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06.11.2013. Le Sirenuse
It’s obvious that Cristian Fusco likes his job. Le Sirenuse’s head sommelier swirls a glass of straw-coloured Fiano d’Avellino made by niche Campanian winemaker Guido Marsella, takes a sniff, and can’t help smiling, so pleasurable is the aroma of pear, citrus fruits, almonds and other scents of the south that stir childhood memories and excite the taste buds.
A talented wine communicator as well as a wine expert, Fusco is Positano born and bred, but his enological knowledge was honed in London, where he took the advanced course of the Wine and Spirit Education Trust and worked as sommelier at the restaurants Zafferano and Theo Randall. When the Sersale family were looking to appoint a head sommelier at Le Sirenuse, they were told about this ‘ragazzo di Positano’ who knew one end of a bottle from the other. They soon realised that he was a lucky find – an Italian sommelier at the top of his game, who just happened to come from their same little Amalfi Coast town.
At the twice-weekly tastings that he hosts for clients of the hotel, Fusco likes to point out that “nature does 80% of the work when it comes to winemaking”. He’s currently leading a group of twenty Sirenuse staff on a tour of some of Italy’s top wineries to help them understand the alchemy of winemaking, that mysterious blend of soil and climate, grape variety and terroir, that constitutes this 80% - as well as the other fifth, the work of the enologist and the fermentation and maturation processes. After visits to the Bolgheri area, where they paid a visit to legendary producer Tenuta San Guido, famous for its Bordeaux-style Sassicaia, Cristian’s group is currently in the Langhe area of Piedmont, where they are tasting the Barolos and Barbarescos of Angelo Gaja, Giacomo Conterno and other leading wineries.
In fact it’s been a busy end of season for the Sirenuse staff; last week, they were granted a papal audience in Rome with Pope Francis, a moving experience for all. And now they’re quaffing some of Italy’s most spectacular wines. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it…