Though I did not realize it until now, September is shaping up to be my month of Italian wines. I spent the first week in Valpolicella visiting wineries, tasting wine and eating a lot of Italian food. Upon returning from Italy, September’s #Winestudio began with this month’s sponsor Justin Gallen. Justin owns and operates Rinascimento Wine Importers, where he imports and distributes fine Italian wines throughout California. In Justin’s words he “essentially goes to Italy and finds small family owned wineries that are either working organically or biodynamically in the vineyards and [he] brings them back to the United States to sell them in California.” Justin has been working in the wine industry professionally for over 20 years. As an importer/distributor Justin says, “It is easy to find wine; it is difficult to find customers; however he sees the wine industry as a relationship business and he has built Rinascimento on the foundation of relationships.” Justin recognized early in his life (as I did during my week in Valpolicella) that Italians have a “life at table culture.” Their focus on food and wine and how it fits within their community is simply beautiful. Justin recognized that beauty and now seeks to share it through Rinascimento Wines. To learn more about Justin, his journey and Rinascimento Wines I encourage you to listen to this revealing interview conducted by Guy’s True Wine Culture Podcast, a production of Protocol Wine Studio. To listen to the interview click here.
“PROTOCOL wine studio presents an online twitter-based educational program where we engage our brains and palates! It’s part instruction and wine tasting, with discussions on producers, grapes, tourism, terroir, regional culture, food and wine matching and what all this means to us as wine drinkers. (Follow the hashtag #WineStudio on Twitter Tuesday nights at 8pm CST!)”
Agricola Cirelli 2013 Cerasuolo D’Abruzzo: This lovely wine met the eye in colors of vibrant rose with dried orange peel highlights. On the nose it offered a crisp bouquet of fresh cut roses, ripe strawberries and sour cherries. On the palate the light, refreshing rose offered a balance between ripe sweet strawberries and tart red cherries, with a touch of lime zest on the back of the tongue. It was not a complex wine; just refreshingly crisp, light and well balanced. It contained 12.5% alcohol, was medium in body and offered a medium finish. It was crafted from grapes of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo in young vineyards from Abruzza, Italy. It was a lovely wine that was 100% organic. I chose to sip it as an aperitif and paired it with hard salami, uncured sopressata, mixed nuts and an assortment of cheeses: Balsamic Wheel Sartori, Cocoa Cardona Carr Valley, Gran Queso Roth Kase, Bellavito Expresso Sartori. The saltiness of the antipasto paired very well with the lovely rose. Furthermore, thankfully it cut through some of the stinkiness of the Balsamic Wheel Sartori. Though I chose to enjoy the rose before my meal it would pair very well with seafood, poultry and meatless Monday options as well as a burger or hot dog.
Musto Carmalitano Aglianico del Vulture DOC “Serra del Prete”: This wine, crafter of 100% Aglianico grapes, met the eye with a deep ruby red and the nose with aromas of bright cherry, red currants and licorice. Aglianico is a bold, tannic grape so I double decanted this wine and allowed it open in the decanter for two hours before smelling or tasting. On the palate, the wine offered flavors of ripe red cherry, red plums and currants along with licorice and a touch of leather. It was aged for 6 months in steel barrels then bottled; not see any oak. I was thankful I gave it time to breathe as I was having more favorable flavors than my fellow participants as we began tasting this wine. Over time they begin to see some of the same flavor profiles I enjoyed. Lesson: this wine needs to time to open up so plan ahead and be patient. I paired this wine with an Italian dish comprised of farfalle pasta with ground chicken Italian sausage in a sauce of pureed San Marzano tomatoes, fresh oregano and basil from my garden, garlic and arugula topped with fresh Italian Parmesan cheese and baked in the oven for 20 mins to blend the flavors. It was delicious and the Italian spices in the sausage were a beautiful blend with the ripe red fruit of the wine. This hearty Italian wine would pair beautifully with any hearty Italian dish!
My Song Selection: The song I chose to pair with these delicious Italians wines is Like A Stone (Acoustic) by Chris Cornell. For this article I wanted one song for both wines; a challenge since no two wines are more different than these two wines. However, I knew I could find what I was looking for in one of my all-time favorite musicians. I could honestly listen to Chris Cornell sing the Phone Book (the what??) for hours and hang on every word. He has one of the best voices in all of rock n’ roll. I have seen in live a number of times both on his solo tour and with Soundgarden. Unfortunately I did not have the pleasure of seeing Audioslave live; a great disappointment for me. If you are familiar with the Audioslave song Like A Stone you know it is a great rock song. However, acoustically the poetry of the words shine through as well as its brooding nature: A Perfect Selection for these two wines! Enjoy…
Get your own bottles of these lovely Italian wines from Rinascimento Wine Importers and let me know what song you would pair with them. Cheers!