Thursday, December 13, 2012

Wine in Italy - 199 bottles and counting

An occasional post for wine enthusiasts...

The ONAV course #1
So I've enrolled into a Wine Tasting course, run by the Organizzazione Nazionale d' Assaggiatori Vini (ONAV) which consists of 12 weekly lessons, and a final exam.  Each lesson is mainly theory based, with a final half hour to taste and score a few wines (the best part).  As I'd hoped, it's a great way to taste wines from different parts of Italy, as well as learning more about all things wine - making it, organolettical aspects, oak barrel types, chemical changes etc

A further aspect is that the course is all in italian - I'm the only foreigner in the class of 20 - so it's an Italian lesson as well. Heaven knows how I'll go in the final exam, hopefully they'll go easy on my woeful grammar and sentence construction......
My classmates are friendly and interesting - we've all been out to dinner, and to visit a winery - I've noticed that they look much like wine geeks do in Australia!

Vino di casa - What we're drinking at home.... 
Finally, with autumn almost finished (winter in Italy officially starts 21 December), we have been enjoying red wine for awhile now! Recently we went to an enoteca and bought sfuso - where one BYO's the bottle, and has it filleld with bulk wine.  The enoteca we go to has 4 different reds - Chianti, a local Lucca sangiovese, a nero d'avola from Sicily and a Morellino di Scansano.  So we bought a bottle of each, and over lunch Melanie and I had a taste test.  The winner was the Chianti from the Pisan hills, and so this has become our occasional vino di casa.  The cost? All of euro 1.50 per bottle.....

Unknown winery (sfuso)
1.50 euros per bottle

100% sangiovese grapes, grown in the Pisan Hills DOC region about 50km from Lucca.  In the glass, it's a lighter shade of crimson, not quite opaque, hinting about being a lighter bodied wine.   The nose revealed a touch of cherry, but somewhat closed.  On the palate, the lighter body is confirmed, the alcohol content low - I'd guess 13% - with simple red fruit flavour. 

Surprising for the price, the palate is balanced with soft tannins.  Good with casual lunches, but not suited to fuller bodied meats and meals.

 .....and Something Better

Scopone 2004 Brunello di Montalcino
14 euros (on sale at local supermarket)

A friend is over for dinner, Melanie has gone to the trouble of preparing a delicious osso buco - bless her - , I've made velvety soft polenta (thanks to parmesan and mascarpone mixed in) so it's my duty to come to the party..... and this Brunello from a family owned vineyard did the trick!
In the glass, it's dense and opaque with orange tinges showing a little of its age.  The nose reveals red fruits of the forest, earthy forest floor, and coffee/chocolate overtones.

Tasting reveals a medium bodied style, and confirms the fruit - raspberry, cherry.  There is good mouthfeel, fine but still obvious tannins and refreshing acidity, leading to a conclusion that this wine needs more time.

* 199 bottles and counting.... is the number we've consumed at home (excludes restaurants) since arriving on 12 April.

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