For some time now, I’ve been spending a lot more time getting better acquainted with French wines, often tasting and researching less common grape types and regions in France, but recently I’ve been giving more consideration to Italian wines (again, including some less common grapes and regions). One thing (among many) I’ve learned is that, for me, there’s a very different “feeling” I get when experiencing wines from France versus from Italy. French wines, especially the likes of Petrus and Cheval Blanc (see my recent post on a blind Bordeaux tasting), give off a vibe to me of royalty among wine, and I respond with a “your majesty” regard for them. Experiencing good French wine, in my mind, is like walking through a museum of priceless works of art, and I’m in awe of what I perceive on the nose and on the palate and how I feel afterward, thinking of the characteristics and emotions that stand out in my memory after the experience. Respect and admiration are among them.
I feel a very different connection with good Italian wine. Perhaps it’s partly my own Italian heritage, perhaps it’s partly how well they pair with my Italian cooking and my family’s Italian cooking, but there’s something else that for a while seemed unidentifiable to me, until very recently. It’s passion that Italian wines seem to give off. There’s something seemingly unpretentious even about the most exquisite of Italian wines, and to quote Rhett Butler, “Dare I name it? Can it be love?” Yes, of course I feel respect and admiration for good Italian wines, but it’s a different emotion I feel when experiencing them. I attended Tre Bicchieri NYC last week and after tasting some of the truly special Italian wines and being astounded by the emotional rush I felt, I can say with confidence that it’s a very different vibe I get from Italian wines than I get from French wines.
|Tre Bicchieri NYC 2012|
As soon as I got into the event, I looked at the chart of tables, and wondered where to go first. I had received lots of suggestions of which wines to taste first, and usually I head toward lighter whites before anything else, but when I saw Sassicaia’s table, I made my decision very quickly. It was the 2008, and while I knew it would be young, I just wanted that to be the first wine on my palate at the event. As expected, it was youthful, but the dark characteristics were irresistible, so much luscious fruit, bold yet smooth spices, dark flowers, oak, and a hint of “outdoors” with a big, lovely texture that will continue to mature into something even more wonderful. The wine is beautiful and I felt the emotional rush immediately.
The other wine to give me a real emotional rush was the 2008 Tignanello, also youthful but wonderful with elegant characteristics of plenty of dark fruit and spice and oak, and a big texture and feel. There is so much passion to be felt in these wines, and when comparing the experience of the likes of Sassicaia and Tignanello with the experience of Petrus and Cheval Blanc, there really is no comparison. They just give off such different vibes - the big French wines give off a regal feel, and those special Italian wines give off so much passion.
|Tre Bicchieri NYC 2012|
Aside from Sassicaia and Tignanello, there were countless other wines that left quite an impression. I focused mainly on tasting as many Brunello di Montalcino and Amarone della Valpolicella as possible. My favorite Amarone were the 2007 Tenuta Sant’ Antonio Amarone della Valpolicella Campo dei Gigli (very big, luscious, and dark characteristics); 2007 Musella Amarone della Valpolicella Riserva (more mature in aromas, flavor, and particularly texture and feel than expected, lots of dark fruit characteristics, spice, raisin, and nut); 2004 Bertani Amarone della Valpolicella Classico (beginning to show maturity and lots of richness and elegance); and especially the 2007 Allegrini Amarone della Valpolicella Classico (wonderful texture, big presence, rich dark fruit and a bit of raisin and spice). My favorite Brunello were the 2004 Tenuta Vitanza Brunello di Montalcino Tradizione (showing maturity and elegance with characteristics of ripe fruit and lots of oak and spice); and 2006 Biondi Santi Tenuta Il Greppo Brunello di Montalcino (ripe and smooth, very sophisticated).
A few other reds that really stood out to me were the 2007 Colpetrone Montefalco Sagrantino (Umbria), which is still a bit young but amazingly good, tannic and very “red” with characteristics of red fruit and baking spices; the 2007 Mastroberardino Taurasi Radici (Campania), with lots of fruit with a hint of funk, nice acidity, and a very clean feel; and the 2009 Palari Rosso del Soprano (Sicilia) with plenty of red fruit, spice, and earth, and quite elegant.
Several whites also left an impression - 2009 Villa Sparina Gavi del Comune di Gavi Monterotondo (Piemonte) which bears resemblance to a good quality Chardonnay with citrus and orchard characteristics, some baked aromas and flavors, some smooth spice, and a slightly creamy texture yet leaves the palate feeling very clean; 2010 Mastroberardino Greco di Tufo (Campania) which is unpretentious, clean, and bright with characteristics of citrus, blossoms, and perhaps a bit of melon; 2010 Graci Etna Bianco (Sicilia), lovely and fun with bright citrus and some floral notes and mineral; and perhaps my favorite white of the tasting, 2010 Livio Felluga Rosazzo Bianco Terre Alte (Friuli Venezia Giulia), a blend of Tocai Friuliano, Pinot Bianco, and Sauvignon Blanc, absolutely lovely with characteristics of bright and smooth fruit and blossom, complex and delicious with a perfectly clean and smooth feel.