Veni, Vidi, VinItaly

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New York’s mid-winter rite of passagiata, VinItaly’s 2014 marketing clusterfest in lower Manhattan was, for those who can’t get enough Italian wine, akin to turning a juvenile chocoholic loose in a Godiva factory. The largest event of its kind in the country featured a roster of seventy or so producers and the expected top-heavy representation of Italy’s Bordeaux and Burgundy – Tuscany and the Piedmont.

There were, however, enough artisanal winemakers and small scale wineries on hand to draw deserved attention from the omnipresent Banfis and Planetas, including a dozen from the underappreciated Colli Piacentini region. Many of the stations were manned by winemaker/owners who were not only more than willing to discuss the finer points of their wines and the more technical aspects of production, but generally accepting of comments on those they poured. Which was, given the promotional purpose of the affair, an occasion to showcase their wares for the American wine trade and press.

The three-and-a half hour window in which to stroll, sample, and chat, as well as sit in on a Master Class for wines from Puglia, provided barely enough time to visit twenty tables. Unfortunately for those of us who reside in the Commonwealth, only a handful of the wines I encountered can be found in the PLCB system. The following are noteworthy and worth seeking:

Castello di Neive Santo Stefano Barbaresco 2009
Savory and smooth, even though the tannins come on in waves in this young, admirably balanced wine that delivers all the aromas and flavors associated with Nebbbiolo. Has the sensation of being lighter than it is, but nonetheless intriguing and seductive…Mata Hari in a bottle. (PLCB #526528, SLO, case minimum, $22.99)

Marotti Campi Rubico Lacrima di Morro 2012
Lighter in style than the Orgiolo I reviewed last year, but keeps all the exotic varietal characteristics in place. Medium body, vigorous flavors of dark fruits and berries, with mild tannins that keep the texture mellow and balance the spicy acidity. (PLCB #522862, SLO, minimum six, $19.69)

pecchenino-dolcettoSalmariano Verdicchio Castelli di Jesi Classico Riserva 2010
Also from the Campi estate, this is elegant and full-flavored, and evolving well enough to hold its own with two of this region’s top names-Bucci and Sartarelli. The persistence of saline and mineral sensations maintain its liveliness and add zip to ripe white fruit. Excellent match for seafood. (PLCB #522861, SLO, minimum six, $27.99)

Pecchenino Brico Botti Dolcetto di Dogliani 2010
This single vineyard Dolcetto spends an extra year in barrel and it shows. More aromatic and complex, with layers of dark fruit common to this commune and producer.An example of a fuller, more extracted style of Dolcetto. (PLCB #060128, SLO, case minimum, $15.49). The Pecchenino San Luigi Dolcetto di Dogliani 2005 can also be found in-store for $18.99.

Damilano Lecinquevigne Barolo 2009
As the name indicates, this was sourced from five sites, so you get a heady mix of the whole range of aromas associated with Piedmont’s Langhe hills.  Already drinking well and showing layers of primary and secondary dry fruit flavors laced with spices, tar and earth. This will only improve over the next five years or more. More reasonably priced than their Barolo from the Cerequio and Cannubi vineyards. (Available at Wine Works in Marlton, NJ, $29.98)

Though I couldn’t find them in the PLCB system, those with time, patience and the resolve to track down well made, interesting wines might want to look into these:

  • Monchiero Carbone Cecu d’La Biunda Roero Arneis 2012 (Piedmont)
  • Ronco del Gelso Sottomonte Suvignon Blanc 2012 (Friuli)
  • Tenuta San Marcelllo Bastnaro Lacrima di Morro 2012 (Marche)
  • Tabarrini Colle Grimaldesco Sagrantino 2009 (Umbria)
  • Paolo Rodaro Romain Refosco 2009 (Friuli)  

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