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Bill Carlson Wine Time
Bill Carlson’s Wine Time
The wines of Italy can be a bit intimidating for many people getting into wine. There are literally thousands of different grape varietals, a complicated wine classification system and plenty of producers with exotic sounding multi syllable names.
Almost everyone is familiar with the ubiquitous wines of Pinot Grigio and Chianti. However, with a little effort and sense of adventure it’s worth pursuing the diverse wines of Italy.
A great alternative to the rather uninspiring but wildly popular Pinot Grigio is Pinot Bianco. Pinot Bianco is stylistically a bit richer with a creamier texture that Pinot Grigio but with similar fruit characteristics of pears and apples.
The 2011 Alois Lageder Pinot Bianco ($12.49) has been one of my favorite white wines I’ve tasted this year. The close knit and slightly eclectic Lageder family has been making wine for five generations in the lovely high Alpine Valley of Alto Adige. Their Pinot Bianco is clean and refreshing with good intensity but not as heavy or oaky as many Chardonnay’s. Perfect with grilled Mahi and a simple sauce of lemon, parsley and butter.
The ruggedly beautiful region of Piedmont in Northwestern Italy produces the often overlooked grape varietal Barbera (Bar-bare-ah). Yes, the regal wines of Barolo made from the Nebbiolo grape grab all the attention and prime vineyards, but Barbera is continually improving and evolving and are worth the effort to find.
I was really impressed by the 2011 Pico Maccario Lavignone Barbera D ‘Asti ($13.49). It doesn’t have some of the rustic flavors that can turn people off on Barbera. What it has is a really nice cherry and spice nuances, rose petals and a balanced core of acid that keeps it lively. The Maccario family has the largest single block vineyard in Piedmont on hillsides in the Province of Asti. The wine was recently named by The Wine Spectator as 100 Outstanding Values for 2012.
It takes a little more effort to learn and appreciate Italian wines but so worth it. Both of these unique wines are available at Seville’s Wine Shoppe.