On Tuesday, August 6th at 6pm, Chef Anthony Cerratofrom Strada will being appetizers to Metro Wines representing 5 different regions of Italy and Metro Wines provides the wines!
This 100% Verdicchio is from the Marche Region of Italy. Think calf muscle of the boot. Marche is one of Italy's most underrated winemaking regions. While totally and unashamedly, shall we say, doing its own thing, the region itself is a virtual microcosm of most of what Italy has to offer winemaking wise. Verdicchio is a low yield grape unique to this region. To maintain its characteristic integrity, yield per hectare (yikes! metric talk) is kept low and harvesting slightly delayed. This Verdicchio is pale straw in color with green highlights. On the nose, "Macrina" delivers pear, lemon, lime, fresh melon and apple flavors. Well structured, flavors repeat aromas with an elegant core of freshness. Here, the Metro Wines Tasting Panel wants to make a distinction with a difference. Some wines claim freshness because of the lack of fruit or poor construction. Not so with "Macrina." Fermented in steel, the wine is richly complex and yet assuredly fresh with a discernable lift. The winemaker promises, and we can verify, that "Macrina" has "substantial longevity," but the truth is, you won't need it. With 13% alcohol, you will, we know you will, recycle this bottle at the end of your meal!
STOP! Some of you have already tuned out because we mentioned Prosecco. We know. Been there. Let us explain. Due to Prosecco popularity, producers can get away with producing a lower quality wine, something akin to sweetened up grape juice! When you hear someone say that they do not like Prosecco, and at least three of the Metro Wines Tasting Panel used to be there!, this is the kind of sweeeeeeeet Prosecco they are talking about. But Belstar remains a shining star in Prosecco using traditional methods and offering a high quality product. With great complexity in the mid-palate, you will find just a touch, seriously, just a touch of sweetness. But it is this sweetness that gives this wine, as compared to other versions of the grape, a little and well appreciated weight. This sparkling white wine offers white fruit and floral notes on the nose and a citrus taste on the palate. Belstar is balanced with a solid, clean finish. A perfect aperitif for a cozy two, Belstar is also crowd pleaser at a party. Best Prosecco around town for the price.
Barbera d'Asti 2011, Piedmont, Italy. Nizza Montferrato
Barbera d’Asti is a red wine produced in and around the town of Asti in the Piedmont region of Italy. Grown for centuries in this region, Barbera is heartier than it's regional neighbor Nebbiolo. The scrappy Barbera caught a break being the first grape to be replanted when the Pylloxera crisis hit Piedmont in the late 1800s. The grape remains a contender!
Grown today throughout Italy, Barbera grapes from the Piedmont, including those grown on the slopes of Asti are considered the finest and the best representation of the unique characteristics of the varietal. While other grapes, Freisa, Grignolino and Dolcetto can be in the bottle, to be called a Barbera d’Asti, the wine must be a minimum of 75% Barbera.
So why is this Barbara d'Asti only $9.99 if it is all that? Because many consumers are familiar with d'Alba in the Piedmont and, hence, the price for a Barbera from this area is higher. Some are convinced that wines from d'Alba are of higher quality. But, if you look for Barbera love in all the right places, you can find a treasure. This d'Asti from Nizza Montferrato at $9.99, is indeed, a treasure. This is d'Alba quality, if you subscribe to that position, at half the price. OK, this is similar to location, location, location in real estate. The house in the well known neighborhood is inflated. But if you are willing to go just over the line, you get all the same amenities for a better price. Dark fruit flavors including cherry. Well balanced. Pairing flexible. This bottle is one that the Metro Wines Tasting Panel calls "unobjectionable." It would be very difficult for a red wine consumer not to enjoy this wine or to question the quality. Bring on the potluck!
Valpolicella Ripasso 2010, Corte Majoli, Verona
Ripasso? Say what? This is the process of adding the grape skins left over from the fermentation of Amarone wine to the Valpolicella mix thus deepening the flavor of the wine to be labeled as Valpolicella. So, if you want the taste of Amarone but not the price, you want this wine. The grapes used to make Amarone are dried like raisins to concentrate the flavor. After this process, the grapes are placed with Vapolicella grapes offering an Amarone taste at a more reasonable price. But it's not just price that should convince you to choose a Ripasso. This is a fine wine in its own right.
Winemaker's notes: Brilliant ruby red; scents of ripe blackberry, clove, tobacco, and liquorice; full-flavoured palate, velvety, crisp, and refreshing. 60% Corvina, 20% Corvinone, and 20% Rondinella.
The Metro Wines Tasting Panel would add that this bottle is an good example of that which defines Valpolicella, the very fragrant cherry aroma. But, as is often the case, its strength is its weakness. The strong, fruit driven aroma and taste has caused many to call Valpolicella the Italian Beaujolais resulting in Valpolicella falling victim to the same image problem from which Beaujolais is just beginning to recover. With all due respect, this may be limited to certain circles. What's wrong with Beaujolais? Like any wine, the underlying vintage can be less than desirable or the process a flat mess. But this writer can assure you that Beaujolais is proudly served at the French Embassy in Washington DC. Stand up for Valpolicella Ripasso!
Fontana Vecchia Aglianico del Taburno, Campania
The grape, Aglianico del Taburno, is grown on the slopes of Mount Taburno at altitudes of up to 1300 feet flourishing in the volcanic soil. This black skinned grape ripens late benefiting from the long growing season of hot days, moderately cool nights and the mountain breezes that moderate temperatures. The grape is full bodied and offers good aging potential thanks to the natural acid structure and tannins. Fontana Vecchia presents a musky berry flavor with blackberry and bitter chocolate on the palate. This is a food wine. Heavier than a Sangiovese, Aglianico is naturally bold.