Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Salem Wine Imports: Italian Tasting

Last evening I stopped by Salem Wine Imports for their weekly Tuesday night wine tasting. Eric had chosen a number of Italian wines for this week's theme.

We began with a 2006 Alois Lageder Riff Pinot Grigio ($9.99). The vineyards are generally located on the slopes of the foothills of the Dolomites, a part of the Alps. The soil is composed of dolomite, a limestone made of fossil deposits from an ocean that once covered this region millions of years ago. The name "Riff" is the German word for "Reef" and refers to this ancient sea. Though I feel too many Pinot Grigios are rather bland, this was not the case with this wine. It had character, lively citrus flavors and a nice crispness with a tinge of minerality. A good summer wine that would be sure to please.

I was not as impressed with the 2006 Panizzi Vernaccia di San Gimignano ($19.99). Though it is unoaked, it had what I consider an oaky nose, though it did not follow through on the palate. I actually found the taste rather plain with a bitter finish. I have had Vernaccia before that I enjoyed but this wine did not do it for me.

But then we moved on to another enjoyable wine, the 2006 G.D. Vajra Langhe Rosso ($11.99). This wine is a blend of Nebbiolo, Barbera and Dolcetto. It is a light wine with an appealing nose of strawberries and bright cherry. Those fruity flavors please the palate and the wine is very smooth and easy-drinking. Some nice acidity that would make this a great, everyday wine with food. I have had other wines from this producer before and have enjoyed all of them.

Next up was a 2006 Feotto Nero D'Avola ($11.99). This wine is made from the Nero D'Avola grape, also known as Calabrese. This was certainly very different from the previous light Rosso. This wine is much darker in color and its nose evidences dark berries and spice. The dark fruits, plum, black cherry and blackberries, come out on the palate with a touch of spice and smoke. A more muscular wine that calls out for food. An interesting wine which I liked and think it is a good value at this price. Pair with a nice duck breast.

The 2006 Il Filare Rosso ($9.99) is from the Puglia region of Italy. It is a blend of Primitivo and Sangiovese. This was similar to the Rosso in some respects, a light, smooth wine with vibrant fruit flavors of cherry and raspberry. A very good everyday wine.

We moved on to the 2004 Fattoria di Fiano "Ugo Bing" Chianti ($15.99), a more rustic Chianti. It had a spicy nose and some of that spice came out on the taste as well. In addition, there was some good dark fruit flavors as well as a touch of earthiness. A very interesting melange of flavors and different from the usual Chiantis you may be used to. Definitely worth checking out if you are seeking something beyond the ordinary.

We ended with a powerhouse of a wine, the 2003 Cantina di Santadi Shardana Valli di Porto Pino IGT ($28.99) from Sardinia. This wine is 100% Carignane, a grape I do not see often in Italian wines. But it is a grape that does very well in Spain and France. Based on this wine, it certainly can do well in Italy too. This is a muscular, rich wine with notes of leather, spice, blackberries and even chocolate. It is a complex, well-balanced wine that greatly pleased my palate. It definitely should be paired with food and would stand up even to a nice steak. If you are looking for a wine to impress, this would be a good choice.

That was it for the tasting. But let me add some news about Salem Wine Imports.

First, their summer hours start next Tuesday. They will be open Tuesday-Thursday, 12pm-8pm, Friday & Saturday 12pm-9pm, and Sunday 1pm-5pm.

Second, starting this Thursday, March 27, they will begin "Open Anything Night." At 6:30pm, anyone who wants to participate will be charged $20. Then Eric will open some very special, and expensive, wines until the money is gone. Examples might be Meursault, Barolo, Bordeaux, or Chateaneuf du Pape.

Third, next Tuesday's wine tasting theme will be "Spring Sippers," including the new 2007 Rose's and others suitable for a spring evening.

Finally, on Saturday, April 5th, from 4pm-6pm, Eric will host Stephanie Restuccio from Cameron Hughes Winery in California to taste her wines. Cameron Hughes produces some excellent Cabernets and Chardonnay's.

Salem Wine Imports
32 Church Street
Salem, MA
Phone: 978-741-9463

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