Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Slow Wine Perspective

The news that Slow Food was separating from Gambero Rosso had been a question mark in the minds of many Gambero Rosso readers--until now. With the release of Slow Wine and the Slow Wine tasting event and press conference in NYC, we now have all the answers.

Essentially, Slow Food and Gambero Rosso went their separate ways over their differing set of principals. As editors Giancarlo Gariglio and Fabio Giavedoni put it, “Gambero Rosso focuses on the good, where Slow Wine looks to the good, clean and fair”. The good being the quality of the wine, the clean being the practices in the vineyard and the fair being the quality of the wine versus the cost of the bottle. It’s certainly an interesting approach and caters to the current concerns over sustainable practices and current economic situations around the world.

The question is, does Slow Wine really do the job that’s intended? The easy answer would be yes, especially since there are a large number of wines that are virtual newcomers in the American market, and their prices reflect it. However, what would have been a welcome addition would be a cost meter for different wines. Imagine the average green-loving and price conscience consumer trying to search out a bottle of 2004 Giacomo Conterno Monfortino; I doubt they would think its $450 price tag would be very fair. Of course, this is an extreme case but an excellent example. What Slow Wine does give you is the coin symbol, which represents a value-oriented bottle. This is joined by the “Snail” symbol for wineries that exhibit Slow Food values and the “bottle” symbol for “excellent average quality.”

So what separates Slow Wine from every other wine publication? Firstly, the format is very enjoyable, with a balanced mix of information about the growers, the land and the wine. However, what truly balled the audience over was the announcement that this book would contain no scores. The announcement was met with a nearly audible gasp from the crowd. Of course, it’s human nature to want to quantify everything. In the end, it’s better to look at Slow Wine as a guide to wine, not a guide to buying wine. With Slow Wine, I found myself actually reading for hours straight, something that I don’t do with the other publications.

In the end, it’s an excellent book that really brings to light some of the best grower/winemakers in Italy. It reads smoothly and is full of information about the regions, the land, the history and the people. It’s a welcome addition to any wine lover’s library.

The Slow Food, Slow Wine Website!

What about the wines?

The people at Slow Food also put together an excellent tasting with a large number of producers from the Slow Wine guide. Below are five of my top picks from the tasting… and out of respect for the folks that created Slow Wine, I decided not to include any scores.

2007 G. D. Vajra Barolo Bricco Delle Viole – It was a joy to taste the G.D. Vajra Bricco delle Viole. The nose showed an elegant, yet intense floral perfume with spiced cherries and floral stems. On the palate, it was feminine and balanced with cherries, strawberry and menthol, which provided an airy lift with a juicy mid-palate. It finished showing a fine tannic structure. This was one of the best ’07 Baroli I have tasted to date. (Slow Wine awarded this bottle their orange highlight, representing a ”Great Wine.” I wholeheartedly agree.) Find it on Wine-Searcher!

2008 Corzano e Paterno Chianti I TreBorri Riserva – The nose was hallmark Tuscan with wild berries, tree bark and earth. On the palate, I found soft strawberry tones, with herbal tea and cedar. The finish was long and structured. The TreRorri Riserva was extremely enjoyable and one of my favorites of the vintage. (Corzano e Paterno was awarded the “Snail” symbol by Slow Wine, representing a winery that they “particularly like for the way it interprets Slow Food values.”)

2008 Fattoria di Felsina Chianti Classico Rancia Riserva – The ’08 Rancia was unexpectedly open at this young age. The nose showed red berries, cocoa powder and deep floral notes. On the palate, it was open and juicy with red berry fruits. The finish showed more of structure I was expecting. This is a fine example of Rancia that (in this year’s case) is more open in its youth than the Fontalloro. (Fattoria di Felsina was awarded the “Snail” symbol by Slow Wine, representing a winery that they “particularly like for the way it interprets Slow Food values.”) Find it on Wine-Searcher!

2007 Prá Amarone Della Valpolicella – The nose was gorgeous with plum, raisin, minerals and undergrowth. On the palate, it was remarkably balanced and fresh yet still showed a tamed level of richness as notes of ripe black cherry and soil lingered into the long finish. (Pra was awarded the “Snail” symbol by Slow Wine, representing a winery that they “particularly like for the way it interprets Slow Food values.”)

2010 Velenosi Lacrima Di Morro D’Alba – The nose showed like a basket of fresh picked flowers with pepper, minerals and a healthy dose of earthiness. On the palate, it tasted like it smelled and had a gorgeous note of rose hips in its floral profile. It was a truly enjoyable bottle of wine for those who know and enjoy Lacrima. (Velenosi was awarded the “Bottle” symbol by Slow Wine, representing a winery “whose bottles represent excellent average quality.”) Find it on Wine-Searcher!

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