Thursday, April 15th, 2010
Posted by Patricia Guy
The term Millennial Generation refers to consumers who are open-minded and willing to try things that are out of the ordinary – in fact they are people who seek out products and experiences that are extraordinary. With that spirit in mind I have made a short list of wines I tasted at Vinitaly (the world’s largest annual wine trade fair) that fit this description. They are juicy and appealing but beyond all this – and what makes them Millennial – is that they also have soul, style and originality.
2007 Bullulae Brut from Bruno Bortolotti (78% Lagrein, 15% Pinot Noir and 7% Ripasso Valpolicella)
This sparkling wine has a vivid, vibrant light ruby with definite rich red-orange highlights. It is the color of a wine that could proudly be served on the Starship Enterprise. In fact, it is, in my opinion, a wine of the future in that it manages to convey all the qualities of a fine, concentrated “important red” with the vivacity and liveliness of a superb sparkling wine. The nose is a firm, decisive blend of bright berry fruits: raspberries, blueberries, a touch of cherry all captured in a net of softly citrusy zest. On the palate it has a lovely – and surprising – creaminess. Again, I am left with the feeling that I am drinking something totally original and totally satisfying. It is a wonderful balance between graciousness and character.
After 10 minutes in the glass the wine is still firm and fresh and inviting.
How did this unusual blend come about? “I noticed the affinity between wines made from the Lagrein grape and Valpolicella Ripasso so I decided to experiment. You know I like to try new things,” says Bruno Bortolotti, whose company is located in the Veneto Region of Italy. (He also makes, in my opinion, the Prince of Proseccos.)
When asked for a food match, Bruno says: “It is a wine to drink on its own. But if I had to pick something I would serve it with scampi risotto or pumpkin tortellini.”
2008 Erbaluce di Caluso from Benito Favero (100% Erbaluce) Pale gold. Bright, clean, refreshing. On the nose: freshness together with a creamy sensation. On the palate the idea of elderflowers mingles with soft white-fleshed fruits (some peaches, pears). On the middle palate the fruit flavor expands, all the while captured and kept firm by the lively minerality. “You need to give Erbaluce a lot of time to develop – just like some Soaves,” says Camillo Favero, winemaker at the estate, which is located in the Piedmont Region of Italy. When asked for a an ideal match, Camillo suggests baked fish or roast white meats.
2009 AS from Fattoria Zerbina (100% Albana) A sheen of pale straw with a clear rim. The fragrance rises up to meet you – full, fruity (apricots) with the idea of sweetness (although this is a dry wine) infused with a minerally acidity/freshness. This pleasing sensation continues onto the palate and through the finish where the vivacious minerality becomes more evident. The name AS derives from “Albano Secco”. Cristina Geminiani, winemaker and owner of Fattoria Zerbina (which is located in the Italian Region of Emilia Romagna) suggests serving it with egg pasta dishes with vegetable-based sauces, or with soft, fresh cheeses (such as herbed goat’s cheese).
2008 Soave “Monte Carbonare” from Suavia (100% Garganega) A firm saturation of rich yellow, with a scrim of pea-green. The apricot-tinged fruit bursts out of the glass at the first sniff. Again the minerality seems to spin around the fruit, giving it a well-defined shape. The palate echoes the nose: apricot fruit and sprightly minerality. The apricot element broadens and dominates the lively finish. A lovely wine.
After 10 minutes in the glass, the flavors and fragrances are even more finely knit. It takes on a sensation of heavy-silk on the palate. “We feel that the Carbonare is a true expression of its terroir,” says Meri Tessari, who with her sisters and parents, manages the Suavia estate.“As regards pairing,” says Meri “I think Monte Carbonare is good with most fish-based dishes because it respects the flesh of the fish, its salinity and delicate meat. It is also excellent with vegetable and truffle risottos or medium-ripened cow’s milk cheese.”Meri kindly provided some specific (and delicious-sounding) recommendations: lime-marinated sardine bruschetta; grilled red radicchio and Montasio cheese; risotto with pomegranate and Monte Veronese cheese; pasta with zucchini, zucchini blossoms and ricotta; and almond-crusted sardines with savoy cabbage.
2009 Donnaluna from Viticoltori De Conciliis (100% Fiano)Pale gold, clear rim. Soft white-fleshed fruits contained in a fine mesh net of zesty acidity. An intriguing salinity defines the flavor. On the middle palate an attractive steely sensation emerges and the salinity (and minerality) seems to take on an almost visceral character – this is an excellent wine to serve with meals. When asked for a serving suggestion Bruno Di Conciliis says, “Spaghetti with clams – but with a good sauce – not one of those with a lot of burnt garlic!”. The Di Conciliis estate is located in Campania. Bruno, by the way, petitioned and got permission to name a road near one of his vineyards: “via Frank Zappa”. I like Bruno.
2004 Ramuner from Zamuner (75% Pinot Nero, 10% Pinto Meunier, 15% Chardonnay) Golden yellow. It is round, easy and pleasing. It has a very full, appealing perfume that gives the idea of ripe, fresh pears and apricots. It is sweet on the nose but dry on the palate.It is an a fine aperitif, particularly as its fruity fragrance makes it satisfying to drink without food. “But it is also very good with ethnic dishes, “ says Daniele Zamuner. “Particularly Chicken curry.”
2009 500 from Fattoria Zerbina (96% Sangiovese, 4% Merlot) Right from the start this wine seems to shimmer with vibrancy. The color is a blue-tinged ruby with vivid scarlet highlights. The fragrance is embracing. Its lush, velvety sensations ride high on a wave of bracing freshness. The fruit flavors – strawberry, raspberry, blueberry – are so well integrated that they become one glorious whole. Its name – 500 (cinque-cento) – is reminiscent of the recently-released super compact Italian cars of the 50 and 60s and was chosen because the wine is only sold in 500 cl bottles. “We know that people want to drink less these days at restaurants and at home, so we decided to bring out the wine in a smaller bottle,” says Cristina Geminani. She suggests that the wine be served lightly chilled.
2008 Montebruna from Braida (100% Barbera) Ripe rich plumy color. The fragrance conveys juicy, pulpy plums. This is echoed on the palate: ripe, fresh, fruity – Barbera at its juicy best. The acidity that is characteristic of the grape buoys the joyous fruit. “I’d enjoy Montebruna with a great big juicy steak,” says Raffaella Bologna, who with her brother and husband manages the Piedmontese estate. Braida has long been known for its single-vineyard Barberas. In fact, it was Giacomo Bologna (Raffaella’s father) who first recognized the grape’s potential for producing great, world-class wines. With Montebruna the Bologna family has created a wine in line with the Millennial tastes: that is, a “real” wine, but one that dances across the palate.