There is a reason why I love tapas. I get to try a little bit of everything without getting too full on just one plate. Offering a variety of ‘stuzzecchini’ or Italian tapas at the Wild Turkey Pub, near Vicenza last night, wasn’t the only thing I was looking forward to. With each bite we could try a different wine- a bio-dynamic wine. All I could eat and drink with no headaches later on! I was starving by the time the first round of food was placed out on the bar top. Boiled quail egg sliced and served over a puree of asparagus, a slice of smoked tuna layered over pieces of fresh fruit and thick bread, and a modern take on eggplant parmigiana. I walked up to the wine table and held out my glass for the first wine, a Pignoletto frizzante. Light and unfiltered and I can imagine that on a hot day in the summer it would be easy to drink a lot of these bottles. Continuing the tasting in order of strength and character, we passed onto Selvadolce‘s Pigato wines from Liguria. There were two to taste; the first was young and made from a mixture of all the vines, while the second was slightly aged in oak and made from a selection of grapes. I can’t say often enough how much I love this wine. It is fresh and inviting, while round and warm, full of flavor not only from the fruit but from the wood which leaves hints of vanilla and tobacco. At this time I went to hit up the cheese and salami table. I made myself a plate of choice cheeses, like unpasteurized goats milk ricotta, an aged, smokey tasting, Swiss-like cheese from Austria and a blue cheese covered in a jam of mixed berries and aged. The cured meats were just as fantastic. From a store called Antico Ardenga in Parma, there was a fresh, pink colored culatello, ‘feline’ salami, Mariola salami (or thick skinned salami) and strolghino, a long, thin salami made to be eaten young. At this time, I decided it was best to move onto the reds, starting with a Barbera from Emilia Romagna. San Vito also makes the sparkling white I mentioned earlier, and like it, this red was easy to drink, not too heavy or tannic and had aromas of vegetables, vines and fresh fruit. The waitress came around and brought out tiny cups of pasta in tomato sauce and bignet in fondue. I moved onto the next vineyard, Casa Wallace wines, and was poured another Barbera, only this one was from Piedmonte. Unfortunately this wine, like the others I tried after, were all heavy and pasty and seemed ‘uncared for.’ In fact, my friend told me later on that they are thinking of selling the vineyard to move to the US. There is a lot of potential in these wines, and I think with the right oenologist and right people caring for the grapes, a fantastic group of wines could be made. While discussing the future of the vineyard, we were brought out a taste of hamburger, a pumpkin creme with crunchy ham and sliced steak. For this, we tasted a bottle of Masiero‘s first wine called Verdugo, ‘Primo’. This wine was aged for three years in new oak and the grapes picked for the wine were under-ripe because of the possibility of hail storms. They figured the wine wouldn’t come out well and sold half of it to be made into vinegar. They did, however, hold onto 500 bottles and opened the first few this past year. Strong and intense, tannic and astringent, it had a freshness and acidity that gave youth to a wine that can easily be aged for another 10 years. Personally, I thought it was too young and too viney, but I can see how many people prefer this wine to the other years. It has a potential and intensity that makes us curious about its future. My favorite year, the 2007 , was what we drank next. Dry with sweet tannins and notes of wild black and blue berries, it had a slight hint of cured leather and cloves and star anise. The body was intense and chocolaty warm. Not heavy or pasty in the mouth but instead light and fresh while still having a grand structure. The acidity from the fruit will easily bring this wine forward for another 5-10 years. Dinner was over and we moved onto coffee and dessert. Chocolatier Rizzati presented an array of chocolate- based spreads mixed with different nuts and also wines. He also had brownies, pieces of dark chocolate and candied fruits covered in chocolate. Stuffed to the rim, we thanked out hosts and headed back to Venice, ready to dream about our night.
Italian Wine Tours and TastingsLet us take you to the beautiful Italian countryside, among rolling hills and endless vineyards, to taste some of the worlds best wine (read more....)