Monday, December 13, 2010

The Collio Wine Collection: Designer Wines in a Designer Setting

Story and photos by Dwight Casimere

New York—The sleek, cutting edge Moroso Showroom on Green Street in SoHo served as the setting for the Collio Wine Collection tasting of Italy. Set in the north of Italy, with Slovenia at its border, the region is best known for its white wines, Pinto Grigio being its most well-known offering.

The beauteous Patrizia Felluga, of Consoritum Patrizia Felluga, told me “Pinot Grigio opened the door in the U.S. for our great wines. Now its time for us to tell our full story, because there is so much more to tell. We have so many other great white wines. There is such a great story about the wine, about the people and about the region. We want to deepen the relationship between the U.S. and our region by sharing this story. In this way, we reveal the heart beat of our land and people can fall in love with the wine over and over again.”

The wines were shown in the context of their surroundings of designer chairs, seating arrangements, low tables and contemporary lighting fixtures. The hundred so people who mingled amongst them immediately made themselves comfortable on the designer furniture, arranged in conversation pit groupings. At times, the event had the comfortable conversation buzz of an indoor garden party. The only drawback was the absence of regional cheeses and other antipasti that would have provided a flavor backdrop for the delicious wines.

Although all of the wines were white, no two were alike and ran the gamut from bone dry to sweet and everything in between. Because of the variegated terrain in the Collio, every growing region is different. A distance of a mere few hundred yards yields drastically different conditions in soil, climate and grape texture. Walking amongst the tasting stations and talking to the winemakers was like taking a virtual journey through the Collio region.

Dennis Stahmer of Genova Importers was the first to grab my attention with his 2008 Bratinis Collio Bianco wine ($20). A medium-dry wine, it is a 50/50 blend of Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc. The wine is quite attractive, with a beautiful bright golden yellow color and a slight sweet scent of jasmine flowers on the nose. Don’t let the innocent color fool you, this wine has a lot of complexity and depth underneath, with honey, apricot and preserved lemon, giving it an elegance.

The real beauty of the wine is its mineral character that allows it to stand alone and be drunk almost anytime.

“That’s because of the soil. The soil that the grapes grow in is very typical for our region. Its very rockie,” Stahmer pointed out. “It really adds to the minerality that our wines have. This is the characteristic of the wines of the Collion region, the minerality, the terroir. You really need some strong cheese to go with this wine. It’s a great combination.”

Marco Felluga one of the most respected and oldest wineries in the Collion region. The wine we are having is Molamatta($20.99). It’s a blend of Bianco, Friulano and Rebolla Giala, which is an indigenous grape from the area,” said Giuseppe Santorelli.

“The interesting thing is the blend. The Pinot Bianco gives some floral notes. The Friulano, which used to be called Tokai, gives it a more pronounced character. The other interesting thing is that the Pinot Bianco is aged by itself in small barrels before it is blended with the other grapes. So that gives the wine and nice weight and texture. If you visit our region, you’ll see that we are very close to the Alps. In fact, you can see Slovenia from our border”

I refrained from yodeling, but this is definitely wine to stand up and shout about! This is definitely a wine that I would pair with food. Perhaps lamb or a fleshy white fish like Sea Bass or Grouper. It could even stand up to some spicier foods like a Creole Gumbo or Indian food.

Host Robert Moros really puit the event in perspective, telling me that “the partnership between Collion and Moroso is based on the fact that quality and design go hand in hand. Just as we express our style and quality through our design, so do the winemakers express their art and creativity through their wine. They are the architects of their wine just as we are the designers of what you see on display here.”

One great thing about the wines of the Collion region is that the wines all tasted great and all were priced in the $10.99-$20.99 category, with most falling somewhere in the middle. They’re available now at your local wine merchant. I think it worth a try a few bottles and take an ‘armchair’ tour of one of Italy’s newly discovered up and coming regions. For more on the wines of Collio, visit

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