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Vino With Val!

What a fantastic tasting!

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We had the privilege of attending a wine tasting with Val Caruso today, and it was remarkable; the theme was Tuscan wine, and Val boldly guided us through a well-traveled, well-documented region without a trace of redundant-feeling looks at wines you’d expect (and likely have already tried).  Her approach is very much in keeping with ours:  get off the beaten path!   As you can thusly guess, this was not merely a run-through of off-the-rack Chianti you can find just anywhere.  More on that in a second.

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Val started us with a wine from our friends at Fattoria il Palagio, but not the Tuscan IGT or their Cellini Chianti that we typically source over at Sovereignty Wines, but rather a perfectly light and refreshing Vernaccia that made for a perfect aperitivo.  We snacked on some goodies and listened as Val discussed the wines, the producers, and the changing culture of Italian winemaking (to wit, specifically how Italian women are coming to the forefront of the wine biz in Italy, to the benefit of both Italy and viticulture alike).

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We discussed stylistic differences between wines and winemaking philosophies, both traditional and the somewhat iconoclastic happening region-wide.  Extensive discussion of what constitutes “Super Tuscan” anyone?  Excellent.  We learned about the challenges faced by Italian vintners as they continue to push back against frankly inaccurate and outdated stereotypes that persist about Tuscan wine and and Italian wine generally; it’s quite clear from the outset that Val knows her stuff and has spent extensive time traveling the region and meeting the people pressing the grapes.

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And it was on to the reds.  As mentioned above, what made this tasting compelling was the distinct lack of the more predictable wines you’d expect to hear about and taste at a Tuscan wine event–no Chianti Classico, no Brunello, and nothing in a straw basket bottle. Not that there’s anything wrong with those wines, mind you, as they’re some of the best in the world to our mind and to the minds of many a wine critic.  But as we’re fond of saying, to get a feel for the *real* Italy, getting away from our biases and out of our comfort zones is incredibly critical.  Val takes great care to select blends and varietals that expand your sense of what Tuscany can do, and as a result we got to taste producers and labels that frankly one might not just stumble across at the typical wine store.  It just communicates that psychological connection to a place that you can only experience through food and wine, and communicates it well.  Not just about tastes and smells, it’s taking in a feel for what it is to be Tuscan.  Fantastic.

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While Sangiovese blends made appearances, there wasn’t a Chianti to be found.  Creative, outside of the box thinking from Val made for a great, unique tasting.

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My personal favorite was the Sasyr (as you can probably guess, a portmanteau of sangiovese and syrah).  The syrah rounded out the sangiovese nicely, and while it has all the character you’d expect of a Tuscan gem, it was just different enough to make you really want a full pour.  Val can help track down any of these locally here in Colorado Springs, and likely also help you find them elsewhere via her wine distributing friends.  Needless to say we’re big fans of the idea behind this sort of tasting–go try something new!

Looking forward to more events with Val, and to visiting the space where the tasting was held, Soiree here in the Springs.  What a great spot!

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