Sunday, November 2, 2008

Conversation Starters - Wine 101

A couple weeks ago I attended one of the fabulous and always engaging wine tasting events at Bion Divino Wine Boutique just off Polk Street. The wines were from the Italian region La Sibilla and were presented by quite the Italian, Vinicenzo Di Meo. Although I am far from a wine critic, this tasting was one of the more fascinating I had been to in a while. I left with a wealth of information and, of course, a slight buzz.

A lot of the wines I drink are from California vineyards or are your typical Malbecs and Merlots. I never took Italian wines too seriously, probably because they aren't as approachable as California wines. Little did I know, this was sure to change! We all know wines have a wonderful history in Italy, and I wasn't to shocked to learn the Falanghina grapes of La Sibilla were cultivated from 60 - 80 year old vines. More fascinating was that my palate was challenged by a new earthy, more mineral flavor of wine. The Campi Flegrei engulfed my palate with a mineral tartness reminiscent of their terroir - with each sip I could envision the red clay hills and rocky slopes where the vines grew. It was fascinating tasting terroir in wines as California wines always tend to be so fruity and bold.

Vinicenzo was passionate about not using oak in his wine making process. He made a great point that Oak overwhelms a palate making it difficult to pair such wines with food. Rather, a wine made without Oak cleanses and refreshes the palate, resulting in a wine that is much more suitable to pair with food... Something to think about for my next dinner party! But what really struck me was I had never consciously realized this dilemma of drinking Oak barrelled wines with food. This theory seemed so obvious, but struck me as I snacked on the available cheese and crackers. One of those "Aha" moments I guess (not to quote Oprah or anything).
I highly recommend purchasing these 3 wines yourself. Maybe try the reds next to a Merlot or a Pinot Oak Barreled wine and the Piedirosso next to a Chardonnay, would love to hear your opinion!
2007 Sibilla Falanghina, Campi Flegrei - younger version of the Campi Flegrei below, lots of terroir and minerality, as well as a subtle flavor of raspberries. Great with the manchego cheese they had at the tasting.
2006 Sibilla Falanghina, Campi Flegrei 'Cruna del Lago' - I'm saving this one for a special occasion. A delicious, smooth red. The terroir and minerality was there, but it was subtle. This was the one that did it for me, now I've almost become a little skeptical of CA reds... almost.
2007 Sibilla Piedirosso, Campi Flegrei - delicious white wine, high minerality yet nuances of Chardonnay sneak their way onto the palate. Very good with Brie or white fish.


Anonymous said...

I can't wait to taste the wines. Invite me to your next dinner party! I love Italian wines.

Michael said...

Do you have any information on Wine coolers, thats a man's drink.