Tag Archives: wine tastings

Wine Tasting

We had a great time last week with our friends at Sovereignty Wines and their distributor Volio Vino!  They were kind enough to help the Colorado Springs Italian Culture Meetup group host a tasting of Italian wines (followed by a movie night), and a great time was had by all.

First up, some snacks to get the palette ready:


And then it was on to Montecucco, where this lovely Vermentino from Azienda Peteglia was offered.  Crisp but rounded, it immediately reminded of Lugana style Trebbiano, but didn’t let you forget its Tuscan origin; grown in the southern part of Tuscany, it would be a perfect mate for white sauces and fresh seafood dishes.  If you see it, buy it!


Up next was a trip north to taste a Dolcetto and a Barbera from Cantine Povero (from the description from the wine rep at Volio Vino, “povero” is a bit of a misnomer for what is apparently a fabulous estate in Piemonte, one to add to our list to go visit):


A ridiculous bargain for a Piemonte red at around $10 a bottle, this one didn’t disappoint.  Dolcetto gets overlooked by stuffy wine connoisseurs because it isn’t ostentatious; it doesn’t boast lofty or obscure floral notes and syrupy fruity complexity that requires a thesaurus to describe–it’s straightforward, savory, and wholesome, a fulfilling wine that doesn’t require effort to enjoy, and this iteration would be perfect with some porcini mushroom gravy or any savory dish.

Not generally a fan of Barbera’s occasionally bracing acidity, but Cantine Povero’s won me over; I had some with some spicy, fatty foods and it shone through nicely.  Not something you’d cork to drink on its own, but that’s okay–most of the Italian wine spectrum is meant to be had with grub and this is no different.


 The last wine of the night was in many respects the most compelling; from the small but remarkable DOC Bolgheri appellation, Tenuta Argentiera’s Villa Donoratico was a revelation.  Here on the Livornian coast, the microclimate suits growing non-native varietals like Cabs, Merlot, Petit Verdot, etc, and this wine’s blend hit a lot of the right notes.  It took about 30mins in the glass to really open up, but the wait was worth it.  Not an everyday drinker at $25 a bottle, but it was a special treat to get to try this cousin to the super Tuscans.


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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