I have learned many things since staring here at Everything Wine in North Vancouver. One of which is that Chris Sharpe knows an infinite amount of wine information; specifically, the wine he takes care of in theVintages Room. I take great pleasure in pestering him daily for little tid-bits of wine info. I’m sure you could imagine my excitement when I was given the opportunity to sit in on one of his tastings, the Italian Classics tasting at that. Two solid hours of listening and absorbing fun facts from Chris and tasting eight amazing Italian wines to match.
My night started with piling my plate high with cheese and meat, olives and walnuts, and sitting in front of eight glasses of wine. While chewing on an olive I perused the list of wines. Italy has some of the most expressive, unique wines and I had eight great examples in front of me. Also provided was a map of Italy indicating that we would be sampling from Piedmont in the northwest, Tuscany in west central Italy, and Valpolicella,in the northeast: three classic regions.
Our tasting started in Piedmont. Nebbiolo is Piedmont’s most popular grape and, as Chris explained, is known for its tar and rose character which really came out in the first two wines, the first of which was Ca’ du Rabaja ‘Rabaja’ Barbaresco 2007 ($89.99) from the Barbaresco region. The colour of the wine is light, which I learned is to be expected from Nebiollo. But do not be deceived. The pale hue does not reflect the intensity on the nose and palate (red cherries, baking spices, with the overarching classic tar and roses). The tannins were light and soft with great length. It paired wonderfully with the cheeses and meats. I can also see it going well with beef or duck.
Our second wine was the Beni Di Batasiolo Vigneto Cerequio Nebbiolo 2004 ($89.99) from Barolo, another sub region within Piedmont where it is considered the greatest example of Nebbiolo. Barolo is divided further into 11 communes each having their own distinct character. One of which is La Morra where our wine hailed. Chris explained that wines from La Mora tend to be more delicate and fragrant. Um, yeah. So delicate. So perfumed. On the nose roses jump out of the glass and on the palate more rose petal, cherries and rich plum with hints of spice, tobacco and chocolate. Chris suggested lamb as a food pairing and I couldn’t agree more.
Next Chris took us to Tuscany. Tuscany is typically Sangiovese country; however, it is home to the famous Super Tuscans now labeled under IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica) classification created for those wines made from non-traditional grape verities such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. In theory an IGT does not have the states as a DOC, but the market says otherwise.
Many are extraordinary wines. Chris started our Tuscany tasting with two examples of IGT wines. The first,Tua Rita Perlato del Bosco 2009 ($59.99), a blend of 60% Sangiovese and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon. The deep ruby wine has intense aromas of black ripe fruit with hints of fresh herbs. This is very drinkable now but could also hold for a few more years. Try this with pasta, fresh tomatoes, and mushrooms.
The second Tuscan was Casanova di Neri Pietradonice 2004 ($143.99). The blend is 90% Cabernet Sauvignon with 10% Sangiovese. It showed incredible complexity on both the nose and palate of black current, leather and barnyard with herbaceous and floral notes. Wine Spectator gave it a classic score of 96/100 points. This would be lovely with a pork roast or just with some Parmesan cheese.
Chris poured our fifth wine: Monsanto Il Poggio Chianti Classico Riserva 2006 ($74.99). A traditional wine from the iconic Chianti region. Chianti Classico is the original, rather than expanded, zone. In this wine black cherries, herbs and spices are balanced with big ripe tannin with a long lingering finish. A great wine to put away for a few years.
Next was the Col D’Orcia Brunella di Montalcino 2006 ($73.99). Montalcino, located just south of Chianti, is made from 100% Sangiovese grown on sleep hillsides. Chris explained that this optimizes sun exposure and provides good drainage. This wine starts very fresh and fruity with strawberry and cherry then spice and tobacco notes extending to the finish.
Our seventh wine of the evening was the Tenuta di Trinoro 2005 ($249.99). Another IGT from Tuscany. Chris informed us that 2005 was a perfect year. Andrea Franchetti, the man behind the wine, harvested beautiful Merlot, but rain hit in October, diluting the other grapes left on the vine. This explains the blend of approximately 88% Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot making up the remainder of the blend. This wine is anything but diluted with generous notes of raspberry, plum, vanilla and minerallity. Hints of mint and balsamic come through on the finish. Perfectly balanced, expressive and pure with great length, in a word, this wine is perfect.
Our last wine of the night brought us to northeast Italy, to Valpolicella, within the larger Verona region.Zenato Amarone de Valpolicella 2007 ($57.99) is one of my favorite styles of wine. Valpolicella is made from predominatly Corvina with Molinara and Rondinella as possible blend components. Amarone is a style of Valpolicella made from grapes that have been dried for months before fermentation. Since 50% of the juice is lost during the wait, the aromas and flavours are concentrated. On the palate intense spice, licorice and raisin with a hint of sweetness balanced perfectly with refreshing acidity. With it, Chris gave us dark chocolate to enjoy. Decadent.
This was my first Everything Wine tasting but I have been to many tastings and very few feature a flight at this caliber and hosted by someone as knowledgeable as Chris Sharpe. I am looking forward to attending future tasting here at Everything Wine. If you have not yet had the chance, it is worth it.