This past Wednesday, January 28th, I spent my late afternoon and early evening at the NYC Hilton for Vino 2009, a HUUUGE tasting of Italian wines.
The tasting covered 2 (or was it 3?) floors and too many rooms to count (at least 6 different rooms). There were representatives pouring wines from well known regions such as Tuscany or Piedmont, and from lesser known regions such as Lombardy, Abruzzo and Veneto. Some of these producers were represented by an importer and other by the winemaker. I very much enjoy meeting winemakers but for future reference, the wineries might be better served by sending someone that actually speaks the language of those attending the tasting (although I did overhear many conversations that I assume was Italian so maybe I was in the minority of those who do not speak Italian).
Overall it was a great tasting. An opportunity for wineries already being imported to show off their goods to media and trade members, and an opportunity for those presently seeking US representation to speak and taste with potential business associates.
Making my way around at first with my friend & fellow wine club member Jeremy (who knows as little as I do about Italian wines) we went through several of the rooms and tasted lots of wines while asking questions of those pouring the wines. I then spent some time with good friend and Italian wine (and otherwise) expert Fred who introduced me to some producers and shared some knowledge with me while we tasted some wines together.
Yes, i spit out ALL (or as much as possible) of the 50+ (I counted 55 but it could have been more) wines I tasted and there was one flawed wine, some sparklers (red & white) some sweet wines (red & white) a few white wines and a whole lot of the good old red stuff. There are several hundred (or is it thousand) Italian varietals so gaining a firm grasp on Italian wines can take a lifetime.
It is now Saturday night and my girlfriend is gonna kick my butt if I spend the night in front of the computer. So without further ado, some standouts from the tasting…
Casa Sola 2000 Vin Sante. I am not very familiar with Vin Sante, but this wine reminded me a bit of sherry. It had an oxidized, sweet & nutty nose, but was a dry and interesting wine.
Collavini 2004 Ribolla Gialla Spumante Brut Millesimato was a standout sparkler. It had a nice melony nose, and upon tasting it I could think of only 1 thing; banana split. Sure it has been a while since I have had a banana split, but this had creamy banana aromas and flavors and overall was a very pleasant wine.
Cecchi’s 2005 Sagrantino di Montefalco Tenuta Alzatura made entirely from the (previously unfamiliar to me) Sagrantino varietal was a WOW-ER. The nose made me think that someone took some old musk cologne and bottled it up for consumption as wine. What a nose!! This clear ruby wine had a musky, spicy (the whole spice rack) nose with mocha and earthy flavors, all which led to a mouth coating LONG finish. GREAT WINE!
Casa Emma’s 2005 Chianti Classico Riserva, made from 95% Sangiovese and 5% Black Malvasia is made in a new world style – new oak (although only 25%) and a ripe 14% alcohol level. I had so many Chianti’s at the tasting and this one was probably my favorite. A clear ruby wine with pretty berry aromas and flavors that led to a surprisingly long and very pleasant finish.
And finally, I tasted 6 of the wines of Aldo Rainoldi with Aldo (and my friend Fred). Aldo was a very nice guy and his wines were equally nice. All produced from Nebbiolo, the standout to me was the “Sfursat”. Apparently Sfursat is ONLY produced by about 12 producers in Lombardy, Italy and roughly translated means “hold long” (or something to that effect). I think the name is derived from extra long hang time (fruit time on the vines) but don’t hold me to that.
The Aldo Rainoldi SRL 2004 Sfursat di Valtellina Fruttaio Ca’ Rizzieri had a very unique nose. Influenced by friends around me at the time of the tasting (thanks a lot Fred & Dale!) I ended up conceding that the aroma was peach pit. This clear deep red wine was very extracted and mouth coating. It had flavors of dried fruit and earth and had a nice long finish. A treat to be able to taste a wine that is only made by 12 producers in the world.
If you have any Italian wine questions – DON’T ASK ME (kidding)! Seriously though , I am happy to inquire from one of my Italian wine expert contacts. But in the meantime…
Happy Italian Wine Tasting!