Last weekend’s wine tasting night took a turn for the epic. Freed from WSET studying, my friend Laurie let loose the dogs of wine and it made for a spectacular lineup! We ended up having an Italian-Spanish them to the evening, which was unexpected but much appreciated.
Falesco, Est! Est!! Est!!! de Montefiascone, 2011 from Latium, Italy (Trebbiano, Malvasia, Roscetto), around $15
An Italian white to start the evening, crisp and dry with citrus, apple and pear aromas. Est! Est!! Est!! (complete with multiple exclamation points) is the actual official name of the appellation (and the most annoying thing to type ever). It’s nothing to write home about but the name of the DOC is just too good to pass up. Mean people on the Internet have said that the name of the appellation is way more exciting than the wine itself. Well, it’s a very exciting name.
Stefano Farina, Barolo, 2009 from Piedmont, Italy (Nebbiolo), around $40
That’s a big jump in category from the Falesco. Roses, red fruits and smoky (charcoal) aromas are present in this pretty typical Barolo. I was keeping it for an occasion, taking the WSET diploma qualified. Nebbiolo is a variety I fell in love with a few months ago, it’s a shame it’s so pricey… A very well made wine, just short of being spectacular. I’ll stay on the hunt for Nebbiolo based wines: Barolo, Barbaresco, Gattinara,..
Marina Cvetic, S.Martino Rosso, Montepulciano, 2009 from Abruzzo, Italy (Montepulciano d’Abbruzzo), around $25
Another big Italian red, bold and intense with blackberries, red plums, vanilla and chocolate notes. Interestingly enough after the Barolo, it also had a smoky character, but more in a firewood, earthy way than the Barolo which was more on the charcoal, mineral side. I think it was my first Montepulciano d’Abruzzo ever; I can start to see what all the fuss is about. I need more examples to form an opinion, add it to The List.
La Gitana, Manzanilla, NV from Andalucia, Spain (Palomino), around $15
Ah, a vacation reminder. Manzanilla is fortified wine from Southern Spain, it’s actually a kind of fino sherry that is made in the city of Sanlucar de Barrameda, on the coast. It’s a very dry wine with marine aromas (it’s made by the sea) and also distinctive almond, hazelnut and floral notes. As for the floral notes, manzanilla in Spanish means chamomile and the wine was named that way because, well, there are chamomile notes in the wine.
El Chaparal de Vega Sindoa, Old Vines Granacha, 2011 from Navarra, Spain (Grenache), around $15
We finished with another Spanish wine, from Northern Spain this time. Fruity and spicy, a playful little wine. The color completely threw me off as I tend to expect a fairly light color from Grenache and this wine looked quite dark. I guess Navarra joins Rioja as the Spanish representatives on The List. Given the fact that their country is out of the World Cup already, they need all the help they can get.
So, as you can see, this made for a very enjoyable evening. A fringe benefit of moving to the US was the increased availability of non-French wines, including, ironically enough, European wines. It would be hard to find that many quality Italian or Spanish wines in Paris (not to say anything of New World wines). Now, when is that next wine dinner?