Monday, September 12, 2011

Platinum Italian Wine Tasting

I was treated to a tour de force (apologies to a certain Monktown lawyer) of high end Italian wines last Thursday, Sept 8. The wines were graciously donated by Chris Tridle, Import Regional Manager of Winebow and Jeff Miller, Jr., Sales Division Manager at Glazer's Wholesale.

The first wine of the evening was an "unofficial" pour that Chris and Jeff had left over from the day's sales calls. The 2010 Botromagno Poggio al Bosco, Gravina was a beautiful blend of Malvasia and Greco that showed powerful yeasty/smoky and dry pear aromas on the nose and rich, melon flavors on the palate. Reminds me of a really nice domestic Pinot Gris. Price unknown.

After the so-called "bonus pour" was finished off we moved on to the 2009 Zenato Lugana, San Benedetto DOC. Crisp and clean, this straw-colored wine was packed full of peachy orchard fruit on the nose and palate with zippy acidity. 100% Trebbiano and very tasty for a mere $15. Should be quite nice as an aperitif or with lighter food.

The 2007 Prunotto Mompertone, Piedmont was the first red of the evening. This blend of 60% Barbera and 40% Syrah starts off rather grapey and primal but opens up to reveal layers of plum, violets and spice. Barrique aging comes across in the coffee aroma and flavor. Quite smooth and ready to drink now for $25.

Next up was the 2007 Poggio al Tesoro Mediterra, IGT Toscana. hailing from the Bolgheri sub-region of Tuscany, the Mediterra is warm and slightly alcoholic with sweet/tart red berries and a long, dry, tannic finish. I have to say this was probably my least favorite wine of the evening. Just seemed a little bit thin and restrained. $25.

Switching gears, we next moved to the northeast corner of Italy with the 2006 Allegrini La Grola, Veneto. A single vineyard blend of Corvina, Rondinella, Syrah and Sangiovese, this wine was among my favorites. Deep redfruit compote, hickory/campfire notes, tobacco and coffee are all present in this one. Aged 16 months in French oak. Note: Replace the Syrah and Sangiovese with Molinara and this wine would qualify under italian law to be labeled as Ripasso as it is re-fermented over the dried and pressed skins from Allegrini's Amarone. Another winner at $25.

The 2006 Castello di Bossi Berardo, Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG is one of the best Chiantis I have had in recent memory. This rich, voluptuous Sangiovese offers notes of sweet blackberry, violets and smoke. Beautifully crafted in the international style with lower acidity and moderate tannins. Very reasonably priced at $35.

Sangiovese's larger cousin is the Sangiovese Grosso clone used to make the 2004 Poggio San Polo Brunello di Montalcino DOCG. Displays the traditional brow hue (from which the term Brunello is derived) and aromas of violets and anise that one expects from Brunello di Montalcino. Also shows a lot of barnyard, hickory, mushroom and coffee. Firm acidity and big tannins suggest this one could last a long, long time in the cellar but the lack of fruit is a slight concern. About $80.

I think perhaps the most interesting, exotic wine of the evening was the 2008 Argiolas Korem, IGT Isola dei Nuraghi. Primarily made from the Bovale Sardo grape (something I have no experience with) I tasted this one with no preconceived notions. What I got was wave upon wave of raspberry, vanilla, menthol (later turns to peppermint) and herbaceous wild berries. Lean and smoky with mouthwatering acidity, I really want to try this with some braised shanks. Kudos to Argiolas for sticking with native Sardinian grape varieties. A fascinating $48.

Another grape that I am not terribly familiar with, Aglianico, served as the base for the next two wines I enjoyed. The 2006 Mastroberardino Radici, Taurasi DOCG is done unapologetically in the international style with blueberries, blackberries, maraschino cherry, flowers and tar on the nose and palate. Quite tannic, yet remarkably accessible. Aged two years in barrique. Drink now or hold. A bit pricey at $58.

The 2008 Fattori Galardi Terra di Lavoro, IGT Roccamonfina is a stunning wine with Port-like concentration. Deep purple in color with black olive, smoke, tobacco and graphite notes this was the perfect counterpoint to the fruit bomb Radici. I suspect this wine will last practically forever when cellared under the proper conditions. If I were in the market for $85 wines, I would certainly take a chance on laying down a few of these Aglianico/Piedirosso blends.

The final wine of the evening was the full-bodied 2008 Azienda Agricola Montrevetrano, IGT Colli Salerno. A blend of 60% Cabernet, 30% Merlot and 10% Aglianico, the wine is pretty typical (at least in my experience) of a Bordeaux blend from Italy. Black currant, tobacco, vanilla and licorice are all present, but there seems to be a sense of green/unripeness pervading the wine. Finish turns quite leathery and tannic. $78.

My goodness! What an amazing array of wines representing nearly every major winemaking region of Italy. I definitely want to pick up some Lugana and Allegrini La Grola and might even spring for a couple of the the Argiolas Korem. Big thanks to Chris and Jeff for their generosity with both their time and their wines!

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