This past Wednesday, we caught the Los Angeles installment of the Simply Italian Great Wines U.S. Tour 2016 at the iconic Beverly Hills Hotel. (We had attended their 2013 tour, the last time they swept through Los Angeles.) There were, of course, many very good Italian wines on hand. So many that we could not sample them all. We’ve been to so many thematic wine tastings and, more particularly, so many Italian wine tastings that we decided to approach this event by searching for something new and different—something that would stand out for us. We were not disappointed.
This event took place in a spacious ballroom that presented ample opportunity to speak directly to the winemakers and other winery representatives, which is always a treat. We much appreciated the great selection of hors d’oeuvres to help refresh the palate periodically throughout the afternoon. The atmosphere was relaxing and we congratulate IEEM (International Event & Exhibition Management) on a very successful event.
One of the best wineries we discovered was Castelfeder, hailing from the village of Kurtinig/Cortina in the Alto Adige (aka Sudtirol) area of Northern Italy, not too far from Balzano. We met with Ines Giovanett whose grandfather established the winery in 1970. Ines works closely with her parents, who currently head the winery, and her brother who focuses more on winemaking while Ines leads the sales and marketing efforts. Yet, being a family operation, their roles overlap most of the time. The first wine we sampled was their 2015 Kerner Lahn Vigneti Delle Dolomiti IGT, which seemed to be a very nice dry Riesling. The grape varietal is Kerner, which is, in fact, a cross between Trollinger (aka Schiava) and Riesling. This is a delicious wine—medium–bodied and dry, but with a slight hint of sweetness. We also enjoyed their 2015 Breitbacher Vernatsch, a medium–to–light very approachable red. So that you aren’t totally confused, the Sudtirol Vernatsch is the same grape varietal as the German Trollinger which is known as Schiava in other parts of Italy. We closed with their 2015 Rieder Lagrein, which was delightful. This Lagrein was lighter and less inky than most we’ve tasted previously. If you aren’t familiar with the Lagrein grape, you owe it to yourself to give it a try. It has some of the same characteristics as Nebbiolo (think Barolo) in terms of complex mix of berries and violets, but it is often expressed as a very full–bodied wine. The Castelfeder Lagrein is more reminiscent of Barolo. These wines can be found for under $18 retail and represent a tremendous value.
The second great find was the Val di Toro winery from the town of Grosseto in the seaside Maremma Grossetana area of Tuscany. We met with Anna Maria Cruciata, half of the husband and wife team who both abandoned their successful finance and banking careers in Milan in order to relocate to the Tuscany coast to pursue what are now their successful winemaking careers. Their 2015 Anna’s Secret is a delightfully bone dry Rosato produced from Sangiovese grapes. The 2015 Auramaris (meaning “sea breeze”) is a refreshing Vermentino with a hint of saline influence. She also poured us two Sangiovese–based reds, the 2014 Rosso Ribelle (fermented in cement with a short time in oak at the end) and the 2014 Reviresco Morellino di Scansano (which spends more like a year in oak). Both are memorable. In the $15–24 retail price range, these wines also provide great value.
In the “I’ve never had that before” category, we sampled the Inciucio N.V. Vino Spumante Brut presented by Leonardo Sodi of Parmoleto, who explained that this wine is a sparkling white Sangiovese produced as a white wine in stainless steel with no skin contact. It is a pale white sparkler that has pleasant tastes of black licorice and fig. Totally surprising and unique, it would pair well with some hard cheeses and even with white fish. He also poured his very nice 2012 Montecucco Sangiovese Riserva. Parmoleto is currently seeking a U.S. importer and we hope his wines will find their way to U.S. wine shops in the near future.
Another notable sparkler was the Viola, an extra dry fragrant and refreshing rosato spumante from Trerè, presented by Morena Trerè and her handsome young son (who could have a career in Hollywood if he wanted one). Their family operates an agriturismo in the town of Faenza in the Emilia–Romagna province of Ravenna (not far from Bologna).
We liked all three entries from Cantina del Castello from Soave. Their 2015 Castello Soave Classico (light and good minerality) and 2015 Pressoni Soave Classico (single vineyard, floral and dry) wines are from predominantly Garganega grapes blended with some Trebbiano di Soave. Their 2013 Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso was intense and made us wish they had their Amarone on hand as well. We also enjoyed the Pianirossi 2010 Solus Maremma Toscana.
Last, but not least, we reconnected with winemakers from the Lugana consorzio, about whom we wrote in detail last summer. Both Carlo Vernonese and Luca Formentini were on hand, together with their colleagues to promote the wines of Lugana, a picturesque wine enclave that spans two Italian regions—Lombardy and Veneto—in the morainic plain south of Lake Garda. The more recent vintages of the wines of Luca Formentini’s Selva Capuzza were delightful, including the very refreshing 2015 Selva (entirely Trebbiano di Lugana, known locally as Turbiana) and the aromatic 2015 San Martino della Battaglia Campo del Soglio (a Tocai Friulano). Leah especially liked their Lume Benaco Bresciano Passito, a sweeter Tocai Friulano to pair with Tellegio cheese. We also enjoyed the 2015 Molin Cà Maiol, the 2015 Famiglia Olivini Lugana, the 2015 Perla del Garda Lugana, the 2015 Pasini San Giovanni Il Lugana and several wines from Cantina Bulgarini (served to us by Rosanna Cassibbi), including their sparkling 2013 Stelle di Lugana and aromatic rosé 2015 Chiaretto Garda Classico.
No matter how many tasting events we attend, it seems there is always an opportunity to make new discoveries and make new friends. Wine—especially Italian wine—is a never–ending journey, and we’re grateful for that.
Disclosure: We were granted complimentary media credentials for this event.
November 1, 2016 at 2:33 pm
Morena Trerè said:
Bellissima manifestazione a Los Angeles
Wine Imbiber said:
Yes, Morena, it was a beautiful event. Thank you for bringing your wines to Los Angeles!
Degustazione dei nostri vini a New York e Los Angeles | Trere said: