JULIAN HITNER TORONTO WINE CONSULTANT

"For love of everything that is wine"

WINES OF THE WEEK FOR SATURDAY, JANUARY 26, 2008

Wines from more obscure regions:

As much as I enjoy writing about wines from long-worshipped areas (such as Burgundy and the Mosel [Germany]), it is always a pleasure to expand my knowledge (as well as those of my readers) by introducing wines from regions that most people are completely unfamiliar with.

This week, while the wines I am recommending are from countries practically everyone will recognize (such as Italy and Hungary), the actual regions (or sub-regions, if you will) of where they are sourced will probably be new to the vast majority of persons. But isn't that one of the most wonderful attributes of studying wine, in that there is always something new to explore?

RED WINES

(1) Lungarotti
      -
'Rubesco'
      -Blend
      -Umbria
, Italy
      -Vintage doesn't matter
       (Drink Now)
      -L.C.B.O. PRICE: $13.85
       (available everywhere)
      -
L.C.B.O. # 41947
      -8/10



COMMENT: A blend of Sangiovese and Canaiolo, this wine hails from the landlocked Italian province of Umbria, which is located in central Italy. Made by Lungarotti, the 'Rubesco' label has been within the 'General Listings' section of L.C.B.O. stores for many years. And yet, I doubt most fans of this decently-valued wine probably ever knew the exact region of Italy where it comes from. Well, now you know --- it comes from Umbria, and it boasts lovely fruit and excellent balance, overall.

PAIRING SUGGESTION: Pizza --- enjoy!

(2) Antiche
      -Nebbiolo- (grape varietal)
      -Ghemme, Piedmont, Italy

      -Vintage 2001
       (Drink Now or Hold)
      -L.C.B.O. PRICE: $26.85
       (available at a few stores)
      -L.C.B.O. # 650606
      -8.5/10



COMMENT: Call it a hunch, but I doubt many people have ever heard of the Piedmont subregion of 'Ghemme.' This should not come as a surprise, as there are only approx. 50 hectares of vines grown there. Hailing from the steep foothills of the Italian Alps north of Torino (if you want to call them 'foothills'), a few growers have successfully managed to coax the fussy Nebbiolo grape varietal into producing some very delicious wine. Antiche is generally recognized to be the best producer of Ghemme, and I am astonished that the L.C.B.O. ever managed to get their hands on this wine! It is a lovely item, with 'tight' fragrances and dried fruit. Reserved right now, it might be wise to hang onto it for a while.

PAIRING SUGGESTION: Pasta with pheasant-based ragu --- enjoy!

WHITE WINES

(1) The Royal Tokaji Wine Company
      -Furmint (grape varietal)
      -Tokaji, Hungary

      -Vintage 2005
       (Drink Now)
      -L.C.B.O. PRICE: $12.85
      -L.C.B.O. # 653220
       (available at a few stores)
      -8/10




COMMENT: A winemaking venture formed, in part, by the venerable Hugh Johnson, The Royal Tokaji (pronounced 'Tok-eye') Wine Company makes some of the finest sweet wines Hungary has to offer (and they are truly brilliant). However, they also make a lovely dry white made from the noble Furmint grape varietal (which is the principle grape in making Hungarian sweet wine). Over the past few vintages, I have noticed that this wine presents some very intriguing (and pleasing) scents, from olive oil to lime and tropical fruit. It is a beautiful little wine, and is, in my humble opinion, currently underpriced.

PAIRING SUGGESTION: Fish and chips (without vinegar) --- enjoy!

(2) Joseph Aichinger
      -Grüner Veltliner (grape varietal)
      -Kamptal, Austria
      -Vintage 2006
       (Drink Now or Hold)
      -L.C.B.O. PRICE: $18.80
       (available at a lot of stores)
      -L.C.B.O. # 48868
      -8.25/10




COMMENT: To be certain, Austria is one of the most important upcoming winegrowing nations of Europe, and the very respectable Grüner Veltliner grape varietal seems to be leading the way. This particular wine comes from the subregion of Kamptal, which is located northwest of Vienna, in one of the most progressive areas of Austrian viticulture. Expect pleasing notes of dried lentils and apple scents, along with a very refreshing overall personality.

PAIRING SUGGESTION: Lentil soup (not surprisingly) --- enjoy!

ANY QUESTIONS?

Email me at julianhitner@hitnerwine.com

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