Saturday, February 21, 2009

Northern Italy Wine Tasting

I attended my first Taste DC event last night, a tasting class on Northern Italy led by Ron Brooks with Winebow Importers. Ron was very engaging and knowledgeable, and presented the wines in a down to earth, humorous style. Below is a list of the wines we tasted:

  • 2007 Cortegiara Pinot Grigio, Veneto $11.99 – A nice nose of citrus and honeysuckle followed up by a tart apples on the palate, I found this much more interesting and enjoyable than most pinot grigio. In fact, pinot grigio is never on my wine shopping list because I find it boring, but this had enough presence that I would buy this as a nice patio sipper or to accompany shellfish or other lighter style foods.
  • 2007 Zenato Lugana, Veneto $12.99 – The grape that makes up this wine is a clone of trebbiano. Again, not something I usually find very interesting but this wine had pretty, soft aromas of clover, honeysuckle and pear, and a pleasant, balanced acidity.
  • 2007 Bruno Giacosa Arneis, Piedmont $29.99 – It was with a 2002 Nebbiolo d’Alba from this producer that my love affair with wine began, so I was excited to see this on the menu. I was not disappointed. A sultry, smoky nose layered with lanolin led to a voluptuous and well-structured body and a respectable aftertaste. The price makes me somewhat ambivalent about purchasing this, as I usually limit my purchases of more expensive whites to Burgundies, but I could be tempted to make an exception here. Although Ron did mention that this is normally only available to restaurants, so it might be a moot point.
  • 2007 Tramin Gewurtztraminer, Alto Adige $23.99 – This had a gregarious nose of lavender and lychee, and a slightly viscous but well balanced mouthfeel. A fun wine and very Gewurtz, but I’m not enough of a fan of the grape to buy it. However, if you like Gewurtz this is a nice one.
  • 2007 Allegrini Valpolicella, Veneto $13.99 – This was the one wine of the night that I really didn’t enjoy, although others did. The nose was far too modern for my tastes…black fruit and vanilla vied for attention but neither was an interesting enough representation of themselves to garner mine. It just smelled artificial, like some sort of nasty jelly candy a kid would buy at the movies. The palate was way out of sync, the acidity overwhelmed the wan fruit that was lurking but too embarrassed to come out. I was amazed to find out that this didn’t see any oak. I would have pegged it for having shared time with chips or staves.
  • 2005 Allegrini Palazzo Della Torre, Veneto $21.99 – I felt that the producer redeemed itself with this rippasso, although honestly it was still a little too contrived for me. An intense and serious nose of black cherries was followed by a velvety texture. It had enough structure to nicely accompany food like roasted game and maybe even some hearty cheese, but was also soft enough to play the part of cocktail wine. With its broad appeal, I would consider serving this at a party with a diverse guest list.
  • 2006 Cortese Barbera, Piemonte $21.99 – This had a wonderful barnyard nose and rustic but nicely balanced palate that made it my WOTN. I will definitely be picking up several bottles, the only reason I’m not buying a case is because I’m trying to bring down my inventory of near-term drinkers before I move overseas in May.
  • 2004 Prunotto Barolo, Piemonte DOCG $59.99 – This, of course, was the wine we had all been anticipating, but its impact got somewhat lost in the chatter surrounding the 1998 Prunotto Bric Turot Barbaresco that Ron had brought along last minute. Once both had been poured, most of us broke with the order and the nose on the latter overpowered that of the former. Also, I was beginning to experience some fatigue at this point (unfortunately that happens easily with me and more powerful reds). So my notes on the Barolo are lacking, but I do recall that it was very nice, although not necessarily noteworthy.
  • 1998 Prunotto Bric Turot Barbaresco – The importer had come across a forgotten case of this, the conditions under which it had been stored somewhat unfavorable. So they decided to pawn it off where they could, and our group was a recipient. As mentioned above, the nose was initially promising…some earthy, tobacco like notes. That, however, is where it ended because the palate was flat (except for the occasional mouthful of gritty sediment!) and we declared it DOA. Too bad, but it was a freebie thrown in at the last minute and a good lesson in what can happen to a good wine when left for too long and not stored well.

A side note: There was a gentleman sitting at our table named Jonathan, who I found out runs a Greek restaurant called Mourayo in Dupont Circle. I asked him if they served Nostos wines (the brand from Manousakis vineyards in Crete, where I’ll be “interning” this summer) and he said yes, and that he knows the Manousakis family well. He raved about the beauty of the vineyard, and it got me excited all over again about my pending trip. Kind of a fun, small world encounter.

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