Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Winecology: Tsunami Fundraiser Tasting

I had the pleasure of attending a fundraiser hosted by the Chicago chapter of the American Red Cross at Vinci Restaurant, an Italian bistro in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood. Full disclosure...I'm a semi-active member of the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago Auxiliary Board. Disclosures aside, what an event. Scrumptious food, flowing wine and worthy cause. Highlights of the Italian fare included baked gnocchi in tomato sauce, grilled lamb chops, portobello and cremini mushrooms polenta and prosciuotto wrapped prawns.

Ten different purveyors of Italian wine contributed over 25 samplings for the tasting. Kudos to these distributors. In today's wine market, giving away wine for a cause is much appreciated. There were some outstanding value wines to be had this evening. A few in particular are worth note:

Cesari Mara - Valpolicella - Ripasso, 2001
Powerful nose of dark fruit. An intriguing, layered palette starts with black currant and anise. Spice on the mid-palette and and a strong, plummy finish. Fruit is well balanced with underlying tannins.
Rating - 8.5/9.0 out of 10
Price - $13

Monte Antico - Sangiovesse - Tuscany, 2001
Opaque and dark rose colors in the glass. Dominant earth and saddle leather aromas with hints of strawberry. Fruit forward palette. Lots of roasted strawberries. Nice acidity levels. Smooth, round with a very good length finish.
Rating - 8.5/9.0 out of 10
Price - $7

Villa Giada - Barbera d'Asti - "Suri Russ", 2003
Ripe and supple fruits are at the core of this wine. A dusty nose. Smokey with body that shows typical barbera acidity. A lasting fruit filled finish.
Rating - 8.5 out of 10
Price - $9

Taurino - Salice Salentino Riserva - 2000
Most unique wine of the night. A blend of the indigenous Italian grapes - Negroamaro and Malvasia Nera. Ripe cherry aromas. Spritz and concentrated grape juice on the palette. Light to medium bodied.
Rating - 8.0/8.5 out of 10
Price - $10