The Venue: BIN36 www.bin36.com
Our classroom and tasting sessions were held in the loft area at BIN36. If you haven't been to BIN36 before it's a must visit for any wine enthusiast. In addition to great wine and cheese selections they also have a retail store and a wonderful menu too.
Our instructor: Patrick Fegan, Director of the Chicago Wine School
http://www.wineschool.com/ Patrick's knowledge of wine is amazing, he' the only Chicagoan to have passed the exam given by London's Institute of Masters of Wine, he's been teaching since 1975. Patrick delivered the material with a good sense of humor and kept the class interesting and entertaining.
We covered a good deal of material so I'm going to break down the classes and tastings into three separate posts by DOCG.
First up is Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (VNdiM.) VNdiM has often been described as "the wine of kings" and enjoys DOCG status shared by only 40 other wines in Italy. VNdiM is a blend of Sangiovese known locally as Prugnolo Gentile, and small amounts of other red grape varieties (max of 20%) such as Canaiolo, Colorino, and a few others like Cab Sauv and Merlot. In 2009 about 7.5 million bottles were produced and 18% of that made it into the USA. In 1989 the DOCG relaxed its rules allowing for 100% Sangiovese although many producers contuine to blend a few different grapes. The wine must be at least 70% Sangiovese and must age for 2 years before release, (3 years for a riserva.) If you come across a Rosso di Montepulciano this is a lesser wine grown in the region that is typically newer vines and requires less ageing before release. The Rosso's are more light bodied and ready to drink sooner, their lower price point would also make them a good weeknight wine.
During the tasting portion of the class we tried 6 different VNdiM and 1 Rosso. I'll recommend a few of my favorites.
Le Berne Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2006, http://www.leberne.it/
97% Sangiovese and 3% Colorino
14% Alcohol, aged 24 months in oak
The Le Berne is a medium to full bodied and concentrated VNdiM. Nose of black cherry and baking spice, the red fruit carries over to the palate. The wine is powerful and tannic and will no doubt benefit from a year or two in the cellar. An exciting and complex wine. You should be able to find this wine for under $30, let me know if I can help you track it down, I'll take a few bottles for myself.
Lodola Nuova Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2006 www.ruffino.com
95% Sangiovese, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon
14% alcohol, aged 18 months in Oak
The Lodola Nuova was lighter in color, very fragrant and floral nose. Cherry and red fruits on the clean, crisp palate. Light and bright with a 15 second finish. This is much more accessible than the Le Berne and ready to drink now. This should be readily available for around $21 and is a good entry level wine for VNdiM.
That's all for now, stay tuned for notes on Chianti Classico and Brunello coming soon!