Sunday, January 3, 2010

Italy's Icons and Rising New Stars

On a cold and blustery January Saturday, Italian Wine Merchants hosted a tasting series called Italy’s Icons and Rising Stars, which I attended with both old and new friends. It began as a low-key and reserved afternoon that quickly turned boisterous—complete with exploding glasses, spurting wine and contagious laughter.

Bruno Giacosa Spumante Brut 2004 DOC
Varietal: Pinot Noir
Region: Lombardia

Bruno Giacosa, known more for his Barolo and Barbaresco in the Piedmont region makes this Spumante Brut in the neighboring Lombardy region. Made from 100% Pinot Noir in the traditional Champagne style, fermented in stainless steel followed by secondary fermentation in bottle and hand riddling, the wine ages on the lees for a period of 24 to 30 months prior to release.

Loaded with ripe fruits, showing a dry minerality, citrus notes, a hint of fresh bread and heady floral aromas.

Giuseppe Quintarelli Bianco Secco Ca' del Merlo 2007 IGT
Varietal: Garganega Blend
Region: Veneto

Here we see Quintarelli, a master of wine known for his Valpolicella, Recioto and Amarone, delving into a Bianco Secco, an interesting blend of Garganega, Trebbiano Toscano, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Saorin (the last of which, meaning "flavor" in Veronese dialect, and believed to be a clone of the Tocai grape).

Crisp and full flavors abundant with fresh aromatics of green apple, lemon rind, lychee, honey and minerals, and finishing long and smooth.

Bodega Chacra Pinot Noir Rio Negro Barda 2007
Varietal: Pinot Noir
Region: Patagonia, Argentina

Piero Incisa della Rocchetta hails from one of the great Italian wine families -- the Rocchetta family is responsible for the planting of Sassacaia, and with the release of their first vintage in 1968, was able to convince the wine world of the high quality of Italian wines. In 2004, Piero purchased a vineyard in Patagonia Argentina which is now Bodega Chacra in order to produce Pinot Noir.

Hand destemmed, macerated in cement tanks, then in oak barrels for 11 months, this is a fruit forward, dense and well structured Pinot with aromas of tar, oak and smoke, textured with earthy flavors and a mineral character.

Punica Montessu 2007
Varietal: Carignan Blend
Region: Sardegna

From Giacomo Tachis of Sassicaia fame comes this Super-Sardegnian blend of 60% Carignano, with 10% each of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Syrah. Fermented in cement vats, aged in French oak barriques for 18 months and finally 12 months in bottle.

This was one of my favorites of the tasting and seems to me like a great value at $32 per bottle. A nose of violets, herbs and white pepper, and a ripe profile of plums, blueberries and even a little peach.

Talenti Rosso di Montalcino 2007
Varietal: Sangiovese
Region: Toscana

Made from grapes harvested from younger Brunello vines, this wine matures in oak barriques for two years and in bottle for one. Aromas of red ripe cherries and animal, with flavors bringing to mind Port wine, plums and cherries.

Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2004
Varietal: Sangiovese Grosso
Region: Toscana

Aged in French oak barrels for 3 years before aging in bottle for 12 months. Tar, smoke, oak, chalk, cola, leather and plums, all come together to form a fine classic Brunello.

The good company: David, Sarena, Alicia, Kathy, Robin & Allen.

(Stay tuned... Two more wines to come from this tasting, and more pix.)

Bartolo Mascarello Barbera d'Alba 2007 DOC
Varietal: Barbera d'Alba
Region: Piemonte

Deep ruby colors with complex aromas and palate of ripe cherries, chocolate, violet candies, herbs, coffee, smoked meats.

A&GN Fantino Barolo 'Vigna dei Dardi' Nebbiolo Piemonte 1995
Varietal: Nebbiolo
Region: Piemonte

Aged 12 months in stainless steel followed by 12 moths in bottle, ripe black cherries, with a spicy edge and smooth texture.

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