Sunday, 8 November 2015

Trimani wines better

they certainly do wine better at Trimani, Rome's oldest wine merchant. Trimani Vinai a Roma was founded in 1821, its doors have been open ever since under the direction of successive members of the Trimani family. The most recent of these is a relatively young man, Giovanni Trimani very much born to the office.

Sr. Trimani himself, the latest of scions of the family dating back to 1821
Enoteca Costantini, the other serious wine shop in Rome looks more venerable with its vaults and Art Nouveau filigree but it was only founded in 1972. It may have a larger stock than Trimani (6364 wines as opposed to 3158). Its salesmen may walk the floors in uniform creating the impression of a veritable temple to wine, but Sr. Trimani has something unique and precious; an exhaustive knowledge of every single bottle in his shop. He can tell you every detail of the producer, the terroir, the grape varieties, vinification and taste. This is something we have never encountered before. He is something approaching a living treasure.

Not only all this but Sr. Trimani is one of those rare souls who would like to share his enthusiasm with you and is genuinely happy that you might have the same pleasure as he obviously does from his wines and the stories behind them. Discreet and somewhat diffident, he will spend as much time as you wish pursuing the common academic interest in wine with no discernible impulse actually to sell you anything or God forbid, steer you towards an expensive bottle. If you are lucky enough to have half an hour of his time as we were one morning soon after the shop had opened, it is as good as an entire wine course.

His staff are also very knowledgeable and seem to have been at the shop for decades. Despite signs of modernity - the marketing slogan, the contemporary prints on the wall, the excellent 'Trimani il Wine Bar' around the corner (which we visited earlier this year) and so forth, there are pleasant remnants of tradition to be found including a glass booth where a lady cashier sits and must receive your payment before your purchases are wrapped,

 the old Vino Sfuso taps behind a marble fascia, the glass winelist preserved from an earlier incarnation of the shop.

So what about the wines of Enoteca Trimani?

We first asked for a Nero Buono and were not disappointed. Sr. Trimani had more than one. We chose this less expensive one despite its 14.5% alcohol.

Next, a Malvasia Puntinata to replace the one we had previously brought back from Rome and which had 'gone off' due to poor storage and too long a passage of time. No problem, again there were others.

Next, we chose a Rossese di Dolceacqua on Sr. Trimani's recommendation (he has over 20 different Rossesi) and not least as it was low in alcohol

and then a very interesting bottle indeed from the Val d'Aosta, a Chambave Rouge made from Petit Rouge, Dolcetto and Gros Vien de Nus. There may have been others - grapes that dared not speak their names. Sr. Trimani explained that because of the DOC laws, vignerons lived in fear and trembling of any component of local varieties entering the food chain as it were. The addition of heritage varieties not permitted in the DOC could spell ruin so hence the unwillingness of many producers to specify the components. We always imagined they were just worried no one would buy the wine if they thought it contained something they had never heard of. This was an eye-opener.

In his classic 'Italian Wines' Victor Hazan waxes very lyrical about Chambave Rouge concluding that it is a deeply satisfying red, irresistibly good with Val d'Aosta specialities.

Wines we didn't buy included a wine by the famous Sardinian producer, Dettori made from Cannonau at 17.5% alcohol. Alessandro Dettori says “I do not follow the market; I make wines that please me, wine of my own local area, wines of Sennori. They are what they have to be and not what you want them to be.” Perhaps we should try this one, one day?

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