Italian Wines All Day and All of the Night

Roagnas in their vineyard

Roagnas in their vineyard

Imagine that wine was made in every state of the union and that this has been going on for 1,000 years. What if the best wine regions in the USA included North Carolina and Oklahoma, and there were hundreds of vinifera varietals from which so many different kinds of wines were made that we stopped thinking all American wines were made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay? This is wine in the Old World and a nation such as Italy fits these descriptions like Lady Gaga fits KINKY.

scallopini-dip2WEBAs tBoW guest blogger Mouse was posting on the wide and wonderful world of Italian wines last week we were pulling corks on a handful of typically atypical Italian wines. We dipped scallopini like we knew what we were doing. tBoW tasters brought something different, preferably Italian. With the usual crew of inspired misfit tBoW tasters stepping up to the task, the lineup did not let anyone down. Neither did the Milanese.

dorandaWEB2011 Tenute Sella Doranda Coste della Sesia Bianco $20: Perfect intro wine. Exotic, rare, obscure, well-made and tasty. Golden color. Slightly oxidized flavor which helps explain the auric color. The waxy flavor that comes with oxidized wine is not pronounced here. Acid is balanced with rich unctuous juice. This will never be confused with Riesling. Neal Rosenthal who imports someone elese’s Erbaluce – or someone on his staff – wrote this. “The Erbaluce grape is an ancient white variety that originates, and can only be found, in the alpine foothills of this northwestern corner of Piedmont. It has a bright acidity, an elegant underlying minerality, and a complex structure that makes it the ultimate flexible wine: producing everything from sparkling wine, through bone-dry, off-dry, and late harvest wines.” Doranda means “to make golden.” U20. 14%

LangheNeb10WEB2010 Langhe Nebbiolo Olek Bondonio $30: More Piemontese. We decanted the wine described as de-classified Gattinara. The concept of de-classified regions originates as a political distinction for winemakers who for one reason or another are not permitted to use the regional name for their wine. The practice is commonplace in the Old World. A vigneron does not wish to pay a tribute tax or he just pissed off the local winemakers guild. The subset of “de-classified wines” is something were knowing about. “Searching for Sugar Man” is about a “de-classified” musician/artists/songwriter. Gattinara is a community in the Piemonte where high quality Nebbiolo is grown and made into equally high quality wine that can rival Barolo and Barbaresco. There are other “sugar Man” communities that also produce great Nebbiolo. Classic dense Nebbiolo flavors of spice, tar and some leather. The spicy fruit works really well. Olek Bondonio is a former competition snowboarder who went to wine school so he could make great regional wine. Keep in mind Piemonte is just south of Torina which hosted the 2006 Winter Olympics. 14%

Mocine09WEB2009 Mocine Rosso $13: Sangiovese blend. Most wine folks think Sangio when they think Italian wines. From the Chiusure region in Tuscany near Siena. tBoW taster IGTY calls it Merlot/Cab which gets the flavors succinctly. The wine is medium weight with other obscure Italian grapes – Foglia Tonda, Barsaglina and Colorino – blended that cut and complement the Sangio acidity. Chiusure is a hilltop village near Siena where these wines are produced. You can rent a holiday home in the hills there and attend the artichoke festival while sipping Mocine which is hearty enough to go well with ‘chokes! 13%

RoagnaDolcet2011WEB2009 Roagna Dolcetto D’Alba $18: Eno Fine Wine pick that was served last meaning it had the disadvantage of appealing to fatigued palates. No problemo! Solidly constructed by the winemaker on the tractor above who apparently is a hearty regazzo. Light to middle weight, sweet Piemonte fruit. Dolcetto is the most common of common grapes in the region. Luc Roagna has produced a splendid and delicious wine meant for early drinking with meats or strongly flavored regional plates. The Roagna estate is one of those “de-classified” gems that Italian enophiles should discover. U20 Super deal! 12.5%

Giacosa-Barb99WEB1999 Falletto di Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco $100+: Impression of cognac which means it has aged perfectly. This is special. Showing perfectly. Plenty of strength. Classic Nebbiolo flavors from one of Piemonte’s great producers. Impressive with the de riguer tar and roses, leather, depth, exotic fruit that only comes from Piemonte Nebbiolo. Masculine wine with delicacy. This is the entry level that Dotoré bought from Goldun in another era. From Decanter “If there were an Oscar for careers in wine, Bruno Giacosa would be first in line for the Piemontese nomination. Giacosa is a living archive of the terroir of the Langhe.” Well there you have it! 13.5%

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