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Article – Italy, you really have a lot of wine

May 27th, 2010

Now and again the wine world and the political world collide, and politics being politics and collisions inevitable, this can mean one can find oneself treated to a wonderful all expenses paid event. One such collision took place in Cork last week, at the very comfortable Clarion Hotel. The Italian Trade Commission are trying to increase awareness of Italian Wine in Ireland, and with the help of Jean Smullen, a well known organiser of marquee wine trade events, they organised a tutored tasting. What is a tutored tasting as opposed to a regular tasting I hear you ask? A fine question, that someone somewhere surely has asked.

A Tasting vs A Tutored Tasting

A regular tasting involves tables full of wine, where everyone supposedly follows a very regimental anticlockwise routine, where we walk around a large hall talking to the importer or the winemakers, while supping and spitting. The true professionals make two trips, the first taking in the whites and the second the reds. I have not always been the true professional in this regard, and I would not suggest tasting a delicate Soave after a big Brunello di Montalcino. Anyway, this tasting was not of that type, for we sat at tables and had a neat array of tasting glasses in front of us. It was like being back at school. The glasses sat upon a mat and were numbered 1 to 6. There was a swarm of bottles to be seen but alas, our glasses were empty. Before the tasting, came the tutoring.

Let The Powerpoint Begin

There was a big screen set up and Helen Coburn, a well know authority on Italian wine, set about a very in-depth and fast as lightening PowerPoint assessment of the white wines of Italy. The range of grapes and regions and rules that are obeyed and rules that are ignored put instant validity to the need for a regional expert such as Helen. When many people think of Italian wines, they think Tuscany or Sicily or maybe the ever popular Pinot Grigio. That’s a fair enough assessment of what is popular in Italian wine, but like many things in life, there is always so much more. We flew through grapes such as Pinot Bianco, Cortese, Garganega, Trebbiano, Verdicchio, Vernaccia di San Gimignano, Greco di Tufo, Vermentino, Inzolia and Prosecco with speed and precision. For those planning a wine holiday, the regions included Trentino / Alto Adige, Piedmonte, Veneto, Lombardy, Marche, Umbria, Lazio, Tuscany, Campania, Sardinia and Sicily. So who thought there was only Pinot Grigio in Italy?

Italian Wine Map

Italian Wine Map

There are many other white wine varieties grown in Italy that were mentioned but the varieties above are what we eventually tasted. I have a mass of notes on each wine, and I was happy to see a number of Red Nose Wine selections amongst the mix. We have been working very hard this last year to improve our Italian selection. Our €8.50 Pinot Grigio’s big sales are testament to the fact that the public like what we are doing. Rather than bore you with individual tasting notes on all wines tasted (there are many others who specialise in this), I will list of some of the words scribbled down in the frenzied tasteathon. Creamy, High alcohol, medium acidity, nervy, grassy, yeasty, fresh, good price point, lemon tones, crisp, dry, not enough fruit to the fore, fills the mouth. These of course were for the whites. All wines were spat out.

The Matching of the Food & Wine

After the whites were tasted and rated, we were then invited to partake in a matching of food to wines with Lorenzo Loda, the Italian sommelier from Thorntons Restaurant in Dublin. Little tasting plates were given out, consisting of olive oil, basil, authentic Parmesan cheese, salami and some almond cake. We then were given some Moscato, Gewurztraminer, Brunello de Montalcino and Barbera d’Asti wine. The aromatic Gewurztraminer swamped the olive oil, but was delicious with the basil. The Salami could not stand up to the rich Brunello, but was divine with the Barbera, as was the Cheese. The expensive rich Brunello really needs something like meat to counterbalance it. The Moscato and the cake were a match made in Italian heaven. Some classic Italian Wine – Food pairings include Soave & Risotto; Amarone & Rabbit ; Chianti and Wild Boar ; Verdicchio and Sea Bass to name a few.

Lunch & Parisian Tiramsu

Italian Food

Italian Food

At this point, the little touches of food only made me realise that I was starving, and there was a very Italian lunch laid on, with some classic dishes. I went for two helpings of Lasagne and some Tiramisu. When I lived in Paris, there was a local Italian restaurant that had homemade Tiramisu ( in rue Claude Bernard ) and a guarantee that if it was not the best you ever tasted, you didn’t pay for it. All I can say is that I always paid for it, and will on my next visit. The Cork version was nice, but I can still taste that Paris one. Mind you, in Clonmel we are spoiled for Tiramisu. Both Catalapa and Befanis have delicious versions.

The famous @Grapes_of_Sloth aka Paul Kiernan

The famous @Grapes_of_Sloth aka Paul Kiernan

The Mighty Reds of Italy ( as opposed to Manchester )

Anyway, full up and weary, I still had to face the biggest challenge of the day. The rich reds which made Italy famous. It was obvious that the Italian Trade Commission were footing the bill because they really opened up some special bottles. Pinot Nero, Lagrein, Teroldego, Nebbiolo, Corvina, Rondinella, Molinara, Sangiovese, Brunello di Montalcino ( Sangiovese clone), Montepulciano, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Allianico, Negroamaro, Primitive Salento, Nero d’Avola and even that old favourite Cabernet Sauvignon were all on show. The superstar regions like Barolo, Barberesco, Chianti Classico and Brunello stood side by side with the Lagrein and Lunelli wines of Trentino / Alto Aldige. The feast finally came to an end and I came out of the tasting a lot more knowledgeable than when I went in. I think that is one of the things that I really like about wine. While you might hold some assumption of knowledge on a particular area or variety, but there is still so much more to learn. Humility and the lack of assumption are two traits that I have found invaluable as I search for new wines. For anyone who wants to try these different Italian varieties ( or the traditional classics ), we have a very good range in stock, at all price points. You are more than welcome to visit and taste. The Italians have a wonderful saying, and Fellini made a film based on the saying, “La Dolce Vita”. In these trying times, we all need a little of the sweet life.

Don’t forget to log onto the blog at www.rednosewine.com/blog or follow the ranting on Twitter – www.twitter.com/rednosewine

For anyone who would like more information and can’t make it into the shop, please feel free to contact me at info@rednosewine.com

“Life is much too short to drink bad wine”

Red Nose Wine Article - Nationalist May 27 2010

Red Nose Wine Article - Nationalist May 27 2010

Paul (http://www.pauljkiernan.wordpress.com) writes:

Ooops, I made a mistake on my own blog and said he initially paired the *Nebbiolo* with the salami. Ah well, never let the facts stand in the way of a joke.

Good to meet you anyway, Gary. Tipperary abu!

Tweets that mention Red Nose Wine -- Topsy.com (http://topsy.com/trackback?utm_source=pingback&utm_campaign=L2&url=http://www.rednosewine.com/blog/index.php/2010/05/27/article-italy-you-really-have-a-lot-of-wine/) writes:

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Paul J. Kiernan, Red Nose Wine. Red Nose Wine said: that latest article now online – Italian Tasting a few week back – finally published ( featuring @grapes_of_sloth ) http://bit.ly/bd44Gs [...]

Gary Gubbins (http://www.rednosewine.com) writes:

I made many mistakes – Barbera and Nebbiolo we can forgive you for… until the next tasting Paul

Good luck in the exams and I hope you’ll be cheering on Tipperary in the match this Sunday.

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