Should you serve wine from the days of the Renaissance?
No, these bottles of wine are not 400 years old. But these Barbera and Arneis wines come to us from vineyards that have been growing grapes since the Renaissance. It’s very possible that the great painter Caravaggio drank wines from these very vineyards during the 1600’s. For this reason, we poured both last night to celebrate artist Nick Wade’s stunning reproduction of Bacchus, one of Caravaggio’s iconic paintings.
Paitin Barbera d’Alba Serra 2010
Don’t take our word for it – this is what the Los Angeles Times wine critic said:
“This is not your rustic Barbera but a wonderfully elegant example from the renowned Barbaresco producer Giovanni Pasquero-Elia. A gorgeous ruby red, the 2010 Paitin Barbera "Serra" is soft and silky in texture, intense and so fresh with flavors of cherries, blueberries, mint and spice. The Barbera shines with a platter of salami and with hearty pasta dishes. Pour it with vegetarian dishes, pizza and grilled meats too.”
Metro Wines offers this extraordinary Italian red at a very competitive price.
Cordero di Montezemolo Arneis 2012
The Wine Authority said this about this Arneis.
“Vibrant, quince, floral honey – clean and dry. Since 1340, this single estate has been owned by the same family for 18 generations. This Arneis really delivers the goods. Where most are insipid and over-priced, this one is a great deal for a wine of its complexity, distinction, and perfect balance. Classic white Italian style, both breathtakingly vibrant and complex. A truly lovely drink! Serving Suggestion: flounder in browned butter and almond slivers, and …piccata dishes.”
The winemaker says: “Medium straw yellow. Soft nose of lemon, yellow apple, river rock, and mineral. Good acidity and lemon and mineral dominated palate, with some white pepper and spice also in the mix. Good with shellfish and seafood in general. Splendid accompaniment for antipasti and first courses of spring, including omelets with wild herbs, savory pies, vegetable soups, stuffed squash blossoms, and freshwater seafood… Excellent as an aperitivo.”
The MetroWines Tasting Panel says: If you are not familiar with Italian White Wines, Cordero de Montezemolo Arneis from the Langhe Region is an excellent and most delightful bottle to start you down the path of the many possibly little known, probably unappreciated and certainly undervalued world of white Italian varietals. Aromatic on the nose, plush on the palate, smooth and stong on the finish. No bumps in the road. Good from the get go to the end.
And read what Gina said in her wine column in The Laurel of Asheville about this Arneis and two other great white varietals:
Flowers are starting to bloom. Spring has decidedly sprung. Time to bring out the white wines. But maybe you are not quite ready for the snap and tingle of a Sauvignon Blanc. You are still thinking a little heavier in body, a little more floral on the nose, a little more lush on the palate. Think Italian Whites. Think indigenous grapes such as Grillo, Verdicchio or Arneis. The rich aromas and discernible flavors in these Italian Whites come from the vineyard terroir and the varietal, not oak. We taste spring!
Although the origin of Grillo is not certain, the varietal was already widely planted throughout Sicily by the end of the 1800s. Traditionally used as the primary grape in Marsala, Italian winemakers have begun to make dry wines from this plush varietal.
Zagra Gillo is a fine example. The name itself evokes spring. Zagra in Sicilian dialect is “la Zagar,” white blossoms prevalent in Sicily and traditionally used in bridal bouquets. This dry white wine is a deep yellow in the glass, presents an intense bouquet of white flowers and wild rose and spreads velvety and creamy across the palate.
Verdicchio calls the Marche Region of Italy, think calf muscle of the boot, its varietal home. Verdicchio is a low yield grape and to maintain n its characteristic integrity, the yield per acre is kept low. “Macrina” by Garofoli, fifth generation winemakers, offers an award winning version of verdicchio. Pale straw in color with soft green highlights, Macrina is spring in your glass. In fact, verdicchio is derived from the Italian word, “verde” that is, green, referring to this characteristic greenish cast. On the nose, expect pear, lemon, lime, fresh melon and apple flavors. Well structured, you will find the aromas turn fresh, rich flavors with the varietally characteristic almond finish.
And then there’s my favorite, Arneis. Eighteen generations have made grapes wine on this single estate since 1340! A strong, straw yellow in color, Langhe Arneis from winemaker Cordero di Montezemolo, delivers a seductive, floral nose of acacia blossoms and yellow flowers with peach and hazelnut rolling into a vibrant, velvety and dry palate of citrus and solid minerality and ever so slight a touch of white pepper. I know. I know! Some of you might be thinking how can this wine be both velvety and dry? I questioned that too. But tasting is believing! This Arneis can serve as an aperitif, stand up to herbs that demand attention or a good book all by itself.
Slide into Spring with Grillo, Verdicchio and Arneis.