It was another week of wine discovery and while these were not everyday wines for most, they are more frequent indulgences for some lucky others. With wine discovery comes new and interesting friends, and this week did not disappoint. Here is a quick round up that spans Friuli, Austin, Etna, Prosecco Land, Saumur, and Sicily.
Having spent time this past spring in the drop-dead gorgeous rolling hills of northeast Italy’s and Slovenia’s shared Collio appellation, I yearn to drink more of the fresh white wines from here and across Friuli. On Monday nights at the convivial and always excellent Eastern Standard, there is a cellar clearance list of end bin wines. My friend Al, who runs Asian Projects and writes Chinese screenplays and non fiction criminal books, was in from Paris and we needed one of these wines with our mussels. With rolling hills and Alpine horizons, it is easy to overlook seafood pairings and how the Adriatic sea charges south to north on a final collision course with the Collio region. The retail priced $25 **½ 2012 I Clivi Friulano San Pietro made it into our glasses without debate. The key with this wine is to open it and quickly enjoy its linearity, acidity, stone fruit, and green crispness laying on top of slightly fatty volume. We pushed through our mussels and the first few glasses with joy, until the wine lost its edge from oxygen that ate at its friskiness. A lovely expression of the region’s Tokai Friulano grape variety, albeit accesible in a short window of post corked life.
Frank Cornelissen’s uber hip, natural Etna produced entry level $30 **** Contadino 9 appeared on the Monday night Eastern Standard clearance list in 1.5L format for $88. Who could pass that up? I am perplexed by Cornelissen’s wines after blind tasting eight of them last year. The wines seemed to beg for food, and as so many report, suffered from variability and instability at the hands of the completely natural production that makes them so unique. Drinking this wine, that combines both red and white fruit, out of a larger format with food showed the real beauty of what Cornelissen is out to accomplish. Still with some of the volatile acidity that was overly present in a few of the wines from last year’s blind tasting, an ashy mushroom quality that I love from Etna wines married with beautiful bright red fruit and great acidity to create a silky low weight mouthfeel that was as sexy as the Cornelissen aura. And it kept bringing my new friend EmmyLou Taylor, Eastern Standard floor manager, to the table for more tastes. She is in level 4 WSET now, and besides our common friends Stacy Sullivan Woods (one of her teachers at the BU WSET program) and Matteo Mollo (Lamoresca handler and big shot at Wine Bottega), we learned that we connect around this kind of wine. There are only six people in her graduating WSET class, which proves Stacty and BU teaching cohort Bill Nesto, MW do not make things easy on these students. Look up EmmyLou when you get to Eastern Standard, she will help turn your evening into a great wine experience.
Before heading to Friuli, I pinged the inimitable Dr. Jeremy Parzen at DoBianchi. His advice added a layer of joy to my father/son voyage through the wine lands of northeast Italy. To thank Jeremy, we connected in his current home town of Austin last week to taste through some wines I brought back from the Veneto for him to discover, as well as the 2005 Clos Rougeard Saumur-Champigny and the 2007 Clos Rougeard Les Poyeux. Why pour Italian wine for the guy that keeps Italy front and center for American winos? These two Loire classics, easily the best expression of Cabernet Franc in the world, are my calling cards with wine people I admire, and who might not have had the chance to let these wines change their world yet. Clos Rougeard is my crazy wine splurge. Even though the wines sell for $70-$120, I drink them a lot, even casually like everyday wines. I want these wines in my life with frequency, and it is the one wine at that price point that I make sure takes a regular place on my table; just because life would not be the same without them.
Jeremy is a brilliant energetic guy, and we made a lasting friendship. It was impossible to leave Jeremy that night without being taught one more great lesson about Italian wine; Prosecco can weaken your knees and melt your brain. We tasted the recently arrived ***½ Prosecco Col Fondo Ca’ dei Zago. I have been drinking the wrong Proseccos. The briskness of this wine came with creamy citrus fruit flavors. It is a ridiculous wine that will change anyone’s mind about how great the Glera grape can become. Read Jeremy and Alfonso Cevola’s posts about this wine. Thanks Jeremy, or as you would say…un abbraccio!