The Wine List that Twittered

POSTED ON 30/08/2009

Twit or twitterer? I succumbed to the twitterverse recently in a belated attempt to find out more about the social media phenomenon. So when asked if I’d like to attend a Twitter tasting at L’Anima, Peter Marano’s Italian restaurant tucked between Moorgate and Liverpool Street, I had my doubts. Not because of l’Anima but because I had no idea what a Twitter tasting was or what it was for.

Bibendum’s marketing man, Dan Coward, who’s in the forefront of Twittering along with social media supremo Rob McIntosh explained the idea. A group of us would taste six categories of wine, three wines in each, with a view to choosing one in each category for L’Anima’s wine list. In the case of any disagreement, we would be divided into teams with each team arguing its case on video to a Twittering public, who would then vote on the wine to be listed based on the most convincing performance.

L’Anima, contrary to rumour, does not stand for animal. No, L’Anima is Italian for the soul, so L’Anima is about the soul of good Italian cooking. Francesco Mazzei, the talented chef, is from Calabria, where calebrese is not broccoli but the local dialect. In any event, Francesco’s tastes in cuisine are typically southern Italian Mediterranean. He uses shellfish, octopus, tuna and anchovy along with pasta and rustic cucina povera that includes flat bread, rabbit and slow roasted pork belly. With a 200-plus wine list put together by the enthusiastic and knowledgeable Israeli sommelier Gal Zohar, L’Anima is in the top rank of London’s Italian restaurants.

So there we were gathered at L’Anima tasting our way through the 6 categories of wine, two white, one rosé, and three red, which I’ve listed at the end. Some choices were more obvious than others. In the final reckoning, we were asked to argue the case for just three categories: the Italian chardonnay, southern Italian red and the amarone.

In the Italian chardonnay category, I think every team thought that both the 2005 Terre di Franciacorta, Bellavista and the 2005 Löwengang, Alois Lageder would be excellent choices. I preferred the Bellavista, given that our brief was to look for a New World equivalent, for its showy, rich chardonnay fruit, nicely oaked and lees-stirred for a sexy dry white. So we, Team 2, that’s Gal and I, argued our case for it.

We were similarly unanimous on the meursaults, plumping for the superior class of the intense, beautifully crafted and full-flavoured 2006 Meursault “Cuvee Charles Maxime”, Domaine Latour-Giraud, as against a perfectly decent but rather simple 2006 Meursault “Vieilles Vignes” , Nicolas Potel, and a disappointing, probably slightly corked, 2003 Meursault, Matrot.

The aim with the rosés was to find a wine by the glass, and despite (or was it because?) Francesco entering the room at this point and muttering something about us having to choose a Calabrian wine, ‘or else’, the 2008 Ciro, Santa Venere from Calabria was a clear winner for its extra freshness over the other two.

So far so much agreement – until we go to the three idiosyncratic, typically rustic southern Italian reds. Each of the three teams chose a different red, my team (L’Anima’s sommelier Gal Zohar and I) plumping for the first red, the 2007 Pallagrello Nero, Alois, from Campania. We liked its sweet damsony fruit and minerality and felt it would do a great job with pasta and risotto, finding the 2007 Fiore dell’isca Piedirosso, a casa,just too oaky and confected and the 2005 Ciro (Gaglioppo) Riserva, Duca Sanfelice, feral and slightly bitter on the finish.

The barbaresco category threw up some interesting wines. I liked the oaky modernism of the nicely evolved 2001 Barbaresco “Nubiola”, Pelissero, but agreed with Gal that for nearly £20 less on the list, the lighter, elegant 2005 Barbaresco, Giacosa Fratelli might be a more accessible choice.

Finally onto the amarones, where we preferred the 2004 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico, Nicolis, for its relative freshness and versatility, an amarone capable of matching meat or cheese. Others went for the 2008 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico, Ca’ Pitti, but there was an offputting touch of past-its-sell-by-date oxidation.

After the final reckoning, Rob McIntosh recorded our thoughts on a short video. These are ours (team 2):
You can also view Gal’s impressions of the tasting at

And the winners were? Not Team 2 I’m sorry to say, but Team 3, Dan and Denise. So well done to them. Meanwhile the winner of the L’Anima prize picked by Gal receives a a personal tour of l’Anima and who knows a taste of some of the wines and Francesco’s superb cooking. Was it all a gimmick, a publicity stunt by Bibendum in cahoots with L’Anima? Up to a point perhaps, but it was also fun, and the excellent feedback clearly indicated that this is a process whose time has come.

The Teams

1. Jamie Goode (@jamiegoode) & Douglas Blyde (@douglas_blyde)
2. Anthony Rose (@antrose33) and Gal Zohar (@zoharwine)
3. Dan Coward (@bibendumwine) and Denise Medrano (@thewinesleuth).
The organizer: Rob McIntosh (@thirstforwine)

The wines
1. Amarone della Valpolicella Classico, Ca’ Pitti, 98
2. Amarone della Valpolicella Classico “Ambrosan”, Nicolis, 03
3. Amarone della Valpolicella Classico, Nicolis 04
1. Meursault, Matrot, 03
2. Meursault “Vieilles Vignes” , Nicolas Potel. 06
3. Meursault “Cuvee Charles Maxime”, Domaine Latour-Giraud, 06
Italian Chardonnay
1. Terre di Franciacorta, Bellavista, 05 (Lombardia)
2. I Sistri, Felssina, 07 (Toscana)
3. Lowengang, Alois Lageder (Alto Adige)
Southern Italian indigenous grape variety
1. Pallagrello Nero, Alois 07 (Campania)
2. Fiore dell’isca Piedirosso, a casa, 07 (Campania)
3. Ciro (Gaglioppo) Riserva, Duca Sanfelice 05 (Calabria)
Barolo/Barbaresco by the glass
1. Barbaresco “Nubiola”, Pelissero 01
2. Barbaresco, Giacosa Fratelli 05
3. Barolo “Le Cinque Vigne”, Damilano 02
Southern Italian rose by the glass
1. Ciro, Santa Venere 08 (Calabria)
2. Ciro, Librandi 08 (Calabria)
3. Niederra, Contini 07 (Sardegna)

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