The Event
A Few Italian Wines to Try
© by Sheral Schowe
Lugano Restaurant was the host for University of Utah's Wines of the World class last Saturday. Chef and owner, Greg Neville, prepared an extraordinary Italian family feast with a variety of salads and pasta dishes to pair with eight Italian wines.

The evening began with Zonin Asti Spumante, ($11.30) which is a sweet sparkling wine. It has intense peach and floral aromas with a sweet melon and peach flavors. The sweetness was pleasing to some and too overwhelming for others. The sweet style is very common in sparkling Italian wines and serves as a popular aperitif, welcoming drink in many fine Italian restaurants.

The first white still wine was the Zenato Pinot Grigio 1998 ($10.95), which was perfect with a Caesar and a spinach salad with vinaigrette dressing. The acidity was refreshing and mouthwatering. This is close in style to a Sauvignon Blanc, with the addition of some substantial wet mineral qualities. It is much more complex than some domestic Pinot Gris for a much higher price. Next, we tried the Zenato Lugano 1999 ($11.45) which had more of an intense aroma but more subtle flavors. It is a wonderful wine with fish, which is exactly what it is served with in Italy.

If you are looking for an easy-drinking wine that is similar to a Beaujolais, Regaleali Rosso 1996 ($11.95) is a good choice, especially when served with a spicy pasta. Considering how acidic many Italian wines can be, this wine is much more approachable for those who typically enjoy white Zinfandel or Beaujolais Nouveau.

Chianti fans on a budget will enjoy the Cetamura Chianti 1998 ($12.95) which is a perfect example of how great an inexpensive Chianti can be. Chianti's are forging their own way in Italy with less of the traditional white wine blended in, if any at all. Many Chiantis are incorporating Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in the blend as well.

Zenato Ripassa Superiore 1996 ($17.95) is worth the price for its intensely deep dark fruit aromas and flavors. The entire class enjoyed this Valpolicella on its own as well as with the saffron risotto with a rice meat sauce.

We had to try a Barolo Reserva to please the anxious group of enophiles. The Borgogno Barolo Reserva 1993 $35.60 was a bit of a surprise for most. For the price, it was not as complex as some had hoped.

The last wine was the Tomasi Amarone 1993 ($36.95) which is still presenting a little green. The grapes for this wine are picked, late harvest at the fullest ripeness possible. The grapes are then dried out on straw mats to further raisinate. The almost dried grapes are crushed for the small amount of juice that they offer and wine is made from the concentrated juice. The flavors are rich, deep, and warming, yet very balanced between sugars and acids. It was a delicious conclusion to a wonderful Italian evening.

Sept. 26, 2000

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