Monday, February 3, 2014

Italian Wines from The United States

Our focus on local wines means we haven't had any real opportunity to explore Italian wines. Even Italian grapes are hard to come by if you focus on local, because few New World producers grow them. Yet, they are out there. When we decided to try a case of Italian wines, we did manage to find a few bottles that met both our criteria - Local and Italian.

Channing Daughters in Long Island, NY is one of the few wineries on the East Coast of the US working with Italian varietals. Maybe the warming influence of the ocean along the coastline is close enough to the sea breezes of the Italian climate, because Channing Daughters is experimenting with a handful of Italian grapes.

The first wine we tried was their Ramato. Made from the Pinto Grigio grape, the wine is made in a traditional Friulian style, where the white grapes are fermented on the skins, like an "Orange" wine. On the nose, it was an aromatic wine with bright and vibrant floral and fruit notes, but was more bitter, reminiscent of dried fruits and flowers in taste. Despite the fact that this was a white grape, the dried flavors worked well with a meaty lamb pasta: the fattiness of the lamb blunted some of the more bitter flavors.

Orange Wine, Channing Daughters, Italian Varietals

On the other hand, their Ribiolla Gialla was bright on both the nose and tongue. Another orange wine in the style of the Friuli region, this grape had a lot of aggressive citrus flavors, orange both in color and flavor. Unfortunately, our pairing it with a meal of breaded chicken served with a pomegranate sauce resulted in the wine totally overpowering the dinner. We were hoping for something a little more herbal, but the sharp flavors of orange and orange rind buried the simple flavor of the chicken. We're confident, though, that this wine is meant to be consumed with food.

In the end, the bottles were a great reminder of why its worthwhile to keep an eye out for something a little different. We got a chance to support a great local winery, and learn about some new wine varietals at the same time.

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