As our taste through Italy approaches its end, we look to two wines that will leave a lasting impression; one you will want to revisit over and over again.
Our glorious white, the Bisci Verdicchio, hailing from the Le Marche region in Central Italy, is medium–bodied and maginificent. Le Marche is well-known for its whites made from the Verdicchio grape, one of the country’s finest native white varietals, dating back to the Middle Ages. Verdicchio means “little green one,” a name given to the grape for its green-tinged skins and the greenish hue of its wines. Full of character and versatility, Verdicchio is used to make a variety of wine styles from sparkling to sweet, though it is most popular as a luscious dry white with exceptional aging potential. Our Bisci Verdicchio was grown and produced in Le Marche’s Matelica DOC or Denominazione di origine controllata, essentially meaning the grapes and wines from this part of the region maintain high standards and the wine is ensured to be representative of the style for that particular area. Although Le Marche is located on the Adriatic coast; the area of Matelica is the furthest inland and mountains block any exposure to sea air. The summers there are warm and winters cool. The soil of Matelica is clay and limestone, lending a hand in this wine’s crisp and clean character. Though the Bisci Verdicchio has bright, zippy acidity, it is also endowed with a creamy richness that adds to its adaptability when pairing it with food. Bisci is fermented in glazed clay vats (the earliest winemaking method thought by many to be the most natural, clean, and beneficial) for eight months before bottling. This wine is a pale straw yellow with lovely green highlights; it has pronounced aromas of honeysuckle and almond with floral, green fruit, and honeyed notes on the palate. It is a complex white with a silky, lingering finish. Pair this perfect wine with a variety of cheeses, seafood, olives, and hearty dishes like vegetable lasagna.
Now we venture to the west coast of the peninsula: to Tuscany! How could we taste through Italy without representing its most famous wine region? For you we have selected something special–The Tolaini Al Passo. When speaking of Tuscan wines, we almost immediately think of Chianti – which is just fine–its popularity is nearly unsurpassed. Sangiovese (from which Chianti is made) is Tuscany’s signature grape varietal and has hundreds of different sub-varietals and clones, some if which give more color, others more aromatics, others more tannin. Many producers grow a variety of clones to ensure optimal complexity in their wines. Almost 90% of Tuscany’s output is red, and they are the rulers of Sangiovese…but can man live on Sangiovese alone? Probably, but let’s look at other options—Enter Tolaini Al Passo, A Super Tuscan! What the heck is that, you ask? It’s remarkably delicious. Okay, there’s a little more to it than that.
The term Super Tuscan originated in the 1970s, and although it is not an official category of wine, it is a well-known and highly regarded style of wine in Tuscany. During this time, the Chianti DOC had strict regulations regarding what grapes were permitted in order to be considered Chianti. Laws required that Chianti be made from Sangiovese blended with several other indigenous grapes and small amounts of white grapes as well. Winemakers began to question the formula and felt it was limiting the potential of their wines. In the late 1960s, these winemakers began producing wines outside of the Chianti DOC guidelines, labeling them as vino da tavola (basic table wine) and not Chianti DOC. The first was Sassicaia, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc (with a current price tag of at least $200 a bottle). The style only gained more and more popularity and the rules of Chianti have since been changed to allow 100% Sangiovese in Chianti and Chianti Classico allows up to 20% other red varietals including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah.
The Tolaini Al Passo comes to us from the Chianti Classico region and is 85% Sangiovese and 15% Merlot. This medium to full-bodied red conveys spicy notes of oak and distinct aromas black cherry, vanilla, earth, and tobacco. The presence of the Merlot rounds out the Sangiovese and expresses silky, soft tannins and a lengthy, satisfying finish. This is a red you may want to enjoy solo but it will only enhance your dinner experience should you ask it to tag along. It is loved by grilled steaks, roasted pork, spicy sausages, and hearty, meatier fish like swordfish or salmon.
Taste with us and enjoy these Italians with your dinner this weekend. They are not only delectable, but honestly (and in the case of Tolaini Al Passo, literally) super and all-together superb.