Saturday, September 24, 2011

KOBRAND Tour d'Italia:a dazzling display of wine ushers in many colors of Fall

KOBRAND Tour d’Italia 2011: a dazzling spectacle of wine from Italy’s most important growing regions

Part One: The wines of Michele Chiarlo of Piedmont

Story and photos by Dwight Casimere

  1. Alberto Chiarlo with Dwight The Wine Doctor
  2. The wine caves at Michele Chiarlo of Piedmont
  3. Caveau del Barolo at Michele Chiarlo
  4. Giovanna Moretti of Tenuta Sette Ponti
  5. Roberto Pighin of Fernando Pighin & Figli of the Friuli Grave DOC

New York—A dazzling sun-drenched sky hovered over Manhattan’s Lower East Side and the Bowery Hotel as Kobrand Tour d’Italia 2011 unveiled a host of outstanding new Italian wines and their proud winemakers. The third stop in a national tour, it would unfold as a seminal event of the season as summer blaze melded into fall’s haze.

Alberto Chiarlo sat in the comfortable outdoor garden of the Bowery Hotel and spoke of the wines of Michele Chiarlo, the seven-generation winegrower from Piedmont.

“Terroir is the key word when describing our wines,” Chiarlo said while opening a bottle of his golden colored Michele Chiarlo Gavi Le Marne DOCG ($18.99). Made from 100% Cortese grapes, the wine, fermented in stainless steel tanks, is an excellent alternative to far pricier white Burgundies, with its pronounced citrus flavors and mineral aroma. “We try to plant our distinctive grapes in areas where they will grow the best. In that way, we can assure that the wine we produce is the best quality possible. Only with our unique terroir can our wines grow in the best possible way.

“This wine we are having has a beautiful flavor of lemon and sage and has a very crisp, clean taste that goes very well with fish, it will be perfect with sushi!

“Second, is Barbera (Michele Chiarlo Barbera d’Asti Le Orme DOCG-$14.99), our ‘bread and butter’ wine. This is a great wine with food. It’s elegant with fresh, crisp fruit and a very elegant and refined structure. This is a wine that is easy to drink and goes with a wide range of foods.

“The next wine that is very important in our portfolio is the Barbaresco (Michele Chiarlo Reyna Barbaresco DOCG-$39.99). This is a big, spicy wine with a lot of bold flavors of ripe cherries, spice and chocolate. This is a big wine with lots of earth notes and broad fruit flavors. It has big, round tannins and gives a long finish. This is a wine that goes well with aged beef, leg of lamb

or strong cheeses.”

Michele says one of the terrific things about his wines, is their versatility and accessibility. “We have an exceptional wine to match every pocketbook. You can go from our Barbera( Michele Chiarlo Barbera d’Asti Le Orme DOCG-$14.99) and go to our Barbeera d’Asti ($51.99), all the way up to our Barolo Cannubi or Cerequio (each $102.99). Each wine is unique and provides a flavor experience that is unmatched for its price.”

Tasting the wines against an array of salumi and cheeses provided by the Bowery Hotel catering staff, Chiarlo’s point was well wrought. The Barolo was delicious with the peppery, homemade salumi. Prosciutto and aged Parmesan were the perfect accompaniments for the Barbaresco. I found myself lingering over a handful of figs and dried fruits with the Gavi Le Marne.

Michele advised that I save the tasting of the Nivole Moscato d’Asti DOCG ($14.99) for last. This luscious dessert wine made from 100% Moscato grapes is a delicate, classic representation of this traditional post-prandial favorite. Named after the famous mist of Piedmont, its name literally means “cloud” in the local dialect. Indeed, unlike many Moscato’s you may be familiar with, it practically disappears on the tongue, leaving only a whisper of sweetness and a faint memory of delicate sweet fruit on the palate. Hence the ‘cloud’ reference. The wine would be great with fruit that had been marinated in the wine and served with a light, lemon cake or, served solitary in a thimble-sized crystal glass. Exquisite!

Next: Part II: The wines of Tenuta Sette Ponti of Tuscany with Giovanna Moretti

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