Sunday, August 29, 2010

Barbera del Sannio...Nice to Meet You

So there I sat, one Friday evening. Surrounded by tall ceramic tiled pillars. Pillars that proudly displayed the grapes from the Campania region; falanghina, aglianico, piedirosso…

Above me, long green vines rich and heavy with grapes almost ready for the fall harvest.

And in front of me…five glasses. Five wine glasses ready for Il Palio della Barbera Contadina, a wine tasting that would introduce me to Barbera del Sannio. Five glasses ready for five wines from small local producers. Contadina means farmer in Italian, so we would taste the real local stuff. Wine made by the residents of Castelvenere, a town in the Benevento province; Mario Verrrillo, Anna Verrillo, Salvatore Romanelli, Barbato Romanelli and Fillipo Simone.

Luciano Pignataro (Luciano Pigataro Wine Blog, vino Slow Food Campania), Mauro Erro, (sommelier, il viandante bevitore), and Pasquale Carlo (Pro Loco Castelvenere President) guided us through this casual relaxed wine tasting.

As the wines were poured, I couldn’t help but notice the dark ruby red color. A red so deep, almost hypnotic, that calls out to you to pick up the glass and slowly bring it to your nose….so I did.

Here I was met with a pleasing array of aromas…fruits, spices, chinotto (a soft drink similar to Coke). This sweet smell, in four out of five of the glasses was pleasurable, welcoming. But maybe a little misleading…it was time to taste.

Barbera del Sannio is not sweet as the aromas may lead you to believe. The wines we tried were dry, balanced, with almost no trace of tannins. It was easy to drink, easy to enjoy.

Discussions led to how you can pair this wine. I listened and agreed how this would be perfect with a lasagna, pasta e fagioli, or eggplant parmagian. Dishes that call for a red but do not desire the aglianicos, Taurasis, or falernos of Campania that may be too intense. Fish would take pleasure in this wine as well. Soft tannins would embrace and not overpower.

This tasting held in the cloister of piazza municipio was interesting and informative. A tasting that showed me to another side of Campania. A tasting that left me with a curiosity to learn more about this grape’s origins, this wine’s vinification process, and walk through the vineyards…

A tasting that introduced me to Barbera del Sannio.

Nice to meet you.

And I look forward to seeing you again sometime.

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