The Cincinnati Mondiale recently had a great opportunity to learn about Italian wines from an expert with an interesting history. We met at Ohio Valley Wines to sample an array of Italian selections from Claudio Salvador and his wife Antonella Mancini. Originally from Veneto, Claudio studied viticulture and enology at the University of Padua, then worked for mega producer Zonin, which sent him to its Barboursville Winery in Virginia. Eventually he made his way to northern Ohio and after planting vineyards on Bass Island found his home as partner and winemaker at Firelands Winery in Sandusky. In 2003 Claudio established Specialty Wine Co. to import quality wines from all regions of Italy, including Sicily and Sardinia. These were the subjects of our tasting.
Sparkling wine always to helps kick off a party and we enjoyed 2010 De Faveri Prosecco from Valdobbiadene in Veneto along with tasty appetizers courtesy Chef Michael “Funky” Forgus. Spoons of cream of porcini with crab and prosciutto wrapped veal meatballs went especially nicely with the light bubbly. Our first glasses to examine may be less familiar to the occasional Italian fan. 2006 Ca’ Ronesca Marna’ from Collio was a Pinot Blanc/Malvasia blend and terrific minerality melded with a creamy mouth feel. Collio is very near the Slovenian border in Friuli-Venezia Giulia and a few vineyards actually straddle the national borders. Antonella then took over to present 2009 Cantina Pedres Ceraiso, a Cannonau from her family vineyards in Sardinia. This clone of Grenache had a hint of eucalyptus and mysterious earthiness.
Next we had a trio of Piemonte classics, a 2009 Barbera and Barbaresco and Barolo both from 2004. The Luigi Tacchino had a smoky violet nose that belied youthful jammy fruit and acidity that made a good match for many foods. The Barbaresco from Tenuta Carretta seemed in perfect balance while the Barolo from the same producer, unusually made from Barbera rather than Nebbiolo, needed more cellar time. Our next pair represented Tuscany, with 2005 Tiezzi Estate Brunello Di Montalcino and “Super-Tuscan” 2007 Podere Sapaio Volpolo from Bolgheri showing well, although the Brunello really required time to open up. Our final pairing was a 2006 Di Filippo Sagrantino from the Montefalco region of Umbria and 2006 Amarone from Azienda Roverone. Both wines beautifully typified the style of Italian wines with the Sagrantino showing big tannins and balanced acidity and the Amarone exhibiting floral and perfume notes with extracted dry plummy flavors.
Chef Michael gave us the usual culinary creations of overwhelming proportions, with Marsala braised beef short ribs, grilled carambola polenta with fried fennel, and Italian sausage with kale and oyster mushroom risotto among the many delicious choices to enjoy with further wine samplings. We finished with a delectable dessert that was essentially a deconstructed tiramisu for a fitting end to a memorable evening with our Esparto Enologo. Saluto!
J.T. Mayer, Chargé de Presse Provincial Midwest