Slow Wine of Italy returned to Los Angeles, once again demonstrating that time and patience definitely wins the wine tasting race. Promoting Italy’s rich wine heritage through these small production wines, Slow Wine recognizes and celebrates the entire package, the unique grape varietals, the soil and climate where they thrive, and the winegrowers who nurture the vines and the environment, safeguarding the future of their tradition of wine.
The Slow Wine World Tour held tasting events in eight cities throughout North America, Asia, and Europe, promoting the 2016 guide, assisted by the Slow Wine editorial team and select winemakers from the guide. Slow Wine 2016: “A Year in the Life of Italy’s Vineyards and Wines”, reviews more than 2,500 wines from over 400 Italian wineries, discovering what goes on behind the labels. Assessing wine through the looking glass of the Slow Food movement, there are no scores. Producers are evaluated on their winegrowing and winemaking practices, focusing on the “good, clean and fair”. Slow Wine rewards those small producers who nurture native varietals in a hands on fashion, making wine with traditional techniques, all while treading lightly on the earth. Sustainable and eco-friendly techniques, as well as good wine for good value, is what sets Slow Wines apart.
Slow Wine uses a set of three symbols to rate the wineries and three labels to judge the wines, after personally visiting the vineyards and cellars of the producers.
The symbols used to evaluate the winery:
The Snail, the symbol for Slow Food, labels a winery that has distinguished itself, interpreting the wine, the terroir, the environment, and its personal values in harmony with the Slow Food philosphy.
The Bottle is awarded to producers whose lineup of wines are consistently high quality.
The Coin is given to wineries whose wine has great bang for the buck.
The labels used to evaluate the wines:
Slow Wine denotes bottles of outstanding quality, channeling history and tradition.
Great Wine is awarded to the finest bottles.
Everyday Wine indicates wine that is an excellent value, retailing under $11.
Here’s my highlights of the event:
This year, the Slow Wine LA tasting showcased some beautiful Great Wines, but most of the wines poured had no special designation. From the electric white and red wines of Sicily, to the classic Tuscan wines of Chianti and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, to nervy Nebbiolos from Piemonte, Slow Wine producers enthusiastically shared their wines and their stories. Of what I tasted, some of the best overall producers were Speri, Castello di Neive, Boscarelli, Brandini, and Sicilian producers Planeta and Benanti.
Angela Fronti caused a stir with her family’s very good Istine Chianti wines. Higher elevation vineyards, scattered throughout the communes of Radda and Gaiole in Chianti, produce distinct Sangiovese, fresh, elegant, and mineral. The single “cru” Chianti Classico Vigna Istine 2013 was beautiful, sourced from the heart of the Classico region, as was the Chianti Classico Levigne Riserva 2012, a blend of three vineyards.
Giampaolo Tabarrini was a force of nature, enthusiastically pouring wine while showing everyone his fascinating trellising photos on his iPad. His Tabarrini Adarmando 2014 Trebbiano was very good, while the 2011 Sagrantino needed more time to soften the huge tannins, a common theme for many of the big wines of Italy this year, especially the Nebbiolos. Borgogno & Figli made a political statement with their No Name Langhe Nebbiolo 2012, a protest in a bottle, with the focus on the wine and not the classification. Speri hit the trifecta, and poured three excellent bottles, two Valpolicella Classicos and an amazing Amarone.
For me, these distinctive Great Wines were worthy of mention:
Le Vigne di Zamò Colli Orientali Friuli Merlot Vigne Cinquant’Anni 2012 made my list again this year. Complex and balanced, this 100% Merlot was produced from 60 year old vines. Aromas of berries, leather, coffee, spice, and cocoa preceded a well structured palate of black cherry, currents, licorice, and cocoa, ending savory and long
G.D. Vajra Barolo Bricco delle Viole 2011- 100% Nebbiolo from Piemonte, this silky wine’s aromas of cherry, dark berry, violets and dried roses channels a classic nose, well balanced with a long finish tinged with spice
Planeta Cerasuolo Di Vittoria 2014 – 60% Nero d’Avola and 40% Frappato, this Sicilian beauty is fresh and fragrant, with ripe pomegranate, cherry and strawberry fruit, perfect for hot weather sipping and a fabulous food pairing wine to boot
Speri Amarone Classico Vigneto Monte Sant’Urbano 2011- 70% Corvina, 25% Rondinella, and 5% Molinara, an elegant, full bodied wine with a dried fruit profile, rich with an amazing finish, an incredible wine
Castello di Neive Barbaresco Santa Stefano Albesami 2009 – single vineyard 100% Nebbiolo from Piemonte, an intoxicating nose of dark fruit, cherry, rose, wild flowers, and baking spices, finishing long and elegant
Other delicious and intriguing wines:
Benanti Etna Bianco di Caselle 2013 – 100% Carricante from the slopes of Mt. Etna, intense nose of ripe apple, electric and mineral on the palate
Benanti Etna Rosso Serra della Contessa 2013 – Nerello Mascalese blend, a “cru” from Etna’s volcanic cone, ethereal and intense with wild berry, floral, and crushed wet stone aromas
Boscarelli Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva 2011 – Prugnolo Gentile, a Sangiovese clone blend, intense and savory, black cherry and blackberry fruit, spice, floral, leather, and oak, big tannins
Speri Valpolicella Classico Superiore Sant’Urbano 2012 – a classic blend of Corvina, Rondinella, and Molinara, this intense wine has a nose of spiced ripe red fruit
Most of these Slow Wines have an importer, and can be found in the US. The Slow Wine Guide 2016 English version is available on Amazon. Slow Wine also has an online digital magazine that offers current updates.
Delicious wine, for good value, and responsibly produced? Experience the Slow Wines of Italy, and savor the difference that time and care make in the glass.