Take for example the Crea Vini Primitivo Del Salento (red), a plumy, vanilla-cherries and chocolate number for a mere $12.95. Those wishing for a little more complexity in their wine could spend three-dollars more a bottle on the Villa Pillo Cigalino (red) with cherry, cranberry, spices, pepper and herbal notes – this one is just a youngster so when you pull it out of your cellar, 5 years hence, you’ll crow at how little you paid for such a wonderful wine ($15.95). Bubbly lovers were also bound to find a bargain. The fresh and lively Tenuta Santome Prosecco Brut was only $18.95, while the same winery’s Santhomas Spumante Brut Rosé, a blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris, had a sweet fruity freshness with lots of strawberry and raspberry notes – a playful summer patio bubbly for only $21.95.
Those wishing to drink something other than Italian wine found themselves in luck when the swung by the Carlos Basso booth. This Argentinean estate (aka Vina Amalia) had both a delicious white (Sauvignon Blanc - $14.75) and red (Malbec - $17.95) at very affordable, reasonable and, in some cases, a steal of a price. The Basso Signature Blend (50% Malbec, 25 Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Petit Verdot and 10% Syrah) was an incredible bargain, even at $39 a bottle, it was big and spicy with vanilla cream, cinnamon, chocolate and gobs of black fruit. Their Cabernet Sauvignon Reservada ($25) was another big black-fruited wine that was under-priced or is it that it over-delivered – let’s say it’s a little from column A and a little from column B.
Not everyone offered up outstanding value … there were some wines that offered outstanding taste, but you had to pay for it. Barolo fans would have found their way over to Cascina Adelaide, where a series of single vineyard and blended vineyard Nebbiolos awaited them. The four-village 2004 Barolo ($64.95) offered spices, herbs and dried fruit; the 2004 'Cannubi' ($83.05) raised the bar to include lovely red fruit, cedar and big tannins; while the top of the line 2000 Barolo Riserva ‘Per Elan’, from the Cannubi vineyard ($122.75) was killer, with all its smells and flavours: dried fruit, cinnamon, leather, anise, with mouth-filling, drying tannins. Lovely food wine … Italian anyone? For an accompaniment just look around the room.
Unique wines were also available. Tenuta Santome had a 2004 Rabaso – a grape that only grows in their village. Wild cherries, vanilla, leather, tobacco, spicy and full bodied … this very regional wine was intriguing; of course, you pay for its rarity - $38.95 – but then you have something that not many people possess to drink … so maybe it is worth it? You decide.
Finally, I stopped at a winery located in one of my favourite regions, Vineto, where I sampled Valpolicella in all its forms. The Grotta Del Ninfeo’s 2004 Amarone ($65.85) was heavenly and the star of the table: big cherry, wood and spice on the nose and a chocolaty-plumy smoothness on the palate. Interesting fact: during this process (drying of the grapes for Amarone) the grapes lose 60% of their weight over the four-month drying period.