Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A Taste of International Varietals at Italian Wine Merchants

Most of the wines I talk about in this blog don't go for more that $20, But last weekend I treated myself to a tasting at Italian Wine Merchants (Founded by Sergio Esposito, Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich) and sampled six wines from various regions in Italy. As a tasting room it really is a near perfect space, both functional and cozy. Naturally the wine that most impressed me was the Sassicaia, but some of the other wines from various regions of Italy were really diverse. And for $50 I got to sample 6 excellent wines, so in my book it's a great deal.

The orientation was given by IWM Sales Manager, Augusto Cardona who gave a brief history of IWM and it's philosophy. He then went thru the wines one by one extolling their virtues, and was really helpful with any questions we had. Next, we dove right in...

• Bruno Giacosa 2003 2003 Spumante Brut (Lombardia-Pinot Nero)

This 100% Pinot Nero is a sparkling wine with almost clear golden color, a bouquet of sour apples, yeast and fruit. The grapes are grown in a soil rich in limestone giving this Brut its singular character and dry, lively edge.

• Castel Sallegg 2004 Traminer Aromatico (Alto Adige-Traminer Aromatico)

This is a Gewurztraminer, Alto Adige's signature grape, which Augosto says, may have originated that region. The wine has a light golden color, aromas of melon, apples, peaches and roses accenting a palate of citrus, more specifically grapefruit.

• La Castellada 2002 Sauvignon (Friuli-Sauvignon Blanc)
To come...

• Rocche Dei Manzoni 2001 Pinonero Damino (Piemonte-Pinot Nero)

To come...

• Movia 2000 Veliko Rosso (Friuli-Cabernet Sauvignon. Merlot, Pinot Nero)

This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Nero is from the Friuli/Slovenian border and is stored in Slovenian oak casks for three to seven years. Appearance is berry red with an earthy leather aroma, medium body and notes on the palate of black cherry jam and hint of mushrooms.

• Tenuta San Guido 2004 Sassicaia (Toscana-Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc)

This is from the house that started it all... the Supertucan movement that is.
The regard for this wine is such that it was accorded a DOC status by the classification system that shunned its initial efforts--a first for an Italian wine. IWM
Deep ruby red colors this complex wine with an opacity that makes it look unfiltered, while the nose is intense (but not overpowering) with waves of luscious fruit and balanced tannins. Amazing.

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