We are a wine shop that explores the best of both worlds with retail shopping and a walk-in tasting room open Tuesday through Sunday. Our tasting room selections change monthly and always focus on a different "Old World" and "New World" region. The ever-changing menu allows our guests to constantly explore and discover something new. This month we are exploring Piedmont in Northwest Italy as well as Chile. Order a flight of all four wines or simply stop by, shop, and enjoy a glass. It's up to you!
Piedmont sits in the northwest corner of Italy and is encircled by the Alps to the north and west. France sits on the other side of the Alps to the west with Switzerland to the north. A cool, continental climate, the region will often even see snow in the winter. Most of the viticultural activity happens in the foothills of the Alps southeast of Turin down around the towns of Asti and Alba.
Piedmont has a global reputation for high quality wines built around the red grape Nebbiolo. Nebbiolo can be both powerful and elegant with pronounced floral aromas, red fruits, leather, and structured tannins. The tannins and acidity in the wines make for great ageing potential. Often hunted down by global collectors, the subregions of Barolo and Barbaresco are the most well known. Gattinara and Ghemme are lesser known subregions but can also deliver outstanding value when compared to their counterparts.
Piedmont is more than just Nebbiolo however. Barbera is known to be the workhorse red grape of the region producing delicious, crushable wines that are extremely approachable in their youth from both Asti and Alba. Dolcetto is slightly lesser known, and while it means "little sweet one", it produces wonderful light to medium dry red wines for the table.
Whites must not be overlooked in the region. The wonderful, slightly sweet and bubbly Asti Spumante or the more elegant Moscato d'Asti are produced from the Moscato grape and can be pure delight for the palate. Arneis is an aromatic, mineral driven white mostly found in Roero and Cortese from Gavi is also known to produce thought-provoking, chalky white wines that are often compared to the wines of Chablis. Timorasso has also made a recent comeback in Piedmont.
As with much of Italy, Piedmont wines labels are often focused on place rather than grape varietal. This can be confusing for many consumers, but with some practice and more tasting, you will get the hang of it. This month's flight starts very outside the box with a sparkling rose of Nebbiolo out of Roero of all places. We then jump into a Timorasso from Vigneti Massa who is often credited for recently reviving the status of this grape. A light, mouthwatering Dolcetto then precedes the classic and elegant Barolo from Bruna Gimaldi. Join us as we show you around this fabulous region!
From the wine perspective, the simple elongated shape of Chile provides a fascinating range of microclimates for viticulture. Rarely more than 100 miles wide at any given point, the country runs 2,653 miles in length north to south, and is flanked by the Pacific ocean to the west and the Andes mountains to the east. At the very north of the country you will find dry desert-like conditions in the Atacama desert, while the very southern tip of the country rests a mere 400 miles from the chilly Antarctica. The icy currents from the south move up along the coast bringing cool, moist air and fog to further influence the climate for viticulture.
While Chilean viticulture was first heavily influenced by the Spanish missionaries and Spanish grapes, the late 1800’s saw a major shift into French grape varietals after the Bordeaux classification of 1855. Grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Carmenere (long thought to be Merlot) and Sauvignon Blanc became widely planted, as well as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Interestingly, due to the isolated nature of the country and strict quarantine laws, Chile has never been hit by the pest phylloxera that ravaged Europe and many other vineyards around the world in the late 1800's. On top of Bordeaux varietal plantings, new winery estates were built and often took on the look of the large Chateau in Bordeaux. Many of the top French Chateau also began investment in Chile over time.
While it was tempting to show some of the more familiar varietal wines from Chile, we decided to introduce a few wines that really show the overall diversity and exciting styles that are emerging from this region. A Sauvignon Gris from Casa Silva kicks off the flight. A pink genetic mutation of Sauvignon Blanc, this grape has found a nice home in Chile and produces a bit of a richer wine than the leaner Sauvignon Blanc. We follow this with another intriguing white made from the Pedro Ximenez (PX) grape. PX is typically used in Chile to make Pisco up near Santiago, but producer Colectivo Mutante found a small vineyard lot grown on calcareous soils in Coquimbo far north near the Pacific for this bottling. Pais, also known as Mission, dates back to plantings by the Spanish missionaries in the 16th century. This grape is currently seeing a revival and we fell in love with the fresh vibrant Pais Salvaje from the Maule Valley further south. We wrap up the flight with a gorgeous Cabernet Franc from Hacienda Araucano. Aromatic and complex with ripe fruit and elegant tannins, it's a great way to finish our tour of Chile.
Looking to Customize?
We now host curated tastings for groups of two to ten people. Our tastings are a great way to explore wines that are new to you or indulge in some of your favorite regions. Whether you are looking to learn or to simply relax, our team has you covered.