Admittedly, my wine knowledge is pretty focused on California. So, when I get an opportunity to add to knowledge outside of my primary area of expertise, especially when it is in a great environment, I do my best to jump at that.
The Kobrand Tour d’Italia 2013 wrapped up its eight-city tour at the Hotel Sofitel in Beverly Hills on September 19th. I had the pleasure to attend the guided tasting entitled: Experience the Iconic Wines of Italy.
We were also greeted by who was to be the moderator of the panel discussion, Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan. Ms. Simonetti-Bryan became only the fourth woman in the United States to achieve the prestigious Master of Wine designation. She told me she started out in the banking industry – possibly that’s what drove her to drink (just like accounting probably influenced me)?
Ms. Simonetti-Bryan discussed Italy’s rich wine heritage, which is over 2000 years old. She mentioned that, while wine is of course still hugely popular in Italy, per capita consumption is down and that, in total, more Italian wine is consumed in the US than in Italy.
She then went to introduce the wineries and the individuals representing them. For the most part, the wineries were all family-owned and the representative was a family member.
The seven wines we tasted, while being educated by the representatives of the wineries, were:
Wine #1. The first wine, as indicated, was a Pinot Grigio, and the only white wine we tasted. It was much more complex and flavorful than that mass produced one that is so popular.
Winery representative: Roberto Pighin
Region: Friuli-Venezia Giulia
100% Pinot Grigio
Suggested retail price: $24.99
Wine #2. This wine was 100% Nebbiolo and had been barrel aged for two years with an additional 15-16 months of bottle age before release.
Winery representative: Alberto Chiarlo
Region: Piedmont / Barolo
Suggested retail price: $102.99
Wine #3. This was the last Italian varietal until #7. (#4, #5 and #6 are Super Tuscans, a term given to Italian wines made with French Bordeaux varietals.) I wish California Sangiovese could taste like this.
Winery representative: Emilia Nardi
Region: Tuscany / Montalcino
100% Sangiovese Grosso
Suggested retail price: $106.99
Wine #4. As I mentioned above, we are in Super Tuscan territory now. Actually, this winery pioneered Super Tuscans, having first produced this wine in 1968.
Winery representative: Piero Incisa della Rocchetta
Region: Tuscany / Bolgheri
85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc
Suggested retail price: $225.99
Wine #5. This might have been my favorite wine of the day, maybe because I found it to be the most “California” in style. I know I am showing my own geographic prejudice here, but so be it. Although, see #7 below.
Winery representative: Giovanni Folonari
Region: Tuscany / Chianti
100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Suggested retail price: $85.99
Wine #6. A classic Bordeaux style blend from Italy.
Winery representative: Giovanna Moretti
Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot
Suggested retail price: $110.99
Wine #7. Back to Italian varietals to end the seminar with a great flourish. Amarone is made with dried grapes, and the flavors were intense. Tied with #5 for my favorite.
Winery representative: Raffaele Boscaini
75% Corvina, 20% Rondinella and 5% Molinara
Suggested retail price: $174.99
This was definitely a great way to learn more about Italian wines. Sometimes, it is a good idea to venture out of your comfort zone.
Michael Perlis has been pursuing his passion for wine for more than 25 years. He has had the good fortune of having numerous mentors to show him the way, as well as a wonderful wife who encourages him and shares his interest. After a couple of decades of learning about wine, attending events, visiting wineries and vineyards, and tasting as much wine as he possibly could, he had the amazing luck to meet Eve Bushman. Now, as Contributing Editor for Eve’s Wine 101, he does his best to bring as much information as possible about wine to Eve’s Wine 101 faithful readers. (2013 Update: Eve and Michael announced Eve Wine 101 Consulting. Info is here: http://evewine101.com/press-releases/) Michael can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.