Last Friday I attended an Italian tasting dubbed “An Offer You Cannot Refuse” which was posted as a tribute to some of the legendary Italian producers of wine including: Gaja, La Spinetta, Il Poggione and Conterno in addition to an over-the-top immersion into stereotypical Italy with The Godfather being played and an endless supply of Italian sandwiches to help mitigate the affects of Alcohol.

The hosts were the Learn About Wine group—run by Ian Blackburn and his team of well-trained enthusiasts who teach all people (anyone willing to pay) about wine and hold exclusive tastings, pouring some of the bigger names in any varietal.

There were twenty wines without identification to be tasted blindly and without the influence of price or Parker scores.  The goal was to choose a favorite from the lineup.

Among the list were all the B’s: Barolos, Brunellos and Barbarescos. There were also super Tuscans and more unusual non-Italian varietals (Bordeaux blends and other French grapes crafted by Italian winemakers).

During the blind tasting three or four wines stood out because of their balance and actions in the mouth like a long finish or possessing unusual flavors. A hefty amount of the wines unabashedly demonstrated their weight in acid and tannins. My teeth and tongue were ambushed—zinging.

After roughly thirty minutes of tasting, casual eating and a vote, the wines were unveiled. To the chagrin of many tasters they had not selected the bottles that retailed for $300.00; instead more approachable wines were favored. Some of the tasters were saddened by the news that their favorite selections of the evening would be very difficult to acquire due to their position on Wine Spectator’s Top 100s of the past.

My personal favorite, a Conterno Barbera d’ Alba Cascina Franeia 2006 ($40) not the most rare but a modest (relative to the list), wholehearted and food friendly wine exhibiting some subtle fruit and my favorite part—withheld the acid.

Though the event was a tad gimmicky, a remarkable roster made it hard to pass up.