Tasting Notes from 2/17: Italian Wines

Tasting Notes from 2/17: Italian Wines

Posted on Feb, 21. 2010 by

Categories: Events, Wine

On Wednesday, Rob Gardner of The Country Vintner brought us 7 Italian selections to taste. It was quite the eclectic lineup, from fresh Pinot Grigio to plush Gavi; from classically-styled Merlot to a baby Brunello: I think it’s safe to say that there was something for everyone. While there didn’t seem to be a disappointing wine in the bunch, these were my favorites:

2008 San Pietro – Pinot Grigio
Michael and I went back and forth about this one – he found it to be a little more full-bodied and glycerin for his tastes, and while I don’t disagree that it has quite a big presence, I found it to have real charm. It was in stark contrast to the Orvieto that came first, which had much more mineral focus; the San Pietro was leaping out of the glass with ripe citrus fruit…plus mango, papaya, even some peach stone. The slight residual sugar component was tempered with an excellent acidic backbone, and it really was a pleasure to drink. This is Alto Adige, in the north of Italy (encroaching on Bavaria), which is known for its decidedly un-Italian wines like Gewurtzraminer; this follows that trend, because it is certainly nothing like the typical boring, faceless ‘Italian Pinot Grigio’. This wine will put a smile on your face…it screams summer, and I can’t think of anything I’d rather hear right now.
Retail price before [member discount|Our members save an average of 25% off the normal retail prices. As a courtesy to the retail wine industry we do not publish our prices.] $13.00 • Buy Now!

Banear – Merlot
The much maligned Merlot grape can really do fantastic things – it’s due mostly to our ignorance, with a dash of old Europe’s propensity to keep the grape varietals off the labels, that many people think of Merlot as uninteresting, easy-drinking plonk suited for people who aren’t into wine. The infamous ‘Merlot scene’ in Sideways didn’t help, either (which was especially absurd considering that the protagonist’s most prized wine, Cheval Blanc, is ~40% Merlot, but I digress). The reality is, when grown and handled correctly, Merlot can be fascinating and every bit as Cab, Sangio, etc. The Banear is a perfect example…a classically styled gem with tons of old-world grace and depth. While it has some dark, brooding fruit, the real character of this wine is defined by an earthy, spicy rusticity. It slowly opens up with softness, almost no tannins, and a quiet presence that belies a very well-composed wine for such little $$. It reminded me of the also-Merlot-heavy Mondesir, actually…for what it’s worth.
Retail price before [member discount|Our members save an average of 25% off the normal retail prices. As a courtesy to the retail wine industry we do not publish our prices.] $16.99 • Buy Now!

2007 Avignonesi Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
This was a late addition at the suggestion of a member, and it was without a doubt the wine of the evening. Hell, it even threw Rob for a loop, it was so well done. Lots of dry clay, tobacco, leather, cassis…a mile deep, and so exquisitely sculpted. I’m not going to wax intellectual here, because there’s really not much point…all that really needs to be said is that this is drink-now Brunello in Vino Nobile de Montepulciano clothes. Absolutely stunning, people…get some (seriously!)
Retail price before [member discount|Our members save an average of 25% off the normal retail prices. As a courtesy to the retail wine industry we do not publish our prices.] $28.00 • Buy Now!

Thanks to everyone who came out for the tasting – we had quite a nice turnout! – I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did. See you next week!

3 Responses to “Tasting Notes from 2/17: Italian Wines”

  1. Michael Davis

    21. Feb, 2010

    Like Evan said, I thought the Pinot Grigio ran second to the more minerally Pievano Orvieto. At $11.99 retail it’s a bargain. Add your Guild discount and it’s a steal.

  2. Strazz

    25. Feb, 2010

    Though I agree fully with Evan’s notes on the Country VIntner tasting, he left off my favorite wine of the night, the Massone Gavi DOCG. I tend to prefer my whites slightly heavier and with more predominant fruit than either Evan or Michael. I felt this Gavi was excellent. Richer and fuller with more fruit up front than the Pinot Grigio or Orvieto, the mid-palate had a hint of a spicy mustard quality that I find particularly appealing. At various times, I’ve tasted it in varietals from Chenin Blanc to Chardonnay and now Cortese. It finished with a nice acidity to balance the fruit. It’s from the Piedmont region, just north of the coastal Ligurian region (some of my favorite Italian whites are from Liguria, but are very difficult to find, especially the good ones, in the US due to small production and lack of knowledge of these wines). I think it’s a steal at 8.79GC and 9.19PC.

  3. Will Richey

    25. Feb, 2010

    Just tried the Vino Nobile and it is incredible. I love this style of wine.