Italian wine is one of those categories about which it’s impossible to know everything. With countless grape varieties produced up and down the country, and in a range of styles broad enough to make even the most passionate wine-lover’s head spin, there is just no way to ever really become 100% versed in all of Italy’s infinite wine complexities. It's one of the aspects of Italian wine that I love the most.
This is even the case with regions and styles that you think you know well. For me, I’ve always felt like my understanding of Amarone, for example, is reasonably strong. But then I tasted La Collina dei Ciliegi’s Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG “L’Amarone,” an amazingly detailed expression of the famously powerful red. It was a wine of muscle and elegance in equal measure, and one that was just as easy to drink on its own as it would have been with food.
I tasted this at the beautiful Red Hook Winery in Brooklyn, where the Italian Wine & Style Promotion, for which I had been hired by my friends and colleagues at the amazing Marco Polo Experience in Rome to help out with the tasting, was running an event for potential importers for the producers that are a part of the IW & SP. My job was to discuss the wines with the guests, explain them and contextualize them; what actually ended up happening was an education for myself, for these wines reminded me yet again of the infinite bounty of astounding wine coming out of Italy.
During our pre-event tasting, bottle after bottle won me over with its character and uniquely expressive sense of terroir. The producers hail from five regions—Piemonte, Veneto, Toscana, Umbria, and Marche—and include standouts in each one: Il Botolo and Colle Manora in Piemonte; Cantina di Verona, La Collina dei Ciliegi, Antiche Terre Venete, Fongaro Spumanti, and Colli Vicentini in the Veneto; Colline di Sopra, Montemaggiore, and Poggio Piglia in Toscana; Castello delle Regine in Umbria; and Borgo Paglianetto in the Marche. All of the producers, and in particular with the bottlings that they brought to Brooklyn, were reminders of exactly how exciting this most ancient wine-producing country is right now.
And while the range of styles, grape varieties, and regions was vast, there were four aspects that tied them all together: A sense of joy, a respect for the terroir from which they came, world-class winemaking, and a riveting sense of style. Indeed, whether the wines were more driven by fruit or by earthiness, and regardless of alcohol level, residual sugar, the presence of bubbles or any other variable, all of these producers perfectly embody the soul of what makes the wines of these regions of Italy so beloved all over the world: Their honesty, passion, and deliciousness. It turns out that the concept of the Italian Wine & Style Promotion is spot on: These are wines with style to spare.