Italy’s Special Edition wines

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!


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