Say Yes to Pinot Grigio, aka Pinot Gris or Grauburgunder this slightly grayish-blue tinged grape varietal, hence the name is one of the most popular wines being enjoyed across America! Everyone enjoys a glass of Pinot Grigio! And at a very special luncheon we recently had the honour to attend, we were introduced to Pinot Grigio 2.0 if you will from the historic wine region of Trento, Italy.
The luncheon was hosted by Rachel Woodman, of Woodman Wines and Spirits, who recently took on the exciting portfolio of Gruppo Mezzacorona with a history dating back over 110 years. Gathered at the delectable Italian eatery, Little Anthony’s in Toronto, we were a diverse group of bloggers, sommeliers and media all eager to get this anticipated afternoon underway.
To lead us through the tasting and fill us in on Mezzacorona, dating back to 1904, the wines and a little history was the very charismatic visiting winemaker Lucio Matricardi. Matricardi trained in winemaking and viticulture at the University of Bologna, earned his Ph.D. in viticulture and enology from the University of California at Davis, and has worked at wineries around the globe. We had heard great things about this celebrated winemaker including his approach to his craft and his persona. We were not disappointed!
Under the Gruppo Mezzacorona are three wineries, Rotari located in Trento, being their crown jewel for sparkling wines made in the traditional champagne method, Mezzacorona in Trentino and Stemmari in Sicily.
The luncheon began with an inviting and beautiful glass of the Rotari Brut 2014, delectably rich and full on the palate with notes of green apple, white flowers and a delicate hint of yeast. As it became time to be seated, Rachel made the formal introduction and Lucio Matricardi was at the helm.
We listened intently as Lucio filled us in on Mezzacorona. We learned that Mezzacororna is a wine producing cooperative, located in the north eastern part of Italy in the cool mountainous region of Trentino-Alto Adige. This region produces close to 70% of all the Pinot Grigio made in Italy. Mezzacorona was formed by the joining of two cooperatives in the region, Cantina Siciale started in 1904 and Lena far Viticoltori founded in 1911. Today Mezzacorona is one of the most important and respected cooperatives in all of Italy, with a commitment to the highest quality, respect for the environment and sustainability.
Lucio went on to explain how generations of families have devoted themselves to the cultivation of the grapes, with few having left the region. This, he tells us despite the great challenges grape growing presented at the time.
“The Trentino has always been a very difficult region to live in because it is overshadowed by the mountains (the Dolomites) by about 80% so the cultivable lands were very small and so unprofitable.” “After the war,” Lucio explained “the support of the local government, adopting policies to promote the economic development of the region at least allowed for the families to remain and continue to work their farms.” We learn that the challenge though remained for each individual farmer to commercialize their products abroad. The fragmentation of vineyards and grape production made it impossible. “So the joining together to form a cooperative was the only solution to be able to be stronger and have money to invest in a winery and in a brand. Hence in 1904 the Mezzacorona Company was born and today includes 1600 grape producers and guarantees economic stability generation after generation to the farmers.”
In present day, particularly key to the cooperatives’ success is how a passionate team of 5 agronomists and several oenologists work on a daily basis in close contact with the grape growers for the entire life cycle of the wine, in the vineyards, during harvest and up to the bottling.
Lucio emphasizes that in Trentino Pinot Grigio has been the variety best adapted to the soil of the Adige Valley, that is rich in silt, skeleton and medium level of clay. He also credits the cool climate coming from glaciers surrounding the Adige Valley and the warm temperatures of the day, to allowing for the grapes to produce a superior quality wine in aroma, body and structure.
We enjoyed three Pinot Grigios, one of which is a staple in our market the Mezzacorona 2018 Trentino DOC, a terrific buy! The grapes are hand picked and estate bottled. It is crisp and dry with notes of green apple, peach and white flowers.
Up next was the Mezzacorona Pinot Grigio Riserva 2017. We truly enjoyed this Pinot Grigio, with 40% of the wine fermented in stainless steel and 60% in small oak barrels. After 6-8 months of the wine aging in the barrels, that which was fermented in stainless steel is blended with the oak aged and the result is a harmonious and delectable wine with a nose of ripe stone fruit notes and hints of vanilla. A beautiful pairing with two prime course options: a delicious Heirloom Tomato Caprese, made with pickled shallot, Fior di Latte, aged balsamic and fresh basil, and the big hit Shrimp Scampi!
Our final wine selection was the Mezzacorona Castel Firmian Pinot Grigio 2018, Trentino DOC. Also an Award-Winner of a Bronze Medal at the 2014 International Wine & Spirit Competition.
From Trento in the north we headed south and enjoyed a trio of red wines from another Italian region, arguably one of the most exciting wine regions today, Sicily!
We must move on as the Stemmari Nero D’Avola and the Hedonis Riserva beckons! We are in Sicily now, where as Lucio tells us Sicilia gives us the “art of Living with the generosity of the sun, of the soil and of the water”. As the Winemaker Lucio is passionate about the wines of Stemmari, exclaiming how Stemmari brings to you a modern wine that can be paired with modern, Mediterranean and continental dishes. “Nero D’Avola is the most historical and noble grape planted here, it is a rich grape, in the glass we find an aroma of raspberry, of strawberry and currant, the palate is multi fragrant and elegant.” Nods all around, yes, this wine does deliver all that!
To our final vino today Stemmari Hedonis Riserva 2015 Sicilia DOC is poured in our glass. The bouquet is seductive, complex with a cornucopia of aromas reminiscent of dried fruits, spices, notes of vanilla and tobacco! On the palate, smooth, soft like velvet with good structure and sublime tannins. Award-Winning 91 Points 2018 Ultimate Wine Challenge, please visit the website for details on vinifcation and oak aging, an amazing wine!
We are served the second course, Tagliatelle alla Bolognese. We await upon the verdict from Lucio who after all did train at the University of Bologna. “Fantastico, perfectly al dente!,” Lucio exclaims. We all concur. With Hedonis in our glasses, we continue to enjoy the beautiful wine, our perfecto pasta and spirited conversation into the late afternoon. We thank Rachel for a delightful afternoon, it was truly a great pleasure to meet Lucio, and become more acquainted with Mezzacorona!
If you could like more information on any of the wines please contact Rachel Woodman at www.woodmanwinesandspirits.com
Rotari Brut 2014 – $19.95
Gold Medal, 2018 Champagne & Sparkling Wineworld championship
Mezzacorona Pinot Grigio 2018 Trentino DOC – $14.95
Mezzacorona Riserva Pinot Grigio 2017 Trentino DOC – $17.95
Available: Vintages – January 2020
Stemmari Hedonis Riserva 2015 Sicilia DOC – $36.95
Stemmari Nero D’Avola 2017 Sicilia DOC Sicilia DOC – $14.95
Available: Vintages – January 2020
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