WineHandpicked by IWSC

Master Sommelier Nicolas Clerc’s top wines from France and Italy

Following on from the IWSC’s latest round of blind tastings, judge Nicolas Clerc MS shares the 10 wines he most enjoyed from France and Italy

Words by Vahan Agulian and IWSC Judges

nicolas clerc ms barolo
Handpicked by IWSC

Nicolas Clerc has been a Master Sommelier since 2010, and before his current role as brand manager for fine wine merchant Armit Wines, he worked for 14 years as an award-winning restaurant sommelier in the UK and his native France. His expertise has even earned him a prestigious place on the board of the Court of Master Sommeliers Europe.

As a judge at the IWSC 2021, Clerc helped with decision-making during tastings of French and Italian wines. Although the wines were judged blind, Clerc has now seen how each one was scored.

‘It was not a real surprise to see Barolo from 2016 having such a collection of Golds. This was one of the more balanced and classy vintages of the past few decades,’ said Clerc. ‘Across the range, and from multiple price points, the results are a demonstration of the quality of that vintage.’

Nicolas Clerc MS holding Barolo bottle at IWSC judging
Nicolas Clerc MS was impressed by Barolos from the 2016 vintage, like this gold-winning Lagarbiana Barolo

Clerc’s highest-scoring wine from the tastings was GD Vajra Lagarbiana Barolo 2016, which he praised for showing endless layers of flavour and finesse. ‘Fine red fruits and vanilla, an earthy, mineral palate with hints of dried leaves, baked cherries and lovely spice were expressed in harmonious balance,’ said Clerc in his tasting notes. According to Clerc, there’s value to be had in Barolo, too, with Lidl’s 2016 Barolo impressing with its red cherries, cinnamon, sweet spice and stony minerality.

Clerc also mentioned his joy in seeing a Picpoul de Pinet from Les Costières de Pomerols, Mas Puech 2020 and a Vermentino di Gallura from Sella & Mosca, Monteoro 2019 both receiving medals. ‘Both wines showcased an extra dimension of minerality and salinity not often found in those appellations.’ From his tasting notes, we can tell that the Picpoul went down especially well: ‘An intense scent of the sea, subtle hints of jasmine on the sea breeze, with a wild fennel and passion-fruit finish.’

Read on to see Nicolas Clerc MS’s top 10 French and Italian wines for the IWSC 2021.