Houston Sommelier Association Hosts Iconic Brunello Producer Alessandro Bindocci
Over the course of one and a half hours, Bindocci, together with Roberts, Keck and McDonald, led a spirited seminar that covered the Brunello controversy of 2008 (when Italian authorities indicted and convicted more than a handful of Brunello producers for adulterating their wines with the addition of grapes other than Sangiovese; the Tenuta Il Poggione was not among them); the current debate within the Brunello consortium on the creation of official "sub-zones" within the appellation, to be based on macroclimate and soil type; and the effects of climate change on the vineyards' vegetative cycle and the nature of the wines they produce.
Photo by Jeremy Parzen. Bindocci poured a "vertical flight" of three vintages of his family's Brunello di Montalcino, including the legendary 1985. "It's still very young," he observed, noting the longevity of the wine and pointing out humorously that he was 3 years old when it was harvested.
"Do you see direct impact from climate change?" asked one of the attendees.
"Definitely, yes," answered Bindocci, who noted that the harvest now comes much earlier than it did when his father, Fabrizio, became the estate's chief winemaker, in the late 1970s.
Despite the challenges of generally warmer temperatures, he said, they are able to maintain the acidity-driven style of their "traditionalist" Brunello thanks to the high elevation of their vineyards (keeping them cooler) and their age. The older vines have deeper roots, he explained, and thus are able to find the water table even in times of "hydric stress."
The high level of dialogue and the caliber of the guest speakers, remarked one of the Houston-based wine writers in attendance, underscore the Houston Sommelier Association's commitment to wine education for local restaurant professionals.
"This is just another example," he said, "of how Houston is rapidly becoming an epicenter for fine wine in the U.S. today."