Three Discoveries about Italian Wines

Posted by | Posted in Wine Education, Wine Events | Posted on 08-26-2013

Refosco Pairing from Aroma Kitchen & Wine Bar at the Italian Culinary Experience

Refosco Pairing from Aroma Kitchen & Wine Bar at the Italian Culinary Experience

Learning about Italian wine is really hard. I frequently find myself at Italian wine bars or restaurants with friends, who are all looking at me to pick out a wine. Meanwhile, I look at the menu and curse/pray/beg for help.

So, I take every chance I get to taste more Italian wines, especially when the tasting includes mysterious indigenous grapes. To that end, I recently attended the Italian Culinary Experience here in NYC.

The Italian Culinary Experience is a delectable series of events, each of which highlights a different region of Italy, its wines, and carefully paired dishes from a restaurant partner. The concept, launched by the Italian powerhouse Zonin, started in Miami and has now been repeated three times in New York. Restaurant participants in NYC have included Le Cirque, SD26, and Aroma Kitchen & Wine Bar. Other partners include Delverde Pasta, a company that makes insanely tasty pappardelle and bucatini.

Aside from leaving these events totally stuffed and maybe a little buzzed, I also left with a few discoveries, shared below:

1) Prosecco is made a few times a year. Unlike most wines that are made and released annually, the grapes harvested for Zonin Prosecco are kept as a must and then put into stainless steel tanks to undergo fermentation in the Charmat method 2-3 times per year. This progressive and ongoing release is done in an effort to maintain the freshness of the wine. Does anyone know if this is common with other Prosecco producers?

2) Refosco is great! So, I tried Refosco for the first time. Did everyone else already know about it? And just not tell me? Since tasting, I keep seeing Refosco pop up in wine coverage, especially about the one produced at Napa’s Matthiasson.

Anyway, when the wine was first poured in our glasses, my friend, Seema, and I were trying to place it. She guessed Sangiovese. I got more plummy, rich fruits and guessed a Sangiovese + Merlot. Humbled and way wrong. The wine was the Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso 2011 by Tenuta Ca’Bolani from the Friuli region. It was a rich violet ruby color with overwhelming notes of wild berries, sweet spices, and black stone fruit. I’ll continue seeking this varietal out.

photo 2-23) Inzolia exists. There are so many white grapes from Italy. Profound thought of the day.

Inzolia is from Sicily, but I didn’t get the fresh minerality I often get from other Sicilian wines. Perhaps it was masked by the 3-4 months this wine had spent on the lees? The most prominent and interesting characteristics were tropical and citrusy, a blend of round & rich with tartness. Medium-low acidity. I thought this wine was OK, but with the breadth of Italian whites (yes, my profound thought of the day again), I’ll definitely keep exploring.

Comments (3)

  1. Hi.

    Bottling prosecco more than once a year is indeed common, as it is for Moscato d’Ast and Brachetto d’Aqui (both made with charmat). Where freshness is key, and bottle aging not desireable it’s often to bottle more than once a year for both still and sparkling wines. A still example is vinho verde.

  2. It’s less advisable to bottle more than once a year for Moscato d’Asti than it is for Asti spumante. And don’t forget that prosecco isn’t a catch-all name for Italian sparkling wines!

    As for good white Italian wines: try Gavi DOCG from Piemonte:


  3. Thanks for the comments!