Competition – Laura Michelon

Born and raised in Venice, Laura Michelon writes: 'I lived in Milan, Shanghai and Beijing before settling in London where I work in fine wine marketing at Goedhuis and Co. I have Master’s degrees in Chinese Studies and Communications. Passionate about minimal intervention wine making, I particularly enjoy the wines of Northern Italy, Burgundy and the Rhône valley. Her unedited entry in our seminal wine competition is below. 

At that time exams at university were like water in the canals, flowing interminably, and I was in full swing. I was dividing my time between uni on Venice island and the Cavallino peninsula, where I had joined the over 100 employees of Marina di Venezia, the biggest camping village in Europe (hosting up to 12,000 people at a time!).

With an epic summer ahead (forecasting full capacity for the whole season) the visionary General Manager invited us all to venture to the Grand Canal on a team boat trip in order to get us going forward in great spirits!

The evening boasted a selection of cichetti (Venetian tapas, small dishes with intoxicating flavours) made by Italian chef, Riccardo de Pra of Dolada restaurant, once resident in London’s eponymous Mayfair site (now sadly closed).

Food apart, wine was the most enticing thing, poured by proprietor Mauro Lorenzon of the legendary Mascareta wine bar. I say legendary because most of the people in the Italian wine world have met him or know of him. Bow tie, two different colours of the same shoes, and an inimitable oenological pedigree (that doesn’t diminish even when you see him drinking from his shoe!).

I remember that I was worried about drinking alcohol, because I had an exam at university the next day, but at the same time I was curious to try what he had brought us. After Mauro poured a glass, my doubts disappeared suddenly as I was captured by the wine’s intense colour. I knew instantly that I wanted to try it. The glass in question was Angiolino Maule’s Pico (I don’t recall the vintage). A pure Garganega varietal, a white wine made like a red, with extended skin contact giving it an orange hue.

I knew the grape very well, a common one in my region, but this was like tasting it for the first time. The wine was vivid and vibrant, changing in the glass like it was alive. It had a soft layered texture and an unexpected complexity from a white wine. Surprising and revelatory!

The next day my exam was a success (30/30) and the wine was light in my belly and did not make my head heavy. Not long after that evening I found myself exploring this way of making white wines as we now call amber or orange wines, from all over the world. Skin contact white wines almost became my love obsession for a time, culminating with a documented story. In 2015 through the camera’s eye of my partner, I turned what I learned into a film — Skin Contact: Development of An Orange Taste . The first short documentary ever made on this subject featuring the pioneer Josko Gravner and of course Pico’s creator Angiolino Maule himself.

Life is now full of wine moments, but ones which truly beguile are certainly rare.

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