Tenuta del Priore, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, 2008 DOC ($13) This red wine from the red clay soils of Central Italy’s Eastern Abruzzo region flows into the glass with strong dark red color, the nose expresses some red and dark fruit aromas. All flavors of savory, rustic red fruits and underlying notes of raspberry come through with a cleanness (and noted absence of oak) that I always look forward to when tasting food-centric Italian wines. This Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is clean yet well concentrated for this price point, with a fine and balanced finish – a great wine to pair with rich and/or savory pastas.
Some very impressive wines are best enjoyed by themselves – but some wines, when presented with food, actually seem to make both the food and the wine improve and Italian wines are traditionally favorites of the wine+food crowd. Here is a wine that fills the requirement of “must go well with food”. The Ascheri Barbera D’Alba Fontanelle 2008 (approximately $18 www.ascherivini.it) tastes great with food, and for those who find Italian wines difficult or confusing because they aren’t like a California Cabernet – please take a chance on this Northern Italian 100% Barbera red. Located 25 miles south of Turin in Northern Italy’s gorgeous Piedmont Region, Ascheri claims to be focused on making wines that express the vineyard and the grapes, rather than producing a wines that rely on particular technology, oak or winemaking techniques. While unwilling to draw philosophical conclusions, I do conclude that in the case of this wine, the aim was true and the goal achieved. As is traditional for Barbera wines, this wine is light bodied with a clean, dark ruby color. Like many Italian reds, breathing helped the Ascheri open up and reveal concentrated red berry flavors with some black cherry undercurrents, all nicely balanced in a bright and fresh package including a nice grip of well integrated acidity at the finish. This is a wine that will agree with, and nicely balance, many types of food, from pizza to pasta to strong cheeses.
When Pittsburghers think about driving a couple of hours to a wine event, many might be think ‘why bother’, since the State of Pennsylvania is known to have generally similar choices at all the state owned wine shops across the state. But wait – this event looks a little different. For anyone thirsting for wine knowledge and seeking a chance to sample a broad variety of wines in one setting, the drive up to State College will be very attractive. (http://wpsu.psu.edu/radio/programs/wine_celebration)
Ensuring that the event will be as wine-focused as possible is the event’s co-chair Ted Liberti, who is an energetic wine-enthusiast, and has studied wine all around the world. Thanks to a great deal of work by Ted and the other capable co-chairs and directors, the WPSU Wine Festival & Celebration promises to provide an interesting experience to all attendees at all levels of interest and background.
September is a beautiful month for a drive through Pennsylvania’s countryside, and an event like this one in State College makes the road trip even more compelling!
Here are some interesting facts and links:
- Ticket cost is $60 each in advance and online, $75 each at the door. http://wpsu.org/tv/purchasetickets/wine_celebration
- Huge variety of wines will be available to sample, including many American Cabernets and Pinots, an Italian Barolo, a number of Spanish wines and even a couple of Rhone reds – here is the current list: http://wpsu.org/assets/static/wine_celebration/whos_pouring10.html
- Book Signing/Tasting – wine writer Marnie Old will present a VIP wine and food pairing for an additional $20 per person. Marnie will be selling and signing copies of her most recent wine and food pairing book entitled, “Wine Secrets: Advice from Winemakers, Sommeliers & Connoisseurs.”
- Added bonus: This event features the PLCB’s on-site store where the PLCB will offer for sale 80 listed and luxury wines for sale from among the wines featured at this year’s festival.
- The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel is offering a special room rate for Sunday, September 19. Cost is $84 per room, plus 8.5% tax. Call 1-800-233-7505 and reference the “WPSU Wine Celebration” to make your reservation.
Wow – what fun flavor combinations we had for this Italian-themed cruise – as always, my cheese-expert pal David Bennett chose cheese from the same country as the wines – we tried to obtain traditional, ‘old-world’ style wines to express traditional Italian flavors – no Super-Tuscans in this tasting! Feel free to post questions and comments.
Zardetto – Prosecco Brut NV – Made by the Zardetto family about 30 miles due north of Venice in the town of Conegliano. Apple-ish aroma with slight floral notes. Flavors are crisp with light frothy apple followed by a light lemon zest bitterness on the finish. Some sweetness enters mid-palate despite the residual sugar of 12 grams per liter which qualifies as a Brut. Overall, a fine aperitif accompaniment and wonderful match for the Robiola Bosina Cheese. – A luscious, mild, creamy cheese made from the milk of Piedmont cows and sheep, making for a perfectly balanced set of flavors: mushroomy, salty, and sweet. You will love the silky texture and complex taste!
Ca Stella Pinot Grigio – 2009 – Fine example of Veneto classic Pinot Grigio from the North East region of Italy – citrus and fruity nose followed by a crisp and fresh wine that is light in all aspects. Light, slightly tart fruit flavors, light body with a crisp finish. A classic Italian wine matched nicely to the classic Italian cheese Piave Cheese. A cow’s milk cheese made in the Piave River Valley region of Belluno, Italy. It’s a hard cheese, slightly sweet, with a marvelous finish. An “experts” pick.
Montaribaldi La Consolina Barbera d’Asti – 2007 – Produced a few miles south of Torino with grapes from the historic town of Asti, this wine has dark berry aromas leading into a light to medium bodied wine. The wine is bright, with red berry fruit flavors like cherry and raspberry, backed by a wonderfully smooth smokiness. Typical to Barbera, the acidity makes a good food matching wine, especially at the finish. David’s cheese match for this wine proved fascinatingly complex. Fontina Val d’Aosta Cheese – Rumored to have been revealed to the early inhabitants of the Val d’Aosta by a mythical man called Sarvadzo. Italian cousin to the French Gruyère, made from unpasteurized milk.
Tenuta del Priore Montepulciano d’Abruzzo -2008** – Lovely purple color, this wine is lower in acidity than most Italian varietals, which makes it easier drinking when young. Medium bodied (light for most Americans) has rich flavors of blackberry and plum that flow smoothly to a well-focused finish. This wine matched (if I may say?) perfectly with the lush and gorgeous Dolce Gorgonzola Cheese –Younger, milder, version of aged Gorgonzola. Dolce is wetter and more ivory colored than Gorgonzola Naturale. Soft texture, marvelous flavor, classic cheese! **Remember not to be confused with: Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (70% Sangiovese) which is a wine from a place (within Tuscany), rather than the wine of the grape named Montepulciano (up to 10% Sangiovese), which is what we had for this tasting.