Thirsty Thursday is on break as I am in the beautiful city of Vancouver in British Columbia, to bring you a brief overview of my time here at the Vancouver Wine Festival. The event itself is seriously about a week long , and my attendance a mere two days. To my defence, I brought my 16 year old daughter with me, and I have family here. Two birds with one stone as they say…
The theme of this year is Italy, which happens to be one of my favourite topics, hence the reason for the combined trip. Yes to visit my family, but also to continue to explore this great country that I’ve grown to love, but I’ve yet to visit…yet. This festival is HUGE, and features events for both the trade and consumer. I like this whole trade thing…less people, less crowds, a little more exclusive? Well, I could say that, but did I mention that this festival was HUGE?
These last couple of days, I was fortunate and excited to be able to attend some trade classes with Ian D’Agata, seriously the worlds leading authority on Italian grapes. This man is a walking encyclopedia when it comes to Italian grape varieties, and he knows them ALL! I had met him previously during my diploma program when he came to teach the section on Italy. Lucky me. Twice the instruction, twice the fun! And more geekiness for me! In the two sessions combined, we tasted 24 wines, and I’ve chosen 4 to share with you. Maybe one day you’ll come across one of these and get a chance to taste them yourselves!
The wines in this particular master class are referred to as Autochthonous. Umm…what? That’s what I said too. Essentially, it means native to, indigenous, or : formed or originating in the place where found (Mirriam-Webster). Italy is full of these! So let’s have a look. How many of these have YOU heard of before today?
1. Grignolino (Grin-yo-LEE-no)- from Piemonte in NW Italy, it doesn’t have the esteem of the king Nebbiolo. It’s hard to compete with nobility, but this little grape holds it own, despite being difficult to grow. Grown in Asti, the soils are more sandy, giving lighter styles of wine. We tasted Braida di Bologna Giacomo Grignolino d’Asti DOC 2014. This was a pale wine with high bracing acidity and high chalky tannins. Lots of rose hip aromas and flavours, but I got a lot of cranberry and a floral note of lavender on this wine. Not my all time favourite geek one, but nonetheless lovely. Best with charcuterie! 3/5 stars. SR $27
2. Pelaverga – again from Piemonte, and again given the royalty in the region, these grapes never stood a chance before. That being said, some of these native grapes are certainly making a comeback, and this is one of them! This is a very hearty and rustic grape with big bunches of big berries. Our example was the Casetta Pelaverga Colline Salluzzesi DOC 2014. Lovely notes of sweet cherry, raspberry and a slight meatiness and pepper note to it. Again, super high acidity, but not as big tannins as the Grignolino, and according to the winemaker, is a perfect match for fish and salmon. I really enjoyed this wine! 3.5/5 stars SR $26
3. Schioppettino (Skip-a TEEN-o) – still part of northern Italy, but this time on the east side of the country, in Friuli. Another somewhat difficult grape to grow, because it needs a long growing season to ripen fully otherwise, it exhibits highly vegetal flavours. This grape was always described as “Syrah” like, and I suppose you could make the connection because of the pepper notes. The Ronchi Di Cialla Schioppettino Colli Orientali del Friuli DOC 2010 in many ways, reminded me of a St. Joseph with its berry like nose, violets and indeed, the pepper notes, but in a lighter colour package! A mid-weight wine with refreshing acidity and medium tannins. I would be extremely happy to have this wine served to me. 4/5 stars SR $47.
4. Ciliegiolo (Chili-a-jolo)– last, but certainly not least, is this cheerful style grape that means cherry. Hailing from Tuscany, it is related to Sangiovese and very Sangiovese-like, it’s more of a refined Sangiovese like quality and I loved this wine. Grown in Maremma on the Tuscan coast, conditions are hot, dry and sandy, which this grape loves. It retains its high acidity despite the hot conditions. The Antonio Camillo ‘ Principio’ Ciliegiolo, Maremma, Toscana IGT 2013 certainly gave those cherry notes on both the nose and palate, along with some fig, spice and balsamic notes. This was my favourite of the line-up, and although many of these wines were brought over especially for this tasting, I know that this wine is in the BC market. When I get back home, I’ll be looking to put this wine on my shelf. Great wine, great price! 4.5/5 stars SR $20
Want more geeky Italian wine varietals? I got ’em! Cin-Cin!