A Fun Night with Italian Winemaker Tony Sasa

In early October I wrote an article titled “Fun Friday Night in the Burbs” about a lovely evening my husband and I enjoyed at a restaurant we stumbled upon with great service, food and wine. The wine I reviewed in that article was Tony Sasa’s 2011 Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripasso. As luck would have it Michele Mercy, COO of Ronin Wines (the Texas distributor of Tony Sasa wines) came across my article. Michele reached out to me and invited me to a tasting event to explore more of Tony Sasa wines as well as meet Tony. The tasting event took place at Corner Wines and if you live in the Dallas area Corner Wines is one of the only retailers to sell Tony Sasa wines. I was excited to attend the event and listen to the winemaker himself talk about his wines!

Tony Sasa wine tasting

Tony Sasa was very charming; like all Italians I have had the pleasure to meet he was hospitable and full of energy. He spent close to two hours teaching about his five wines featured at the tasting and had everyone there enthralled in his presentation. He was engaging and funny and very informative. In addition to teaching about Italy’s 20 wine regions, winemaking processes, grapes varieties in his wines and the process of making Ripasso and Amarone, he taught us and provided high quality Italian extra virgin olive oil (which was amazing!) and gorgeous Balsamic vinegar (which was equally amazing!). It was a delightful and delicious evening!

Tony Sasa

Antonio Sasa is a man of the soil who, having been reared on the family farm, has become renowned as a globe-trotting epicurean and passionate advocate of fine Italian wine. Owner and curator of Florence’s excellent Enoteca Pontevecchio wine shop in the heart of Florence, Tony is a man bent on finding both the best-kept secrets in Italian wine and the up-and-coming stunners, for his shop and for export. He is considered to be the local expert in soil, climate, and vintages, and is now releasing his discoveries and blends under his own name.” Tony and his wife Laura began their own label by their first purchase of land in 1997 and bottled their first wine, an award winning Brunello named after their daughter Martina, in 2003. As you will see Tony produces wine from some of the best wine regions in Italy: Piedmont, Tuscany and Veneto. Of all the wisdom Tony shared on that wonderful evening probably the most important statements he made that all wine lovers should know is simply, “the BEST wine is the wine YOU like!” AMEN!

Tony Sasa Martina BrunelloAntonio Sasa ‘Martina’ Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2009, Tuscany: This beautiful wine was a rich ruby with orange highlights in color. On the nose this Brunello opened with inviting aromas of ripe fruit, spice, chocolate and a touch of tobacco. Those flavors fully delivered on the palate with a rich yet smooth backbone of cherries and strawberries wrapped around baking spices, dark chocolate, and toasted tobacco leaves, with a lingering leather flavor on the back of the palate. This 100% Sangiovese was surprising full of flavor yet balanced in bright acidity and elegantly refined tannins making this a pleasurable wine for meditation or food. This wine was named after Tony and Laura’s daughter who I believed based on this wine must be bright and cheerful with a touch of spice! This wine was aged in oak barrels for 3 years than 10 months in the bottle; it contained 14.5% alcohol and is ready to drink now. 94 points by James Suckling

Tony Sasa BaroloAntonio Sasa Barolo 2008, Piedmont: This wine was crafted of 100% Nebbiolo. On the nose this light ruby wine dazzled with aromas of fresh berries, spice and a lovely earthiness. On the palate bright and fresh flavors of cherries, blueberries and plums met the tongue, followed by a touch of cassis and vanilla. This wine tasted young and will age elegantly. The tannins were firm and the acidity was round giving it nice balance with robust flavors. This medium body, medium finish wine would pair beautifully with pork, risotto and seafood. This Barolo was aged 1 year in stainless steel, then 2 years in French and Slovenian oak barrels, followed by 6 months aging in the bottle before being released for sale. It contained 13% alcohol.

Tony Sasa RipassoAntonio Sasa Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripasso 2012, Veneto: This wine was crafted of 80% Corvina and Corvinone, and 20% Rondinella. This garnet Ripasso met the nose with alluring aromas of ripe berries, spice and a touch of chocolate. On the palate delivered classic flavors of ripe cherries, blackberry compote, and baking spice with highlights of cinnamon, nutmeg and dark chocolate; leaving a touch of smoke and espresso lingering on the back of the palate. This was a bold Ripasso that was well balanced with round acidity and elegant tannins. I could seriously drink this wine all night long; it was so good. It would pair beautifully with roast, lamb or veal. This wine was aged in large oak barrels for one year and four months in the bottle. It contained 13.5% alcohol.

 Tony Sasa VOAntonio Sasa VO Amarone 2009 Veneto: This Amarone was crafted of 80% Corvina and Corvinone, and 20% Rondinella. It met the eye with a lovely garnet color and the nose with a lively bouquet of red fruit and spice. On the palate this Amarone delivered classic flavors of ripe red and black cherries, raspberries and plums with spice and a hint of tobacco with dark chocolate. As is traditional with Amarone, this wine displayed both power and elegance. It was lighter than other Amarones I have sipped but equally enjoyable. It offered great acidity, restrained tannins and lots of smooth fruit. This wine would pair beautifully with classic meat Italian dishes, beef stew and braised short ribs. This Amarone was aged for 24 months in oak barrels and eight months in the bottle. It contained 15% alcohol.

Tony Sasa ArenaAntonio Sasa Arena Amarone DOC 2009 Veneto: This Amarone was crafted of 75% Corvina and Corvinone, 20% Rondinella and 5% Molinara for added acidity. This wine opened with a sexy bouquet of dark ripe berries, spice and bold mocha. It met the palate with full mouth flavors of ripe blackberry and blueberry jam, Asian 5 spice and a lingering touch of licorice and toasted oak. It was a voluptuously full body wine with a beautifully balanced acidity and elegant tannins. It was a multi sensual experience that was delightful to enjoy. Tony said this was the “Marilyn Monroe of Amarones!” Though this Amarone was aged for 30 months in NEW oak barrels the oak influence was faint, adding complexity without overpowering the fruit or effecting the balance. Well done Mr Sasa! This Amarone would also pair beautifully with classic meat Italian dishes, beef, steak, braised veal cheek or lamb. It contained 15.5% alcohol.

If you are unsure the process involved in making Ripasso and Amarone please read my article Valpolicella: Day Three where I explained the intricate and detailed process. Overall, it was a very enjoyable evening. To learn more about Tony Sasa or to find his wines visit Ronin Wines, or Google any one of his wines to locate at a boutique wine retailer near you.

My Song Selection: The song I have chosen to pair with this fun and informative evening with Tony Sasa and tasting his deliciously smooth and elegant Italian wines is Suit and Tie by Justin Timberlake.  I chose this song because it is JT’s modern interpretation of classic R&B sound. Furthermore, it is entertaining and smooth! My night with Tony Sasa was very entertaining and his wines were modern interpretation on classic Italian styles and each one was very smooth!

Get your own bottles of Tony Sasa wines and let me know what song you would pair with them.  Cheers!

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