Tre Bicchieri NYC 2013

Tre Bicchieri NYC 2013

tre-bicchieri-2013Standing on line waiting to enter the Tre Bicchieri 2013 tasting in New York City might have been a bore if not for the dubious entertainment of overhearing a pair queue-dwellers trumpeting their opinionated blather, their take on what it is that Tre Bicchieri is and is not “all about” (which I won’t reflect here since it is indeed blather of the first rate).

I do have the inclination to interject that Tre Bicchieri is still one of the year’s most important Italian wine tastings, providing a tasting opportunity of incredible depth and breadth. But, I quickly surmise that these characters are interested less about tasting wine than inhaling the scent of their own egos. So, I leave them to continue their conversational equivalent of that rear quarters sniffing thing that dogs do when they meet.

Entering Tre Bicchieri, things are well organized and efficient. Handed a printed program and a clean wine glass, I am, to my palate’s delight, turned loose into a very large room filled with Italy’s top producers and their wines. A kid in the proverbial candy shop am I.

As always, Tre Bicchieri this day presents a well-edited group of Italian wines. Here are several that I especially enjoyed and which deserve special mention:

Tramin Nussbaumer Gewurztraminer 2011
Flowers, mango, papaya and honey, spritz of citrus. Amazing in the mouth, the wine has a rich, rolling palate and gorgeous finish. Irresistable.

Mastroberardino Radici 2008
Athletic, graceful, elegant – think Muhammad Ali in his prime – delivering a combination punch of delicious dark fruit, fragant violets and silky tannins.

Livon Collio Friulano Manditocai 2010
I am just blown away by the intensity and craftsmanship of this Friulano. Glorious perfume of peach and brown spice with a rich, stone fruit palate against a background note of bitter almond.

Cesarini Sforza Trentino Aquila Reale Ris. 2005
Spectacular golden color, notes of fruitcake, breadcrust and amaretto cookie. Sublimely fresh, creamy palate.

Lvnae Bosoni Colli di Luni Vermentino 2011
Flowers and fruit in astounding harmony made savory by a spray of seasalt. Massively refreshing.

Lvnae Bosoni Colli di Luni Vermentino Cavagino 2011
This single vineyard Vermentino takes it up a click, showing harmonic greatness. Floral, fruity, a luscious, broad honeyed palate and a delicious aftertaste with serious staying power.

Marisa Cuomo Costa d’Amalfi Furore Bianco Fiorduva
Frrom Amalfi’s rocky coast, this wine is a seductive siren calling of whiteflowers, apricots, with hints of citrus and fig. Stunning.

Marziano Abbona Barolo Terlo Ravera 2008
Approachable, feminine, with tons elegance and finesse. Berries, violets, roses, tobacco, good minerality, subtle spice.

Rainoldi Sfursat di Valtellina 2008
Intense, aromatic, complex. Plum, raisin, hints of mocha and smokey lapsong suchong tea. Full, round and warm in the mouth. Barolo lovers: attention 🙂

Ermete Medici Reggiano Lambrusco Concerto 2011
If you think the somewhat bubbly, purplish character of Lambrusco to be off-putting, think again: this is one of the most deliciously refreshing wines I have tasted all day ! Fragrance of berries and violets, a round, fresh, fruity, nicely dry palate and appetite-raising level of acidity. Bring on the grilled sausages !

Girolamo Russo Etna Rosso Feudo 2010
I love this wine for its clear-as-a-bell raspberry palate, lively personality, hint of smoke and good grip.

La Montina Franciacorta Extra Brut Vintage Ris. 2005
Complex and expressive with the graceful power of a world class athlete, this Franciacorta impresses with tons of classic Franciacorta style. Make no mistake, this is a very special bottle.

Sardinian Passion: Carignano Del Sulcis

Sardinian Passion: Carignano Del Sulcis

At the recent wine event Sardinian Passion, held 14 February at Eataly New York, Consorzio di Tutela del Carignano del Sulcis presented wines from their region of Sardegna.

Thanks to a thoughtful tasting program allowing for each wine to be tasted with every food course, the pure and unique beauties of five Carignano del Sulcis wines from producers Mesa, Calasetta, 6Mura, Sardus Pater and Santadi, vividly revealed themselves at table.

img_0526bWines from the region showed the craftsmanship of Burgundy, aromatics and flavors that recall southern France, the intensity of Super Tuscans and the power of California Cab, yet remained uniquely, deliciously, Sardinian in character.

Indeed, Carignan grows all over the Mediterranean including Tunisia and Morocco, but nowhere does it find as hospitable a home as in Sardegna’s Sulcis region on the island’s southwestern corner. A home so hospitable, in fact, that vines here remain ungrafted and vineyards can reach 100-150 years old.

The Sulcis, geologically speaking, is Sardegna’s oldest area. Mild winters, hot summers, and strong winds make it perfect for growing Carignano grapes in the region’s sandy soil. At the presentation, I had the good fortune to sit next to Raffaele De Matteis of Sardus Pater who helped me to understand that, in spite of Sardegna’s natural blessings, working Carignano vines in the Sulcis also has its challenges: the vineyards are spaced very closely and so must be worked by hand as quarters are too tight for machinery. But this too has its upside: the temptation to use pesticides is de facto impractical.

img_0532aWith all that Carignano del Sulcis has going for it, the potential for some very obvious market cross-sells – think Rhone, Cali or Tuscany lovers looking for that different something – and what I detect as a growing interest in South Italian wines, why aren’t we drinking more it? When I asked the question during the wine presentation, one importer offered that marketing, budget and promotion will all play a role in getting Carignano del Sulcis wines on the consumer radar. Certainly today’s presentation by the Consorzio of the region’s wines is a great start, and if the wines I tasted today are any measure at all, I should say that we in the US market will be drinking a lot more Carignano del Sulcis very soon.

Kudos to Eataly chef Alicia Walters for an impressive food day 🙂

Massive applause to Vigneto Communications / Susannah Gold for a very organized, well-thought out media event.

Appreciation to both Raffaele De Matteis for entertaining my questions and to Isabelle Bailet (above) who assisted with translation.

And, of course, deepest thanks to Consorzio di Tutela del Carignano del Sulcis for the opportunity to learn more about the region’s exciting wines.

Indulgence: An Evening of Wine & Chocolate

Indulgence: An Evening of Wine & Chocolate

Note: Two passes to Indulgence: An Evening of Wine & Chocolate were provided to me. If interested, see Vintrospective policy around Ethics, Privacy, Legal here.

I have a soft spot in my heart for wine events that educate and broaden the palate of attendees. And I love it even more when the sponsoring organization makes that event convenient and entertaining as well.

At the recent gathering of Indulgence: An Evening of Wine & Chocolate, sponsored by Whole Foods, Hadley, MA., they just knocked it out of the park on both counts.

On that very cold evening, I can tell you that everyone appreciated arrangements for convenient and free parking. And holding this affair in Springfield’s D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts where individual tasting stations were set up in the museum’s lovely galleries while live music played in the background, lent an air of sophisticated elegance to the event.

img_0511aI tasted the interesting Hardys Whiskers Blake Classic Tawny Port paired with a pretzel dipped in chocolate. The wine’s caramel and vanilla notes were sensational against the pretzel salt and unctuous taste of chocolate. I momentarily search for two words that are relevant here: Wow and Sexy both seem to apply. Taking this wine down another possible pairing road, I imagine a cheese plate that includes some good gorgonzola would be a delicious experience as well.

Ricossa Casorzo 2011, a sparkling red response to Moscato d’Asti, full of carnival candy apple and strawberry flavors, commanded a lot of interest at the tasting station. Sweet, yes, but with the right amount of acidity in balance. Bound to be tasty alongside desserts such as dry cakes, cookies, and of course, chocolate.

img_0514bSpeaker of the evening Don Williams from Whole Foods Market, Hadley, MA., was both informative and entertaining as his presentation touched on topics as far ranging as Vin Santo, the wine blight phylloxera, wine history, Hungarian Tokai, port and sherry. Don also provided good advice on wine buys and encouraged folks to seek him out when at the store.

I was thrilled to hear of Whole Foods Hadley’s “Curious Palate” seminars which, I believe, are held twice monthly and feature 3 whites / 3 reds per session. As Don pointed out, if one were to attend all of them, the seminars would provide the grand opportunity to taste 144 different wines per year!

Bravo, to Whole Foods, Hadley, MA ! And to Don – I will try not to pester you too much when I am in the store 😉

Vinitaly Tour NYC 2013

Vinitaly Tour NYC 2013

8.04am train from New Haven to Grand Central:

I locate myself in the opposing seats suite, so I am facing my fellow commuters, my travel partners for the next 92 minutes. Directly across from me sits a girl wearing a very exposed, black push-up bra, transporting a restless cat inside of a travel bag. We are soon joined by a guy smelling like whatever spicy fried food thing he ate for breakfast. A suburban Queen of Rhinestones makes an appearance only briefly, falling soon off to sleep, head tilted back for a chorus of elegant snoring. I look around and think I might myself be dreaming. Or perhaps I have fallen into some freaked out Dali painting. But, I am brought back to reality by the woman with a man’s voice and a persistently ringing iPhone, barking orders at her office staff.

I just know it is going to be an interesting day for the senses 😉

vinitaly-foto3I am headed to Vinitaly Tour NYC 2013, one of the most important tastings of Italian wine at the world’s most important wine theater, New York City. Fine snow blows nearly sideways as we cross 125th St. Harlem and my brain and palate ready for the event: it will be an interesting day for the senses, indeed.

The event kicks off with an outstanding presentation addressing wine consumption and buying behaviors, delivered by John Gillespie, founder and CEO of Wine Opinions. We already know that the import wine business is fiercely competitive. But, when you understand that the import wine market is only an ~30% slice of the overall market for wine and that importers all compete for a piece of it, well, it kind of makes the point stick.

At the Vinitaly Press Conference, Stevie Kim, Managing Director Vinitaly International and ambassador extraordinaire of Italian wine, discusses with great transparency about promoting Italian wines and introducing iPad technology to capture event & wine data. Producers now can receive much more meaningful feedback about attendee reaction to their wines.

Also impressive: Slow Food’s demo of its progressive wine locator app for iPad. Now available in the Apple store with plans to be updated quarterly.

Consorzio Tutela Vini Soave presented an extraordinary late afternoon Master Class featuring Italy’s Volcanic (White) Wines. Did you know that the Soave region has one of the largest concentrations of volcanic soil in the world ? In this seminar, attendees have the opportunity to taste Durello, a grape varietal with one of the highest acidity levels in Italy. I adored the Soave Superiore Classico Foscarin Slavinus 2010, the Soave Gambellara Classico Prime Brune 2011, and the unusual Colli Euganei Fior D’Arancio Secco 2012, which showed with bit more residual sugar, though lower still than many Moscato wines, balanced by a subtle and lovely bitter note. Attendees are also able to road test Vinitaly’s iPad app to capture and submit their evaluation of wines tasted. Excellent.

The walk around tasting shows great depth and breadth among its exhibiting producers. Some special mentions are well-deserved:

sant-isidoro-fotoSant Isidoro Incredibly drinkable reds and whites from the Marche that impress with elegance, harmony and strength. I appreciate the entire flight of 5 wines this producer presented, and especially enjoy their “Isidoro”, a pecorino with time on fine lees.

Le Fraghe I’ve written before about Le Fraghe, whose Bardolino I adore. On this tasting day, I am simply lovestruck by their Rò Don Bardolino Chiaretto. Expressive, romantic, sensational.

Adriano Moscato d’Asti can be a tough category to buy: there are some great ones, but many can be out of balance with too much sweetness. But, not Adriano’s Moscato d’Asti: fruit / sweet / acidity all in great balance, a genuine, honest wine from a family run winery. Love it.

gragnano-foto2Università del Regno dei Vini One of the most interesting and delicious wines of the tasting day is this producer’s Gragnano Divinum. Somewhat bubbly, fruity, winey, with pleasant, balanced bitterness, it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you’re looking for an opportunity to expand your palate while washing down a pizza or pasta marinara, well, this be it 😉

Edi Keber Edi Keber Collio Bianco is stellar, terrior-driven, focused, delivering unforgettable minerality experience. Outstanding.
(website not available)

Lusenti Lusenti’s Emiliana, naturally bottle-fermeneted malvasia frizzante using native yeasts, is delicate yet complex and full of flavor. This wine is on the top of my “need to locate” list and I suspect I will personally consume barrels of it.

For me, the Vinitaly event is a bench-mark opportunity for tasting and learning about Italian wine. I can only suggest that, if you are part of the wine trade and not attending, you will want to make certain that you save the date for next year.