I promised myself I would review wines from the countries that were cleaning up on the gold medals each day. I have come to the conclusion that I would need to be a wino of Olympic proportions to consume that much wine on a daily basis, but I am at least going to make an attempt to give you a taste of some of the top winners as we go along.
Today’s selections come from Italy, who currently sits in the number 10 position for gold medals won. They have 7 golds and 20 overall, which I feel is nothing to sneeze at. Their wines are equally exceptional.
The first winner to take the platform today is a powerhouse red variety coming out of Northwestern Italy in the Piedmont is the 2009 San Silvestro Brumo Nebbiolo d’Alba.
The Nebbiolo grape is used for some of Italy’s most expensive and luxurious wines: Barolo and Barbaresco. These wines are the giants of red, typically being very tannic and bold. Typically you need to age them for quite some time before they’re ready to drink. They are definitely not for the timid at heart.
This wine, however, is what I would call a fabulous ‘starter Nebbiolo.’ It is softer, and full of ripe fruit…much more of an approachable wine because they only aged it in oak barrels for 12 months.
The San Silvestro Brumo is a medium-bodied red, full of strawberry, red licorice, and vanilla on the nose. You can expect those same flavors to shine through when you take a sip, along with black pepper and maybe even a hint of green olive, with moderate tannins. The tannins are what make you feel like you’ve got velvet coating your tongue, if you’re new to the wine drinking scene. This wine would be perfect with grilled meats or game, mushroom dishes, and what I like to refer to as ‘stinky’ cheeses. I actually paired it up with green olives and marinated bleu cheese. It worked perfectly.
The other thing that makes this wine more approachable is the price. Instead of paying $80 or more for a good Barolo or Barbaresco, the 2009 San Silvestro Nebbiolo d’Alba runs right around $13. Get one for the weekend, and one to store, since it will age another 3-5 years.
For the white wine lovers, I have an equally wonderful winner out of the Northeastern region of Veneto. You are missing out if you don’t try the 2010 Terre di Terrossa Soave. The name of it alone makes me like it better…’swah.vay’…like some exotic foreign lover…and quite frankly, I DO love it.
The Soave is made from the Garganega grape, a native of Veneto. If you ever go to Venice, you won’t find so much Pinot Grigio even though they grow it out the ears (they typically export it to us!), you will instead find the locals sipping Soave. It’s typically a bit richer in flavor and more aromatic on the nose than a Pinot Grigio, but it’s not cloying. It still is quite refreshing and wonderful for summer sipping.
The 2010 Terre di Terrossa Soave is a beautiful straw colored wine with a little more mouth feel than you might expect. Lovely aromas of lemon curd, sugar cookies, and a hint of spice escape from the glass. Delicious with flavors of melon, lemon, a touch of white pepper, and a certain minerality that keeps this wonderfully refreshing. I would pair this hands down with sushi, crab cakes, or a shrimp fettucine. This is a killer white…one I’ll be drinking much more of…especially when it’s priced around $13 as well!
Value wines with luxury taste…that makes them of ‘Olympic’ quality in my books.
Go for the gold this weekend and give them a try yourself.