A Night with 2 Intriguing Italians

One of our favorite places to drink wine  is WineTastic. WineTastic is a boutique wine store owned and operated by Terry Burney. Terry is a Sommelier who keeps an exceptional, eclectic selection of wines for purchase by the bottle, glass or taste. Terry offers a great selection of classes to increase your wine IQ each month as well as special events and frequent tastings from wineries all over the world, a monthly wine club and conducts wine trips to California, France and beyond. My husband and I have taken classes under her expert guidance, attending tastings and just stopped by for a great glass of vino and pleasant conversation. Terry is friendly and inviting to all; being at Winetastic is like being part of Terry’s extended family. She knows everyone who comes in the door and creates a warm and engaging atmosphere. In addition to Terry, most nights Daniel and Becky are found energetically pouring patrons glasses of wine along with sharing their excellent wine knowledge and providing pleasant conversation.

Two Italians

While attending a recent wine tasting at Winetastic with my husband, I inquired about an assortment of bottles lined up behind the bar. Terry explained it was wine club weekend and those were the wines she personally selected to include in the month’s wine club orders. I noticed a couple of the bottles were Italian wine and when I asked Terry about the wine my husband shared his usual sentiment of “all the good Italian wine is kept in Italy.” BLASPHEMY! Although I have heard this from him many times, it was the first time Terry had heard him make such a claim. She and I hatched a plan for my husband and I to return the following night, when she was offering her wine club members a taste of each wine in their order, for us to share in the fun and teach my dear husband a thing or two about Italian wine. Therefore, this review will be slightly different than my normal style of wine with food pairings because this was a different experience.

Poggio AI Ginepri 2011Tenuta Argentiera Bolgheri Poggio AI Ginepri 2011 Red Blend, Bolgheri, Italy:  The Poggio AI Ginepri was an intense ruby red color that met the nose with fragrances of dark cherry, blackberry and pepper and the palate with an earthiness that blended into cherry, blackberry, currants and plum. The spice and pepper remained on mid-palate, while the wine offered a nice lingering finish of leather and oakiness. This wine offered a medium finish with medium tannins. The well balanced acidity makes it a nice wine to pair with food. I would suggest spaghetti with meatballs (we did try it with a delicious meatball and it was perfect), gnocchi with a tomato vodka sauce, pasta with clam sauce or mushroom risotto. Both my husband and myself really enjoyed this wine; he conceded his loss and we both had a glass and left with a bottle!

This wine was comprised of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Syrah, 25% Merlot and 5% Petite Verdot. Each grape was well represented in the aroma and taste of the wine, leading to a full and delicious array of flavors that combine for a good glass of wine. After de-stemming and soft crushing the different grape varieties were vinified separately. Fermentation and maceration took place in stainless steel vats for 15-20 days at a controlled temperature within 82.4° F. Part of the wine was then transferred into used French and Hungarian oak barrels, where malolactic fermentation was completed and the wine was aged for 8 months. The other 50% of the wine remained in stainless steel tanks for the fining and was then blended before bottling. The wine contains 14% alcohol. I encourage you to learn more about Tenuta Argentiera Bolgheri Winery and view their portfolio of wines. Click here to find this wine near you or visit the Winetastic web site to order from Terry


Santi Amarone della Valpolicella 2001Santi Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2008, Veneto, Italy: The Santi Amarone was the wine that caught my eye the night before because the bottle is quite lovely. The wine poured thick and sultry into the glass. The deep red color was almost maroon. The wine met the nose with dark sweet fruit of dark cherries, plums and black currant mixed with cloves and cinnamon. On the palate the jammy fruit coats the mouth, followed by a continuation of cloves, cinnamon, chocolate, espresso and toasted hazelnut and oak. This was a full body wine with medium to full tannins and firm acidity. Although the two wines tasted nothing a like the food pairings work with both wines. The Santi Amarone brought more intense flavor so again I suggest pairing with hearty Italian meals such as spaghetti with Arribbiata meat sauce, mushroom risotto, and steak. We both enjoyed drinking a glass of this wine; however, due to the style of the wine and jammy quality it was sweeter than the Poggio AI Ginepri. I would recommend it and I would drink it again anytime, but we did not buy a bottle of it. However, both Daniel and Becky preferred the Santi Amarone to the Poggio AI Ginepri; therefore, the best recommendation is to buy both!

The Santi Amarone was made in the traditional Amarone style. Only the ripest parts of the grape clusters are harvested when full ripeness is achieved in late October. Immediately following harvest the clusters are dried under shelter in flat wood crates until late January of the following year, greatly increasing natural sugar content and concentration. The dried grapes produce a powerful wine with marvelous flavor which is aged up to three years in Allier and Slovenian oak casks prior to release. The drying process is similar to turning grapes into raisins. If you like raisins Amarones are wines you MUST try. This wine was comprised of 65% Corvina Veronese, 30% Rondinella and 5% Molinara. Click here to find this wine near you or visit the Winetastic web site to order from Terry.

My Song Selection: For the sake of space (sorry this post is so long) I am going to select one song to represent both of these intriguing Italians! The song I have selected to pair with the Poggio AI Ginepri and Santi Amarone is Amore by Dean Martin. “When the world seemed to shine like its had too much wine that’s amore!” Italians certainly know about love, food and wine, these two wines are proof of that. If you recall at the beginning of this post, this tasting was arranged to assist in expanding my husband’s understanding that good Italian wine can be found in the US. The exercise worked and we are both the happier for it. My husband has always really liked Amore by Dean Martin. It is fitting that for this occasion I pair a song that is both about Italy, love, food and wine and a song my husband enjoys.

Get your own bottles of Poggio AI Ginepri and Santi Amarone and let me know what song you would pair with them!  Cheers!

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