The Barolos went like hotcakes. The Brunellos went like Barolos and the huge parmesan cheese wheel…well let’s just say, it was a very good thing that it was armed by 3 burly Italian men. This was the scene at the Gambero Rosso Slow Food Italian wine tasting this past week. The packed room buzzed with the energy of an outdoor Italian market at peak shopping time. It was not uncommon to hear Italian sprinkled into most conversations and forget about personal space, because on this day, we were all family.

What we loved about this Italian Wine expo were the conversations we had with the producers of the wine. We weren’t just there to taste the wine; we were there for the back-story. We heard tales of the winemaker carefully tending the vines each morning with his five brothers, his father and his grandfather. We learned about the land, which was passed down from generation to generation. And many times we had difficulty translating through their thick Italian accent, but their passion and enthusiasm communicated to us everything they were trying to say. Ok, so maybe we were biased by some of the great lore we heard that day, but the taste buds don’t lie, and these were the wines that stuck with us, even after the conversations ended…

ProduttoriDelBarbarescoPora.JPG.jpgProduttori del Barbaresco, 2000, approx. $40
This Barbaresco, one of our favorites of the tasting, had crisp acidity, well balanced tannins and concentrated fruit notes of raspberries and cherries.

Vitanza Brunello di Montalcino, 2000, approx. $40
While it is way too early to truly appreciate this wine, we feel pretty good in saying that it has got great potential. Concentrated notes of blackberry, spice and a slight smoky character were indications of the personality and depth of this wine. Even as a baby this wine is enjoyable and interesting.

Ronco dei Tassi, Collio Bianco Fosarin 2004
A blend of Tocai Friulano, Malvasia and Pinot Bianco grapes, this wine has us before we even took our first sip. Notes of ripe lemon, lime, minerality and a hint of oak subtly revealed themselves. On the palette, this wine showed great complexity, full body and great citrus flavors just begging to be paired with seafood.

Ferghettina, Franciacorta Extra Brut 1998
This sparkling wine is going to become a standard fixture in our wine cellar (ok so it’s a box in the back of our closet that holds our wine, we can dream can’t we?). Slightly richer than a Champagne, this sparkling wine with notes of baked bread and lemon is a great accompaniment to food – or perhaps, vice versa.

Unfortunately there were many wines we did not get to try. We somehow missed the La Spinetta Barolo Campe 2001. We only tasted two Amorone, which weren't worth mentioning and, it kills us even as we write this, missed the Vin Santo. Forgive us if it seems like we are complaining. We had a great time, chatted with interesting people and shared great stories over wonderful wines. In fact, this event made it easy for us to remember why we love Italian wines so much. It’s not just the complexity, bold flavors and lively acidity – it’s the charm and warmth of the wines. Now we see where they get it from.