THE PAST few weeks have been inexplicably active. And no, this is not another “Yo’ demonetisation so crazy that…” sort of a piece. Far from the world of money-shoved-up-drainpipes and thus—ironically enough, now in serious need of launder—us mortals have been having a blissful existence with some sweet sips and mind-altering, well, let’s just say, experiences.
Brancaia is a top Italian house from Tuscany. They make some fabulous wines, but they aren’t too stuck up about it. Federico Trost recently came down to India to present an expansive (also expensive) range that is his portfolio, which included not just current releases, but also some vintages, dating back to a decade and much more. And he did this all in a toned-down laidback setting of a standalone bar, with some lovely antipasti, minus a suit and a tie. If this is the Italian way to play down the stuffiness that is innately associated with wine, I’m all for it.
Now, any tasting of Super Tuscans is a magnificent experience by any stretch, but to be able to compare it to older vintages to better understand how they evolve on keeping is a rare privilege. It allows us to enjoy a wine young and old, like pressing the fast-forward button on it and doing a bit of time-travel all from the comfort of an armchair.
The thing about Super Tuscans is that most of them impress when young, but few manage to keep up that level of richness and translate it into complexity as they age—much like the millennials. But the few that do, become stars in their own right, the kind that change definitions for the future. Again, very millennial-like.
They make two super tuscans, the Ilatraia and the Il Blu. The former is more typical of a Bordeaux blend, whereas the latter is 50% Sangiovese with Bordeaux varieties. Il Blu gets slightly more barrel ageing, as also a higher percentage of new barrels, but in both cases, the oak is not the focus; it’s the fruit. In their youth, however, it is the oak that dominates, which is why it was so special to be able to taste some of these wines dating back to, let’s just say, the years when even I needed to produce valid ID to order drinks at a bar.
And then they have a baby Super-Tuscan, if I may allow myself the (poetic) licence to nominate it so. Tre is the third wine by the house, made of three grapes coming from three vineyards, so that’s three reasons to call it three. It is lighter, less pronounced and a lot more accessible in its youth (and on the pocket), so it is always an instant favourite. This range also has a white and a rosé, which may soon grace India, white being first.
Soon after, I was whisked off by Jameson to Magnetic Fields, a three-day music fest for the disturbingly privileged and bored, who gather here to act like the paupers they aren’t, bobbing to music that most of them don’t get, all as an excuse to stress their freedom. And that’s my good take on it. But for those who are not tripping on anything more potent than a Jameson Irish coffee, the fest impressed me with the artists they had lined up and the seamless set-up to ensure that nobody went without food or drink at any time, and also the occasional roof over your head when you needed it.
Whisky or whiskey, an underground electronic music fest is a brave way to reach out to people. And Jameson did it with such effortlessness that I see it as the new whiskey for the young. Most Irish whiskey sits somewhere between Scotch’s smokiness and Bourbon’s sweetness, so it can be a great way to get acquainted with the category. And a three-day trip where the average crowd was the kind who would need to produce valid ID to get drinks, it was a great place to be seen at. I had it with ginger ale and soda, half ‘n half, and it was a pleasant easy spritzer that I could endure with till the last act of the evening had played to fade.
Two very diverse experiences, both with traditional products that chose to try something offbeat. If this is the future, sign me up.
The writer is a sommelier