November 3, 2011

Italian Wine Tasting

Wine Tasting

A Taste of Italy

Friday, Nov. 4th

4:00 – 7:30pm

10% off on all wine tasting wines!

Tomorrow we will have Ned Swain of Devenish Wines and Warren Frasor of Peter Warren Selections here for a tasting of Italian wines that are brand new to Maine!

Warren started a new wine importing company this year, Peter Warren Selections. Ned and I are really excited about these wines and Warren’s new venture. Warren KNOWS the people making these wines. He’s not buying them from a broker. He’s on the ground in Italy at times finding great little wineries.

Ned just recently added these wines to his portfolio. I remember first tasting many of these last Spring at Ned’s trade show. They really captured our attention with their authenticity. Something about them; they just taste very honest, very Italian, very authentic. And they're from a lot of very small producers in off the beaten path places: lots of central Italy. This will be good fun and very educational.

Warren is a guy I’ve known for about 6 years. Great guy. Great knowledge about wine, especially from Italy. Plus, Warren, Ned and my daughter, Kelley, all share Feb. 24th as a birthday.

Warren managed the Italian portfolio for an importer, T. Edward, in Manhattan. We’ve enjoyed and sold a ton of the wines from T. Edward over the years. We buy those wines from the inimitable Ned Swain of Devenish Wines.

Warren was also the sommelier at Mario Batali’s famed New York restaurant, Babbo Ristorante e Enoteca. Warren’s a fantastic guy with a great nose for fine wine.

These wines are brand new to Maine!

The White

Comelli is a small winery in the northeastern part of Italy.

Daniela and Pierluigi Comelli had a home and vineyards. Originally, they sold all the grapes they grew. Looking to make something interesting and great for their two sons, they decided to build a winery and increase some vineyard holdings. They are in northern part of the Collio Orientali DOC, which is hillier than the southern part. This helps give the wines a little more brightness in the fruit department. They produce about 6,000 cases per vintages. Very sweet folks; all the family is involved in the company. They make very focused and delicious wines.

The location is protected by the Alps to the north and is open to sea breezes from the south. This area is an ancient sea floor, so the soil is laced with limestone. This adds great minerality to the wines.

Colli Orientali del Friuli is a wine area that is unfamiliar to most Americans. It is near Slovenia. Friuli is primarily known for their lovely aromatic white wines, but they produce some exciting high elevation reds as well.

Comelli Sauvignon Blanc Colli Orientali del Friuli 2010 (Friuli, Italy) $19.99 – This is a delicious wine that typifies white wine styles from Friuli. Absolutely beautiful wine with great aromatics and fruit flavors. Aromatics of sage, green pepper, hazelnuts and white peaches. Flavors of tropical fruit, mint and pepper. Hand-harvested. Destemmed before crushing. Stainless steel fermentation. Food pairing – Thanksgiving Dinner, vegetarian soups, lighter seafood soups, seafood and fish, omelettes, asparagus.

The Reds

Comelli Soffumbergo Rosso delle Venezie 2008 (Friuli, Italy) $21.99 – This has a brooding, dark, elegant aroma that is very warming. It has aromas of cedar, bacon fat, black cherry, cigar box and freshly ground coffee. This has a sleek and refined texture. It’s really hard to not just chug this one down it is so good. The wine has bright, fresh acidity and the fruit is alive! Lush and layered. Dark cherries with baking spices and cassis. It’s velvety and smooth. Medium-bodied and an excellent autumn wine! This combines the power and intensity of Cabernet Sauvignon with the earthy smokiness of Refosco and the soft, supple lushness of Merlot. Blend of Refosco, Pignolo, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Food pairing – grilled and roasted meats, mushrooms, truffle dishes.

Fiarano Sangiovese “Fiarano” 2009 (Marche, Italy) $18.99 Paolo Beretta is an intense fellow, very passionate. He ahd his wife retired to her home area in the Marche from Milano. They decided to create a winery based on organic principles. Consulting with oenological experts from several University wine programs, they strove to find the perfect selection of clones for the ecosystems in their vineyards. They have a complete farm with gardens, vineyards, orchards and animals. It is certified organic and is almost self-sustaining. The vineyards are grass covered all year and fertilized by leguminous cover crops. They make about 3,000 cases per vintage. Hand-picked grapes. Stainless steel fermentation and aged in steel for 7 months. Bottle aged for 4 months. Low sulfites. Paolo makes intense, flavorful wines with great character.

This wine is a beautiful ruby red color. It has ripe red berry (raspberry and strawberry) aromas. The flavors are red berries and a touch of caramel. It has a nice touch of acidity that makes the wine very pleasing. This might be my choice for Thanksgiving Dinner.

Podere San Cristoforo “Carandelle” Sangiovese Super Tuscan (Tuscany, Italy) $28.99 Lorenzo Zonin comes from a wine making family. They produce excellent Prosecco. He decided to branch out and chart his own course. So, he established a winery in the wild west of Tuscany, in southerm Maremma. He purchased an old winery/vineyard with spectacular terroir. He farms biodynamically. These wines are beautiful and intense. When Warren was discussing these wines with him at VinItaly last year, Lorenzo said, Wait until I get my dirt healthy.” He’s serious. Much of the farm is fallow, planted with various grasses and herbs to correct deficiencies in the soil.

Lorenzo is focused on making elegant, rich wines. The Carandelle is made from grapes grown in cuttings of Sangiovese Grosso that Lorenze obtained from a friend in Montalcino. He grafted these cuttings onto old-vine rootstock. He makes about 3,500 cases of wine total each vintage and plans to grow slowly.

The wine – This is smooth, rich and elegant. Aromas and flavors of dark cherries, flowers, spices and minerals. This wine truly showcases the nuances that are Maremma – fresh raspberries, macerated strawberries, mint, lightly dusty, violet-like, with minerals and baking spices….even rhubarb. This has an opulence and fullness in the mouth. The tannins are well balanced. Aged 12 months in French oak. Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, 91 points

Piantate Lunghe Rosso Conero D.O.C. 2007 (Marche, Italy) $21.99 - Three friends living near the Monte Conero/Ancona area with small plots of vineyards decided to pool all their resources/vineyards and created Piantate Lunghe. They produce only Montepulciano as they feel that it is the superior grape in that area. I think that they are just great gents, making tasty little wines, about 2,000 cases each vintage. Their Montepulciano wowed me because while big they shows very elegantly, gentle giants!

These are Ned’s notes about the wine:

“I don't really know how to introduce this wine. It's currently one of my favorites and I think I've opened at least four bottles in the two weeks that I've had it. Rosso Conero is a small, little-known, but very respected (in Italy) DOC in the Marche region of central Italy.

Aroma: Intense. It smells like what I want my kitchen to smell like on a Sunday afternoon in January; namely, baking spices, cinnamon, raspberry, blueberry (both fresh and cooked), hints of smoke, charred meat, and hints of baking chocolate.

Palate: Richly textured and with dark fruit, this is a lush and very authentically Italian tasting wine. The mouthfeel is smooth and refined while the flavors are dense blueberry, pepper, and hints of smoke. It's not a super complex wine, but very well balanced, approachable, and utterly delicious.

Food pairing - I've had this wine with all manner of food, including Indian creamed spinach and a tomato chickpea dish. I have yet to find a food that this wine can't handle, but it is ideal with stewed meats or pasta in a meat sauce. Sometimes you don't want a wine that totally grabs and dominates your attention; sometimes you just want one that's honestly delicious and that's what this wine is to me.

It's also the best wine made from Montepulciano I've ever had.”

I Balzini Red Label Super Tuscan 2005 (Tuscany, Italy) $19.99 – These are Warren’s notes: “Located just north of Poggibonsi in the heart of Toscana, right in the middle of Chianti making area. Antonella d’Isanto is an imposing and almost frightening woman…until she smiles at you and offers you a seat at the table. Then the most amazingly gracious woman is sitting across from you sharing an unbelievable passion for her wines. They are graceful and elegant just as she is. And I have not met anyone with the humble pride and love for their wines as she has. Making four wines all based around the Sangiovese grape but eschewing the easier name recognition of Chianti, Antonella works meticulously in the vineyards on the “balze” (the local word for the terraces from which the name I Balzini is derived) ensuring that the quality of each bunch is spectacular. The vines and wines are treated organically. Each wine sees a different assemblage and molding. The Red Label 60/40 Sangiovese/Cabernet Sauvignon is aged 4 years in 4th use barrel. A stunning and elegant number! I owe my good friend Erika Ribaldi for this introduction!”

The wine is a deep, ruby red color. It has loads of berries and black cherries with spicy notes in the aromas along with baking spices, mint and anise. Well-structured wine with a lot of depth and complex tannins and an elegance to it. Very balanced. Long finish.

Giacomo Vico Roero 2007 (Piedmont, Italy) $34.99 – If Barolo and Barbaresco prices are driving you nuts, you need to look at this wine! It’s 100% Nebbiolo. It’s aged 12 months in oak barrels – 1st, 2nd and 35r use. It’s bottle-aged for 2 years before release. It’s delicious!

Warren can’t remember who told him to look up these 2 brothers, telling him that he would loved their Roero-based wines. He wishes he could so that he could thank them! The winery is named for the brothers’ great-grandfather. The brothers re-started the winery in 1992. The brothers are simply fun and talented! Making delicious and very pleasing wines of clean and pure varietal character from the Roero. They produce around 10,000 cases of wine total, with most of it being Arneis and Barbera d’Alba. Farming as naturally as possible all their wines have a very attractive savory character to them, an herbal note that differs wine to wine. And they are damn fun to hang out with.

The wine is a ruby red with a bit of garnet to it. It has a spicy, fragrant nose with notes of strawberries, cherries, chocolate and licorice. Well-structured and balanced. Dry with just the right amount of tannins that have been softened by the aging. Long, full finish.

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