Thursday, January 24, 2008

Federal Wine & Spirits

While walking around Boston this past Wednesday, I passed by Federal Wine & Spirits. Luckily, they were having a wine tasting so I stopped to check it out. Though I have been to this store several times before, I had never been around for their tastings before. And the theme of this tasting intrigued me.

Federal Wine & Spirits is a cramped little store with a small room on the ground floor and a larger area in the basement level. Yet they have an interesting selection of wines, including some rarities. They hold free wine tastings every Wednesday night from 5-7pm. The staff is very helpful and they have some knowledgeable staff.

The theme for the tasting was Montepulciano vs. Montepulciano: The Grape Vs. the Town. Interestingly, the Italian grape Montepulciano is not grown in the city of Montepulciano. Instead, the town of Montepulciano grows Pugnolo Gentile, a clone of Sangiovese. So, the tasting compared three wines from the town of Montepulciano (Sangiovese based wines) to three wines from Abruzzo made from the Montepulciano grape.

An intriguing idea and the type of tasting that I really enjoy. It is educational to make such comparisons as you truly gain an understanding of the differences between such wines. Such a tasting theme is far better than tasting just a random collection of wines.

We began the tasting with the 2006 Memo Montepulciano d'Abruzzo ($9.95). This was a light colored wine with lots of fruit flavors and a little spice. An easy drinking wine that would go well with pizza or pasta. A good value for the price.

Next, we tried the 2004 Avignonesi Rosso di Montepulciano ($15.95). This is one of the oldest wineries in Montepulciano, the estate dating back to the fourteenth century. The fruit flavors in this wine were less upfront, more subtle. They blended well with a bit of spice and herbal notes. A more complex wine that also had a nice, long finish.

For the third wine, we tasted a 2004 Valle Reale Montepulciano d'Abruzzo ($19.95). The nose was intriguing with dark fruit and dark spice aromas. This wine was richer than the previous two, with more noticeable tannins and a fuller flavor of dark berries. It had a lingering finish and was a very pleasing wine. An excellent buy for under $20.

The wines only got better. Next was the 2004 Polizziano Vino Nobile di Montepulciano ($32). This full bodied wine was rich with complex flavors of layered fruit and spice. There were some strong tannins yet they did not overpower. This is a definite food wine, yet one to linger over as well. It has a very long finish that is so satisfying that you don't want to end. An excellent wine.

My favorite wine of the tasting was next, the 2003 Cataldi Madonna Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Malandrino ($45.95). A very dark red wine with a vibrant nose of lush blackberry and spice. A full bodied and rich wine with lush dark berry flavors. A complex wine where every taste seems to bring different flavors. The lingering finish is seductive and silky. A hedonistic effort sure to please. I highly recommend this incredible wine.

The final wine was the 2001 Valdipiatta Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Vigna d'Alfieri ($54.95). This wine is made in a strictly traditional, organic style. This was a medium red color that seemed more tannic than the Malandrino. Its fruit flavors, cherry and raspberry, intermingled with herbal notes. It had a very long finish as well. Though this was a good wine, it was not quite my style of wine.

Overall, this was an excellent tasting. I generally preferred the wines from the Montepulciano grape though I very much enjoyed the others as well, except for the Valdipiatta which was just not my style. Kudos to Federal Wines for hosting this wine tasting. If you are in Boston, check out this store, especially on Wednesday evenings for their weekly tastings. Sign up for their newsletter too.

Federal Wine & Spirits
29 State St.
Boston, MA
Phone: 617-367-8605

No comments: