Italian Wine Tasting, In Vino Veritas
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Give January the boot and dive into our Italian wine tasting event on February 7th
Tenuta Santa Maria, Soave, Lepiga (Veneto, Italy) $15 retail bottle
This region centered around Verona has been making wine for well over 2,000 years, renown back in the days of the Roman Empire. This prestigious wine estate was founded by Gaetano Bertani and is actually where Amarone was first created back in 1934. The Bertani family sold their business and name about fifteen years ago but retained the family estate and original winery. Americans love easy drinking and inexpensive Pinot Grigio, but roughly 80% of what is grown there gets exported to us while Italians from the Veneto and the northeastern regions drink crisp, fuller-bodied whites like this Soave.
The grape for this wine is actually a Garganaga (a grape varietal) clone that is called Soave Lepia
The fruit is actually harvested from a single vineyard (Lepiga), which is roughly thirty years old with replanting with several new vinerows every couple years in a rotation. The grapes are picked at three different “passes” at different stages of ripeness over 3-4 weeks and getting in October. This retains the higher natural acidity coupled with more texture and fruit. The passes are fermented separately and blended later with the maturing wine left on its lees for an extended period of 90 days with daily batonnage (stirring) to provide a fuller texture. This methodology is the same that traditionally occurs with Chablis! Amazing value white to introduce to your friends and ideal for these cooler winter months and for spring.
Franco Serra, Pinot Nero (Piemonte, Italy) $10 retail bottle
Franco Serra has built a name for itself in providing fantastic value wines from the Piedmont region for over the last thirty years. The Sperone family got its start making Vermouth in a tiny wine cellar in Torino in 1911, before branching out to Puglia and back to the northeast and purchasing prime vineyards in the 1970s there outside Monferrato. 4 generations of the family have developed the company into what it is today with the winery named after the Serra region which encompasses their vineyards and for the current owners’ uncle Franco, who was instrumental in developing the modern company.
Their Pinot Noir is one of our best sellers from our Italian portfolio, both based on its unbelievable price, as with customers’ familiarity of the grape. It is 100% varietal with three weeks maceration on its skins, followed by four months in stainless steel tanks. Eschewing the use of oak barrel aging, results in a nicely perfumed light-bodied wine that scored a Best Buy with Wine Enthusiast in recent years.
Dino Illuminati, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Ilico (Abruzzo – central Italy) $15 retail bottle
This lesser-known grape variety is one of the best overall values in Italy, coming from the centrally located mountainous province that shares its name. Long thought of as a “backwoods country” (think of what the average American thinks of Appalachia),
this easy drinking red is the workhorse grape for this area and generally is unoaked and bottled within a few months. The Ilico is a single vineyard Reserva version with grapes picked later than normal in October, which spends 12 months aging in Slavonian botti (larger wooden casks that give less “oak characteristics” to the wines matured in it). It is a perennial 90+ award winning wine with nearly all of the leading wine magazines/reviewers and scored the coveted Gamerbero Rosso tre bicchieri designations for many years.
Amastuola, Negroamaro (Puglia, Italy – “the stiletto heel”) $20 retail bottle
This organic winery/inn is located on the southeastern coast (the region is called Puglia), and has vineyards within eyesight of the Mediterranean Sea. As one can imagine, it is sunny and hot here for over nine months of the year, which creates full-flavored and distinct wines made with the regional grapes grown there in Southern Italy.
This wine is made with organically certified, estate-grown Negroamaro (100% varietal). Negroamaro is an autochthonous grape from the Salento peninsula, meaning that it is originally from here and really growns nowhere else. It is known for its bright black fruit aromas and flavors (blackberry/black plum/black cherry) to go along with a background flavor of dried herbs (thyme). It is fruity, nicely tart and does not match the translation of its name in Italian (which translates to “black and bitter” – likely meant in subterfuge to keep other farmers from growing it), with the small production wine spending 12 months maturing in French oak barriques. We only got 12 cases of this wine for the year due to its limited production
Cordero San Giorgio, Moscato d’Asti, Exergia (Piemonte, Italy) $18 retail bottle
Ah Moscato… Almost everyone now thinks of it as sweet and forgetful due to the American wine market being awash with cheap versions vying for the dollars of any wine drinker with a sweet tooth (or palate). Cordero San Giorgio is the reimagining of a historic winery with a new generation of ownership moving to Oltrepo Pavese (and making some award winning, albeit pricy, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay) but whose family estates are still located in the heart of the Langhe and are fourth generation winemakers making classic Asti Spumante.
This elegant sparkler is made with the 100% hand-picked Moscato Bianco grapes, culled from higher elevation hillside vineyards with only the best grapes used. It is picked early and has a short initial soft pressing of the grapes with a very cold fermentation (below freezing by means of a glycol jacketed tank, with constant mechanical stirring to prevent it from icing up). Amazing with blue cheese and rich cheeses in general and a natural match with sweet pastries and desserts such as Rootstock’s crème brulee sampler.