Italy Titillates 04/18/13
Hey there! After yet another inexplicably protracted absence, I’m back! And today I’ve got three wines to review: wines that hail from my favorite shoe-shaped wine-producing country of all time, Italy. You may remember Italy from World War II, The Jersey Shore Season 4, or perhaps even my past reviews – Italian wine is, in fact, my favorite, and I tend to drink it pretty frequently.
But this marks the first time I’ve received press samples from Italy, which is undeniably a momentous occasion because as a Pennsylvania resident, I’m not allowed to receive very many press samples; and as a Jew, I love to receive press samples. These particular bottles – two reds and a white – come from Giordano Wines, a producer whose offerings I had not encountered prior to last week. Of course, the real question is…will I encounter them again?
As is the case with all good questions, only through drinking will the answer be revealed.
The first wine I tasted was the 2011 Toscana Bianco, a white blend of several grape varieties from the Tuscany region. I was initially a bit disappointed that this wine was a blend, since out of the three grapes used (Trebbiano Toscano, Chardonnay and Malvasia Blanca), I’ve only tried one as a pure varietal (Chardonnay, if you’re actually wondering).
But any oenephile who actively avoids blends is a pretty sad excuse for an oenophile. And in any case, this wine was enticingly floral on the nose and well-balanced, albeit simple, on the palate, with notes of white flowers and citrus. Crisp but not overpowering in terms of acidity, the Toscana Bianco was one of those wines that disappears before you even realize you’ve poured a second glass.
I award the Toscana Bianco thumbs up. At $12, this is well worth a look.
Next was the 2010 Collection Barbera d’Asti, made from (surprise!) Barbera grapes. Barbera holds the notable distinction of growing in Piedmont, which is my favorite region in Italy, and therefore the world. While perhaps less celebrated than its cloudy cousin Nebbiolo – my favorite grape, which also grows in Piedmont – Barbera is still a respectable player in its own right, producing red wines with good acidity (like Nebbiolo) but soft tannins (unlike Nebbiolo).
The Giordano Barbera, retailing for around $14, was a fairly straightforward example of the variety, with prominent raspberry notes on the nose and palate accentuated by great acidity and just enough alcohol to remind you you’re drinking a red.
I shared this one with some friends – contrary to popular belief, sometimes I do share wine – who were similarly smitten. I can’t, however, say the wine paired very well with the Big Katsu: a snack I’d brought back from my recent trip to Japan which is, as far as I could tell, a strip of fried nothing.
All in all, I grant this Barbera d’Asti thumbs up, because it certainly wasn’t the wine’s fault I paired it with such a wrong, wrong thing.
Finally, I worked my way to the 2011 Chianti (about $15). In my opinion this was the most well-balanced of the trio, with fruit, acidity, tannins and alcohol striking a delicate equilibrium. Black cherry and vanilla characterized the nose and more black cherry prevailed on the palate, this time with a dash of boysenberry. A hint of oak added some more complexity to the wine, which also exhibited a bit of peppery spice on the finish.
Chianti, made predominantly from the Sangiovese grape, is best known as the wine Hannibal Lector recommends be paired with fava beans and human liver (on film anyway – in the book he prefers Amarone), but I’d unfortunately just polished off the last of my human liver the week prior, so pizza it was! They paired nicely, as pizza and Chianti tend to do.
I award the Chianti thumbs up. While this may in fact have been a better wine than the Barbera, I just can’t resist a wine from Piedmont.
And that’ll just about do it for my triumphant return to wine blogging. But where will I go from here? Be sure to stay tuned and find out!
(Sake. I’m going to write about sake.)