Wednesday Wines – Episode 84 – Launching Today, The Gordon Ramsay Italian Collection

Episode 84 – 3rd November 2021

Launching Today Nationwide

The Gordon Ramsay Italian Collection 

It’s odd to be writing tasting notes about a person who called you the strongest of all insults in front of one of the largest audiences I have ever been invited to speak in front of.  Gordon and I were co-hosts at a huge dinner at the 2004 BBC Birmingham Book Fair.  We were both rustling up interest for our respective new books attempting to get onto the bestseller list.  Gordon ‘cooked’ the food, and I selected the wines for each dish on his menu from my annual wine book, ‘The Wine List, The Top 250 Wines of the Year’.  The expletive came about when I matched an English sparkling wine with his starter, “Only a **** would serve an English wine with my food.  I wouldn’t even cook with the stuff!”  Haha.  OK, this was nearly twenty years ago, and English wine was only starting to make a few small ripples in the international wine ocean, but it was an explosive introduction to a man who has found fame as a rather sweary chef.

As a side note – here is the wine that I selected and also my original tasting note from 2004.

NV Chapel Down Century Extra Dry, England £9.99 The ‘straight NV’ Chapel Down (£7.99) is one of my favourite sparklers for large parties.  This special ‘Century Extra Dry’ cuvée is a completely different kettle of fish.  This is a bottle for true sparkling wine devotees.  The palate is linear, with an excellent, lifted, attack on the nose and a long, lingering, palate-cleansing finish.  Lime, gooseberry and elderflower jostle for position on the palate, with elegant patisserie sauntering around in the background.  At a tenner, this is sublime fizz. 

Needless to say, Gordon did not deter me from dining in most of his restaurants in the UK and recording these outings as some of the finest gastro-experiences I have enjoyed.  It might have also spurred on the English wine scene, and you only have to look around to see how much success these wines enjoy and the coverage that I and others give these wines today (please see my Vineyard Magazine articles on this website).

Therefore, it is understandable that when Gordon hitched his wagon to the celebrity wine train, he gave England a wide berth.  While many celebrity wines lack conviction and also great taste, I am pleased to say that Gordon’s trio is a triumph – the depth and complexity of flavour, in particular, are incredible, at this price.  It is interesting to note my language when I made tasting notes about this trio of wines because they all seem to include oblique references to Gordon’s compelling, if rather challenging at times, personality!  So here are three honest assessments of his white, rosé and red, which the genius winemaking talents of Alberto Antonini has put together for Gordon to showcase his own vinous predilections.

Alberto Antonini is a world-famous winemaker and consultant and his partnership with Gordon is invaluable in making these three wines so successful.  It is clear to see that the cross-regional blending between Abruzzo and Tuscany and the array of grape varieties used mirrors the kind of skills needed by a chef to layer flavour in a dish.  This desire to engender sophistication and detail in these three wines that tip the scales at only a tenner has been achieved in style.

2020 Gordon Ramsay, Vibrante Bianco, Italy (£10.00, reduced to £8.00 with a Clubcard, Tesco; £10.00, www.winedelivered.co.uk).

Facts – 12.5% alc.; 40% Chardonnay, 20% Trebbiano and 15% Pecorino (from Abruzzo) & 25% Vermentino (from Tuscany); 15% went through malolactic fermentation.

It is possible to pick out the characteristics of each of the four grapes used in this stunning white wine.  Chardonnay brings depth and succulence, Trebbiano sports freshness and bright floral notes, Pecorino adds edge and wilder fruit notes and Vermentino, brings stern acidity, tension and control to the whole.  This wine has a flavour like no other, and it ticks the gastro-box perfectly with its perfume, grace, depth and mineral-tinged finish.

2020 Gordon Ramsay, Elegante Rosato, Italy (£10.00, reduced to £8.00 with a Clubcard, Tesco; £10.00, www.winedelivered.co.uk).

Facts – 13.5% alc.; 50% Montepulciano and 15% Merlot (from Abruzzo) & 20% Sangiovese and 15% Merlot (from Tuscany); After fermentation, the wine was kept on the fine lees for 2-3 months to add texture and complexity, and 15% went through malolactic fermentation.

Italian rosés can be split into two camps – wines which wish they had been left alone to achieve full red status and those which are so confected and forgettable you wish you hadn’t wasted your time.  Elegante is neither.  Long and spicy and definitely more macho than Provence pink, this is, not surprisingly a foodier proposition than many, and it suits it down to the ground (literally!).  Two sources of Merlot are bolstered by wild-fruited Montepulciano and given some class and length with a dash of Sangiovese.  This is an all-year-round rosato, and it goes with a vast array of international dishes, too.

2020 Gordon Ramsay, Intenso Rosso, Italy (£10.00, reduced to £8.00 with a Clubcard, Tesco; £10.00, www.winedelivered.co.uk).

Facts – 14% alc.; 50% Sangiovese (from Tuscany) & 30% Montepulciano and 20% Merlot (from Abruzzo); 20% spent 9-12 months in 5 year old large oak casks.

If the red wine in this collection doesn’t work, this trio falls to the ground and with a name like Intenso, it had better live up to its billing.  Of course, Alberto could never lend his skills to a wine that fell short of the mark, and I can confirm that ‘Intenso’ is but one of the qualities you will find when you unscrew the lid on this bottle!  This is not a heavy wine, but it certainly is mouth-filling and long, and this is precisely what you want.  Heavy wines move slowly and tire the palate.  This cunning blend skips along parading dark fruit, lashing of wild herbs and spices and also enough tension and crisp acidity to keep it from slumping on the back of the palate.  It is not like me, but I sped through a few glasses of Intenso without missing a beat and found more and more to enjoy as it opened up over time.  Coffee bean notes, liquorice, black cherries and faint smoky tones swirl in the glass, and I cannot think of another £10 (or £8 with your Clubcard!) Italian red wine, which does all of this for the money.  

It has been a long time coming, but welcome to the wine world, Gordon you old ‘bleep’.