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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Weekend of Italian Reds

This past weekend I got to try three new Italian reds, all of which were different from the others, and all of which were very good.

On Friday night at dinner with my parents at Casa Rustica, a nearby Italian restaurant with an excellent wine list and a wonderful selection of Italian reds, my appetizer was a mushroom strudel and my main course was a filet mignon wrapped in pancetta and cooked in a Barolo sauce.  The wine I chose was the 2005 Beni di Batasiolo Barbaresco, made of Nebbiolo from the Piedmont region of Italy.  The wine is dark red in color, and at first the aroma mainly was of damp earth and shavings of new American oak barrels, and as it opened, it took on characteristics of dark fruits and berries.  The earthy nature of the wine paired very nicely with the mushrooms, and the fruit characteristics that followed were a wonderful match for the filet mignon and the salty pancetta.  The texture of the elegant wine is very smooth, and the finish is lovely.  I’ll admit I have not come across a Barbaresco that I haven’t liked, but this one is very nice and I would go for it again anytime, it is elegant yet unpretentious and a very enjoyable wine.

Saturday at dinner with friends, I was introduced to a new Chianti with Italian antipasti.  The wine is the 2006 Donna Laura Bramosia Chianti Classico, a blend of Sangiovese and Merlot.  Deep red in color and with aromas of red fruit and cherry, spice, and oak, the wine is smooth and nicely balanced and not overpowering in any way, with a respectable finish.  Very drinkable with Italian fare or on its own, Donna Laura Bramosia is well put together but uncomplicated and quite approachable.  This wine is an excellent alternative for those who find some Chiantis to be a bit on the acidic side, as the wine has a very pleasant texture to accompany the enjoyable flavor.

With Saturday’s main course of pasta in a marinara sauce, meatballs, Italian sausage, and pork braciole, the pairing was the 2007 Cesari Mara Ripasso Valpolicella Superiore, a blend of Corvina, Rondinella, and Molinara.  I took a special liking to this wine actually.  It is a dark purple color with a deep ruby rim and displays characteristics of dark fruit, berries, and plum, with a nice ripeness and gentle spiciness.  The Valpolicella had great presence and texture and a lasting finish that paired absolutely perfectly with the very traditional Italian dinner.

I have always liked most Italian red wines, some being among my all-time favorites, but the variety of wines this weekend was especially enjoyable, particularly with such wonderful company.

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