I’ve often told friends, clients, and professional associates that one day, if I’m lucky, and if I work really hard, I just may scratch the surface of Italian-wine expertise. I say this because there is just so much to learn about the wines of Italy that I’m not sure many of us—even professionals—will ever fully know all there is to absorb about this majestic wine-producing country: Within Italy’s 20 wine regions there are a dizzying range of appellations and zones, countless vineyard sites and grape varieties, and seemingly infinite expressions of each particular one, depending on where it’s being grown and who is crafting the wine itself.
That variety, of course, also leads to a limitless sense of discovery when it comes to Italian wines: It’s one of the many reasons that the wines of Italy are a particular passion of mine. And every once in a while, I have the opportunity to taste a specific selection of wines that reminds me anew of what makes Italian wines so special. This is exactly what happened when I recently had the good fortune to work with the Italian Wine & Style Promotion, a group of fantastic producers who are crafting some of the most exciting Italian wines I’ve tasted recently.
It all started when my friends and colleagues Patrizia Marin and Valentino Vilone asked me to help with a tasting they were planning in Brooklyn earlier this autumn: They were putting together an event at which representatives from the IW&SP producers would show their wines to potential importers, and they asked if I would help explain the wines at the event itself.
It turned out to be a phenomenal education for me: These wines reminded me yet again of how exciting Italian wine is right now. Among the highlights were Fongaro, from the Veneto, which is producing excellent sparkling wine from the little-known Durella grape, and the result is a Metodo Classico sparkling wine that boasts serious structure and personality. From the Marche was Borgo Paglianetto, whose Verdicchio di Matelica DOC “Terravignata” showed beautiful aromatic complexity sliced through with distinct minerality. From the north, in Piedmont, I loved the Colle Manora Monferrato Red DOC “Barchetta,” whose richness and expressiveness would make it a great option for both seasoned Italian wine connoisseurs and casual consumers alike: In other words, I could have consumed the whole bottle myself. The Tuscan producer Colline di Sopra poured their Toscana IGT Red “Eola,” whose depth would be perfect with both hearty meats or on its own. And La Collina dei Ciliegi, from the Veneto, showed an amazing Garganega Veronese IGT “Il Garganega” and a stunning Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG “L’Amarone.” These beautifully bracketed the range of possibilities that Veronese wines are capable of.
All told, the wines of the Italian Wine & Style Promotion represent not just a delicious example of what makes Italian wine so exciting, but also a glimpse of what the future holds for the country’s wines in general, and for these regions in particular. It’s exciting, indeed.
For more, listen to Mike Colameco interviewing me about the Italian Wine & Style Promotion on his radio show, “Food Talk with Mike Colameco.”