Thursday, June 1, 2017

Now that's Italian! Italian wines from WSET Class #6

Tuesday night's class marked the two thirds mark in our course of nine classes. It seems like time is accelerating - both at my job and at the WSET course!

Ah, Italy! It just seems last week (not two years ago) that my wife and I were spending time in Rome, walking the streets, sampling the food, admiring the amazing variety of ancient wonders, and drinking the wine.

You can have at least some of that experience here - you can cook yourself a wonderful meal, watch a great Italian movie, and sip a Pinot Grigio or a Nebbiolo as you recapture your great memories.

Cin cin!

Tonight's class focussed on a variety of wines but the first half looks at Italian wines.

We started with the whites. Italian whites are, for the most part, pale lemon in colour and tasting of green fruit. There are not a lot of differences between the different white varietals but that made it only more interesting as we proceeded to blind taste two different Italian whites and a Spanish one.

First things first, though - I discovered that Italy has over 1000 indigenous grape varietals. In Soave the grape is Garganega and in Gavi it is Cortese. Trebbiano is the most widely planted grape in Italy but you don't often see it on its own. There is also Verdicchio from Castello di Jesi.

Our first three wines were white wines - one was a Pinot Grigio (lighter than the French interpretation of the grape called Pinot Gris), one was a Soave (Garganega grape) and one was a Spanish grape called Albarino which is the signature white grape of Spain.

It was a pretty good evening for our group - and even for me! We were pretty much bang on with our assessments of the wine - or at least, that's how I remember it! The first wine was a 2015 Tolloy Pinot Grigio which was - well  - pale lemon in colour. It had a medium minus intensity nose and smelled of underripe peach and pear. On the palate, it was dry with high acidity and a medium minus body. I tasted the same fruit with a bit of grapefruit and lemon. It had a medium minus finish, was from the Alto Adige area (famous for Pinot Grigio) and cost a mere $20. It was rated Good.

Next was a better wine.Pale lemon in colour, it had medium intensity on the nose, lemon, grapefruit and apricot on the nose with a definite floral aroma. On the palate, there were the tastes of citrus, grapefruit and lemon and it had a dry taste (drier than the Pinot Grigio) with high acidity, light body and a medium plus finish. It was balanced, intense, complex and expressive and therefore earned a rating of Very Good. It was a 2015 Pieropan from Soave (made with Gargenega grapes)  priced at $29. 


The final white of the evening was a Pazo Senoran wine made with the Albarino grape which is the signature white grape of Spain! It was (surprise) pale lemon in colour and had medium intensity on the nose. There were aromas of ripe apple and pear, stone fruit and nectarine. On the palate, it was dry with medium acidity. medium body, and flavours of peach, white pepper, melon, and grapefruit. It had a medium finish, was rated Very Good, and this fabulous wine costs $37 

Switching to reds, we looked at a  famous Italian area. The first was a Chianti (made from Sangiovese grapes) from Castello di Bossi. It was pale garnet in colour and had a medium plus intensity on the nose with aromas of cranberry, cherry, violets, tea, and spices. There were similar flavours on the palate including red fruit such as plum, and high acidity, medium plus body, and medium plus tannins. The finish was medium and the overall rating of this $33 wine was Very Good. It was a pretty nice wine but paled compared to the next one.

This was a 2010 Uccelliera Brunello (di Montalcino), also made from Sangiovese grapes, and made south of Tuscany.  This was also medium garnet and was also clear. It was medium intensity on the nose and was very complex on the nose - red currant, raspberry, red cherry, plum, fig, cloves, spice and smokiness were all apparent. The palate also had plum, back currant, leather and tobacco. This dry wine was high in tannins, high acidity, full body with a fantastic long finish. I would rate this $100 wine as Outstanding. And a great way to finish off our wines of Italy!

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