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Italian Wine Primer

Rainbow Room, NYC

Tasted January 22, 2005 by 97mjr with 2,129 views


"Ancient Greeks called Italy Oenotria, the land of wine. And in the last decade, the Italian wine industry has been living up to this title. Better winemaking has since resulted in wines that impress, from indigenous grapes to experiments with international varieties. Alessandro Lunardi teaches this course that covers geography, history, grape varieties, understanding labels, and explains in detail each wine region. Prosciutto di San Daniele and regional, artisanal formaggi freshly flown in from Italy will be served to accompany the wines"

Alessandro began with an informative lecture on the history of Italian wine. Followed by tasting of whites then reds.

Flight 1 - Whites (4 notes)

White - Sparkling
N.V. Cipriani Prosecco di Conegliano Brut Spumanti Italy, Veneto, Prosecco di Conegliano
($16) rose pedals on the nose. Acidic, crisp fresh. Good value.
2002 Alois Lageder Pinot Grigio Benefizium Porer Italy, Trentino-Alto Adige, Alto Adige, Alto Adige - Südtirol
($20) dull straw color. Apples, orange rind on the nose and palate. Nice Wine.
2002 Bastianich Friulano Plus Italy, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Venezia Giulia IGT
($20) Deep yellow. Fruit mostly concord grapes, vanilla on the nose; apple, butter, spice, a little syrupy. Not for me.
2003 Jermann Chardonnay Venezia Giulia IGT Italy, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Venezia Giulia IGT
Straw color in the glass. Crushed grapes, floral, tropical fruit. Aged in stainless stain, no oak, appearrantly some residual sugar.

Flight 2 - Reds (14 notes)

2001 Michele Chiarlo Barbera d'Asti Superiore Nizza La Court Italy, Piedmont, Asti, Barbera d'Asti Superiore Nizza
Suprisingly detected barnyard on the nose. On the palate dark fruit, licorice and high acidity.
2000 Gaja Barbaresco Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
($150) Rudy red in color, tinges of orange at margins. Big aroma. On the palate, ripe black fruit, methonal, high tannins, nice balance, superconcentrated; still very young, but enjoyable.
1999 Bruno Giacosa Barolo Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
($80) deep cranberry color. Leather (wet) , orange on the nose, on the palate dark fruit, vanilla; initally had an acetone flavor but it dissappeared as the wine softed significantly over the 2 hrs. With 2-3 hrs decanting offered more pleasure than I expected despite its youth and traditional style.
2001 Marchesi de' Frescobaldi Chianti Rùfina Castello di Nipozzano Montesodi Italy, Tuscany, Chianti, Chianti Rùfina
($40) Deep purple color. Mint and minimal fruit, pepper on the nose. On the palate intense but brief explosion of dark fruit/cherry. Excellent.
1999 Castelgiocondo (Marchesi de' Frescobaldi) Brunello di Montalcino Italy, Tuscany, Montalcino, Brunello di Montalcino
($60) Ruby red color. Earthy on the nose, rose pedals, no fruity as a I expected. Red, bright fruit on the palate, moderate tannins. Enjoyable but will not be purchasing any.
2001 Tenuta dell'Ornellaia Bolgheri Superiore Ornellaia Italy, Tuscany, Bolgheri, Bolgheri Superiore
($150) Deep purple color. Cabernet Franc dominant on the nose with peppers, leather, minimal fruit. Concentrated Bordeaux Blend, though obvious international influence. On the palate intense tannins, chocolate, dark fruit. Very young, but enjoyable nevertheless
2001 Arnaldo-Caprai Montefalco Sagrantino 25 Anni Italy, Umbria, Montefalco, Montefalco Sagrantino
($125) Grape color. On the nose leather and sweet fruit. Intense dark fruit/blackberry, mocca, overwhelming tannins with red fruit finish. Infanticide, but great.
2000 Fattoria La Valentina Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Bellovedere Italy, Abruzzi, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo
Ruby red color. Spearmint, licorice on the nose; meaty
2001 Tormaresca Primitivo Torcicoda Salento IGT Italy, Puglia, Salento IGT
($20) Deep purple color. Minty nose. Dark fruit and raisins on the palate. Nice value.
2001 La Corte Zinfandel Puglia IGT Italy, Puglia, Puglia IGT
mint red fruit.
2001 Feudi di San Gregorio Irpinia Serpico Italy, Campania, Irpinia
($40) almost black color c purple margins. Jammy nose. On the palate massive, lush dark fruit (blackberry, black cherry); bright red fruit on the finish. Wish I had a few.
2001 Donnafugata Mille e una notte Italy, Sicily, Contessa Entellina
($40) Dark ruby red color. Raisins, chewy.
1999 Allegrini Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Italy, Veneto, Valpolicella, Amarone della Valpolicella Classico
Blackberry, smooth. Didnt take detailed notes. But it was a very nice wine.
White - Sweet/Dessert
2001 Donnafugata Passito di Pantelleria Ben Ryé Italy, Sicily, Passito di Pantelleria
Dense yellow color. Sweet desert wine, apricot.


Great tasting. Great wine selection. The meats and dessert were an added bonus.

Alessandro Lunardi undertook the monuental task of covering Italian wine in 2.5 hours. The course ran over by about an hour, but there was 1' of snow outside so there was no were to be.

To appreciate each selection as well as all of the food was a little overwhelming. By the end I was exhausted. To fully a appreciate all of the great wine as well as the cheeses, meats, and deserts was too much for my amateur palate. But no pain . . .

The best of the reds included: the 25th Anni, Serpico, Gaja, Ornellaia, Montesodi, and Allegrini Amarone; the Pinot Grigio was the best of the whites.

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