Shana Speaks Wine

Wine Journalist, Copywriter, and Marketing Consultant

Drinking out loud. 

Filtering by Tag: Piedmont

I Prefer These Kinds of Fireworks

We BYOBed these beauties to dinner last night: 


Swoony-worthy Nebbiolo.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine.

Swoony-worthy Nebbiolo.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine.

This Travaglini, Riserva, Gattinara, Piedmont, 2001, was a Nebbiolo stunner.  Gattinara is another DOCG region in Piedmont that, like Barolo, produces Nebbiolo wines. Once it opened up a bit, the rich, deep blueberry and raspberry fruit, slightly perfumed with violet, showed great aging with its complex black tea and loamy soil notes.  Medium in body, the tannins integrated lusciously to give it structure but didn't overwhelm.  

We also brought along this  Malenchini, Bruzzico, Tuscany, year not noted, Supertuscan for comparison: 


Supa-dupaTuscan, Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine.

Supa-dupaTuscan, Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine.

Brandy-soaked cherries and a chili pepper spiciness met with earthy and tobacco essences in this bottle.  The acid felt more prominent on the tongue as well as the tannins.  Man, they were not shy and I felt them acutely.  

There were definitely some "oohs" and "aahs" at the table night and if this was the prelude to July 4th, I can't see what tonight brings.



Slow Wine Picks Up the Pace

What a difference a year makes.  Remember the Slow Wine/VInitaly tasting debacle a year ago? Maybe it was due to the new venue, or learnings from last year, or, more likely, the fact that this was the industry, not consumer tasting, but this year's event was spectacular. 

As a quick refesher, Slow Wine is part of the Slow Food Movement, an international organization the promotes clean, affordable and accesible food to all while preserving the traditions of the region and culture. Local and organic practices play a large part in their philosophy and the group, which started in Italy, now has global reach. 

The day started with a seminar on the aromas of prosecco.  It was simply illustrated with the key aromatics in glasses.  A rather basic lesson but still entertaining. 


Prosecco seminar. Photo by Shana Speaks Wine

Prosecco seminar. Photo by Shana Speaks Wine

Then, onto the tasting.  

The highlight of the event came at the very beginning.  One of my favorite producers, Marchesi di Gresy, whom I visited on my trip to Piedmont, and greatly influenced my passion for wine, was present at the event.  Even more exciting? Jeff, the cellar master who guided us through the tastings all those years ago, was at the table. So many memories came back to me and I felt my passion reignited once again. 

Marchesi di Gresy Barbaresco and Jeff Chilcott, Cellarmaster.  Photo by Shana Speaks Wine.

Marchesi di Gresy Barbaresco and Jeff Chilcott, Cellarmaster.  Photo by Shana Speaks Wine.

Of course, the wines were spectacular. He featured Barbaresco Camp Gros 2009, Barbaresco Gaiun 2008, and Barbaresco Martinenga 2010. All were elegant, balanced and finely structured.  

I primarily focused on the Piedmont wines as I wanted to delve even deeper into this favorite region. Much was tasted, much was noted, but these below are the other best in shows:

 La Spinetta Barolo Campe, Nebbiolo, 2009

Plums smoked with ash. Aromatic violets.  Tannins. Acid. Structure. Simply gorgeous.



 Contratto Milliesimato 2009 

This estate is actually part of the La Spinetta portfolio and produces sparkling wines. This pinot nero/chardonnnay blend showcased pear, lemon, rose and a bit of buttered toast.  Very fresh, very crisp.

Contratto For England Rose 2008 

This 100% pinot nero was a very pretty sparkling rose option. Sweet cherry, strawberry and a hint of rose came through this berry-forward sparkler. 

 Casanova della Spinetta Sezzana 2004 

La Spinetta also owns property in Tuscany and creates Sangiovese-based wines from these vineyards.  The single-varietal Sangiovese was ripe with black cherry, plum and sweet baking spices.  

Wines from the La Spinetta portfolio

Wines from the La Spinetta portfolio

 La Gironda Barbera D'Asti La Lippa 2012

An easy-drinking option, this accessible Barbera was a bushel of mixed berries on the nose and the palate also oozed the blueberry, raspberry and blackberry fruits.  Quite a bit of earth also came through on this moderately acidic sipper.  

 Osvaldo Viberti Langhe Nascetta 2012

Nascetta, which is actually another name for Barbera, burst with overripe berries, freshly laid soil and wafts of mocha. 

Osvaldo Viberti Barolo 2007 

Rich and round, everything one could ask for in a Barolo. 

 Anna Maria Abbona Dogliani Superiore Majoli 2011

This dolcetto started with raspberry and strawberry but some baking spices and mocha gave it a little depth and intrigue.  

Keep tasting, friends... 

Benvenuto Brunello 2014

For all of the beautiful and various wines that Italy produces, there's a bit of a West Side Story drama to two of their most revered wines: Barolo and Brunello. Allegiances fall to whatever region you are from and folklore says the two areas will always spar over who makes a better wine. My palate happens to be nonpartisan, so when Benvenuto Brunello, an event comprised of seminars and tastings of this superstar wine came to NYC the other week, I was anxious to expand my Piedmont-trained palate.  

The tasting hall, photo by Shana Speaks Wine

The tasting hall, photo by Shana Speaks Wine

Brunello is made from the Sangiovese grape, and only Sangiovese; blends are not allowed in this single-varietal powerhouse. You want a blend? Go talk to Super Tuscan, he'll tell you a thing or two.

Brunellos reside in the Montalcino territory within Tuscany, a tiny district where only 15% of the land is comprised of vineyards. The small production is one of the major factors in the premium reputation of these wines.  

Although small in size, microclimates can be found within the district and the variables are detectable in the wines. The northern part of the region is cooler and produces elegant, perfume-y wines, rather feminine Brunellos.  In contrast, the southern part of the territory is warmer, creating wine with more density and power. To my Piedmont-leaning palate, I equated the North with Barbarescos and the South with Barolos. 

Brunellos are aged for a minimum of 5 years, so this tasting was a showcase of the 2009 vintage.  What was the verdict?



Brunello di Montalcino DOCG - Collosorbo - approx. $50

On both the nose and palate, this wine spoke of cranberry, dark cherry, cinnamon, cumin and other baking spices, along with some herbaceous rosemary and parley. It had a decent amount of acid and moderate tannins, giving it structure, but it wasn't as bold as other Brunellos.

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG - Il Poggione - approx $85

This one was a little deeper in color than the preceding wine, but it again showcased dark cherry and baking spaces. However, this smelled a little more ripe and lush in the fruit and even the weight felt heavier on the palate than number one. 

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG - La Togata - $N/A

Ripe fruits? Check.  Baking spices? Check.  However, this wine bloomed with violet and floral notes, an aromatic that balanced well with the edible notes. On the palate, a bit of smoked paprika came through, and the sensation was plush and rich on the tongue.  The tannins and acid were higher than in any of the previous wines, giving it a heft and structure that didn't seem fully realized in the others.

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG - Ridolfi - approx $36

This plot, in the north northeast of Montalcino, was a clear example of the differences brought on by climate. The fruit was a  bit more tart on the nose and the baking spices seemed to diminish. Instead, the purple florals came through again, but this wine felt leaner than any of the others before it, almost shy and delicate.

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG - Solaria - approx $75

One of my favorites tasted, this wine from the southeastern zone was the most intense in color than anything else in the lineup.  It was a sweeter bing cherry and blackberry that came through this time and the florals were completely absent; in their place was a whole rack of sweet spices.  On the tongue, there was a bit of mocha, which hadn't been seen in anything else.  Again, it was high in acid and plush, but the tannins were very well integrated and almost soft.

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG - Talenti - approx $50

This one was relatively savory and sweet n' spicy tones rang throughout the glass, only to be tempered by tarter fruits.  What was most noticeable, were the very prominent tannins, which marched around my teeth and gums with short, staccato steps, trampling everything in their path.

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG - Uccelliera - approx $55

The last one of the bunch was the only one that really showcased any wood.  A few cedar notes stood out in the fruit-spice medley I had come to expect.  However, the fruit was more noticeable on the palate and the texture was again plush and soft in the mouth.