Italain Wine 101

Slow Wine 2016 - Photo by Jill Weinlein
Slow Wine 2016 – Photo by Jill Weinlein

A cohort of mine, Allison Levine is a wine and spirits expert @plsthepalate. She invited me to the Slow Wine 2016 Tasting at the elegant Taglyan complex on Vine Street in Los Angeles to learn about Italian wines.

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At Slow Wine, grab a glass and be wow’d – Photo by Jill Weinlein

There were almost 60 exhibitors pouring at least three tastes of their different wines.  What I found fascinating were how many of the attendees took a big sip, swished it around and spit it out with force into a sliver bucket. Wine aficionados spitting into a spittoon. I was not about to follow their lead, because I enjoy sipping and swallowing wine. I like how it tickles my palate.

IMG_2496I knew I would be snookered if I tasted from every table, so I paced myself. I took just one sip of four or five different varietals, and then visited the Farrarelle Water table to drink a full glass of sparkling water. This water is Italy’s #1 sparkling water bottled directly from an ancient volcanic source since 1893. I learned the Ministry of Health recognized the following benefits while drinking Fattatelle Mineral Water –

  1. Helps with the digestive process
  2. One litre contributes about 35% of the daily value of calcium.
  3. Not only does the water offer calcium, but potassium to reinforce the muscular system, bicarbonate to facilitate digestion, and silica that is essential to retard the aging process of tissues

Next I also went over to the charcuterie table to enjoy some slices of cheese, prosciutto, breads and dried fruit. It’s all about pacing yourself at these wine events.

I learned about wines from all over Italy in 14 different regions. Here are 8 of my favorites that were some of the finest bottles from a sensory point of view and a few good bottles that retail for under $1o.

I also learned some tips about the proper way to taste wine from the charming Fabio:

  1. Take a sip, purse your lips together and outwards, and then open your lips a little and take in air to aerate your sip. It will make a subtle noise. Don’t be too loud. You will enjoy the subtle flavors by tasting wine this way.
The Charming Fabio - Photo by Jill Weinlein
The Charming Fabio – Photo by Jill Weinlein
  1. I met the charming Fabio at the Boscarelli from Tuscany table to sip noble wines worthy of the Pope. It’s a family owned since 1962 when Egidio bought the winery. His daughter Paola carried on working the vineyard and now a third generation with De Ferraris, Nicolo and Luca keep the 100% estate-grown grapes healthy in limestone and clay soil. Slow Wine awards the Il Nocio dei Boscarelli 2011 a GREAT WINE. www.poderiboscarelli.com.

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    Representatives from Collefrisio – Photo by Jill Weinlein
  2. Collefrisio from Abruzzo offered a Montepulciano D’Abruzzo Vignaquadra 2011 made with very ripe fruit offering lot’s of flavor. It’s a stand out among the reds and pairs nicely with pasta and a great ragu. It spent 50% of its time in stainless steel tanks. The winery was founded in 2004, and is now the leader on the regional wine scene for their grapes. With 124 acres they produce 500,000 bottles. Their white wines offer a citrus profile with grapes growing on hills gently dropping down to the sea in clay soil. Slow Wine awards some of these bottles a good value. www.collefrisio.it.IMG_2505
  3. Le Vigne di Zamo offered a Friuli Colli Orientali Merlot Vigne that was from 60-year-old vines on 165 acres that are hand-picked and ferments for two years before bottled. They rest for 18 months before sold to store and drink. This wine earned a Slow Wine – Great Wine designation. Sons Silvano and Pierluigi run the winery and  recently entered a partnership with Oscar Farinetti’s Eataly group producing thoroughbred reds. Slow Wine awarded the FCO Merlot Vigne Cinquant’anni 2012 – GREAT WINE.  www.levignedizamo.com

    Label is based on a Henri Mattise painting to express joy - Photo by Jill Weinlein
    Label is based on a Henri Mattise painting to express joy – Photo by Jill Weinlein
  4. Velenosi is in its fourth decade becoming the wine ambassador for Marche wines. The 50-year-old vines on 340 acres produce labels that line shelves around the world. I sipped the over ripe velvety Offida Rosso Ludi 2011 made with Montepulciano, Cabernet and Merlot. Slow Wine awarded this one a GREAT WINE. They also poured a complex white Offida Pecorino Villa Amgela 2014 Pecorino that pairs beautifully with seafood and soups. The acidity cleanses the palate. www.velenosivini.com

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    Slow Wine 2016 – Photo by Jill Weinlein
  5. Who doesn’t love a sparkling Lambrusco? Most are clear, however the Cantina della Volta offers a Lambrusco di Sorbarar Rimosso 2014 that is hazy, unfiltered and offers a pleasing raspberry color and enjoyable zesty finish. It’s delicious. www.csntinadellavolta.com

    Daughter Elena's drawing of a chick is featured on the label.
    Daughter Elena’s drawing of a chick is featured on the label.
  6. From the Piedmont area, Elvio Cogno offers a Slow Wine award of GREAT WINE for their Barlo Vigna Elena Ris. 2009 named after the winemaker’s daughter. It’s aged for 36 months in large Solvenian oak barrels. Then aged for 24 months in bottles. This wine is aromatic with delicate floral rose notes with a hint of mint and whiff of licorice. The red rose color is appealing. This goes well with pasta with game sauces, roasts and braised meats, wild boar stew and blue cheese. The label is based on Elena’s drawing of a chick that she gave to her parents when she was three years old. www.elviocogno.it IMG_2510
  7. From the Piedmont area, Elvio Cogno offers a Slow Wine award of GREAT WINE for their Barlo Vigna Elena Ris. 2009 named after the winemaker’s daughter. It’s aged for 36 months in large Solvenian oak barrels. Then aged for 24 months in bottles. This wine is aromatic with delicate floral rose notes with a hint of mint and whiff of licorice. The red rose color is appealing. This goes well with pasta with game sauces, roasts and braised meats, wild boar stew and blue cheese. The label is based on Elena’s drawing of a chick that she gave to her parents when she was three years old. http://www.elviocogno.it
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  8. Another Piedmont favorite is La Mesma, a family business meticulously run by the three Rosina sisters: Paola, Francesca and Anna. I met two of them and a daughter at Slow Wine LA. The vineyard’s unique characteristics offers distinctive qualities in their wine. They hand-pick the Gavi Del Commune Di Gavi Yellow label that earned Slow Wine – Everyday Wine with an excellent value for under $10. The grapes are never sprayed with weed-killers or chemical fertilizers. They use a soft pruning technique, harvest and soft pressed before going into controlled temperatures in stainless steel vats. Nurturing healthy vines in a healthy environment. Their Gavi Spumante Metodo Classico 2009 is made from 100% Cortese white grapes, most famous for its crisp, notes of apple, peach and honeydew flavors with the essence of lime, almond and light herbal aromas. It was very pleasing to my palate www.lamesma.it.IMG_2534

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