Springtime in the midwest often evokes images of budding trees, birds and flowers and the gradual change from brown to green of the local landscape as warmer weather begins to move in. At Dante, we always look forward to the season’s bounty of fresh spring fruits, vegetables, produce and other goods from our local farmers and providers.
For Dante Sommelier and IWP, Adam Weber, springtime evokes thoughts of seasonally relevant wines, sustainability, and dreams of the perfect pairings. We sat down with him to get his take on five Italian wines that are ideal for the season. “With the wonderful flavors bursting out of the earth that we see in our spring ingredients, it’s key to find great wines that are clean, fresh and full of life- much like the season itself,” said Weber. Also important is identifying innovative winemakers who use sustainable agricultural practices in their winemaking production. If you are looking for just the right wine to compliment the season, look no further. Read on for Adam’s picks and tasting notes on the wines you should be drinking right now.
5 ITALIAN WINES PERFECT FOR SPRING AND EARLY SUMMER
Wine #1: A still white wine, 2015 Bisson “U Pastine” Bianchetta Genovese
Founded by Pierliugi Lugano in 1978, he was a wine merchant turned wine producer. He believes in the preservation and revitalization of the rare grapes of Liguria, while adhering to local traditions mixed with a little innovation, to ensure the longevity of these grape varietals for many generations to come. Grape growing on the steep slopes of the Ligurian coast provides many challenges, so, Lugano has invented methods, both in the cellar and in vineyard, that allow for the highest quality, as well as the best expressions that these grapes have to offer. The wine, “U Pastine” means “very special product”, in the local dialect. The grape is Bianchetta Genovese, which is a very rare grape, found only in Liguria and saved from extinction by Lugano. It is delicate, lively, citric, mineral laden and floral. When you smell the wine, it has a vegetal quality that really hits home with the food of this season.
Wine #2: A frizante (semi sparkling) white wine, 2015 Giani Gagliadro Fallegro
The story of these wine makers, descendants of the Colla family, go back to 1848, starting with growing Moscatto in Santo Steffano Belbo. The next generation began growing Dolcetto in Dolghiani (known for being the finest quality Dolcetto grown in Piedmont). They then began growing in La Mora, known for elegent Barolo. In 1972, the daughter of Paolo Colla, Marivanna, married Giani Galiadro, taking the winery to a whole new level. They use traditional wine making methods with particular focus on sustainability and the environment. The wine, fallegro, means “favorite”. This wine is made from 100% vermentino grapes (which are grown all throughout Italy) and are known for being very clean, very fresh. By adding still wine to sparkling wine, they create a frizzante that dances on the palate. Spring calls with the floral aroma’s and hints of pepper, mixed with berry.
Wine #3: A still rosé wine, 2015 Virna “Ba” Rosé
In 1991, Virna Borgogno became the first woman to graduate from The University of Turin in Wine Making production. She took over for her father shortly thereafter. With her winery located in the town of Barolo in Southern Piedmont, Virna believes in keeping wine production small, but utilizing the historically significant vineyard sites of the area to create the best possible product. She and her sister only grow on about 12 hectares (approximately 18 acres) on many famous vineyard sites including the Cannubi Bochis, Seramassa and Preda, just to name a few.
This rosé is 100% Nebbiolo, seeing only a few hours of skin contact during the fermentation process. It gives the wine aromas of violet and orange peel, with a rosy color and a taste of tart cherry. Nebbiolo is known for its ability to pair with a great many foods, however, is thought of as a full bodied red for food items such as beef, fatty meats, as well as earthy vegetables. In this case, the lessened skin contact makes this wine perfect for the flavors and aromas of spring.
Wine #4: N.V. (non-vintage) Santa Giustina “1937” Spumante Brut Rosato
In 1970, the winery was built inside of the Santa Giustina village, dating back over 1000 years, in hopes of rebuilding Bucarelli to former glory. In this village, you will find a Church dating back to 800 A.D., where weddings and festivals are held. Set in a natural setting of forests outside the village of Val Tidone, Gaia Bucarelli, plants 100 hectares (approximately 150 acres) of indigenous, as well as international, varietals, utilizing sustainable methods, in hopes of preserving the natural setting in which you find this amazing winery. This largest aspect to their winemaking is their love and emotion found in every bottle. The 1937 is named for the year of Gaia Buccareilli’s father’s birth year. It is a blend of Barber, Bonarda and Pinot Noir. Using the Charmat (tank method, all stainless steel, no oak, shorter fermentation period) they are able to produce a wine that is clean. Very little presence of yeast gives this wine a lighter body, yet complex and elegant. The wine fits the flavors of spring, due to its brightness, persistent berry flavor and elegance.
Wine #5: A still, light bodied, red wine, 2015 Elena Walch Schiava
Elena Walch married into one of the most affluent families of Trentino-Alto Adige, located in Northwest Italy. Once the union took place, Elena set out to modernize the vineyard and cellar, while maintaining traditional wine making methods. Today, Elena Walch has become one of the most respected wine makers of the region, not only on a local level, but on an international scale as well. She believes in sustainable wine making practices, while maintaining the absolute highest quality possible. chiava is a light bodied grape, very thin skinned, that is known throughout this region of Italy, as well as in Southern Germany, where it is used to make a sweet red wine. Subtle smoke flavors, strawberry and low acidity and tannin, make this the perfect wine for spring. Its approachability and soft flavors, compliment the food of spring quite well.