Friday, May 17, 2013

Wining by Proxy...Vino California - An Italian Adventure...

It's killing me that there are so many great trade events during the day - when the Goddess of Wine must spend her time at the earth job...sigh. Luckily, First Acolyte and Staff Writer JD is up to the challenge! His report from the VINO CALIFORNIA GRAND TASTING at the Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles on Tuesday, May 14th 2013 as follows:

This was part of a week-long celebration of Italian wine organized by the Italy-America Chamber of Commerce, Tasting Panel magazine and Blue Lifestyle. The celebration included several events taking place throughout the week, including wine dinners and classes at various restaurants and other venues.

The Skirball Center was the site of the Grand tasting and two seminars. I decided to focus on unfamiliar grapes so the seminar I attended certainly was in the right vein. FROM LAGREIN TO NEGROAMARO: Exploring the Rare Varietals of Italy. This consisted of one white, a Pallagrello Bianco by Antichi Vitigni of Campania and 7 reds: Lagrein from Alto Adige, Raboso and Refosco from Veneto, Cesanese from Lazio outside Rome, Negramaro from Salento in Puglia, Pallagrello Nero (also by Antichi Vitigni) and Gaglioppo (also known as Nebbiolo of the South) from Calabria. Presented by Paul Sherman (Sommelier at Valentino restaurant) and joined by Manuel Bronson (Italian Wine Buyer for Wally’s Wine & Spirits) and Meridith May (Publisher/Executive Editor for THE TASTING PANEL magazine). This was a very quick and informative encounter.

I started the Grand Tasting with whites for about an hour, attended the seminar and then returned to the tasting where I shifted to reds with an occasional dip back to a white. Even mainly focusing on unfamiliar grapes, with 46 tables all pouring multiple wines it was overwhelming. Here are some highlights, but there was a lot more:

Azienda Agricola Gregorio de Gregorio, Sicilia. Enjambée Terre Siciliane IGT 2012. Their new blend of 40% Cataratto and 60% Insolia. Slight fizzy apple with some sharp notes. Then sampled 100% versions of the two grapes. Cataratto Terre Sicliane IGT 2012 with a thicker texture after the slight fizzy. Inzolia Terre Siciliane IGT 2012 with a light floral nose and soft finish. Fascinating comparison in seeing which wine added what to the blend.

Ca’Salina, Veneto. Prosecco Valdobbiane DOCG. A lovely Incrocio Manzoni 13.0.25 (Raboso Piave x Moscato d'Amburgo) Rosé sparkler. Not the start of the tasting, but darn close and delicious.

Barbon, Veneto. Manzoni Bianco Trevigiananti IGT 2011. Manzoni Bianco is a cross between Pinot Blanc and Riesling and named for Professor Luigi Manzoni of the Viticulture and Oenology School of Conegliano, who created a number of different grape varieties in his career. This is one of the more successful ones. Slightly funky nose but a very definite Riesling feel to taste.

Cantina Braschi, Emilia Romagna. Two Albanas, left on the skins a long time, more in the red wine approach that allows it to achieve a darker straw color. Albana is an old grape, known for centuries in Italy. One harvested at its proper time and crisp, the other a late harvest with more pronounced honey, nuttiness and fuzzy fruit notes but not too sweet. The Albana Secco could accompany fruit, cheese and other courses and not be reserved only for dessert.

Arnaldo Camprai Societa, Umbria. Collepiano Sagrantino di Montefalco DoCG 2007. One intense Sagrantino full of earth, dark plum, leather and cinnamon.

Copo SRL La Rocca Gavi DOCG 2011, Piemonte. Also a Beni di Batasiolo Gavi. Both Gavis light and crisp and would be great with white fish.

Alcesti SRL, Sicilia. Two Nero d’Avolas, because I like that grape. One was a blend with 30% Perricone which had a sharper, more acidic taste. The 100% was deliciously smooth and fruitful.

Il Borro Winery, Toscana. Rosso Toscana IGT 2008. A Bordeaux type blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot plus Syrah. Balanced, rich, good spice. Owned by Salvatore Ferragamo, this is not just old shoe leather. Quite enjoyable, as was their Pian di Nova Toscana IGT 2010 Syrah/Sangiovese blend.

Vintripodi di Tripodi Ignazio, Calabria. Fifth generation winemakers. Wine fermented and matured in steel and chestnut barrels! Palizzi IGT 2005. Nerello calabrese 70%, Alicante 30%. Earthy, bacony, rich texture and balance with just a little funkiness. Even better, to me, than their Arghilla IGT 2006 which had a bit more “mustiness” in the nose.

Azienda Agricolo Ceraudo Roberto, Calabria. A natural process winery, ambient yeasts, organic methods. Several Gaglioppo based wines. Gaglioppo is the main grape in Calabria and gives a lot of crushed berry/cherry in wines. Two 2011 Graysusi Etichetta 100% Gaglioppos. The Rame Val di Neto IGT had a light color with a sort of musty dusty feel. The Argento Val di Neto IGT had a slightly toasty nose and had a very fresh fruit taste. Just a hint of rose in them too. The roses planted among the vines to keep parasites reduced do have an effect on the grapes. Enjoyed all four of the reds I tasted, including a 50/50 blend of Gaglioppo and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Piera Martellozzo SPA, Friuli Venezia Giulia. Pinot Nero Terre Magre DOC Friuli Grave. Earthy, musty, touch of sweat socks, but in a good way. Cherry, berry, floral notes. Very smooth texture.

Cantine Roccafiore, Umbria. Prova d’Autore Umbria Rosso IGT 2010. A very sturdy blend of 30% Sangiovese, 40% Montepulciano and 30% Sagrantino. Earthy, barnyard.

Capovilla Distillati SRL Grappas. An intense three-pomace blended Amarone and a lighter Moscato Giallo grappa. Both pure, rich, fruity with no weird additions of enhancers.

Francesco Intorcia & Figli SNC Terre Lilibetane Marsala fine IP dry. This is not your old cooking Marsala. This three grape blend of Grillo, Inzolia and Cataratto was so smooth with caramel notes, a medium texture, no overpowering sweetness or weight. This was a great way to finish a visit with “other” Italian wines.

Thanks, JD, for another recap! This weekend the Goddess and JD head to Montecito (Santa Barbara) to pour Shai Cellars wines at Taste of the Nation. Hope to see you there! Cheers!

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