This past Wednesday I took a class at the Atlanta Wine School and LOVED it! The topic was Italian wines, and the class had a great mix of information about the wines and the regions they come from, a general primer on Italian wines, a wonderful spread of cheeses, pizza and salami to pair with the wines and most importantly, eight wonderful wines to try!
The instructor, Kelly Wheeler, had just returned from a trip to Italy and shared with us quite a few photos and funny stories from his trip. The focus of the class and the tasting was primarily on Northern Italian wines from the Veneto, Piedmont and Tuscany, thus much of the information and stories centered around these areas.
We tried eight different wines and I honestly can say that I liked all of them. Several of them I LOVED. One of the great things about this class was all of the wines were very reasonably priced, with the most expensive wine retailing for $25. It was another great reminder that there are delicious wines out there that won’t break the bank.
OK – the wines that I LOVED. The 2010 Tre Donne “Barbari” Nebbiolo from Piedmont ($19). The nose on this wine was very different than the wines I am used to, and I mean that in a good way. It had aromas of sandalwood, earthiness, tar and violets. It was brick red in color, and lighter in body, however, it was a tannic wine. With a bite of salami, this wine was to die for. This is the same grape that the Barolo and Barbaresco wines are made from.
Next, I fell for the 07 Lonardi Valpolicella Ripasso ($21). It had a funky industrial nose at first but it opened up to a slightly raisiny aroma. It was smooth and medium bodied and very easy to drink. This wine would pair nicely with a manly meal like steak or buffalo burgers.
Lastly, the 07 Poderi Ciona Chianti Classico ($29). An insanely aromatic nose with earthy flavors (you may have sensed that I loved earthy wines). This wine was silky smooth and wonderful. I will find this wine somewhere. I was a little disappointed that the wine store next door was out of all of the wines I wanted to take home, but I won’t let that stop me from seeking out these three wines in the near future.
The setting was casual and relaxed. You could ask questions if you wanted to, but I don’t want to give the impression that this is the kind of class where the teacher calls on you to answer a question. This was more of a catered information session so there was none of that kind of pressure. And it was not all wine geeks like me. The women at my table were all coworkers who were enjoying a night out and thought a wine tasting would be fun. And they were right.