Wednesday, October 28, 2015


Master Sommelier Catherine Fallis with Italian Winemakers
Master Sommelier Catherine Fallis with Italian Winemakers
"For 30 years we came to you with wines similar to yours. Now we are bringing you wines that are easy to recognize as being from their particular region," said Niccolo Petrilli, Ambassador for Italian Wine & Style Promotions and Area Manager Americas & New Markets at La Collina dei Ciliegi, a winery in the Veneto known for its delicious, well-priced and widely available Valpolicella. The point of the luncheon was to showcase wines that while perhaps not top in their class, where true to their roots. This was the case with not only his Valpolicella Superiore from the highest elevation vineyard in the appellation, but also with a Barolo, an Amarone and a Moscato d'Asti.

Niccolo recounted how it took him nearly 15 minutes to drink a 2-ounce taste of Robert Mondavi Fume Blanc Napa Valley. For an Italian used to high acid, often bitter and tannic wines that refresh the palate and enhance the meal, it was "dense, heavy, too oaky and rich." Which is of course the great divide. Cocktail vs food friendly. Approachable vs. mysterious, unusual, or downright weird. This is nothing new, and with the latest releases of Brunello di Montalcino's coming in at a whopping 15% alcohol by volume, it is certainly not a country wide effort. But it was very refreshing to hear.

The winemakers present also touched on Italy's hidden treasure - thousands of native grape varieties. In fact, the first wine served, the 2011 Monti Lessini Durello DOC Metodo Classicoo Cuvee Brut, illustrated that point perfectly. It was a blend of 85% Durella (not to be confused with the DOC, Durello) and 15% Incrocio Manzoni, a Riesling/Pinot Bianco cross. This is stuff of SOMMGEEK dreams!

Marina Orlandi Contucci, owner of Colle Manora, a producer of Barolo in Piedmont, recounted this:  A French vigneron was visiting us recently and he said, "In Italy you make Silver wine with Gold grape varietie. In France we make Gold wine with Silver varieties." Well that sounds French to me, and all is as it should be. I for one am so glad to hear things are going back to the way they were before Robert Parker discovered Bordeaux in 1982. The weirder the better I say.

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