Taste Taste Taste

During wine conversations, I am less and less asked questions about “…what wine should I buy”. Actually, the wine question people inquire most frequently about is recently evolving to be more along the lines of – I paraphrase – “…how can I come by a better understanding of the wines”.

taste-taste-taste-corks-3A great man of Italian wine once told me his summary advice based upon a lifetime in wine. One needed to do only three things, he’d said, to really understand wine:

Taste Taste Taste

Now, allow me to point out the not so obvious subtlety of that little antiphon:

As I’m sure you’ve construed by its word repetition, Taste Taste Taste, taken as a phrase, suggests the value of tasting wine frequently and broadly. To do so, of course, is the fundamentally important step in knowing your vino.

But, taken word by word, Taste Taste Taste also quietly implies a triplet of perspectives. Let’s look at it another way with word cues to highlight the point:

Taste: local tradition, culture, people, food, history, community
Taste: earth (place), soil, varietal, microclimate, altitude, exposure
Taste: actual taste, i.e., aroma, color, touch, finish or aftertaste

The message is this: Even a little effort to follow characteristics of place and tradition can deepen one’s understanding and impressions of both the wine and its taste profile.

Before opening a bottle of wine from a new producer or region, you may like to spend 15 minutes research time drilling down on a couple of the word cues above. Good Internet resources (read: fast, easy access) are producer web sites and official regional identity / travel / tourism pages. Many sites have options to read in English, in fact, I’d say an English option is the norm these days and not the exception.

Give it a try. Over the long haul, I am confident that you will not only “…get to know the wines better”, but will begin to appreciate…experience…something about taste and wine not much reflected in the professional wine media: emotion, soul, spirituality.

Thank you for visiting Vintrospective -> An Italian Wine Blog during 2009. Best Wishes to All for a Happy New Year 2010. Don’t forget: Taste Taste Taste 😉

Broglia La Meirana Gavi 2007

Broglia La Meirana Gavi 2007, DOCG

Woke up, it was a Chelsea morning and the first thing that I knew
There was milk and toast and honey and a bowl of oranges, too
And the sun poured in like butterscotch and stuck to all my senses

– Joni Mitchell

Today is cold in New England, but the morning sun – lyric credit to Joni Mitchell –
“…poured in like butterscotch…” upon our local fields. I rode early across the farm lands where it felt good to observe real work being done: split wood being piled, barn doors getting fixed, the three wheeled field tractors moving slowly along the roadway

broglia-la-meirana-gavi-2007The morning’s impressions are somehow recalled for me by the Broglia La Meirana Gavi 2007 that, in the wine glass, has a quality of color that is sunlight and butterscotch.

Here, I’ll tell you more while it is still early in the day:

The farm La Meirana, located in Italy’s Piedmont region near the village of Gavi and belonging to the Broglia family, was first purchased by Bruno and passed down to son Gian Piero during the mid- 1970’s.

According to La Meirana, the earliest known mention of “Gavi” appears in the Genova state record archive as early as 971 AD, telling of vineyards and chestnut woods on a site called Meirana. As the La Meirana Gavi is “…the most classic and representative wine produced by the estate…”, the farm name La Meirana graces its label.

Broglia La Meirana Gavi is made from 100% Cortese grapes grown in a clay-marl soil. Vineyards have a generally southern exposure at an altitude of 300m. Fermentation is carried out in stainless steel.

Tasting Notes / Impressions:

The wine seems to glow with a sunny-straw-yellow-butterscotch color; the perfume of excellent apricots, peaches, and fresh honey is just gorgeous. A richly textured palate smacks of almond croissant while keeping good acidity and definition. Super balanced all the way through.

Food Pairing Suggestions:

White Meat: roast quail and white grapes; roast chicken and fennel; pork braised in milk; Fish / Seafood: mussels or shrimp stuffed with butter, breadcrumbs, garlic, parsley, parmesan; pan fried sole; braised / broiled trout or snapper; Pasta: pasta with fresh sardines; spaghettini with caviar in a light vodka cream sauce.

And now… Listen to a lovely Joni Mitchell sing about how the sun “poured in like butterscotch” on a Chelsea Morning:

Holiday Tool Kit: Don’t Forget the Moscato d’Asti !

Holiday Tool Kit, include:

People you care about
Good food
Moscato d’Asti

Lightly fizzy with gentle bubbles, delicate aromas, and ever so slightly sweet, Moscato d’Asti is a wonderful addition to the goings on around holiday table or tree!

saracco-moscato-dastiFrom the Piedmont region of Italy, around the town of Asti, Moscato d’Asti is a wine made from the varietal known as Moscato Bianco. Its low alcohol – usually around 6% – makes it a great candidate for anytime drinking.

Good artisanal Moscato d’Asti is straw yellow in color and will have fresh, nicely delineated aromas and flavors that – depending on producer – may include peaches, melons, mandarin oranges, apricots, roses, musk, cream, bread crust and honey riding on top of crisp acidity.

Moscato d’Asti is fermented and then rapidly chilled down to stop fermentation when the right balance of alcohol / sugar / acidity is reached.

Freshness is an important component of Moscato d’Asti, so do drink the current vintage or youngest vintage that you can find. Should you stumble upon signs announcing “bargains” for vintages older than 2 years please recall the following instructions: keep money in pocket and continue walking.

You can serve Moscato d’Asti chilled and in regular wine glasses, certainly, but if you have fluted glasses you’ll have better fun with the bubble.

Moscato d’Asti is delicious on its own to be sure, but pairs so very well with light cakes such as panettone and is a perfect foil for dry biscotti, puddings, and meringues. Elegantly minimalist with fresh fruit, Moscato d’Asti also works nicely with typical brunch components such as Belgian waffles, omelets, butter, lox, crab, cheese, etc.

Recommended Producers Include: Braida, Icardi, Saracco

Fratelli Brunello Grappa Casetta

Fratelli Brunello Grappa Casetta

This Grappa was provided to me as a Tasting Panel member, coordinated by StudioCru. Sincere thanks to editor Davide Cocco and Fratelli Brunello for the opportunity to participate.

Let’s begin with an image upgrade:

Then -> Grappa-drinking elderly men scoop up wormy cheese with crusts of bread.

Now -> Fashionable under 40-somethings sample grappe in trendy cafes and grappa bars.

Though my grandfather wouldn’t believe it, it’s true: young food and wine lovers are discovering the pleasures of artisan made grappa distilled by quality minded producers.

fratelli-brunello-grappa-casettaOne producer of fine grappa which you’ll want to keep on your radar is Fratelli Brunello. Since 1840, four generations of family have put their hands to business at Fratelli Brunello, Italy’s oldest artisan distillery. Located in Italy’s Veneto, Fratelli Brunello specializes in fine distillations of select pomace from authentic and rare grape varieties.

Legally protected by European Union decree, grappa is a distilled spirit product exclusive to Italy made from the fermented pomace of grapes which must themselves be a product of Italy.

I appreciate care and attention to detail when I find it: the Fratelli Brunello Grappa Casetta for this Panel Tasting arrived to me packaged in a handsomely designed box printed with colorful reds and greys inside and out. The package included two ANAG (Associazione Nazionale Assaggiatori Grappa / National Association of Grappa Tasters) certified tulip shaped glasses perfectly suited to tasting grappa.

Trouble was taken to provide the Tasting Panel with good information about optimal tasting conditions which I followed exactly. I must point out that the guidance was not restrictive at all and allowed great latitude for my personal preferences.

Fratelli Brunello Grappa Casetta is made from the pomace of Casetta aka “foja tonda”, a varietal that in the mid-late 1900’s, had nearly disappeared, in fact. Still rare today, Casetta is lovingly kept alive by a few stout hearted, artisan growers in northeastern Italy.

Tasting Notes / Impressions:

Colorless and crystalline clear, like looking into a flawless white diamond. Exquisite forest wood, wild berry and almond on a nose of delicately etched intensity, offering subtle hints of grass and ginseng. Flavors of raisin, red plum and berry combine with sensual liquidity on the tongue for an intimately ethereal taste / touch experience. Alcohol remains in constant balance with other components throughout, never getting too hot or overpowering. A fresh, persistent finish with plenty of flavor and inner mouth aroma.

Food Pairing Suggestions:

Grappa, of course, is a wonderful spirit to enjoy without food, after a good meal or while relaxing in a moment of meditation.

But, grappa is also delicious with accompaniments: try Fratelli Brunello Grappa Casetta with medium aged cheeses – I liked a mild French blue and Italian Taleggio – as well as savory goodies like thin-sliced cured salmon or caviar on toast.

This grappa also pairs nicely with fine dark chocolate and confections that are not overly sweet.

Castello di Nipozzano Montesodi Chianti Rufina 2003

Castello di Nipozzano Montesodi Chianti Rufina 2003, DOCG

Have you ever tasted the elegance of musical form or mathematic equation?

Does the Ear recognize what Taste knows to be the bitter sweetness of chocolate?

I believe we communicate and reinterpret information across the senses all the time; actually, it seems to me to be a key part of the creative process.

Aka: Emotion.

It is also one of the greatest responses a wine can invoke.

My tasting experience of Castello di Nipozzano Montesodi Chianti Rufina 2003 is reflected in the audio synonym of hearing…seeing…Lana Trotovsek perform Bach’s Sonata No.1 Adagio.

But, I’ll introduce you to Lana and Bach in a moment…

castello-di-nippozano-montesodi-chianti-rufina-2003Built circa the year 1000, Castello di Nipozzano, an estate of Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi and formerly a castle fortress, is located in Italy’s Chianti Rufina zone. Castello di Nipozzano has approximately 240 hectares planted with Sangiovese, Cabernets Sauvignon and Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot.

Castello di Nipozzano produces this single vineyard Chianti Rufina from Sangiovese grapes sourced from Montesodi, which is planted exclusively with Sangiovese. Montesodi is about 20 hectares in area at an altitude of 400 meters with southwest exposure. Soil is well drained, dry and stoney, with elements of clay and limestone.

Fermented for 10 days, with 30 days maceration time on the skins, Castello Nipozzano Montesodi Chianti Rufina undergoes malolactic fermentation directly after alchoholic fermentation. The wine then spends 18 months in new barrique.

Tasting Notes / Impressions:

A deeply colored ruby-purple hue, with ripe, clean fruit, this wine has a deliciously rich texture. Gorgeous dark berry flavors marked with complex dynamics of violets, balsam, dried herbs, cocoa, anise. Excellent acidity and balance. Well integrated, velvet-soft tannins and a firm structure showing unassumingly graceful muscularity. Anise, pepper and spice on a hauntingly persistent finish.

Food Pairing Suggestions:

MEATS / POULTRY: roasted or grilled meats, generally speaking, will work well, but recommend pan-cooked Steak au Poivre or pan-cooked duck breast with a cherry or prune sauce; STEWS: rich stews with velvety brown sauces; PASTA: lasagne with meat sauce; cannelloni filled with ricotta cheese or a mixture of ricotta and spinach; POLENTA: polenta, served soft or fried in butter / olive oil topped with rabbit ragu; CURED MEATS: Finocchiona (Tuscan salami) or soppressata; AGED CHEESES: mature cheeses

I promised you Lana and Bach… Have a listen for yourself:

Elegant. Unpretentious. Nuanced. Purity. Structured.