Posts Tagged ‘Italian wines’

Italy’s Special Edition wines

Posted by Susan

Sunday, March 14th, 2010

Mama Mia! I had the pleasure of attending an Italian wine tasting hosted by the Italian Trade Commission, and held at the Hilton Lac-Leamy in Gatineau, Quebec.  The event was a Special Edition of the wine tour, which regularly visits Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal.  May we hope the warm welcome will draw them to Ottawa again next year!

 Over 40 winemakers from all regions of Italy attended, offering a selection of over 100 wines from all regions, including Piemonte, Toscana, Veneto, Sicilia and others.  The event featured the characteristic warmth of the Italian hosts and winemakers, along with delightful Italian-style appetizers and cheeses selected by the Hilton executive chef.

Here’s some of the event highlights:

Azienda Agricola Giovanni di Demarie Aldo, based in Piemonte.  I am a great fan of the indigenous Italian white grape Arneis.  I sampled the Roero Arneis DOCG 2008 (LCBO 30866, $18.95, available in Toronto), of which 30% was aged in French barrique for one year.  A beautiful full-bodied wine, it had lifted aromas of fresh tree fruits and a hint of citrus.  The mouth feel was silky and rounded dominated by flavors of ripe apple and lemon pie filling.  It had a lovely long smooth finish.  

Among the whites, I also tried Feudo di Santa Tresa Sicilia IGT Rina Ianca 2008, which combines 70% Grillo with 30% Viognier – I couldn’t resist it – being a Viognier enthusiast.  This was yet another full-bodied wine with intense aromas of white flowers and ripe fruit.  The sweet ripe fruit flavors flowed on a fresh seam of acidity through to a longer, crisp lingering finish characterized by a refreshing pithiness.

 I then talked with the Export Manager of Casa Vinicola Zonin, Sr Giuseppe di Gioia, about some great value wines they are in process of introducing to the LCBO.  These include a Sauvignon Blanc (you don’t see Italian Sauvignon Blanc very often!) and a DOCG Chianti.  Zonin has estates located through Italy, thus producing DOC wines from Veneto, Toscana, Sicilia, Friuli and others.  The Friuli Aquileia Sauvignon DOC 2008 has a unique style combining both sweet tropical and crisp citrus notes.  It was very well balanced and had a silky texture with bright notes of citrus on the lengthy finish.  The Chianti DOC 2008 is in produced in an approachable style with aromas of toast, caramel and rich dark fruit.  The palate was well integrated and balanced, softly textured and ripe with berries.  The soft tannins married well with the fruit on the finish.  Watch for both of these offerings in the LCBO general list of products.

Finally, I chatted with Fiorenzo Dogliani of Azienda Vitivinicola Beni di Batasiola of Piemonte.  This producer was featuring their Barbera d’Alba DOC 2007 Sovrana, as well as their Barolos.  The Barbera was aged in oak for over a year, then rested in bottle for 8-10 months.  An explosion of berries and ripe red fruit on the attack, the wine is well-integrated and has a long warm finish.  Their Barolo DOCG is available through the LCBO (178541, $29.95).  We sipped and compared the Barolo DOCG Boscareto 2005, and the Barolo DOCG Briccolina 2004.  Fiorenzo explained that the grapes for the Boscareto are grown on higher elevations and aged in more traditional style for 2 years in Slavonion oak casks.  It had a light, almost feminine nose with hints of berries and leather.  The wine was well-structured and balanced with a lingering finish exposing ripe tannins.  The Barolo DOCG Briccolina 2004 is grown at slightly lower elevation and is aged in French barrique for about 2 years.  The result is a slightly darker wine with a full fruity nose.  A full-bodied wine is has strong flavors of dark red fruits and more noticeable tannins, producing a long intense finish.

 I hope I’ve whetted your appetite – I can’t wait to go back to Italy myself.  Italy offers a wide range of great value wines.  Sip one tonight!



Grandi Marchi – Great Producers and their Great Wines

Posted by Susan

Monday, March 2nd, 2009


Courtesy of the Italian Trade Commission in Montreal, Savvy Company participated in a by-invitation-only tasting and brunch featuring the Istituto del Vino Italiano di Qualita Grandi Marchi (Institute of Fine Italian Wines Premium Brands) at the Hilton Bonaventure. 

The stated aims of the Institute are to:

        give direction and incisiveness to the development of quality Italian wine and to the brands which express this on world markets

        to organize and develop training and educational activities contributing to the promotion of Italian wine culture in the world.

The president of the Institute is the Marchese Piero Antinori, and the members include the following wineries:  Alois Lageder, Antinori, Biondi Santi S.p.A, Ca’ del Bosco, Carpene Malvolti, Donnafugata, Jermann, Lungarotti, Masi, Mastroberardino, Michele Chiarlo, Pio Cesare, Rivera, Tasca D’Almerita, Tenute Ambrogio e Giovanni Folonari, Tenuta San Guido, Umani Ronchi.  These wineries are located from the far north of Italy, through Piedmonte, Tuscany, Umbria, Puglia and Sicily.  Their wines are as varied as their terroir, and their history tends to be long and illustrious.  I’ve highlighted a few of these great producers below.

I tasted the fine, fresh, fruity Cuvee Brut Prosecco di Conegliano of Carpene Malvolti.  Based in the Veneto, this winery was established in 1868.  It’s founder, Antonio Carpene, was a famous oenologist and chemist who worked with Pasteur in France.  On his return to the Veneto, he decided to create a champagne-like wine from the native Prosecco grape.  In order to retain the fresh fruit aromas and flavors of the grape, he used a Cuvee Close Charmat method for second fermentation.  He was also responsible for founding the first school of oenology in Italy, at Conegliano, about 40 km north of Venice.

I spoke with Giovanni Folonari of Ambrogio e Giovanni Folonari Tenute.  The Folonari family purchased Ruffino wines in the early 1900s.  This is a extremely large producer with very well-known wines produced from grapes grown on estates across Tuscany and one in Friuli.  Giovanni and his father worked with the firm, primarily involved in vineyard operations and grape production.  In 2000, they decided to establish their own separate business focused on the limited production of premium wines from their own estate-grown grapes.  They purchased 8 properties, 7 of which are located in Tuscany.  From these properties, they produce a range of wines, including Chianti Classico, Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, and Supertuscans from Bolghieri.  They also produce a limited number of white wines, including a very aromatic and full-bodied Roero Arneis.

Also present at the tasting was Chiara Lungarotti, a joint director, with her sister Teresa Severini, of Lungarotti, based in Umbria.  Said Chiara, when her sister Teresa returned from Bordeaux in the early 1970s with her degree in oeneology, she was one of the first women in Italy to be so qualified.  The family is committed to art, wine and culture, as well as having a strong focus on the environment.  For instance, they have initiated a biomass project which transforms all their vine cuttings into pelletized fuel which is used to produce heat for the winery, steam for cleaning barrels, and cooling for their fermentation tanks.  Lungarotti Rubesco, a blend of 70% Sangiovese and 30% Canaiolo is bright, fruity and well-balanced – and available as a general list product from the LCBO (#41947).  The Lungarotti Rubesco Vigna Monticchio Reserve is a single vineyard blend of the same grapes.  It spends only a few months in barrel, but several years in bottle to evolve to a powerful but elegant balanced wine.  It is available as a Vintages Online Exclusive ((#51771).

Of course, a tasting of fine Italian wines wouldn’t be complete without an Antinori wine.  The offered wines included the great Tignanello, but I wanted to try something less recognized, so opted for the Tomaresca Bocca di Lupo, which is an Aglianico produced in Puglia.  Aglianico is one of Italy’s lesser known noble grapes, which produces a dark, full-bodied, intense and well-structured wine.  Definitely a wine for cellaring!  It is also available through Vintages Online (#926311).

 So many wines, so little time . . . , but what a treat to have the principals of some of the most esteemed wineries in Italy all in one room, and available to talk with great passion about their wines, their family, and their commitment to great Italian wines!


Old and New Tastes

Posted by Wayne

Friday, December 19th, 2008


When people select, drink and enjoy wines these days, the concept of ‘style’ plays a big role in the character, profile and experience of wine. It is a way of familiarizing the unknown. There are many ways of referencing style with wine as there is referencing style with people. One can talk about style with winemaking or growing or marketing or bottling or flavour…  just like you can with art or clothing or behaviour. Often, the concept of ‘New’ and ‘Old’ World styles run through discussions and pleasures that are a part of the wine experience too. There is no well-defined identity for one or the other, particularly now that vines and winemakers and techniques move from traditional Old World regions to New World regions and back again.

There is still value in referencing these styles because it helps to uncover the identities and assets of wines we might not be familiar with. In a way it is like discovering a tasting profile for wines. Here are some ideas that might clarify ‘Old’ from ‘New’ and “open up” some wines for you.

Old World:  These wines are usually wines that have a long, documented history and are primarily found in Europe and around the Mediterranean. Here the traditions of winemaking are very important to the production of wine. “Terroir” (the impact of soil, weather, nutrients, sunlight, agricultural method, etc.) also plays a large role in the way wine is made.

Austria, Bulgaria, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Switzerland are wine regions with a long history of growing grapes for wine that would qualify as “Old World”.

New World: These wines are grown outside of the traditional wine regions of Europe. Each of these countries has its own history with wine that often is about the importation of vines in many cases ( often by the Church for various rituals). The growers brought their grape growing and winemaking traditions with them, but had to modify some of their procedures (like irrigation) to accommodate the conditions and resources of their new sites.

Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, New Zealand, South Africa, Mexico and the United States are the more notale examples.

Style: Knowing this information is helpful.

Old World wines because of their reliance on tradition and terroir will display more of the characteristics of the soils and climates they are in like the foods grown right along side them. Much Old World wine, to oversimplify, is intended as a food partner, a wine whose crop yields, alcohol levels, acid levels, aging processes and geographical boundaries are highly regulated. Filtering of many of these wines is done with natural products like clay or egg whites so sediment levels tend to be higher and the wines tend to absorb rather than reflect light. These wines often show a minerality, an earthiness and a flavour profile that leans towards barrel flavours like vanilla and smoke or wood and they show tannic characteristics more readily. Intended to be food partners, Old World often improves its impact with local fare as an accompaniment.

New World, on the other hand, is more winemaker driven. It is intended to be more a “cocktail” experience. It is designed for the consumer with its fruit forward, high sugar and alcohol profile. These wines are grown to be drunk now. Longer growing seasons, less regulations, controlled irrigation and fertilization render bountiful crops and copious supplies of wine that is brilliantly reflective because of the .005 gauge screening it goes through when it is filtered. Drinking wine on its own suits the New World very well.

That is not to say that these are hard and fast rules for “Old” and “New”. Many is the Old World vintage that is tasty and sweet all by itself. Many is the New World vintage that marries very well with food. A lot of Old World wineries have New World winemakers and vice versa, but these characteristics are helpful in recognizing New and Old World ‘Styles’ of wine which may help you share your wine experiences with someone else or choose the right wine for someone you know. 

Cheers and Salute!

Do you have more ideas about styles of wine, New or Old World? Email me as I would like to hear from you.