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Le Bailliage du Greater Washington, DC Chapter

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Via Umbria - Société Mondiale du Vin - A Day of Wine and Roses

September 17, 2016

By Claudette Veronica Ferron, Vice Chargée de Presse, Bailliage of Greater Washington, D.C.

On September 17, 2016, the Greater Washington D.C. Bailliage, Société Mondiale du Vin, reveled and reviewed in a day of "wine and roses, smiling and running away like a child[ren] at play, through the open door[s]" of Via Umbria, in the heart of Georgetown. Hosted by our very own Maître Rotisseur Traiteur William Menard and Maître Rotisseur Traiteur Suzie Menard at their maison de la gastronomie that reflects l'amore di tutto Italiano, a privileged group of members and guests of the Société Mondiale, gathered to learn more of the elixir of le joie du vivre of the Piedmont region of Italy, under to tutelage of Caroline Hermann.

Ms. Hermann holds a Diploma in Wine Studies with merit and an Advanced Certificate with distinction from the London-based Wine & Spirit Education Trust. She is also a Certified Specialist in Wine with the Society of Wine Educators and is a Master of Wine candidate. She has researched and written on a variety of global wine issues, including the French wine crisis, the success of Champagne, rosé wine trends, and wine competitions. Speaking with the eloquence and authority of a true spécialiste, du vin, Ms. Hermann delivered an informative and stimulating presentation.

Cloistered in the sophisticated upper salon of Via Umbria, members and guests of the Mondiale experienced a selection of wines from the Bailliage' wine cellar, exquisitely paired with creative gourmet delights of newly installed Via Umbria chef, Johanna Hellrigl. The goal was not only to learn more about the various wines of Piedmont, but to also understand more about the food pairings which would enhance both the experience of the wine as well as the small tastes of food presented to us.

In order of appearance the afternoon' tasting featured the following wine cellar stars:

Nino Franco "Rustico," Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG NV, led the way. A bright and delicious wine from one of Valdobbiadene' oldest wineries, it is infused with notes of green pear, green apple, white peach, and floral intensity. With gently persistent bubbles, this gem pairs wonderfully with a variety of food, including the Tarralli (an Italian cracker and) lightly roasted Marcona almonds, which members and guests eagerly enjoyed.

Cecu d'la Biunda, made from an Arneis grape from Roero DOCG was next to take the stage. An intense straw colored, moderately aromatic, dry, but full bodied wine, exhibiting moderate acidity, with stone fruit notes and hints of white currant, mint, and sage. It was accompanied by an heirloom tomato salad, which perfectly accentuated its delightful nature.

A 2012 La Mesma, featuring a Cortese grape from Gavi DOCG, continued the afternoon' discourse. An amber colored, dry wine, with high acidity, and weightier 12.5% alcohol content, this wine had a distinctly floral nose and apricot, almond, peach and pear notes, and the wine was expertly paired with a sampling of pesto pasta.

Next, a 2014 Caluso "La Rustica" DOCG, born of an Erbaluche grape from Caluso, was in the spotlight. A straw gold colored dry wine, with higher acid, highlighting green apple, lemon and peach notes it had a distinct minerality. The name of the grape bespeaks its sun-drenched disposition and light herbaceous nature. Erbaluce -- "Erba" meaning herb; "luce" meaning light, and La Rustica, referring to the - "roasted slopes" (maximum sunny exposure), in which the grape thrives. Paired with mozzarella and Robiola cheeses, the wine was deliciously inviting.

A 2012 Vigne Marina Coppi, derived from a Favorita (also known as Vermentino) grape from Colli Tortonesi DOC, was the next show stopper. Colli Tortonesi is in the northwest region of Piedmont and the source of this wines unique qualities. Another straw yellow, dry and high acid wine, with a fresh nose, it featured pear, white peach, lime, pink grapefruit notes, grapefruit pith, and fresh almond perfume. This wine married well with the charcuterie we were artfully presented with.

A 2013 Manuel Marinacci, starring a Dolcetto ("little sweet one") grape from Alba DOC followed. A lovely red wine, it presented blackberry, licorice, tar, and notes with low acid and high tannins. Not meant for aging, this wine goes well with casual dining, including pizza, tomato-based ragu, moderately spiced chili, barbecue, and cured meats. And like the Coppi was deftly paired with charcuterie.

A 2011 Manuel Marinacci, originating from a Barbera grape from Alba DOC rounded out the meat pairing wines. This hearty wine comes from an adaptable and vigorous grape, the most widely planted in Piedmont. Its dark color combined with blackberry, licorice, tar notes, low acid and high tannins. And like its sweet little sister, it does not age well, is perfect with pizza, tomato-based dishes, moderately spiced chili, barbecue, and cured meats, and was enhanced by the charcuterie served at the tasting.

The next pair of wines were both from the Nebbiolo grape. First, a 1999 Sito Moresco, from Barbaresco DOCG, an oak-aged garnet colored beauty with orange tints, showcased dried cherries, blackberry, leather, Asian spice notes, and an earthy tone. With high alcohol content, high acidity and fulsome tannins, it partnered perfectly with mushroom crostini. Second, a 1996 Cascina Bongiovanni, from Barolo DOCG completed the paux de deux. An oak-aged, garnet color wine with hints of orange, dried cherries, Asian spice, tar, floral rose petal, it also has a high alcohol, high acidity, and high tannins.

The desert wines featured a trio of dazzlers, beginning with Massolino Moscato d'Asti DOCG. A highly aromatic light and sparkling wine, it boasts orange blossom, rose, mandarin orange, and lychee notes. It' low alcohol content, sweet, "frizzante" (lightly sparkling) made it a fun and playful wine, and matched with Baci d'ama (an Italian hazelnut cookie), it was perfect for a summer escape. Then a Giacomo Bologna Brachetto d'Aqui DOCG continued the sweet romance. Another highly aromatic sparkler, this flirtatious wine possessed strawberry, raspberry, and red cherry notes, with a rose petal perfume. With its low alcohol and sweet, "frizzante" it brightened the afternoon rendezvous and was delightfully balanced by dried fruit. Finally, Il Duca Imperiale 1917 "Stella Rosa" completed the joyous affaire. A moderately aromatic wine it displayed red berry notes of strawberry, cherry, and raspberry. And again with its low alcohol content and sweet, "frizzante" it is the perfect finale to a summer day filled with fine "wine and roses."

After a wine lover' dream of an afternoon, members and guest of the Mondiale left the tasting with an even greater appreciation for the luscious libation of the vine.

What's next for the Bailliage's chapter of the Mondiale du Vin? Stayed tuned.

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