Vino California – contrary to its name it’s actually a celebration of Italian wines, some available at your local BevMo, some still looking for an American distributor.
And it had to be a celebration. After all, if you tried to sample every wine there, you’d either be partying big time (or praying to the porcelain god). When you enter Vino California, they give you a booklet listing all of the wine being poured. All 126 pages. Sounds like a lot of vino but that’s actually only the names of the individual wineries. Many had three to seven wines each to taste.
Clearly, this was an arduous task but I promised Eve I would persevere through. My assignment was eased by both the deliciousness of what was being offered as well as the comeliness of the winery representatives.
Not everything I tried was wonderful. It never is at any wine event. There are always some bottles you would never buy on your own. But I don’t like writing about what I don’t like. Rather let’s talk about some of the gems offered.
My hands-down favorite was Il Borro’s Rosso Toscano 2007, a powerful blend of Merlot (50%), Cabernet Sauvignon (40%), and, wait for it, Syrah (10%). Pepper, smokiness, and extremely well balanced. And, if you check wine-seacher.com, you can find it for just $35. Accompanying that was Pian Di Nova 2010, which was fetching both for its delightful taste as well as its good value.
Tenuta La Parrina came in second with its Rosso Riserva 2005, 85% Sangiovese with a little Cab and Merlot thrown in. Another fine example of excellent wine at a good price of only about $30. Wine Advocate gave it a 90, a little stingy in my way of thinking.
Both Il Borro and La Parrina are from Tuscany. Something of a surprise to me was some of the fine Piedmont wines. I have a pre-conceived notion that anything from Piedmont needs a few decades to unwind and become approachable. However, I did discover Coppo’s Pomorosso Barbera D’Asti 2008 to be drinkable now. This is a big, bold wine that needs a big, juicy steak to bring out all of its nuances.
Overall, Vino California was a delightful introduction into what Italy has to offer.