The 9th edition of the Italian Trade Commission’s ‘Tasting of Wines from Italy’ was held in four Canadian cities this year, including Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal. The Toronto edition featured over 80 wineries, represented by principals and their agents, offering anywhere from 4 to 8 wines to sample, as well as outstanding Italian food products (Parmigiano Reggiano, prosciutto, Parma ham, olives, etc.)
The Trade Commission’s goal is to facilitate and develop business trading relationships, encourage industrial and technical collaboration, and to propagate economic information throughout Italy and the world. The Commission places particular emphasis on promoting Italian agri-foods, especially those enjoying the DOP – denominazione di origine protteta – designation, these being the principal ambassadors of Italian gastronomy. The ‘Tasting of Wines from Italy’ one of several events the Commission organizes, focuses on familiarizing wine trade representatives in Canada with a wide range of Italian wineries and their products. Many of the wines are available through the LCBO in Ontario, while others are available only through the winery’s agent in Canada.
With so many wines, so little time, the biggest question is where to focus. I decided to concentrate on some estates I had visited in Tuscany, and to taste wines from a few other prominent Italian wine appellations.
DOCG Moscato d’Asti
$16.50 (179259) 5.0% alcohol
(March, 2, 2013 LCBO Vintages release)
Lovely light herbal notes, aromas of ripe grapes and honeyed stone fruit entice. Off-dry, light bodied, this is a delightful wine with a fine frothy effervescence and flavours of honeydew melon and lime-tinged stone fruit. Nicely balanced, it’s flavourful and sweetly fruity to the finish. Enjoy with as dessert, or with fruit flan, lemon chiffon pie or a white chocolate tart. Restaurants can purchase this for their wine list at $14.50.
Ca’ dei Mandorli Barbera d’Asti ‘La Bellalda’ Superiore 2009
DOCG Barbera $18.95 9(licensee price) 14.0% alcohol
Subtly alluring aromas lift from the glass—warm, ripe spiced berries and berries, vanilla and a whiff of chocolate. Dry, this is a nicely balanced mid-weight wine offering a lovely clean silky texture. Velvety tannins and fresh acidity complement a touch of peppery warmth and ripe spiced fruit, while a hint of vanilla lingers on the lasting finish. Try it with meat lasagna, beef stew or duck confit. This wine is available in Ontario as a private order from The Case for Wine. The 2010 Bellalda Barbera d’Asti was released through LCBO Vintages ($15.95, #264598) and is still available in limited quantities.
DOCG Piemonte $24.95 12.0% alcohol (LCBO Vintages release, Spring 2013)
Produced in the traditional method using Pinot Noir harvested from a hilltop estate vineyard in Piemonte, this salmon-hued sparkling wine offers subtle aromas of red fruits, apples and a hint of citrus. Dry, clean and crisp, the silky, persistent mousse carries delicate flavours of red fruit, a hint of peach and a touch of pithy citrus through a very attractive lively finish. Enjoy with smoked salmon appetizers or quiche, or with a medley of roasted root vegetables. Currently available from Authentic Wine & Spirits Merchants. Restaurants can purchase this for their wine list at $22.05.
DOCG Barbaresco $24.95 (155408) 14.0% alcohol
Ruby garnet, this wine offers lifted floral, ripe fruit and pipe tobacco aromas. Dry, mid-full weight, displaying a firm structure, it’s beautifully balanced, layering fresh red and black berries on subtle notes of earth, toast and spice. Finishing long and dry, this is an age-worthy wine that may be cellared long term or enjoyed now with mushroom risotto, lamb with truffles or eggplant parmigiana.
Marchesi di Barolo ‘Tradizione’ Barolo 2007
DOCG Piemonte $34.95 (168179) 14.0% alcohol
Semi-transparent garnet, this red wine offers enticing floral, vanilla and fruit aromas. Dry, powerful yet silky in texture, ripe tanins and fresh acidity create a subtle structure for the red fruit flavours. There’s complexity, with notes of vanilla, spice and tobacco mingling with a touch of coffee bean that extends through the lengthy finish. Well crafted, a good value, the 2006 is currently available through LCBO Vintages. Serve this age-worthy wine with veal chops with a tomato vegetable sauce or steak with a wild mushroom sauce or cellar long term.
Ornellaia le Volte 2010
IGT Toscana $29.95 (964221) 14.0% alcohol
Recently released through LCBO Vintages, le Volte is a blend principally of Merlot and Sangiovese with small amount of the Cabernets and Petit Verdot. There’s warmth on the nose, and aromas of berry fruit, spice and spring flowers. Dry, full bodied, it’s structured yet round. Perceptible tannins and fresh acidity frame flavours of blackberry and tangy red berry, notes of mint, coffee bean, spiced vanilla adding complexity. Finishing dry and toasty, this wine will cellar medium term, or may be served with stuffed red peppers or polpettini rifatti.
DOC Bolgheri $131.95 (51482) 14.0% alcohol
Among the ‘Festive Finds’ in the November 10 LCBO Vintages release, this iconic wine—a blend of Merlot and Cab Sauv with a touch of Cab Franc and Petit Verdot—entices with beguiling, complex aromas—mint, cedar, floral notes, blackberries, and exotic notes of dried herbs and dark chocolate cherries. Dry, full bodied and potent, this is a substantial wine with powerful fruit flavours carried on a firm, well-defined frame. The spicy, herbal notes replay, with traces of charry toast persisting on the extended dry finish. Decant and serve with chicken cacciatore or beef tenderloin with a wild mushroom sauce, or cellar long term.
DOCG Chianti Classico $18.95 (741769) 13.5% alcohol
This Sangiovese, spiked with a touch of Merlot, offers slightly floral notes with aromas and flavours of clean fresh berry and sweet spice. Dry, mid-weight, it has a fresh texture, perceptible tannins and overtones of toasty oak that follow through on the dry finish. Serve this wine with antipasto or Taleggio cheese.
Rocca delle Macie Chianti Classico ‘Reserva Familia Zingarelli’ 2008
DOCG Chinati Classico $21.95 (930996) 14.5% alcohol (LCBO Vintages release, February 2013)
Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot add complexity to the aromas—warm ripe fruit, subtle herbs, spice and hints of tobacco and cedar. Herbal notes, spice, a certain earthiness layer on red cherry and black currant, all framed by fine subtle structure. A notion of minerality drifts across the palate of this dry, mid-full weight wine. Hints of coffee bean linger on the dry, lengthy finish. Serve with herbed leg of lamb or cellar medium term.
IGT Toscana $14.95 13.5% alcohol
A blend of 60% Sangiovese and 40% Syrah, this is a fun fruity wine loaded with sweet plummy fruit and pepper, graced by an underlying floral note. Displaying an appealingly smooth texture, the lush black fruit is balanced by fine acidity and garnished by notes of toasty oak. Nicely balanced, plush and tasty, this is a real crowd pleaser and a fine value! Sip on its own or serve with a meat-based pasta. Available in Ontario via private order from Noble Estates Wines & Spirits.
Ruffino ‘Ducale Oro’ Chianti Classico Riserva 2007
DOCG Chianti Classico $43.95 (353201) 13.5% alcohol
From an excellent vintage, celebrating its 60th anniversary, this signature Chianti Classico offers weight and depth of flavour. Lifted aromas of ripe fruit, exotic spice and a certain earthiness entice. Dry, mid-full weight, this wine delivers complexity, well-integrated oak and warm, mouthfilling ripe fruit flavours with notes of dark chocolate and spiced vanilla. Clean and crisp, subtle yet powerful, it lasts on the finish and will do so in the cellar. Savour with roast beef or lamb.
DOCG Montalcino $49.95 14.0% alcohol
Complex, subtle aromas tantalize—tobacco , earth, red fruit, cassis and exotic spice. Dry, full bodied, a certain minerality comes through on the palate, mingling with tangy red fruit, spiced cocoa and herbs. Clean crisp acidity and evident yet supple tannins provide structure and balance, creating an elegant wine with a smooth extended finish. Decant and serve with roast beef tenderloin with grilled root vegetables or age long term. This Brunello is under consideration by LCBO Vintages and is currently available by private order to licensees via Constellation Brands.
Tedeschi ‘Capitel Nicaló’ Valpolicella Superiore Appassimento 2010
IGT delle Venezie $15.95 (984997) 13.0% alcohol
The winemaking process allows the grapes to dry somewhat prior to pressing, creating more flavour intensity. There’s a slight pungency to the aromas—red fruits, dried cherries, herbal notes and a whiff of turned earth. Enjoy the lovely round texture, soft tannins and clean acidity of this mid-weight wine. Ripe fruit, spice and the slight bitterness of coffee bean tantalize the taste buds through the tasty finish. Serve with a meat-based pasta.
Tedeschi ‘Capitel San Rocco’ Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso 2010
DOC delle Venezie $18.95 (719294) 14.0% alcohol
Dark ripe fruit aromas mingle with toast, tobacco and herbs. Dry, mid-full weight, this wine is a fine marriage of supple tannins, fresh acidity and tangy cherry /berry fruit garnished with spice, herbs and pepper. Well-integrated oak offers a toasty note on the lasting dry finish. Enjoy with spaghetti Bolognese or a Sunday roast.