Tasting Notes: Unfamiliar Italy.


If only somebody would write a geography text book based on wine making, we would all have a better understanding of the world we live in and we would learn to enjoy wonderful wines made with a greater variety of grapes, winemakers and winemaking techniques. During my last blog I made mention of a couple tools that we all use in our daily lives but wine enthusiasts could make better use of when educating themselves about their wines. Google and Wikipedia. Use maps and varietel descriptions to familiarize yourself with new regions and grapes. Seeing where wine regions are situated relative to areas you are more familiar with makes it easier to gamble on newer regions, and the same can be said for the grape varietels grown in those areas. Italy alone has twenty recognized wine regions, how many of them have you tried?

From the region of Basilicata comes the Spumante Metodo Classico IGT Ego Sum 2007. The winemaker assured me that as far as he knows this is the only 100% Primitivo Sparkling wine being produced and marketed on any scale. The bubbles rose quickly to the top of my glass, but fortunatley, didn`t lather in the mouth like cheap Spumantes tend to. Tight and crisp this wine conjured up memories of George Michael`s Fast Love, surprisingly mature and sophiticated – completely removed from his Wham! Days.

Trento DOC Vino Santo Arele 1998 by Cavit is an incredible wine. Grown in a southern micoclimate in the north-eastern Trentino Alto Adige it takes the surpising sophistication of `Fast Love` to a brand new height. I can not help but to think of being forteen years old and seeing Sade on the Live-Aid stage, this incredible beauty from a world that I knew very little about calmly and seductively charming the crowd. Made from the not-so-famous Nosiola grape, this viscous white wine enraptures more than it envelopes. A late harvest wine that is sweet without being sugary: this definitley a smooth operator. Expect a copper colouring and sweet apricot taste.

Referred to in English as “The Marches,” Marche produces reds that are a blend of Montepulciano and Sangiovese and Whites produced from the Maceratino grape. Colli Masceratesi Ribona DOC Le Grane 2007 reminds me of the class of Whites often labelled with “Di Greco.” This wine does not burst with fruity flavour; it features the “grape-skin” taste and noticeable tartness. Much like the style of a Glenn Gould on piano the beauty of this wine is its impeccable precision. If you are going to be hosting a bar-b-que dinner, cook some white fish like a snapper on tin foil and enjoy this wine while you pick away at the caramelized bits stuck to the tin foil after you transfer to a serving dish. Wipe your hands and get a fresh wine glass to hide the evidence!

Umbria is south of Toscana, and produces some great wines as well. Sagrantino grapes are produced and used in the recognized DOCG Reds. Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG Albaruta 2005 looks like many wines from Toscana and is a presents some complex spicy tastes that are subtle yet distinguishable. Pick up a bottle of this wine and drink it between Christmas and New Years with pannini of leftover Christmas turkey, some pesto and baby lettuce greens. Suggested listening Bruce Cockburn`s Christmas album or his beautiful track “The Coldest Night of the Year.”

Enjoy the wine. Enjoy the music.

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