Monday, May 17, 2010

Italy's Marche Region shines with Conti Di Buscareto wines

by Dwight Casimere

“Most people associate “Cremant” wines with France, but their origin, like all great things, are Italian,” that bold assertion was made by Enrico Giacomelli, co-owner, with Claudio Gabellini, of Conti Di Buscareto wines of the Marche region of Italy. “We are on the same parallel as Tuscany,” Gabellini described, “That means we have the same micro-climate.”

Gabellini and Giacomelli built their state-of-the-art winery in 2002 and immediately began to create wines that reflected the unique varietals of the Marche region and to put their own stamp on the wines, which are quickly gaining a foothold in every American city in which they have been introduced. The wines have already gained popularity in New York and, in this outing at the prestigious W Hotel in South Beach, Miami, they are set to make their mark in Florida, before moving on the Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago and Houston. The wines made a big splash at the recent VinItaly conference in Verona and are quickly garnering rave reviews from wine writers and critics in the United States. The fact that they are value priced and offer a big flavor bang for the buck is an added plus in a crowded international wine market.

Rose Brut, a sparkling wine made with “Lacrima” grapes, is a soft, floral sparkling wine created in the above-named Charmat method. Its distinctive pink color and floral aroma gives it an elegant and delicate finish with hints of rose petals and cherry on the palette. “This is really a fresh, slightly dry and aromatic wine that really makes it attractive in today’s market, especially among women.” Said Claudio Luconi, Sales Manager for Conti Di Buscareto. “We only leave the grapes on the skins for about an hour to achieve the ideal pink color, then they are soft pressed and treated in the autoclave with the Charmat method. It creates a delicate, sparkling rose that is both slightly dry and supremely aromatic. This is a terrific summertime sparkling wine with a lot of versatility and appeal.”

The wines ran the gamut from fruity whites to complex, dry reds. There was even a ‘botrytis’ late harvest white that lent its thick, honey-syrup harmonies to the symphony of flavors presented at the intimate tasting.

“Lacrima means tears,”Luconi explained, in referring to the indigenous grapes used in the creation of several of the wines that were tasted. “The grapes are very thin-skinned and pregnant with juice. When they are placed on the lees, the skins break and a tiny drop of juice presents itself, hence, they have been called the grape of tears since their first use in the 15th Century.”

The first white wine tasted was Verdicchio Dei Castelli Di Jesi. The Verdicchio Cultivar is produced almost exclusively in Le Marche. The history of the grape can be traced back to antiquity. Gentle pressing and fermentation in stainless steel barrels at a controlled temperature results in a wine that it slightly acidic with floral sensations and hints of hay and apples. “This is the perfect wine to go with shellfish and even some ‘white’ meats such as poultry or veal. Its extremely versatile because it has such a complete mouth feel and a sour aftertaste like green apples.”

The real standout of the evening’s tasting was Rosso Piceno, a blend of Sangiovese and Montepulciano grapes that was the real ‘Rocky’ of the bunch. Fermented and macerated over a 12 day period after malolactic fermentation, the wine if refined in stainless steel tanks and in the bottle for a total of 12 months. It is composed of 70% Montepulciano and 30% Sangiovese. It possesses a deep ruby red color and a strong aroma of cherries and Madagascar spices. Silky, warm and full-bodied, this is the essence of Le Marche!

The wines have yet to reach many markets such as Chicago, but they will be on the way soon. They are value priced and will sell in the $15 to $24 range. If you see them, grab them and have them with your favorite foods. You will not be disappointed.

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