Sometimes, you have to get out of your comfort zone.
Unlike my esteemed editor [who I suspect any day now will need to change the name of her site to Wine 201 or at least Wine 102], I don’t feel I necessarily have a real breadth and depth of wine knowledge. Although my reading takes me into a lot of wine areas, my personal focus and experience [and perhaps slight expertise] has been primarily on California Rhones and Zinfandels, with a healthy dose of Australian Shirazes.
So, when my friend and local realtor Dean Cox, who also represents Tanaro River Imports, offered to taste me through a selection of the wines he supplies to Southern California restaurants and retailers, I accepted with excitement and a certain amount of trepidation. [Thank you to DiMaggio Washington for allowing us to do this at The Cellar.]
Per their website (http://tanarowineimports.com):
“Tanaro River Imports, LLC is dedicated to the importation and distribution of artisan wines from the Old World. Every wine that we import was chosen because it exemplifies the quality and style of wines produced in the Alsace region of France and the Piedmont and Tuscany regions of Italy. Our wines are grown on small, family-owned estates by wine makers that honor the traditions and best practices that were established by the generations of winemakers that preceded them. Our producers are dedicated to allowing the true character of the grape to shine through in each and every wine. Just as important as what you will taste in a wine imported by Tanaro River is what you won’t taste: Never will you taste the excessive use of oak or the hint of any other process that alters the structure and characteristics of the various varietals. Instead, you will find a wine that is a true expression of the grapes of the region.”
So, I was definitely excited to be able to taste some new wines. But, my understanding being that European wines were often more subtle than the high alcohol wines [monsters?] I was used to had me a little concerned that the nuances would be lost on me.
Dean has spent enough time with me that he already knows my weakness for the “bigger” style of wines, so he patiently walked me through the wines we were tasting, pointing out the flavors I was tasting but couldn’t adequately describe.
I ranted early in my writing career that I was not very good at complicated tasting notes, so rather than trying to come up with any, I thought I would just give you Dean’s, with some comments of my own at the end:
2007 Beck-Hartweg Riesling Grand Cru Frankstein
Rich and smoky, this wine offers exotic aromas of marzipan, apricot, and grilled peaches. Sensuous in texture with lime zest and peach on the plate with hints of anise and clove. This is a serious Riesling for the serious wine lover.
2007 Beck-Hartweg Pinot Gris Cuvee Prestige
This fun wine offers aromas of white peaches, kiwi, spiced pears, and wet moss. Light and playful on the palate with gentle acidity and a note of green tea on the finish. The perfect summer sipper!
2006 Beck-Hartweg Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Frankstein
Exhibits aromas of lychee, lime zest, wild roses, and wet stones. Rich and concentrated, this off-dry wine offers spiced notes of Key lime, fruitcake, and candied grapefruit peel. Try this with spicy foods.
2007 Bindi Segardi Chianti Colli Senesi
This crowd-pleaser displays notes of red licorice, blueberries, cherry pie filling, and hard candies. Juicy on the palate, this light to medium-bodied wine is perfect for parties or everyday drinking.
2008 Bosco Agostino Dolcetto d’Alba
This wine offers fresh aromas of blueberries and marzipan followed by a zesty palate of blackberries and dried cherries. A rustic minerality completes the finish. Enjoy with pasta or simply-grilled meats.
2006/2007 Bosco Agostino Barbera d’Alba
A rich and mouth-filling display of plum, dark chocolate, black raspberries, and dried cherries, this wine offers a nice balance between modern and traditional styles. Sleek and plush on the palate with great acidity.
2008 Germano Angelo “La Soleggiata” Barbera d’Alba
Done in 100% stainless steel, this wine exhibits the truest expression of the varietal. Vibrant notes of ripe cherries, red licorice, rose petals, and leather. The perfect wine for pizza and tomato-based pasta sauces.
2006 Germano Angelo Barbera d’Alba Mondoca Dardi
This single-vineyard Barbera boasts rich aromas of dark chocolate, raspberries, and strawberries. Silky on the palate with refined notes of dried cherries, currants, and crushed minerals. A beautifully crafted wine!”
Of course, we started with the white Alsatian wines. I was quite impressed with the depth of flavors and the wonderful bouquets. My favorites were the Pinot Gris and the Auxerois. [Sorry, I don’t have tasting notes on the Auxerois.]
We also tasted a Pinot Noir before moving on to the Italian wines.
As we moved through the Italian reds, from simplest to most complex, and as Dean and I discussed them, I felt I was gaining a better understanding of how these wines would match up well with food, as well as taking the time to appreciate how they differed from the wines I was typically accustomed to drinking. We finished up with the Bosco Agostino Barbera d’Alba, and, in the interest of full disclosure, I took the rest of this bottle home. Good stuff!
Thank you Dean, for sharing these wines with me and having the patience to walk this “Zin Fan” through unfamiliar territory.
Michael Perlis provides outsourced controller services to businesses that do not need a full-time controller. He balances this with his interest in wine: reading and writing about it and, of course, drinking it. He is still trying to figure out how to combine these two pursuits. Feel free to contact him about either at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.