Practice your best MUZZ-A-REL shtick because I am about to talk Italian…
I spoke at a wine dinner the other evening with eight different, very high end, wines from all over the world. I first showed a $50 bottle of Chardonnay from Australia, then a $80 bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon from California, and then….thought I would catch a break on sales… and offer a $25 bottle of Chianti Classico Riserva. When this Italian selection came out, a lovely New Jersey gem of a female said, in a perfect clash of cultural accents, “Oh my gawd, I can’t even believe! Finally! Something to go with my macaroni”. That really happened.
A testament to what consumers think of Italian wine as a whole. It’s good, it’s really good – no, it’s the best. I don’t blame them. It’s something about the Sangiovese grape – the holy grail of grapes from Italy – that settles into your being. There is fruit, spice, earth, tannins, length, pleasure, delight, and an all over gratifying experience. Italian wine was my first real wine job, so I fall on my knees to the stuff. This Polish girl will speak Italian wine jargon till I am breathless. Oh, how freaking sexy it is….
New Jersey, land of pinot grigio, also believes Italian wine cannot exist without New Jersey existing. For importing purposes, eh, can’t hurt, but there is more than what you all think pairs well with “Cal-a-mar”. (do you know “Cal-a-mar” is actually PRONOUNCED calamari in Italy by real Italians that actually live there? Just a side note…)
An overview of Italian wine is TOTALLY necessary. What you need to know right this moment:
- They don’t drink a lot of Pinot Grigio in Italy. They just don’t – it’s an export thing. Castello di Gabbiano actually blends their pinot grigio with chardonnay -better fruit component to the wine and mouth feel. Sorry to burst your bubble on this.
- Chianti is a PLACE – not a grape. Sangiovese is the grape in the bottle – at least 75% must be in that bottle. Chianti Classico is ALSO a place; the heart of the Chianti zone. So, purchasing a bottle of Chianti Classico may give you a more sincere, deeper, denser style of Sangiovese. There will also be a black rooster on the neck of the bottle showing you the wine will be sourced from the Classico region; another statement of quality.
- Riserva means the wine spends a minimum of two years in oak, and 3 months in bottle prior to release. If you are looking for your holiday feasting wine, you found it! The fruit here changes to a cooked flavor, cigar box (smokey), harvest spices; highly recommend to age a bit. Don’t cellar for ever, but a little age creates some funky goodness.
- Super Tuscan throw down; a escape from the grape Sangiovese, and a trip into more noble varietals; Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. If you are a little nervous on an Italian wine purchase, this may be your route. However, buyer beware; just because it is “super” doesn’t mean it is super delicious. Find a producer you like, and stick with that winery! (or ask your buddy Susan for some recommendations)
Rather than me telling you about a favorite Italian winery, Castello di Gabbiano, that kicks some Italian Culo, check out this video below. I had the pleasure of working with the General Manager, Ivano Realie, in November – so I grabbed a little footage of our presentation to my friends Priya and Yogesh of Wine World in Gillette. You can find Wine World HERE: LIKE this Facebook Page
Watch, learn, and discover the wines from Castello di Gabbiano with a private tour (well, semi private; Priya, Yogesh, the internet and you) from Ivano Realie!