September is typically a busy month for vineyards, winemakers and wine consumers alike. Many importers showcase their current portfolio to media, wine buyers and restaurateurs during this time and it almost feels like there is an unspoken camaraderie to see whose portfolio will capture the attention of the wine drinking audience. Kobrand Imports presented its 2018 portfolio at the Metropolitan Pavilion this month and a number of Italian whites and reds in the collection were perfect for the arriving fall season. Some also presented as potentially good pairing candidates for the holiday table.
Valpolicella in the Veneto is one of Italy’s most prized winemaking areas and it is most well known for producing Amarone. Amarone is a blend of Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara and it is produced using the appassimento method . Appassimento involves drying grapes on bamboo racks to maximize their flavor. Two Amarone from Masi Agricola vineyards stood out among the many notable wineries in this outstanding region.
The Masi Agricola Costasera Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOCG was full of concentrated black fruit and spicy aromas, dark cherry, chocolate and sweet spice notes, and soft and supple tannins. The Masi Agricola Riserva di Costasera Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOCG, consisting of Corvina, Rondinella, Molinara and Oseleta, was characterized by aromas of ripe plums, berries and mocha, and rich cherry and dark chocolate notes.
Although this is Amarone producing territory, the vineyard also makes a lovely white blend consisting of Pinot Grigio and Verduzzo. The Masianco Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie D.O.C., an aromatic wine with balanced acidity, a tropical fruit nose, and ripe citrus fruit and honey notes, is a perfect fall white.
Friuli based Pighin Vineyards also presented a beautiful duo of Pinot Grigio. One of the things that distinguishes the family owned Pighin Vineyards from its peers in this highly regarded Pinot Grigio producing region is the vineyard’s exclusive use of estate grown grapes in its wine production. The vineyard also limits their grape yields to below the amount allowed by D.O.C. standards giving them greater control over the quality of the grapes produced because a smaller yield per hectare usually results in grapes of higher flavor concentration.
A floral and fruity Pighin Pinot Grigio Friuli Grave D.O.C. was well balanced, with a fresh acidity, soft minerality and notes of ripe orchard fruit. A crisp Pighin Pinot Grigio Collio D.O.C. was characterized by elegant, citrus and peach aromas, notes of lemon and apricot and a refreshing acidity. This wine would pair well with a variety of traditional dishes come the holidays. The Tuscany based Ambrogio e Giovanni Folinari Vineyards has an over two century history of winemaking and their estates comprise all five of Tuscany’s preeminent wine producing areas namely Montalcino, Greve, Chianti , Panzano and Bolgheri.
Brunello is arguably Tuscany’s most well-regarded red wine and the Tenuta La Fuga Le Due Sorelle Brunello di Montalcino D.O.C.G. was rich and full bodied with ripe berry, licorice and strawberry notes and black fruit and earthy aromas, as well as well-rounded tannins. The vineyard’s portfolio also includes Chardonnay production but they are best known for Chianti, a classic blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon.
A Tenute del Cabreo La Pietra Chardonnay, Toscana I.G.T. with floral and vanilla aromas, and ripe papaya and citrus fruit notes had the complexity, structure and weight to pair well with dishes such as roasted game and poultry. Meanwhile a Tenuta Campo al Mare Vermentino Bolgheri D.O.C. comprised of a blend of Vermentino and Sauvignon Blanc that was fermented in stainless steel tanks was characterized by green apple aromas, a refreshing acidity and bright citrus fruit notes.
Kobrand’s portfolio is marked by a number of outstanding wines from vineyards throughout Italy, some of which are highlighted here. Kobrand also represents what is frequently regarded as the first Super Tuscan in Italy. Tenuta San Guido vineyards is credited with having produced the first Super Tuscan in 1968. The Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia Bolgheri Sassicaia D.O.C. is the result of an over two decade experiment begun by Marchese Mario Incisa della Rocchetta who, in the 1940s, began to plant Cabernet Sauvignon, a varietal often associated with Bordeaux. The result was the first Cabernet Sauvignon from Tuscany. Sassicaia is comprised of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc. Over the decades Mario and later his son Nicolo refined the production process including using oak barrels to age the wine and doing so for a greater length of time.
The Sassicaia was given its own D.O.C. in 1994 and this Super Tuscan sets the standard for Cabernet Sauvignon within the Bolgheri region of Tuscany. The Sassicaia 2015 was characterized by aromas of ripe dark fruit, wood and herbs, well rounded plum, dark cherry and blackberry fruit as well as sandalwood and soft spice notes, and smooth and velvety tannins. Any one of these wines deserve a place at the holiday table.