Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Wining by Proxy...Kobrand Tour d'Italia - Icons of Italian Wine...

Sometimes the Goddess of Wine must send her First Acolyte, JD, to taste wine in her place. Last week, just a day before his knee surgery, JD attended the Kobrand Tour d'Italia 2013 tasting, Icons of Italian Wine at the Sofitel in Los Angeles. Here is his report:

Attended the walk-around tasting at this final stop of the tour. There had been hints of a seminar but could never confirm or connect. As I discovered after I checked in for the tasting and as certain questions were asked during the tasting, there actually was a seminar earlier somewhere in the hotel. Those are usually very educational. Who knows what it covered?

I started with the whites.

Masi Agricola Masianco from Veneto, a blend of 75% Pinot Grigio and 25% of another unfamiliar Italian grape called Verduzzo which added some nice acid and citrus notes.

Folonari 90% Vermentino/ 10% Sauvignon Blanc, fresh and crisp. Le Bruniche non-oaked Chardonnay and a Cabreo La Pietra lightly oaked Chardonnay, all from Tuscany. The oak was noticeable but restrained, not big and buttery. I was not able to get back to this table later for their various Chiantis.

A trio by Pighin from Friuli comprised of a Pinot Grigio Grave with a touch of bitter grapefruit finish, a delightful lightly floral Pinot Grigio Collio from a hilly area near Slovenia and a Sauvignon Blanc with herbal nose and very clean taste.

On to Piedmont with a selection of wines from Michele Chiarlo, starting with a light Gavi Le Marne 100% Cortese. This was smooth with subtle orange notes. Followed this with a lightly floral Arneis. At this point I shifted to reds with this maker’s line-up of Barbera d’Asti, Barbaresco and Barolos. Fine assortment of earth, leather and mushrooms. Good fruit overall, cinnamon in the Barbaresco, and cherry in the 2009 Cerquio Barolo. My favorite of this group was the 2008 Tortoniano Barolo with its balance of mushroomy nose, clean fruit and acid tang.

There was a fine trio from Tenute Silvio Nardi. First a 2010 Rosso di Montalcino, which to taste by itself I enjoyed as the best of the three with herbal notes and dry finish. This was followed by a 2008 Brunello with a rich earthy nose that from past experience I am sure would be great with food. The third was a 2006 Brunello di Montalcino Manachiara that to me was lighter and sharper. Oh, to have these last two with a meal where they can shine.

Besides the rather varied small bites layout there were also some passed food platters going around. I sampled a skewer of Greek olive, burrata and sun-dried tomato and then a fork of very tender thin-sliced rare beef. They were both the last ones on their respective platters and I hated to see them go to waste, so I lightened the server’s load. Later had a few slices of Italian cold-cuts on bread, just to balance the wines of course.

Tasted two Sicilian selections by Feudo Maccari. The Saia Nero D’Avola 2010 from old bush vines was delicious with a fine herbal nose.

At this same table was a Tuscan trio from Tenuta Sette Ponti. First a Crognolo 2011 with not much nose but good cherry fruit and a medium dry finish. Then Poggio al Lupo, a blend of 73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Alicante and 7% Petite Verdot. This had light earth and leather in the nose, good fruit with a tang in the middle. Nice blend. The third was 2011 Oreno, a “Bordeaux” blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot that changes every year.

Masi wines from Veneto. Modello Rosso 2011, a Refosco, Raboso blend with others, leather in nose and full fruit. Bonacosta Valpolicella, a light, neutral easy sipper with a little bite in the finish. Passo Doble 2011 from Argentina with 70% Malbec and 30% Corvina. A little more medium-fruited easy sipper. Brolo di Campofiorin 2008, a Corvina/Rondinella blend with a touch more weight than the Valpolicella.

A group of Masi Amarones. Costasera Amarone 2009 with 5% Molinara added to the Corvina/Rondinella mix. Serego Aligheri 2006, Vaio Armaron. A lighter nose with rich fruit taste finishing with a little heat. Just a little weight to be interesting without being heavy. Campolongo di Torbe 2000 with more brown in the color, cinnamon in the taste. Mazzano 2001. Very light, almost non-existent nose with good cinnamon spice smoothness to taste and a little heat at the end.

Then to a different table with a very nice change-up of a Bodega Chacra Barda 2011 Patagonian Pinot Noir. Dusty nose, light cherry taste. Really nice surprise in the middle of all these Italian grape wines. Watch for Patagonian wines.

Two 2009 Salviano wines from Umbria: a light Sangiovese/Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot and a Cab/Merlot, also quite light. Then Tenuta San Guido Guidalberto, from Bolgheri, Tuscany, light nose and light cherry taste with a dry leather finish.

This was followed by another fine treat, a 2010 Sassicaia also from Bolgheri. Mushroom, leather nose. Very light, subtle fruit taste. Did not pour out this one, sipped and savored.

A pair of Sardinian Agricola Punica wines. Montessu 2010 of 60% Carignane with 10% each of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Franc with a lot of flavors and smells on the loose, including some chocolate. Then the Barrua 2009, also Carignane-based, higher percentage, but with only Cabernet Sauvignon and a little Merlot blended in. Rich, dark berry.

There were quite a few decently priced, lighter textured wines that I think could stand up and be a delicious counter to heavier southern Italian fare, while at the same time be able to match well with less heavy food. Even the Amarones were not heavy or overpowering.

Many thanks to the intrepid JD! Cheers!

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