy didn’t ask me what I thought of his Brokenwood Graveyard Shiraz 2013.

Wine 2 was a leviathan, sweet and minty with a warm and long finish. The flavours were very dark, verging on coffee, and the tannins were robust. Jim Barry’s Armagh, perhaps? The flavours were probably too dark for that and it turned out to be Paul Jaboulet Aîné Hermitage La Chapelle 2012. I haven’t tasted this famous wine for a while but I’ve had older vintages and they weren’t like this… I think that the Frey family are pursuing a more contemporary style.

The sandy tannins and savoury taste of wine 3 made me guess at Crozes-Hermitage. But such was Negociants’ generosity today that it was Cornas La Geynale 2011 from Domaine Vincent Paris.

The fourth wine was a great big thing. Maybe this was The Armagh? It was Yalumba’s The Octavius Shiraz 2008.

The Armagh had to be here somewhere. Finally, I guessed it correctly for wine 5. Glastonbury called it a “ballsy wine”. At £140 RRP this was the most expensive wine here.

The final wine was garnet at the edge and had a lovely mid-palate texture, with grip on the finish but not at all clunky or overbearing. A good example of… Barossa? Yup, it was Rockford Basket Press Shiraz 2007, a wine that I’ve always enjoyed and admired and a nice way to finish the tasting.

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Sunshine Patriots and Glorious Triumphs: Château Margaux 2004-1983

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With Sotheby’s sale of “Château Margaux 1900-2010 Direct From The Cellars: A Celebration of the Mentzelopoulos Era” to be held on 17th October, I thought I’d revisit some supposedly “lesser” Margaux vintages that I’ve tasted.

Jay McInerney, the novelist and Wall Street Journal wine correspondent, has written, “Many buyers tend to be sunshine patriots, buying in only great years.”

Outstanding vintages are almost as infrequent as Halley Comet’s visits to the inner solar system. That leaves a good deal of fine wine that is largely forgotten. But there is pleasure, and value for money, to be had by considering (and drinking) the less fashionable, lower-scoring years.

Fantastic Four

Margaux is an estate with the terroir and winemaking ability to make excellent wine in “lesser” years. The 2004, for example, is a lovely Margaux, lost between the high-scoring 2003 and 2005. Paul Pontallier, technical director of Château Margaux, calls 2004 “harmonious, a very fine and classical vintage.” It is lovely to drink now or cellar to 2020+.

Tonight I’m Gonna Party Like It’s 1999

The ’99 Margaux is undervalued because of the great 2000 that followed. It does not have the power of 2000 or 2003 but it charms with its elegance. This wine is “what Château Margaux stands for—balance, delicacy, softness, and strength”, believes Monsieur Pontallier.

The Velvet Revolution

The 1989 and 1990 vintages brought a great decade for Bordeaux to a successful close. Margaux 1990 was an early recipient of a 100-point score but the 1989 failed to impress the sage of Monkton. The vintage had many of the ingredients for success. Harvesting began on 11 September, with just one day of rain, and was the earliest since 1893 (which begun on 17 August!), with ripeness levels reminiscent of 1982.

On the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution, Château Margaux crafted a masterpiece that “combines power and subtlety,” says Pontallier. The 1989 was approachable from a young age, due to its ripeness and velvety texture. As voluptuous as Rubens’s painting of Venus, its astonishing concentration and brisk acidity suggest that the wine will endure for many years.

The Twin Paradox

Like 1989 and 1990, 1983 and 1982 are non-identical twin vintages. “Today the 1982 is less evolved than the 1961 was when I tasted it in 1983,” says Pontallier of this famous vintage. Tasted from magnum, it appears to have peaked, and is not as fresh as the 1983, which might go further yet. Like the 1989, it is opulent and voluptuous but just starting to fade. Bottles would perhaps be more vigorous.

Paul Pontallier’s first vintage chez Margaux was 1983. Unfashionable and long overshadowed by its glamorous predecessor the year before, 1983 saw a big crop, only about 10% less than 1982. August was very warm, carrying with it the threat of rot, but this was avoided and the balmy weather continued into September. It was a good year for Cabernet Sauvignon and is a distinguished vintage for the Margaux commune, though less good for St- Estèphe and the Right Bank.

The ’83 retains a good depth of color for its age, with aged aromas of cedar wood. If not quite fully grownup, it is so close and authoritative that it can be drunk with great pleasure now. For me it is superior to the ’82 and perhaps a better bet over the next ten years or more.


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River Deep, Mountain High: Trento DOC Sparkling Wines

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A reprint of an article first published by Fine Wine International.

Overshadowed by Prosecco and Franciacorta in export markets, Trento DOC accounts for 12% of the domestic Italian sparkling wine market. Ten percent of its production is exported.


Giulio Ferrari – no relation to Enzo – initiated sparkling wine in this mountainous part of Italy in 1902, when Trento was still part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Owned by the Lunelli family since 1952, Ferrari remains the preeminent and largest producer of Trento DOC, with an annual production of five million bottles, 90% of which is sold in Italy.

The Istituto Trento DOC Metodo Classico was established in 1984 and, with the Istituto Agrario di San Michele all’Adige, oversaw production of classic method sparkling wines in Trentino.

In 1993 Trento was the first sparkling wine after Champagne – and the first Italian sparkling wine – to gain protected origin status. Trento DOC is for sparkling wines only; still wines come under the Trentino DOC.

Today there are 37 producers of Metodo di Classico di Trentino working with 3,000 hectares of vineyards planted with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.

Mountain bubbles

The pale-coloured, sharp-edged Dolomites are reflected in the area’s wines. Mountains and lakes influence Trento’s terroir. Vines are planted at up to 800 metres altitude, scattered across the mountains and valleys that overlook the River Adige. Altitude compensates for latitude here, with some vineyards so steep that at Azienda Agricola Zeni, for instance, the tractors have roofs to protect the driver in case the tractor topples over. Because of the slopes grapes are invariably hand harvested. Valley floor soils are alluvial but in the hills are more calcareous.

Vineyard holdings are fragmented. Ferrari works with 600 growers. The Cantina La Vis co-op has 300 members with an average holding of one hectare. 4,500 growers supply Trentino’s largest producer Cavit.

Vines are trained to guyot or pergola, though replantings always utilise the superior guyot system. The wind that blows in from Lake Garda to refresh the vines (and the workers) lends itself to organic viticulture, as pursued by Endrizzi, Zeni and Maso Martis, for example.

The Trento DOC regulations insist on “High quality base grapes grown in Trentino, second fermentation in the bottle, prolonged contact with the lees followed by long maturation and excellent winegrowing and winemaking techniques supervised and guaranteed by a high standard of professionalism.”

Wines must be made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and / or Pinot Blanc. Rosé wines can be made only by saignée. The minimum ageing period for NV wines is 24 months and for Riserva wines 36 months. The disgorgement date is declared on the label – not something that happens all that often in Champagne.

There is no minimum dosage but the maximum is “in conformity with EEC regulation”. In practice the wines tend to have a low dosage of no more than 10 grams per litre.

Pressure tends to be 5.5-6 atmospheres, more or less the same as a bottle of Champagne. (A refrigerated can of soda is about 2 atmospheres).

Trento Class Cruisers: A tasting of 15 Trento DOC wines 2007-1991

15 wines from five producers were presented at an “Old Vintage Tasting” held at the sixteenth century Palazzo Roccabruna in Trento as part of the “Bollicine Su Trento” (“Bubbles Over Trento”) event.

Abate Nero Riserva 2003

Abate Nero is a Trento DOC specialist – no still wines are made here.

The Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes for Riserva were sourced from Trento and Lavis hillsides at 300-700 metres altitude.

An etched glass doubtless encouraged the fine mousse. Fresh and vaguely sherbetty on the nose, and not particularly leesy (though it was disgorged in 2011), the palate had dry richness but was a bit blurred at the edges. With aeration the pleasing flavours and acidity gave way to some acetate. Drink now.

Abate Nero Riserva 2002

Like the 2003, this was blended from 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir and had a dosage of 6.8 grams per litre. This vintage had less time on the lees, though, and was disgorged in “mid-2007”.

The mousse was more persistent than the 2003’s, though it lacks that wine’s complexity. Drink now.

Abate Nero Riserva 2001

A fine, persistent mousse again. Disgorged in “mid-2006”, the 2001 was fresh but had hint of furniture polish – linoleum perhaps. Smoothly textured and with great vivacity on the palate for its age, this wine declined badly with aeration to become excessively aldehydic.

Altemasi di Cavit Altemasi Riserva Graal 2003

This wine represents 10%, or 300,000 bottles, of the vast Cavit co-operative’s annual production.

Sourced from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vineyards overlooking Trento, Brentonico and the Lakes valley , it was disgorged in May 2010. A third of the Chardonnay was fermented in barriques.

It improved with aeration but remained unappealing. The rubbery, “burnt” nose suggested reduction.

Altemasi di Cavit Altemasi Riserva Graal 2000

This was much better. Disgorged in March 2007, it was clean, brisk and pleasant. The palate was vaguely honeyed and finished with some nuttiness. Drink now to 2015.

Altemasi di Cavit Altemasi Riserva Graal 1998

This was the best wine yet. Honeyed on the nose, its lip-smacking acidity and more than decent length showed real quality. After an hour or so in the glass it became very leesy – disgorgement was in April 2006.

Azienda Vinicola Methius Riserva 2006

Methius makes 15,000 bottles per year of this wine, which represents 20% of total production. A 60/40 blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, it came from Faedo and Pressano hillsides at 350-500 metres altitude north of Trento on the east side of the River Adige. It was disgorged in September 2011.

Toasty at first, it showed good freshness, concentration and acidity, though overall was relatively simple.

Azienda Vinicola Methius Riserva 2005

A fellow taster complained about excessive sulphur. The 2005 had 110 parts per million, which was the highest of any wine here but not by much.

This was more honeyed than the 2006 but had excellent length again.

Azienda Vinicola Methius Riserva 2002

An excellent sparkling wine of real interest. All sorts of things could be smelled and tasted here: linoleum, honey, herbs and even Panettone. Nicely textured and with excellent length, like the 2005 and 2006 it had five years on the lees.

Istituto Agrario di San Michele all’Adige Riserva del Fondatore Mach 2007

The Istituto, which is now known as Fondazione Edmund Mach, is an agricultural college that makes wines under its own name from 50 hectares of vines. About 10,000 bottles a year of Riserva del Fondatore Mach are produced, which is about 4% of the winery’s total production.

The Chardonnay grapes for this came from vineyards at 700 metres altitude on “glacial deposit soil with marl-calcareous mineral content, sub-alkaline, fine loamy structure, strong skeleton (sic) and good organic matter content.”

As bright and fresh as the morning air in Trento, it was fruity, charming and invigorating but fundamentally simple. Disgorgement was in September 2011.

Istituto Agrario di San Michele all’Adige Riserva del Fondatore Mach 2006

Also disgorged in September 2011, the 2006 was much more complex than the previous wine, with nuttiness and fine length.

Istituto Agrario di San Michele all’Adige Riserva del Fondatore Mach 2002

A lick of acidity on the finish keeps this bracingly vigorous. Deep and dense, it could be drunk with red meat. Disgorged in September 2006.

Giulio Ferrari Fratelli Lunelli Giulio Ferrari Riserva del Fondatore 2001

First made in 1972, Riserva del Fondatore accounts for less than 1% of Ferrari’s annual production of five million bottles.

It is sourced from a Chardonnay vineyard called “Maso Pianizza”, 500-600 metres above sea level in the commune of Trento.

As golden as a Garda sunset, it was complex but remains fresh and lively. Riserva del Fondatore has significant ageing on the lees, at least a year more than any other wine tasted here. The 2001 was disgorged in 2010 but the vivid fruit keeps the leesy flavours in rein, though some nuttiness showed on the finish.

Giulio Ferrari Fratelli Lunelli Giulio Ferrari Riserva del Fondatore 1994

Less vivid than the 2001, with a paler colour and duller mousse, this was nonetheless delicious. The nose suggested sottobosco. Like the previous wine, it was disgorged in 2010.

Giulio Ferrari Fratelli Lunelli Giulio Ferrari Riserva del Fondatore 1991

At 20 years old, this still has concert pitch acidity. Truffles, dried fruits and some nuttiness suggest age but it has retained freshness. Also disgorged in 2010.

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1855 and all that: The Bordeaux Classification and the arts

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While the Bordeaux brokers were busy establishing a wine hierarchy at the Exposition Universelle 160 years ago, a painter from Ornans was busy challenging the art hierarchy. Displeased by the space allocated to him at the Exposition, Gustave Courbet organised his own exhibition – adjacent to the official pavilion – called ‘Le Réalisme’, showing 40 of his own paintings. Courbet was de facto leader (though he did not form a school) of the Realist movement that championed accurate and objective representation, but was also a rebellion against historical, mythological and religious themes. He was asked to include angels in a painting for a church, but declared that ‘I have never seen an angel. Show me an angel and I will paint one’”.

Courbet_LAtelier_du_peintreThe centrepiece of his one-man exhibition in Paris was the six-metres wide canvas entitled “L’Atelier du peintre” (“The Painter’s Studio”), subtitled (oxymoronically) “Allegory of Realism”. In his long and rambling account of the painting in the preface to the catalogue of his one-man show, Courbet described it as “the moral and physical history of my studio” and that it showed “all the people who serve my cause, sustain me in my ideal and support my activity”.

The figures on the left of the canvas were described by Courbet as “the world of commonplace life” (with Baudelaire among them), though many viewers saw covert political content in the painting – the 1848 revolution had taken place only seven years previously, and Louis-Napoleon had become the authoritarian Napoleon III, supposedly represented in Courbet’s painting by the figure of the hunter. “L’Atelier du peintre” was later described by Huysmans as “une terrifiante ânerie imaginée par un homme sans education et peinte par un vieux manoeuvre”.

1024px-William_Holman_Hunt_-_The_ScapegoatAcross the Channel, English painters were producing work that would have outraged the obstinate and self-assured Courbet. The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood had been formed in 1848 by several young artists, though by 1855 the group had effectively dissolved. Their style was a huge contrast to that of Courbet and the Realists: flat, bright colours and meticulous representation of detail, often with what is now considered to be a rather mawkish sentimentality of theme, as seen in the moral and social symbolism of William Holman Hunt’s 1855 canvas “The Scapegoat”.

Closer to Courbet’s Realism was Mrs Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell’s novel “North and South” – a depiction of the social contrasts between rural southern England and the industrial north – which was serialised in “Household Words” from September 1854 to January 1855, but published in volume form later in the year.  Dickens’ “Little Dorrit” was published in monthly parts from December 1855 to June 1857, the tale of Amy Dorrit – the “little Dorrit” of the title – and her father William, who has been in Marshalsea Prison for Debtors so long that he has become the ‘Father of the Marshalsea’. George Bernard Shaw later called it Dickens’ “masterpiece among many masterpieces”.

Westward_Ho!Tennyson – the Poet Laureate – published “Maud and Other Poems” in 1855. The British Prime Minister William Gladstone (this was an age when Prime Ministers actually read books) disliked the bloodshed in “Maud”, writing that “We do not recollect that 1855 was a season of serious danger from a mania for peace and its pursuits”. In contrast to Gladstone’s comments, Charles Kingsley’s story of the Devon seaman Amyas Leigh and his adventures against the Spanish Armada in “Westward Ho!” (still the only English novel to have a village named after it) thrilled contemporary readers who were mindful of events in the Crimea, where Florence Nightingale was a real life heroine.

Charlotte Brontë – the last surviving Brontë sibling – died, but “The Daily Telegraph” was born. It was the first paper to be issued in London at a penny and was hugely successful, for a while enjoying a higher circulation than any other English paper. Thornton Hunt, the eldest son of poet and essayist Leigh Hunt, was officially a staff member but in fact served as de facto editor, imbuing the paper with radical political views in its early days.

597Robert Browning’s two volume collection of 51 poems “Men and Women”, which he called “poems all sorts and sizes and styles and subjects”, featured much of his finest work, such as “Love among the Ruins”, “Childe Harold to the Dark Tower Came”, and “Fra Lippo Lippi”. In America, Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass” first appeared in 1855, saturated – as Whitman himself put it – “with the vehemence of pride and the audacity of freedom necessary to loosen the mind of still-to-be form’d America from the folds, the superstitions, and all the long, tenacious and stifling anti-democratic authorities of Asiatic and European past”. The collection appeared in eight editions altogether during Whitman’s lifetime, each edition an enlargement and revision of the one preceding it. Similarly, Trollope’s “The Warden” was the first in his “Barsetshire” series of six novels, concluding with “The Last Chronicle of Barset” in 1867.

The 1855 Médoc Classification, however, has proved to be rather more durable than much of the literature and painting produced in the same year. For the arts, then, 1855 was a good – but certainly not great – vintage.

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