from a land of plenty
A sip through Italy
IT CERTAINLY is no
secret that Italy is one of
the most beautiful places
on earth. Rugged mountains, rolling hillsides,
lush valleys, red poppies
and manicured vineyards are a few of the vivid memories I have of
the country. And, of course, wonderful wines.
Wine styles vary in the 20 Italian regions
due in large part to the strict laws that govern
the wine industry. The denominazione di orig-ine controllata (DOC) designation for Italian
wines (and food) spell out specific standards for
each region, covering geographical limits,
which grape varieties can be planted (where
and in what percentages), crop yields, alcohol
levels and aging requirements.
Another designation is DOCG, where the
“G” (garantita) signifies a guarantee of wine
authenticity. DOCG wines are Italy’s best and
are held to the highest quality standards by the
strictest tasting panels.
Wonderful wines come from all of Italy’s
regions, but three of my favorites are the reds of
Piedmont, Tuscany and Veneto.
wine-producing region in the northeast.
Valpolicella is a key appellation for the red
grape variety Corvina. Rodinella and Molinara
grapes, also red, are blended with Corvina to
bring out its tart cherry and herb character.
Valpolicella DOC wines are known for a
fresh fruit profile that’s perfect for everyday
quaffing. The most interesting wines hail
from Amarone della Valpolicella DOC,
where unique winemaking takes place. For
Amarone, grapes are left on the vines longer
to gain additional ripeness. The ripest grapes
at the top of a bunch (or cluster), called
“ears,” are selected for vinification. After the
ears are harvested, the grapes are dried on
straw mats to concentrate sugars.
The best Amarones are high in alcohol,
but balanced with intense, delicious, raisin-like
flavors and rich texture.
Piedmont in the northwest
In the northwest region of Piedmont,
Nebbiolo is the reigning noble grape variety.
Grown in hilly and foggy conditions, Nebbiolo
is a fickle, difficult grape to produce.
Barolo DOCG and Barbaresco DOCG,
the two most famous and classic appellations
in Piedmont, masterfully coax the best out of
Nebbiolo grapes. Both wines can be big and
robust. Barbaresco is lighter in style than
Barolo, and both benefit from a few years of
bottle aging to develop their stunning floral
bouquets of dried roses and violets, as well as
earthy, red-fruit flavors. Young Barbarescos
and Barolos can be overly tannic and very
high in acidity. Both can be expensive, but,
with a little patience, they can be beautifully
complex and elegant.
A less expensive alternative from Piedmont
is Barbera, a red grape that yields lighter, more
fruit-driven wines that drink well young. The
best Barberas are produced in Asti DOC and
The vines of Veneto
Moving cross-country, Veneto is a prolific
You’ll ;nd these ;ne Italian
wines at select Costcos:
Tenute Silvio Nardi Brunello
Tenuta La Fuga Brunello
di Montalcino Item #141331
Ban; Chianti Classico
Castello D’Alboa Chianti Classico
TO FIND which Costco
wine, go to Costco.
com, click on “Costco
then “Beer, Wine &
Spirits Locator.” You
can also find notes on
wines under “Kirkland
Tuscany Italy Featured at Costco
Chianti DOC; Chianti Classico DOCG, from
higher-plain vineyards; and Chianti Classico
Riserva DOCG, which is elegant, structured
and, by law, requires additional aging.
In southern Tuscany, Brunello di
Montalcino DOCG produces some of Italy’s
finest wines, made exclusively with Sangiovese
grapes. Brunello, an age-worthy Sangiovese,
can be pricey, with older vintages displaying
depth and complexity. Rosso di Montalcino
DOC is a “baby Brunello,” using younger fruit
with less aging, and is one of the best values in
Tuscan red wines.
“Super Tuscan” refers to nontraditional
wines produced throughout Tuscany using
Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot as the primary grape varieties. Many well-known and
top-quality producers excel with this modern
style. Super Tuscans are often big, powerful
wines with intense fruit, complexity and
structure, and can be very expensive.
Put together an Italian feast, grab a few
bottles of Italian reds and enjoy a fall evening
at home. Salute! C
oversees Costco’s wine,
beer and spirits program.
The famous Tuscans
Located in central Italy, Tuscany is a
famous region of flatland surrounded by
beautiful slopes and hillsides. Several famous wines are produced
here, including Chianti.
Chianti is produced
in three quality levels:
CHRIS A RUSNAK NOVEMBER 2011 ;e Costco Connection 35