Piemonte Blends, Collecting Italian Wines Seminar

Is Global Warming Changing the Landscape of Italian Wine?
–The president of the Vini Veri movement speaks out on the recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

“Perhaps there is too much alarmism in the scenarios hypothesized” in recent reports, says Teobaldo Cappellano, president of the Vini Veri (Natural Wines) movement. “But one thing is certain: I’ve read that 2006 was the warmest year in the last 130 years and I know that 130 years ago, Barolo was better than it is today.” At the same rate, says Cappellano, the warm weather has also had a positive effect. “It’s been months since it has rained here. More direct exposure to stronger solar rays accelerates the ripening of the grapes and it gives the fruit stronger flavors.” The recent string of great vintages in the Langhe seems to be evidence of this phenomenon. Hopefully, says Cappellano, it’s not too late to change the course of global warming. “Besides Barolo, I want to leave my children a land that continues to thrive. Not a land that has been desertified.”

Look for more “News from the World of Italian Wine” in upcoming issues of the Vino/I Trulli newsletter.

Comments? Please write us at editor@vinosite.com.

Upcoming Events at Vino and I Trulli

Piemonte Blends
Fri. (5:30-7:30) & Sat. (4:30-6:30)
February 9 and 10
at Vino

See details below.

Meet Winemaker Serena Palazzolo
of Ronco del Gnemiz (Friuli)
and Taste Her Wines
Thursday, Feb. 8, 5:30-7:30
at Vino

Taste Serena’s blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio, “Bianco di Jacopo,” and her rare bottling of Schioppettino (among other wines).

To register, please send an email to events@vinosite.com.

Produttori del Barbaresco
Vertical Dinner
with Charles Scicolone
Monday, March 5
at I Trulli
$250 (inclusive)

A seven-course dinner paired with Produttori del Barbaresco going back to the late 1970s. Moderated by Wine Director Charles Scicolone.

To register and for more information, please send an email to events@vinosite.com.

Puglia dinner
with Michele and Charles Scicolone
Weds., April 18
at I Trulli

Details TBA.

To register and for more information, please send an email to events@vinosite.com.

* * *

This Week’s Tasting: Piemonte Blends

Come join us at Vino this Friday (5:30-7:30) and Saturday (4:30-6:30) for our FREE weekly tasting. This week we’re featuring Piemonte Blends.

Charles and the Vino staff will be pouring the following wines (among others):*

  • Vareij 2004 Hilberg, $21
    Hilberg’s Vareij is a highly unusual wine made from a blend of Barbera and Brachetto (the latter is almost exclusively vinified as a sparkling, sweet dessert wine). The name Vareij means “variation” in Piedmontese dialect and is inspired by the fact that no one on record has blended these two grapes together.
  • Bricco Manzoni 1999 Manzoni, $16
    In the old days, winemakers used to put a little bit of Barbera in the Nebbiolo to make the wine more approachable at a younger age. Rocche dei Manzoni’s Bricco Manzoni (named after the hilltop where the grapes come from) hilltop where the grapes are sourced) is a wonderful expression of Nebbiolo that does not require the aging needed for the Barolos (sometimes 15-20 years).
  • Canavese Acini Sparsi 2004 Orsolani, $17
    This blend of Nebbiolo, Barbera, and Uvarara is one of our most popular wines, thanks to its approachability and its great price. Orsolani calls it Acini Sparsi or “scattered grapes” because the winery sources the fruit for this Canavese from different estate-owned vineyards “scattered” across the appellation. While the Nebbiolo gives the wine structure and rich aromas, the Barbera and Uvarara help to soften the Nebbiolo’s tannin and add nice acidity, making this wine an excellent food wine. A classic expression of the appellation.

* * *

Vintage Italy: Collecting Italian Wines
Wednesday, March 7, 6:30 p.m.

Those who approach the art of collecting Italian wines are faced with the age-old conundrum: how do I know what to collect if I’ve never tasted old wines? How will I know how to invest my capital, whether I’m collecting for personal consumption or for profit? Vino and I Trulli’s Wine Director Charles Scicolone began collecting Italian wines in the 1970s, when few American collectors were paying much attention to Piemonte and Toscana. Vino’s “Collecting Italian Wines” guided tasting includes older and current vintages of some of Charles’ favorite wines. This seminar represents a unique opportunity to sample older Piemonte and Toscana side-by-side with current vintages of the same grapes and appellations. Charles’ selection offers participants the chance to sample wines otherwise prohibitively expensive and he shares his insights into what wines and which vintages to collect. A must for the would-be collector of Italian wines.

To register for the class, please email register@vinosite.com.

* * *

Wine Opinion: A Dog, a Truffle, and a Wine

Please join us this Friday (5:30-7:30) and Saturday (4:30-6:30) for our FREE weekly tastings. This week, Charles and the Vino staff will be pouring Piemontese blends.

For more information on this and other events at Vino, please email events@vinosite.com.

Charles Scicolone, Wine DirectorWhen one thinks of the wines of Piemonte, one often thinks of single varieties: Nebbiolo, Dolcetto, and Barbera, not to mention Freisa, Bracchetto, Ruche, and Pelaverga, all of which are grapes traditionally vinified as “mono-varietal” wines. However, in the past, Piemontese wines were often made with more than one grape. Even the noble Barolo had some Barbera in it, a practice that Angelo Gaja has brought back. Therefore, it comes as no surprise today to see the number of blends coming out of Piemonte, both those which use traditional grapes and those which add international varieties. These wines are sometimes less expensive than, let us say, a Barolo or Barbaresco.

Some of these blends are very traditional and use grapes that are indigenous to Piemonte and fall under the various Italian appellations. In other words, they are traditional wines made from local grapes and have some historic significance. Canavese is a wonderful example of this, a wine that few know in the United States. It is made in the township of Canavese, which lies to the northeast of the Langhe (home of Barolo and Barbaresco), not far from Carema, where they make 100% Nebbiolo. This wine is much lighter in body than wines made from 100% Nebbiolo because of the addition of grapes such as Barbera, Bonarda, Freisa, and/or Neretto. The wine retains its flavor but can be drunk much younger and costs less.

Other wines are made using a blend of local grapes and international grapes. One of the most unusual is Le Grive, which is a combination of Pinot Nero and Barbera. This combination seems strange at first but once you taste the wine you can see that it really works.

Another interesting Piemontese blend that we carry in the store is the Policalpo, which is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Barbera made in Asti. The producer is one of my favorite producers of Barbera, Cascina Castle’t. I was first introduced to Maria Borio of Cascina Castle’t at Barbetta restaurant in Manhattan at a Piemontese dinner for Les Dames d’Escoffier. The highlight of the event was a Piemontese truffle hunter and his dog in the garden of the restaurant where the truffle hunter buried the truffle and set the dog loose to find it. The dog was let loose inside the restaurant and immediately ran outside and in just a few minutes, it found the truffle. The dog, however, would not give the truffle up and ran around the garden and into the restaurant under the tables being chased by his owner, the wait staff, and whoever felt so inclined. To better understand the scene, you must know that Barbetta is and always has been one of Manhattan’s top Italian and most fashionable restaurants. Many years ago, the great opera singer Enrico Caruso used to eat there and the inimitable Laura Maioglio still runs it with great panache (it is the only Italian restaurant in the United State listed in the Locali Storici d’Italia or Historic Sites of Italy registry). While this was all going on, I was calmly drinking my Policalpo as I enjoyed a dish of bagna cauda. The dog was finally cornered and gave up the truffle, not without a fight however. Even though the dog had the truffle in his mouth, no one that night refused truffles at the dinner. Needless to say, it was a very memorable night as was the wine.
–Charles Scicolone, Wine Director, I Trulli and Vino

Charles would love to hear from you: please email him at charles@vinosite.com.


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