Italian wine dinner part 1

Last weekend my wife and I were invited by friends to an Italian wine dinner. Usually our wine dinners tend to be focused on a single wine or a single region. You can read about our Brunello di Montalcino wine dinner here. I’ve also blogged about a Montepulciano di Abruzzo dinner. It was the birthday party of a good friend of mine and since most of his friends enjoy a good glass of wine he decided to uncork some of his Italian gems. Some people brought wine, too that we opened right away. Since we were around 30 people we went through a lot of wines 🙂

We started with two white wines from St Michael Eppan. Jack, the host, travelled to South Tyrol a few months ago and after visiting the winery he took back a few bottles of 2011 Sanct Valentin Gewurztraminer and some 2010 Sanct Valentin Pinot Bianco. After seeing the bottles I immediately thought about Stefano from Flora’s Table who wrote about the Pinot Grigio from St. Michael Eppan. Sadly I did not get to try that one. His wine review for the Pinot Grigio is worth reading.
The Sanct Valentin Gewurztraminer aged in stainless steel tanks for 6 months. Bright yellow color, intense nose with aromas of peppers, cloves and flowers. The palate was spicy with a lingering finish. Not my type of wine but worth trying. Average price on wine searcher: $32
I liked the Pinot Bianco from Sanct Valentin a lot more but of course Gewrztraminer is one of the most important grapes for wine production in South Tyrol. Nevertheless, I found the bouquet of the Pinot Bianco to be much more interesting with aromas of green apples, melons, hints of pear, butter and vanilla.

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It has to be said that  50% of the wine aged in small barriques and 50% in in large oak casks. The palate convinced me with a good structure, soft oak notes and and a lingering finish. Pinot Bianco from St. Michael Eppan is an excellent white wine. Average price on wine searcher: $32

We continued with a white wine came from the Marche. We had a Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore (I really hate long wine names) from Pievalta which is owned by Barone Pizzini, a winery from Lombardy. Lime, pear, pineapple on the palate. Full-bodied with exotic fruit on the palate. Persistently long finish. The wine won the 3 bicchieri gambero rosso award in 2012. Average price on wine searcher: $20 Excellent PQ ratio!

The last white wine was a Sicilian Chardonnay from Planeta (2010 vintage). It was one of two wines that I brought to the dinner. This was only the second time that I had this wine. The first time I really liked it.

100% Chardonnay that aged in small oak barrels. Golden yellow color. Apricots, almonds, butter, bananas on the nose. Loved it. Well-balanced oak and fruit notes. I tasted some mango, too! Long aftertaste. The wine won the 3 bicchieri gambero rosso award, Average price on wine searcher: $36 I have to thank Julian, for this recommendation. Great wine. If you don’t know his blog then make sure to check it out.

My favorite white wine was the Pinot Bianco from St. Michael Eppan but the Planeta Chardonnay was fantastic as well. The next post will focus on the red wines that we tasted. The list includes wines from Abruzzo, Tuscany and Piedmont. Also if you noticed I was busy over the last week so I didn’t post anything. But I’ll try to post more regularly again..

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Montepulciano di Abruzzo – Wine Tasting Dinner

Does that title sound familiar to you? As a regular reader of this blog it should. Before leaving for my last business trip my wife and I were invited to a wine tasting dinner over at a friend’s house. Last time we were having a Brunello di Montalcino tasting at my place – this time the topic was Montepulciano di Abruzzo. Everybody was supposed to bring a bottle of wine and a decanter but for me that didn’t work out very well. You ask why? I got confused with Montepulciano di Abruzzo and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano!! So shame on me for bringing a Tuscan wine over to the dinner. I don’t know why Italians had to give two different wines very similar names! Fortunatly, the host has a huge wine cellar which includes some of the best Montepulciano di Abruzzo so it was no problem at all.

Last time we did this, we tasted the wines blind but this time we decided not to since it didn’t work out too well last time. All wines were decanted for more than two hours. For me all of these wines were new. I had never tasted any of them before.

Evening started with a 2007 Illuminati ‘Pieluni’ – Montepulciano di Abruzzo di Colline Teramene DOCG Riserva. One thing I dislike about Italian (and German!) wines are the unpronounceable, long wine names.
Intense ruby red color. Fruity nose with plums, raspberry, cinnamon, tobacco and vanilla. On the palate rather tannic. Rich wine with a good structure. Elegant, long finish.
Retail price: $55

We moved on to a  2004 Gianni Masciaerelli Montepulciano ‘Villa Gemma’ Montepulciano di Abruzzo DOC Riserva. Dark purple color. Aromas of blackberry, raspberry, strawberry blackcurrant, and licorice. Dry on the palate with a slight oak touch. Extremely well-balanced. Full bodied and long aftertaste.
Retail price: $85

The next two wines were provided by the host and both were produced by Il Feuduccio di Santa Maria di Orsonia (these long names are starting to frustrate me). Both wines were labeled Montepulciano di Abruzzo DOC. The first of the two was called ‘Feuduccio’ (2006 vintage). Since fellow blogger Vino in Love reviewed this wine, too and allowed me to use his tasting notes I’ll just skip this wine. Of course, if  would disagree with his notes (which I don’t) I wouldn’t use them.
Retail price: $35

The wine had a deep, ruby red color. ‘Feuduccio had a bouquet of dark ripe cherries, rasins, caramel, tobacco, licorice, and raspberry. On the palate, the wine was smooth, dry and a little bit fruity. Ver harmonic and complex. The wine had a big body and I tastec herry again. ‘Feuduccio had some mineralic notes, too. The finish was persistently long.”

The second wine from Il Feuduccio di Santa Maria di Orsonia was called ‘Margae’ (2001 vintage). It’s supposed to be better than the ‘Feuduccio’. Dark purple color. Strong tobacco aromas followed by blackcurrant, caramelized fruit, and vanilla. For my personal taste, the palate was, too dry and mixed with rather strong tannins this didn’t work out very well for me. I don’t find this wine to be well-balanced at all. The only highlight was an elegant, medium-long aftertaste.
Retail price: $45

The last wine was a 2000 Emidio Pepe Montepulciano di Abruzzo DOC. Dark purple color, almost black in the glass. Intense nose with aromas of licorice, raspberry, ripe cherry, blackcurrant, tobacco, vanilla, cocoa, blueberry, and chocolate. Silky tannins, full-bodied, well-structured. Fruity but short finish. I think the wine was passed its peek. Retail price: $120.

Now the question arises which wine was my favorite? The 2004 Gianni Masciaerelli Montepulciano ‘Villa Gemma’ Montepulciano di Abruzzo DOC Riserva came in first place, followed by 2006 Il Feuduccio di Santarmia di Onoria ‘Feuduccio’ Montepulciano di Abruzzo DOC. The ‘Feuduccio’ had an excellent price-quality ratio but the ‘Villa Gemma’ was just overwhelmingly good!

The ‘Margae’ disappointed me a little bit. The others were not bad either. Don’t get me wrong, every wine we tried was good but some were just a little bit better than others.

Also please note that I used bottle labels from wine-searcher for the first and second wine and the vintages on the labels are a bit off. Now if I’ll start writing about all the food we ate then this post will never finish – so I won’t. Tomorrow or the day after tomorrow I will post the 2nd edition of my “wine readings” feature. If you missed #1 then follow this link. Also thanks again to Vino in Love for allowing me to use his tasting notes.