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In the penthouse of Peterson’s Automotive Museum buyers were treated to an exquisite Italian tasting last week. The Dalla Terra portfolio showcases some of my favorite Italian wines and their trade tasting had proprietors of the estates pouring their own selections for all in attendance. Better still, the billing was conveniently located a stone throw from my apartment and I happened to have a small opening (under an hour) in my schedule free between my retail post and the restaurant. I accepted the invitation from my Chambers and Chambers rep with wide-eyed enthusiasm as the stars were aligning.

I pulled up to the automotive museum around 1:50pm; early enough to get reasonable street parking and to not be swamped when making the rounds from table to table. After I checked in and grabbed a glass I prioritized the tables from the wines I sold to those I wished to. At first I tried to keep the tastings succinct, shimmying down the line in hopes of powering through the wines of Piemonte with a stop at Marchesi di Grésy. I realized quickly that it would be difficult to maximize my time when the owner/winemaker was pouring. I was encouraged to slow down, listening to anecdotes of school days in Italy while having Mr. di Grésy explain his single vineyard sites and their unique attributes. Small groups of buyers, sommeliers and representatives’ of Chambers and Chambers (hosts in conjunction with Dalla Terra) drew near, pitching their ears forward to absorb the arcane information. It would be the most informative session for many of us, unless you had been to the wineries.

I abandoned the idea of tasting through the hall with the fraction of time I had remaining, and tried to apply my best strategy for “tannin management” as I tasted the majority of wines I sold. I scanned the tables until I spotted another familiar bottle: Badia A Coltibuono from Tuscany. I walked through the lineup of wines, tasting the difference between exclusively Sangiovese based wines rather than those hailing from the Chianti Classico region (which in this case, were a blend of Sangiovese and Caniaolo) that I was accustomed to. Also on the agenda was a bottle of 1999 Chianti Classico Riserva which provided a snapshot of a how a wine with such bright acidity was able to age.

A little further in I stopped caring about tasting notes, and tried to focus on the particulars of what each owner was saying. At no stage was this more important than my brief time with Luca Currado of Vietti. To differentiate the many Barbera that the owner and winemaker would be pouring, I latched on tightly to his every word as he poured. Letting another intimate group of us in on what the differences were between Asti and Alba, as well as being schooled on the single vineyards that made up each bottle. I cruised through the Barolo “Castiglione” and Barbaresco “Masseria” until my mouth was coated with red fruits and Rose petals and my gums cried uncle.

I made a few more stops around the room, tasting Boroli, Maseria Li Veli, and Tenuta Sant’Antonio before ending on a reprise, trying the sweeter offerings from the same producers. One of the most fascinating wines was the Chinato Barolo from Boroli. It was incredibly herbaceous and armed with that quinine kick which was probably one of the most memorable things I tasted on the year. Shortly thereafter, I traded glasses and moved to the pioneer of Moscato. The winemaker/owner Paolo Saracco manned the table for Saracco wines, insisting that I begin by trying his Monferrato—a DOC in 1994, tucked in the Southwest corner of Piemonte—Pinot Noir before moving on to his two vintages of Moscato d’Asti. The Pinot showed textbook characteristics but it was the Moscato d’Asti that swept me away. Refreshing, low alcohol and a great blend of fruit and herbal nuance that left me with the perfect exit note.

Through it all, my only regret was not having enough time to taste all the wines, I picked and chose mostly the stuff I sold to gain more familiarity with the house style of the producers as well as receiving a wonderful download of information from the source. My time was over in an instant but this event, like the Chinato, was memorable and will go down as one of my favorites in a busy year.

I rarely miss a chance for dessert. Possessing a sweet tooth that demands a dental sacrifice, I generally love to cap off a dinner with a Sauterne or vanilla ice cream which is just what I did (kind of, with minor alterations) after having a hearty bowl of fettuccini with Bolognese sauce (from scratch, not jar) the other night.

I decided to simplify the theme; the wines of Northwest Italy—Piemonte—would accompany my Emilia-Romagna region inspired grub. Particularly, two wines under the jurisdiction of the Dalla Terra importing group, hailing from Asti. I had a bottle of Saracco Moscato d’Asti (#153) chilling in the fridge while the 2008 Vietti Barbera d’Asti “Tre Vigne” (#152) was breathing on the countertop as the meat sauce simmered.

After another hour of stewing in its juices the sauce was nearing completion, I prepped the fettuccini, cooking until al dente and at this point I was minutes from eating. I poured the Barbera into my glass and plated the pasta, ladling copious amounts of sauce.

The journeyman Barbera had a nice core of darker fruits, herbs and underbrush on the first collective whiff. On the palate the wine had the components (acidity, tannin and body) to marry with the meal.

After dinner, I gave myself a breather, taking in some programming on Hulu before moving onto dessert. After the show (to remain nameless), I cut through the green capsule and removed the cork, pulling another glass to have the straw, golden-colored wine beam and bubble (frizzante) lustrously. On the nose that wine made me salivate, varied fragrances of pear, lychees, apple and spices all at different levels. It was enticing and much more complex than other Moscato I’d imbibed. My tongue was treated to a far greater treat than a bowl of Vanilla Ice Cream, no matter how tasty the Three Twins brand might be. The wine was equally attractive on the taste buds, weaving delicate traces of fruits and spices together in a masterful fashion. I was happy with my choice to forgo the sweet treat for a charmingly sweet drink.

The Saracco Moscato d’Asti was more than I bargained for—a showstopper—that I would look forward to drinking again. Vietti hasn’t disappointed me yet and one day I might swing for the fences, drinking their Barolos with regularity, but I am far from that day now, content to drink their everyday wine wares. My night was made a success, an infinite amount of riches bestowed on my palate from the affordable treasure troves of Dalla Terra. Grazie a mille.

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