Our first lesson in Italy!
Italy is one of the most exciting and complex countries for wine. The nation cultivates about 1000 different types of Vitis vinifera and has more than 300 different quality regions, each with its own traditions, rules and styles. The four pillars of great Italian wine are Super Tuscan, Brunello di Montalcino, Barolo and Amarone.
Wines for this lesson include: a Pinot Grigio from Friuli or Alto Adige, a white Piedmont–Gavi or Arneis, a Barbera d’Asti or Barbera d’Alba, a Barolo, Barbaresco, or Langhe Nebbiolo, a Soave and an Amarone.
We were very excited about this lesson. Not just for the wines but also for the food. We prepared a traditional Italian antipasto platter, a vegan antipasto platter, a few other antipasto style side dishes and a plate of honey-drizzled Parmesan cubes prepared especially for the Amarone.
Before the food and before the wine, we trained our noses again.
Six new scents,
set out to sniff
and confound our senses.
After sniffing, snuffing and cursing ourselves for guessing wrong, we went on to the wines. The wines for tonight are:
2006 Boroli Anna, Langhe Rosso 41% Nebbiolo, 23% Barbera, 27% Merlot ($16.49). The most noticeable smell for me on this one was raspberry (one of our nose training scents but not one of the scents mentioned as being in the wine however). Strong tannins, high acid, light bodied and did not dry out the tongue.
2007 Ruvei, Barbera d’Alba 85% Barbera, 15% Nebbiola ($19.99). Hints of cherry and vanilla, high acid, strong tannins but softer than the Boroli, medium body, smooth in the mouth, seems like it has undergone malolactic fermentation.
2009 Principessa Gavia, Gavi 100% Gavi DOCG ($13.99). Hard to sniff this one out – yeast? green apple? citrus? Crisp, light body – almost watery it was so wet feeling, smooth in the mouth. Hint of soap? That can’t be right.
2009 Bolla, Soave 90% Garanega, 10% Trebbiano di Soave ($10.77). Again, tricky sniffing. Supposed to smell citrus, apples, almond. I think I could smell yeast and green apples. Medium acidity, better colder than after sitting, smooth body, quick finish.
2009 Candoni, Pinot Grigio 100% Pinto Grigio ($9.99). The bargain bin bottle of the night is not always a bargain. Hints of leather, high acid, medium body, tart finish. Perhaps good for summer?
2006 Bolla, Amarone 70% Corvina, 30% Rondinella ($39.99). Knowing that this wine is made from partially dehydrated grapes made us all think that this would be a sweet, dessert style wine. But it wasn’t. This was the most intense wine I’ve ever tasted. Scents of mineral, cherry, herbs. Very dry, with strong tannins and high alcohol. Full body, dense, chocolaty. And to top it off, we ate our honeyed Parmesan cubes and wow! was that good together! I was sure I would hate this wine since it is so intense and drying. But no, I think it was the best wine of the night.
Next time, Southern Italy. Cheers!