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Selezione Internazionale Vini di Pesce: Nothing Fishy about it

Posted: Tuesday, 21 May 2013 17:20

Selezione Internazionale Vini di Pesce: Nothing Fishy about it

May 21: Selezione Internazionale Vini da Pesce-International Competition of Wines for Fish, is a young international wine competition dedicated to wines suitable for fish and sea food, organised in the Marche region known for excellent fresh fish and sea cuisine, writes Subhash Arora who was invited as an international judge and feels it is a well-oiled, proficiently run boutique competition, quite relevant for wine and sea-food lovers

Click For Large ViewWhen I was invited to be a judge for the second edition of Selezione Internazionale Vini di Pesce, the international wine competition organised by IMT-Istituto Marchigiano di Tutela Vini by its Director Alberto Mazzoni, who is considered a unifying force in the otherwise divisive Marche region with a majority of producers brought under one umbrella thanks to his efforts, I was slightly fuzzy about the competition. Was it a competition where wines would be paired with fish, like in the Hong Kong International Wine and Spirit Challenge where I have been invited since its’ inception and even had them include chicken tikka last year in the food and wine tasting segment where food is actually tasted with wines? Would we be sitting on the beach with bottles of wines served blind with fish and decide which wines impress the best with food?

The moment I stepped inside the tasting room created by the organizers in one of the conference rooms of the beautiful Hotel Monteconero on the first day of the 3-day competition held on May 15-17, I had the feeling of déjà vu. Sure enough, after the brief introduction by Mazzoni, a man starting the wine tasting ritual said ‘Sommelier’ and 5 sommeliers walked in a file, stopping in front of each of the 5 commissions (as the jury panels are called here). When he said ‘Prego!’ they poured wines in a synchronized fashion to the 7 judges sitting in a row with about 13 tasting glasses placed meticulously in a line in front on the table. After pouring the wines in unison, they walked back and stood facing the judges, vividly displaying the bottle number. As he said ‘Prego’ again and they walked out, I realized it was a competition clothed in a Vinitaly suit. The style and the precision of the service reminded me of the experience I have had at Vinitaly

Giuseppe Martelli, who is considered a star, celebrity and at times an autocrat in the wine circles of Italy, has chaired the Vinitaly Concorso with great dexterity and influence for years, as the President of Assoenologi, the Italian Association of Enologists and Wine Technicians that was conducting the competition, through his deputy, Giacomo Moretti. Under the rules, up to 50 wines are tasted every day and scored on a scale of 100, according to the scoring sheets provided by them. The two extreme scores are discarded for every wine. No talking is allowed in the exam-like atmosphere. Each taster gets enough time to focus on the glass in front. Each panel of seven had 4 enologists, at least one of them being a foreigner, selected by Assoenologi. The other three were journalists and wine experts selected by the Association-Istituto Marchigiano di Tutela Vini- in such a way that the majority of judges are foreigners.

Click For Large ViewEach judge tasted about a fifth of the 543 wines submitted by Albania, Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Slovenia, and Ukraine in 10 categories. The top three wines in each category are awarded a Gold, Silver and Bronze while those getting over 80 points get a Diploma of Merit. There is the big trophy given to only one winery receiving most points.

Complete anonymity was assured under the strict supervision of an independent legal body. The only information given to the taster is that of the Category, vintage and style; for instance if there is oak, or if sparkling whether it is made with Charmat or Classic Method. Similarly, it is known if it is an igt wine or a dop wine. Name of the country, region or the grape are not disclosed to the taster.

The scoring was kept independent with a local Advocate, Gabriele Marasca and his team sworn to secrecy on not only the sample identity but also for calculations to be made and  averaging the results for each wine by discarding the top and bottom scores of each of the panels.

Calice Darico Award

The ‘Calice Darico’ Award based on the total scored by three of the best wines submitted by a company and scoring a minimum of 82 points according to the rules of the competition, was awarded to a Puglia winery- Castello Monaci of Salice Salentino and was based on the awards won by their SALENTO IGT CHARDONNAY "SIMERA" 2012, SALENTO IGT CHARDONNAY "CHARA'" 2012 and SALENTO IGT NEGROAMARO ROSATO 2012- two whites and a rose.

Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi is an excellent wine for fish. But not the only one! There are several other international grapes like Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Bianco and Riesling etc. also that continued to impress - at least the wine experts. Of course there are several indigenous varieties of Marche - like Passerina and Pecorino that found favourites with the palates of the judges, not to mention other Italian indigenous varieties like Falanghina, Arneis, and Trebbiano. The exotic sounding Gruenberg Veltliner (from Austria), Gewürztraminer and Mueller Thurgau also would make good matches with fish, according to the results. 

Click For Large ViewAnd wines with the fish? Although there was nothing ‘fishy’ served with wines one tasted blind in ‘Vine da Pesce’, there were plenty of opportunities for tasting wines with fish and other seafood at the restaurant of the Hotel Monteconero where the competition is held, and in the beach restaurants. The Marche we experienced can stand up to any fish and sea-food destination in the world - the Hotel Monteconero adds to the experience because of its superb location offering a beautiful panorama when it is not raining. The quality of the fresh sea-food and the natural pairing with Verdicchio Castelli di Jesi, Passerina and Pecorino would make you salivate, if not the wines alone that we tasted at Selezione Vini da Pesce. A true paradise for lovers of wine, seafood, beaches and mountains-all existing together!

It would be interesting to see how the Indian Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc would fare against the 543 wines submitted-not forgetting the Brut and Rose Brut from a couple of producers like Sula and Grover Zampa. Rosé from Sula, Fratelli and Big Banyan etc. could also be interesting wines that could be pitted in the international arena of wines for fish.

For detailed results, visit

Subhash Arora

Tags: Marche, Selezione Internazionale Vini di Pesce, Hong Kong International Wine and Spirit Challenge, Hotel Monteconero, Vinitaly, Italian Association of Enologists and Wine Technicians, Assoenologi, Calice Darico


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