Explaining Italian red wines with ely wine bar, Dublin

Italy can be as confusing as France when it comes to knowing what you are drinking. There are over 1,000 indigenous varieties in Italy and the wines produced in the cool northern hills of the Alto-Adige are wildly different from those made in the baking heat in Puglia down south.  Although it might seem confusing trying to understand the grapes and appellations of Italy, it’s an utterly rewarding task!

Broadly speaking there are 3 characteristics found in all Italian red wines: cherry fruit, refreshing acidity and firm tannins. The reason Italian wines make such great food wines is the combination of mouth-watering acidity and firm tannins which are the ideal components when matching food with wine. Below are some of the great Italian red grapes, and if these whet your appetite, then join us at our key Italian red grapes tasting on the 28th September 2011.

Chianti, Brunello, Vino di Nobile di Montepulciano and Morellino di Scansano: Sangiovese is the principle grape grown in the rolling Tuscan hills. In its ubiquitous Chianti form it is both sweet and sour, with cherries, cranberries, redcurrants and hints of rosemary and thyme. Chianti at it’s best is complex and layered with both red fruit and herbs, our favourite producers include Fontodi and Isole E Olena. Brunello is the big daddy of Tuscany and must be with 100% Sangiovese, it is a rich, complex and elegant glass of wine – with a savouriness of herbs, tomatoes and hints of violets.  The 2004 and 2005 vintages have both been exceptional and it you shop around you should find great examples of these. Vino Nobile and Morellino both make great Sangiovese and represent good quality and value for money. What should you eat with Sangiovese – roast leg of lamb stuffed with garlic and rosemary. And pretty much anything with a rich to tomato sauce!

Barolo: If Tuscany is the heart of the great Italian reds, Piedmont is the soul. The wines of Barolo, in the heart of Piedmont, are often likened to Burgundian Pinot Noir for their elegance, complexity and savouriness. The grape in Barolo is Nebbiolo and its typical characteristics are very high acidity and lots of tannins with perfumed and delicate flavours of damsons, red cherries, mulberries, dried fruits and herbs.  With bottle age the tannins mature and the wine becomes very light in colour with a silky texture. Our current favourite is made by Cantina Giacomo Borgogno e Figli. It is a wine that  will make you fall in love with Italy if you have not already done so! Try with braised pheasant and red cabbage, or with some really stinky cheese!

Barbera: Also native to Piedmont is Barbera. Lighter in colour than Nebbiolo and less serious, yet it punches above its weight with those yummy cherry red fruit and earthy tones. The distinguishing characteristics are  high tangy acidity and a light colour. Very much in fashion with the Pinot Noir drinkers of the world! Barbera is grown across Piedmont with the most famous towns being Alba and Asti.  Barbera d’Alba tends to be more serious and complex than the fresh and bright Barbera d’Asti . Our current favourite is Vigne Marina Coppi’s Sant’Andrea 2008. What to eat with a glass of barbera? We’d suggest a pepperoni pizza!

Valpolicella and Amarone: From around the region of north-east Italy, in the Veronese hills, Valpolicella is made from a blend of 3 local grapes:  Corvina, Molinaro and Rondinella. In it’s most common form, Valpolicella is one of the lightest, simplest wines you can get in Italy, but these wines are certainly worth exploring. Unique to Veronese wine is a style called Amarone. Made using the best quality Valpolicella grapes and allowing them to dry out over the winter. Rather than making wine with fresh juicy grapes as normal, Amarone is made with grapes that resemble raisins. This creates serious intensity and body as well as wines that are high in both alcohol and natural sugars, with delicious flavours of dried figs, prunes, cherries, spice and herbs. There is another process unqiue to Verona, the ‘ripasso method’ wines are made by fermenting standard Valpolicella on the skins of grapes used to make Amarone and are often referred to as baby Amarone. Fancy a truly great Valpolicella, try Allegrini’s Palazzo della Torre, a single vineyard Ripasso method Valpolicella. Try this and you’ll never look back!

Negroamaro: Never heard of it? Bet you’ve tasted it before! Negroamaro is one of the grapes in Salice Salentino, from Puglia in Italy’s heel. It is perfumed, earthy and quite robust – especially if it is going to withstand the baking heat of Southern Italy! If you are looking for great value for  money the wines of Southern Italy are the perfect place to shop. Other local varieties include Primitivo and Malvasia Nero. As cliche as it sounds, the best dish to have with this is pasta salsiccia, pasta with spicy sausage!

Contact wineclub@elywinebar.com for more information or to reserve your ticket at one of our wine nights!

*** UPCOMING EVENTS 2012***

7th December: Sweet, Stickie and Fortified Tasting
19th January: Bordeaux
26th January: Great Whiskeys of the World
2nd February: Chateauneuf du Pape
16th February: Southern France
22nd February: Italy

 

Wednesday night at ely winebar, Dublin, is wine tasting night!

Our Autumn wine tastings schedule:

28th September: Key Italian Red Grapes (€35 per head)
5th October: The Wines of Alsace (€35 per head)
12th October: Cabernet Sauvignon – Bordeaux vs the World (€40 per head)
19th October: Spain (€35 per head)
26th October: Great Christmas reds (€40 per head)
9th November: Great Christmas Whites and Sparklers (€40 per head)

Each week we’ll taste a selection of wines from the given theme and serve a supper dish to match the wines. All tastings are held at ely wine bar, 22 Ely Place and start at 6.45 sharp. To make your reservation please contact wineclub@elywinebar.com or call 01 676 8986.

Wine tasting in Dublin, September 2011

The BIG tasting, 22nd September 2011

Taste over 70 wines from across the globe at ely‘s BIG wine tasting.  Our February tasting was such a great success that we’ve decided to do it again. Experts will be on hand to guide you through the tasting and you can taste as many or as few as you like. We will also have a selection of artisan beers, ales and ciders at the tasting to get you in the mood for Oktober fest in Georges Dock. This is a great way to kick-start the weekend and a fantastic opportunity to taste some of the great wines of the world.

Tickets: €20
Venue: ely bar & brasserie
Time: 6pm and 8pm

Contact wineclub@elywinebar.com or phone 01 678 7867 to make a booking.

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