Studio Time with Rinascimento

vajra-barolo-albeAs part of our growing fame on Twitter (do you follow us?), we recently took part in our first #WineStudio, an online twitter-based educational program that invites wine writers, bloggers and other personalities to discuss wines, producers, grapes, tourism, terroir, regional culture, food and wine matching and much more. As a natural skeptic towards Twitter twattle, I must say it was a heck of a lot of fun (and that’s not just the wine talking).

This month’s guest of honor was Justin Gallen, owner of Rinascimento Wine Co., a small importing business based in California who focuses on boutique Italian producers. What made the opportunity to get to know Justin – even virtually – so special, was his willingness to share his experiences in the wine industry. Anyone who’s looked into it at all will have realized how unique and different this industry is, so getting the chance to peek behind the curtain with a veteran is a rare and cherished opportunity. If this topic is of interest to you, I’d highly suggest checking out the podcast Justin did with Protocol Wine Studio in preparation for the event – there’s some great industry insight there.

One of the key aspects to #WineStudio, of course, is wine tasting, and sharing those notes with fellow imbibers via Twitter. Justin only distributes in California, but most these wines are also available in PA or on the east coast. Justin’s focus is on small, sustainable, family-focused wineries – in many ways, the Italy we Americans dream about. (No Bolla or Reunite here.) Is that why it is so delicious? Perhaps.

Agricola Cirelli Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo 2013 ($16.09)
A 100% Montepulciano d’Abruzzo rosado. Watermelon Jolly Rancher anyone? Kinda reminds me of that candy commercial: Sour! Sweet! (I obviously let my kid watch too much TV.) Deep, dark color for a rose, also on the ballsy side, which regular readers will know I dig. Nicely balanced, good acid, super food-friendly. Evolves as it warms. (SLO #537254, min order 12 – 2012 vintage)

Musto Carmelitano Aglianico del Vulture Serra Del Prete 2010 ($20.89)
Basilicata’s Vulture is a great region for rustic Aglianico and offers better value than the more famous Taurasi, and this is no exception. A lovely, hearty wine. On opening, the nose was filled with barnyardy funk, but that blew off relatively quickly, transitioning to a big violet note with hints of tobacco and flint. The palate featured big anise flavor, as well as more violet, cola and a touch of chocolate. Furry tannins crave hearty food: sausage, beef, etc. Decant or lay on its side for a few years. (SLO #500088, min order 12)

G.D. Vajra Barolo Albe 2009 ($35)
There was a lot of chatter about how the 2009 vintage of this entry-level Barolo was more approachable than the ’08, with terms like “drink it while you wait” and “ready to drink” being thrown around. Well, I gotta say, I don’t agree. This is a well-made wine, but it ain’t ready. It was tighter than Cameron Frye, even after 3+ hours. Sure, it opened some, and showed tobacco, earth, tar, even roses, but the tannic bitterness on the finish needs time. 15 years? Probably not. But it definitely needs at least 3-5, and then it’ll be a beauty. 2010 vintage available at Empire Wine, Wine Library and Saratoga Wine.

G.D. Vajra Barbera d’Alba 2011 (limited availability)
A slightly more modern Barbera, with higher alcohol (14.5%) and some up front cherry flavor, but still retains that old-world character of earth, mushrooms, and locker room on the nose. Decent acid, food-friendly. A well-made Piedmontese Barbera is simply impossible to dislike.

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