Well it was certainly a world wind vacation. Amongst spending some time with my girlfriend I also got to experience some really interesting wines from Italy. To give you some background we left Frankfurt, Germany on May 20th, drove down through Switzerland and into Italy. We stayed in Cinque Terre, a group of five towns built on cliffs in the middle of the Italian Riviera. They produce a lot of wines here, most white, but there are some reds. We hiked through the region in the midst of vineyards and Olive Tree and Lemon Tree Orchards (this is after all the home of Lemoncelo). While I wasn't able to visit any wineries while in Cinque Terre, I did of course go out and experience as much of the food and wine as I could. One of the best whites I had was an exotic Vermintino from the region with some grilled squid salad and pasta. We also had a few glasses of red Frizzante. Frizzante wine is partially sparkling i.e. frizzy instead of the bubbles we are used to seeing in most Sparkling wines and many times Frizzante is Red and not white.
After 4 days in Cinque Terre we drove up to the Parma region where we stopped for some Parma Ham and of course Parmersian cheese. To go along with this picnic we grabbed a bottle of 2004 Vignette Cal Zetti, Colli Di Parma Rosso. To me this was a great example of what a Frizzante can be. Very fruity, but not sugary sweet. Well structured and really complimented the bite of the cheese. I would grade it a nice B.
After Parma we drove up to Trentino which is in the middle of the Alto-Adige wine region of Italy. Miles and miles of Vineyards and we were lucky enough to visit the Rotari MezzaCorona winery. According to our tour guide this is the largest Wine Co-op in all of Europe. And it was HUGE, they get grapes from all over Italy and have smaller wineries in Sicily and Chianti where they do local wines. We were able to tour their sparkling wine facility which was extremely interesting as I have never seen the process that sparkling wines take. Here we were able to taste a wonderful sparkling Wine made in the Champenois Method (or Classical Method), known in Italy as Spumante (very different from Proseco). Rotari Arte Italiano Cuvee 28 Trento DOC 90% Chardonnay, 10% Pinot Noir. It poured a honey golden color with tiny microscopic bubbles. Toasty with hints of Apple, dry with hints of sweetness. Chardonnay is the overpowering presence. I'd give it a B+. One of the last things while in Italy was visit an absolutely fabulous wine shop in Trento called 12 Grado. This shop had everything, from obscure California wines to big French Chatau's. I was able to pick up a really nice bottle of Vin Santo and a Pino Nero (local name for Pinot Noir). In my travels I picked up quite a few wines that I can't wait to pop the cork on and taste and post here, so if you are interested in some unique Italian wines stay tuned as I will be tasting and posting my experiences here in the next few weeks.