Saturday, February 4, 2012

Slow Wine Highlights

Susanna Galandrino, La Gironda and Fabio Giavedoni, Slow Wine

The Slow Wine tasting came to Chicago the other day after a quick stop in New York City; showcasing a wide array of producers from the width and breadth of Italy, this was a first-rate event. 

The tastings are the result of the Slow Wine Guide which is published by the Slow Food organization located in the small town of Bra in the northern Italian region of Piemonte. The guide was first published in 2011 in Italian and now with the 2012 guide there is also an English version.

There are several important guidebooks about Italian wines published each year - most are in Italian for the local market, but a few are also released in English. The Slow Wine guide focuses on three points: the best wines and producers, the best value wines (something more guides should take time exploring- good for Slow Wine) and also for producers that incorporate Slow Food values, such as territory, environment and sensory perception.

Elisabetta Fagiuoli, Montenidoli, San Gimignano

Thus you had a nice mix of producers at this event, ranging from the icons of Italian wine, such as Paolo De Marchi of Isole e Olena and Elisabetta Fagiuoli of Montenidoli to lesser-known, but first-rate producers such as La Gironda from Asti, Marotti Campi of Marche and Rosa di Golfo from Puglia. It was also nice to see that certain producers poured their best wine as well as an everyday wine. A great example was presented by De Marchi who poured his Super Tuscan named Cepparello as well as his 2009 Chianti Classico normale, a wine I listed as among the finest Italian red wines from last year and one that is given the highest honors in the Slow Wine guide.

Angiolina Piotti Velenosi, Marche

A few highlights from the tasting, starting with the values. The 2010 Velenosi Lacrima di Morro d'Alba is intensely fruity and a wonderful expression of this indigenous variety of Marche - think blackberry and black raspberry fruit and very soft tannins. The 2009 Lacrima Riserva "Orgiolo" from Marotti Campi was just as delightful, its vibrant fruit settling down after an additional year in the bottle. 

The 2009 San Lorenzo Montepulciano d'Abruzzo "Antares" is a marvelous wine at a reasonable price. Medium-bodied, it's full of tasty black plum and black raspberry fruit with an elegant finish. A gorgeous value white is the 2010 Villa Bucci Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi, with its appealing pear and melon fruit and its lively acidity.

As for the top wines, there were so many wonderful options starting with the 2008 Grattamacco Bolgheri Superiore, a wine of such impressive breeding, elegance and complexity; one that combines great power with finesse and amazing varietal purity. Among the most notable examples of Barolo at the tasting were the 2007 Cannubi from Luigi Einaudi, a wine of considerable grace as well as the 2007 San Lorenzo from Fratelli Alessandria, a beautifully layered and complete wine. The 2007 Bricco delle Viole from Vajra is a wonderfully supple and approachable Barolo, while the 2007 Lazzarito from E. Mirafiore beautifully displays local terroir as well as varietal character in a wine of power and grace.

A job well done by the Slow Wine group for giving us a different type of Italian wine tasting. Let's hope they return every year!

Text and photos ©Tom Hyland

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