On a beautiful Wednesday evening in early March, the Bottle Barn crew headed out for a “taste” of northern Italy.
At an event, hosted rather graciously by the Estates Group, we tried to make sense of a few of Italy’s many wine growing regions. We figured we’d start at the top and work our way down. The wines we were introduced to came from Alto-Adige, Friuli, Piemonte, Umbria, Veneto and Tuscany and were made up of reds, whites and one Prosecco.
What struck me was how diverse Italian wines are. In general, the whites showed amazing minerality, great acidity and were convincingly refreshing and versatile.
The reds also displayed great acidity and a beautiful balance between structure and fruit. We all agreed that the wines presented to us, for the most part, were quite “modern” in style. By that I mean they were relatively ripe and polished, not the rustic, tart, high-acid traditional Italian style.
We were introduced to interesting techniques like the ripasso and appassimento methods of the Veneto, which make use of dried grapes to “bulk-up” and “flesh-out” the wine and add a complexity not seen in other wines of the world. We compared Chianti Classico with Super Tuscan and learned that drinking wines made from the grape Sagrantino can be quite good for the heart, but tough on the palate!
In general, we loved the wines presented to us that evening. Vino Italiano http://www.joebastianich.com/books.html is a great source of information if you want to learn more about Italian wine regions, so I will leave it to Joe for all the juicy details, but what I can offer is a quick summary of a few of our favorite wines from that great Wednesday evening in early March.
2010 Ceretto Blange’ Langhe Arneis DOC $14.49
This is a fantastic example of one of my favorite white wine varietals, arneis. Crisp and refreshing with just a touch of effervescence. Bright, fresh pear and apple flavors. Versatile white, which would be perfect with seafood dishes, as an aperitif served with prosciutto and cheeses, or as a palate cleanser between courses. The possibilities are endless.
2008 Allegrini Pallazo Della Torre Veronese IGT $19.49
90 Points and a Wine Spectator Top 100 in 2011. Allegrini’s Palazzo Della Torre is a stunning wine for the price. A great example of what dried grapes can add to a wines overall character. Sometimes referred to as “Baby Amarone”, this wine is deep and luscious with flavors of blackberry and other dark fruits. Great texture and balance.
2008 Volpaia Chianti Classico DOCG $14.99
90% Sangiovese, 10% Merlot and Syrah. One of the best selling Chianti Classico’s in the store. Bright red fruits dominated by cherries. Good texture and modern enough in style without losing sight that it is from Chianti. This wine is Certified Organic.
2008 Tenuta Di Castiglioni Toscana IGT $19.49
Would we have guessed that this blend of 50%Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 10% Sangiovese was from Italy? Probably not! As our wine buyer Ben pointed out, “This is a Napa Valley Cab blend with better acidity.” Rich and elegant, with red-fruits and blackberry, vanilla, cocoa and baking spices. Very smooth texture and a lengthy finish. One of the most popular wines of the night!
Michele Chiarlo ‘Reyna’ Barbaresco DOCG $32.49
Made from 100% Nebbiolo from one of the world’s great wine growing regions. Garnet in color with hints of orange. The bouquet is full of cherries and violets. A great velvety, full-bodied wine with interesting flavors reminiscent of the nose; cherries and violets and a long finish. A fantastic introduction to the “Queen” of Italy’s wines at a very reasonable price.