Meet the winemakers.
I recently had the opportunity to check out a “Meet the Winemakers” event at La Buona Tavola, which is better known in the social media world as the Truffle Cafe. La Buona Tavola, in case you haven’t had a chance to poke your head in, is a cozy 325 sq ft. shop on the east side of Pike Place Market. While Rei, owner of La Buona Tavola and Seattle’s aptly named “Truffle Queen,” is best known for her truffles (the subterranean mushroom, not the chocolate) and truffle derivations, she specializes in bringing as much of authentic Italian cuisine to Seattle as she is able. Truffle oils/salts,Italian sweets, sauces, jams and spreads, aged balsamic vinegars (my personal favorite product line), fine olive oils, pasta, and more. Try the corn cookies. Seriously, they’ll blow your mind.
Aside from various foodstuffs, the Truffle Cafe also sells Italian wines. In fact, if you have have the opportunity to do so, stop in for a tasting of fine Italian wines, every day after 11:00am. You will be treated like a king (or queen) for the duration, and will most definitely learn a thing or two about wine, truffles, and Italy.
From time to time, La Buona Tavola will host a “Meet the Winemakers” event wherein Italian winemakers will take the 13-hour flight to Seattle to tell you all about their winery, wines, history, and family. It shines a very personal light on what is normally a very foreign experience. I buy wines every week from countries around the world, but have never once thought that I would get a chance to meet and talk with the vintner. It is that connection that really makes events like these so special.
On this particular occasion, we met winemakers Maurizio Marchetti (3-time winner of the very prestigious “Tre Bicchieri” – three glasses – Italian Winemaker award) and Alessandro Bocci, whose Tuscan Sangiovese blends are pushing the boundaries of the style.
Over the course of about 2 hours, we were given tastings of five different wines; 3 from Marchetti Winery and two from Perazetta, listed below with descriptions adapted from those provided by Small Vineyards Imports:
2010 Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi D.O.
It could be said that Verdicchio is a thinking person’s Pinot Grigio. Refreshing citrus fruits, playful acidity, and complex minerality are the hallmarks of this varietal, and when well-made, it is one of the best whites in the Mediterranean world. Incredibly, this wine is all free-run juice (no pressing!), and as a Classico, is the best example in its class we have ever tried. Machetti’s family has been making Verdicchio for generations, and t shows.
2010 Tenuta del Cavaliere Verdicchio D .
Full-bodied and lush, this micro-production late harvest Verdicchio is not a sweet wine. It is off-dry, taking advantage of an extra month on the vine to develop greater body, structure, and fruit essence. It is deftly made, with lush pear, melon, and a touch of honey complexion that retains beautiful acidity.
2008 Montepulciano D.O.C
Known for his impeccable Verdicchio in the United States, Marchetti is famous for his red Montepulciano back home in Ancona. Laced with an intriguing smoky, cranberry spice and ripe plums, this Montepulciano is an everyday favorite. Aged in concrete to regulate temperature throughout the process.
2009 Sara Rosso Toscano I.G.T. – 90% Sangiovese 10% Ciliegiolo
Alessandro Bocci’s winery Perazetta, located in the D.O.C. region of Montecucco, just south of Montalcino, produces wines that have tremendous power, tension, and assertive terroir. Bright, stinging cherry, crisp acidity, and tantalizing earth tones make this pretty, yet interesting wine hard to resist. The everyday wine of the estate, “Sara” is named after Alessandro’s daughter.
During the growing process, grapes are examined for quality and pruned if they do not meet standards. This process is common in gardening for producing a higher quality product but with a lower total yield. Fruit is cut back twice over the course of the growing season before harvesting. Because of this, one bottle of wine = one plant.
2007 Rita Sangiovese From Montecucco, on the southern fringe of Montalcino, come this stunningly powerful, lush Sangiovese. The zone is able to produce some of the most robust, unctuous wines in all of Toscana, and winemaker Alessandro Bocci takes full advantage of his land’s terroir. Aged in new French oak barrels.
With each wine we were given a food pairing crafted by the staff of Truffle Cafe, specifically made to complement each wine. Food pairings included everything from cheese, to of course, truffles; but what really stood out to me was a thin slice of prosciutto with truffle “caviar” drizzled with olive oil from Perazetta.
In the end, I managed to leave the event with only one bottle of wine (I could have easily purchased a mixed case). It was difficult selecting only one, but in the end I grabbed a bottle of Marchetti’s Tenuta dei Cavaliere Verdicchio which I had signed by the winemaker, because why not? I am normally a lover of red wines, but this white struck a fine balance between sweet and tart, heavy and light. It is a quintessential summer wine that I intend to enjoy very soon with a to-be-determined seafood concoction.
Until next time. Eat. Drink. Be Inspired.