Road Less Travelled, Italy – January 24, 2017

It has been a few years since I’ve been conducting tastings at KWM and I never really had a good reason not to do them again, especially since I have a lot of passion for wine and the industry. I am glad that I’ve finally been convinced to teach again as the reception at this tasting was great – even though the wines were quite obscure for many and perhaps not ones that an average consumer would buy. The point of this tasting was to taste and learn about grape varietals, regions that are often overlooked by our shoppers at the store even if these wines may seem quite ordinary to wine professionals, and in fact selecting less known wines that still have broad appeal was challenging.

None the less, my duty was to showcase wines that were not the usual ones like Amarone, Sangiovese infused “Super Tuscans”, Pinot Grigio or a Chianti. Wines that us wine geeks truly enjoy and want to share with consumers but are often afraid to recommend them because they are not the norm. For every time someone asks me to recommend a wine that I personally like, the answer would be easily found within any of the bottles in this lineup.

Fattori Ronca Methodo Classico Durello (2012 – Bottled 2016) – $44.99
Monte Calvarina, on the east side of Soave DOC, Veneto

We’ve been working with this winery for a few years now at KWM as an Alberta exclusive, starting with the excellent value Pinot Grigio and Soave, and eventually bringing in the whole Valpolicella lineup including the Amarone wines. The new additions this year are two sparkling wines made of local grape varietal Durella (AKA Durello) which is suitable for sparkling wines due to high acid levels. I selected the Methodo Classico for the evening as it is closer to Champagne; with 36 months aging on the lees and bottle fermented to give finer bubbles. What you’ll find on the nose are characteristic notes of bread crust and yeast elegantly intertwined with hints of dried fruit and citrus. The palate is seamless and the persistent taste comes from good acidity that blends nicely with fine bubbles and a distinct flavour. The long finish offers notes of citrus and almond. This wine is perfect as an aperitif, and ideal with dishes of raw shellfish and sushi. Great with Verona’s traditional dishes like Sopressa (aged salami), cheese and Baccalà alla Vicentina (baked cod fish).

Tiare Empire Sauvignon DOC Collio 2013 - 47.99
Collio, Friuli Venezia Giulia

This is one of our staff favourites and reminds me of a very well made white Bordeaux even though there is no Semillon added to this wine. A medal winner at the 2014 Concours Mondial Sauvignon! A beautiful white wine made from the Sauvignon Blanc grape, with notes of grass, fresh herbs, gooseberry and perhaps a hint of flowers and quince. This is a very full-bodied version of Sauvignon and it leaves your palate with flavours similar to Sauternes sweet wine, and although this wine is dry it still leaves your palate with fruity sensation. This fantastic winery is located in Northern Italy, very close to the Slovenian border.

Giusti Augusto Recantina 2014 – $47.99
Montello Colli Asolani (near Treviso), Veneto
Calgarian Joe Giusti is the man behind Italy’s Giusti winery, a gem in northeastern Italy, just outside of Treviso. For the past decade or so, he’s been buying up vineyards, replanting if necessary and rebuilding the old properties into something utterly magical. This wine — named after his father, Augusto — is made from Recantina grapes (only about 12 acres of this grape are planted in the area), an indigenous Italian grape that has beautiful aromas and flavours. “Intense with fruity notes of red plum and black currant (cassis) and floral notes of violets and cyclamen,” according to the winery team. “In the mouth it is soft and velvety, with sweet tannins and pleasantly acidic aftertaste.”

Tenuta Di Angoris Schioppettino 2014 – $29.99
Friuli Colli Orientali, Friuli-Venezia Giulia
“A native grape that takes its name because it pops (“schioppetta”) with spiciness in your mouth.”
What a cool opportunity to try a wine made from the Schioppettino grape! This grape found mostly around northeastern Italy. It makes dark and fragrant wines with relatively low alcohol and lovely aromas of blackberry, raspberry, blueberry with intense; grapey; slightly peppery and liquorish spice note. This is one of my recent, personal favourites at the store and a wine that just about every wine geek would love.

Caprai Montefalco Rosso 2014 – 32.99
Montefalco DOC, Umbria
Made from 70% Sangiovese, 15% Sagrantino, and 15% Merlot with first vintage of released 1975, makes this wine one of the flagship wines at Caprai.
“The phrase “wise beyond one’s years” sprang to mind when I first tasted this Sangiovese-Sagrantino-Merlot blend produced in Central Italy’s Umbria province, in the hilltop town of Montefalco. A fragrance redolent with red cherries and suggestions of fresh red plums gives the early impression of youthfulness and fun. Furtive notes of new leather and damp earth whisper through these youthful aromatics as well, putting a bit of silver in its stubble, and asserting its underlying sophistication.” –
This red wine, best served at a temperature between 64-65°F (18°C), can be enjoyed by itself or with food, such as red and white meats, charcuterie, or aged cheeses.

Pietradolce Archineri Nerello Mascalese 2014 – $47.99
Etna Rosso DOC, Sicily
A simply outstanding red wine from the slopes of Sicily’s famous Mt. Etna made from 80-100 year old vines. Look for berry notes and herbs on the palate, and hints of flowers on the nose. Here’s what Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate has to say about this winery: “Pietradolce is my new Etna darling. This estate has always been on my radar, but the wines have never tasted as good as they do now. Michele Faro and his team (winemaker Carlo Ferrini is a consultant) have made impressive leaps and bounds in quality – from the stunning historic vineyards they own to the immaculately designed gravity winery that is coated with slabs of volcanic stone… Located in Solicchiata on the northern side of the volcano, Pietradolce boasts some of the most beautiful vineyards I have ever seen. I cannot exaggerate this point.”

Macchiole Scrio Syrah 2010 – 185.99
Toscana IGT
From the beginning, Scrio had a special place in the heart of Eugenio Campolmi, a great lover of the Syrah of the Northern Rhône. Today, Le Macchiole’s Scrio is unquestionably one of the finest Syrah coming from Italy. Intense deep red, decisively spicy with aromas of white pepper, bay leaf, and fruity perfumes. Round in the mouth, the acidity is balanced by the sweetness of the tannins, the finish is fresh with notes of mint and eucalyptus.
From Vinous / Antonio Galloni – “Another striking wine, the 2010 Scrio (Syrah) is off the charts. Mocha, spices, chocolate, black cherries and flowers all wrap around the palate. Varietal aromas and flavors lie behind the wine’s superb textural richness and depth. Once fermented in barrel, Scrio is now vinified in stainless steel, which seems to allow the aromatics to truly soar. Over the last few months, the 2010 has developed beautifully. The trademark Bolgheri richness is still present, but the estate has added layers of finesse and complexity that weren’t always present in the wines. This is a dazzling effort from Le Macchiole.” 97/100 points

Andreola Pensieri Passito di Prosecco 2011 – $51.99
This is a fairly new arrival for us at KWM, from a producer that has been supplying us with some great prosecco for many years. Passito style wine is a “Straw wine”, or raisin wine, and is a wine made from grapes that have been dried to concentrate their juice. The result is similar to that of the ice wine process, but suitable for warmer climates.
A Kensington Wine Market exclusive, and a beautiful dessert wine for your next gathering!
“A sweet wine made from dried grapes selected from our own vineyards. Scents and flavours of dried meadow flowers, honey, apricot and candied lime. Delicious with herbal cheeses and plain pastries,” according to the Andreola winemaking team!

A surprise were the chosen favourites!

#1 Macchiole Scrio Syrah 2010

#2 Andreola Pensieri Passito di Prosecco 2011

- Sebastian
Twitter: @sebayyc

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