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They Aren’t Your Momma’s Italian Wines
Posted: September 16, 2006
I’ve spent a lot of time learning about Italian wines this year and have really developed a taste for them. In the last ten years or so, Italy has been producing wines of real quality versus quantity. That being said, Italy still produces and exports more wine than any other country and it also offers the greatest variety of grape types. Grapes are grown and wine is made throughout all of Italy.
There have been several wineries that have fascinated me. What I taste is a sense of purity or terroir, profound commitment to tradition, but also the creation and development of modern winemaking techniques, and above all balance, complexity and bouquet. The wines are delicious!
Fabrizio Bianchi and his daughter Laura are the owners of Castello Monsanto in the Chianti region. Fabrizio is one of the pioneers in the modern revolution of Chianti making. He fought to eliminate white grapes from the Chianti Classico blend was the first in the region to replant in the best clone of Sangiovese, Grosso and was using water-cooled stainless steel fermenters when most winemakers were still using wooden vats.
Castello di Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva 2001 has sweet cherry, leather, espresso and violets on the nose. The wine is very smooth, with a silky texture and flavor of red berry fruits, spice and leather. Elegant with good length and balanced acidity. It should drink well from 2006-2012.
Agricola Masi is one of the most respected and famous wineries in the Veneto. The history of the winery dates back to the 18th century by the Boscaini family’s acquisition of “Vaio di Masi” Valley close to Verona. The winery evolved gradually purchasing the best vineyards available in the Veneto. Masi also manages the historic estate of the Serego Alighieri family, descendants of the poet Dante. If a vintage is unworthy of the Masi label the wine is sold in bulk.
Masi is known for their Amarone’s, however I suggest you try Masianco.
Masi Masianco 2005 is a blend of Verduzzo (20%) and Pinot Grigio (80%). The native Verduzzo grape is allowed to further ripen on bamboo racks for three weeks to allow for better concentration of fruit. The color is an intense straw yellow with a bouquet characterized by pineapple, banana, mineral and a delicate honey note. The palate is creamy and round with an underlying spine of mineral and fresh citrus mid-palate. Almond and honey flavors are on the long finish. I find it to be a wonderful aperitif and especially good with a medley of seafood on pasta with herbs.
Livio Felluga, up in Italy’s temperate Northeast otherwise known as Friuli grows Pinot Grigio, Friulano, Sauvignon other crisp whites, reds such as Merlot and a wonderful sweet wine from the Picolit grape. The Felluga family is known for elegance and balance in their wines, but I think the wines stand out for their incredible aroma and bouquet.
Their wine Terre Alte is one of Italy’s most prestigious white wines and a blend of Fruilano, Pinot Bianco and Sauvignon and made for fish dishes.
Livio Felluga’s Pinot Grigio is a white burgundy lovers wine. It truly sets the standard for all Pinot Grigio produced in the world. Livio Felluga Colli Orientali del Friuli Pinot Grigio 2004 is straw yellow with a nose of orange blossom, citrus, delicate tropical fruit flavors and mineral. Full-bodied for pinot grigio with a good acidic balance and mineral dryness. Long persistent finish. Works especially well with seafood, risottos and vegetable dishes.
In closing, I would suggest any or several of the previous wines as a perfect partner with GourmetStation Tuscan gourmet gifts.