Wine-Tasting Report: Paesano’s in Ann Arbor

I found a great Italian place that does weekly wine-tasting events with distributors and importers. Paesano’s has a very interesting menu, and the wine events are a steal. Wednesday 6-8 with 5 wines and a selection of appetizers and shared entrees, all for just $25. Most of what they feature is not on their regular wine list, and you can order for retail pickup the next week. I had a blast last night, and I’ll be back their regularly!

This week’s selection were all from Nicola Biscardo – some are wines he makes, others are wines that he imports.  I ordered bottles of three of them – here’s the rundown!

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Veneziano Sprizzzissimo (NV) Veneto – $10.50

This is a pre-mixed Prosecco-Aperol cocktail, a nice alternative to Campari and soda. Served over ice with an orange slice, it’s only 6.5% alcohol, has a beautiful orange color, and is very pleasant. Just bitter enough to wake up your tastebuds, just a touch of sweetness so it’s still refreshing. A neat find.

Castellari Begaglio Salluvii (2012) Gavi – $18

Gavi is a white from the far northwest of Italy, made with 100% Cortese grapes. The owner of this brand has 9 separate Gavi properties that he vinifies and bottles separately – the Salluvii bottling is a careful blend of all 9 vineyards. It was served with Ahi tuna in pasta shells with a variety of house-made condiments, including pickled onions and smoked salt.

Color: very pale.

Aroma: lemon, lemon zest, and minerality – maybe a hint of lanolin?

Taste: Creamy, higher in acid by balanced and with a light texture. Citrus fruit and some stone fruit. This is a good pairing for poultry in cream sauce.

Tenuta Curezzo Nerosso (2011) Salento – $17

A ‘secret’ blend of Uva de Troia, Primitivo, and 2 other traditional southern Italian grapes. It was served with rabbit orzo.

Color: very dark – ‘nerosso’ means black-red, and this lives up to its billing.

Aroma: a very big nose, with jam, spice, and some alcohol notes. Reminds me quite a bit of Grenache. With some air, you detect notes of fresh mulch.

Taste: good acidity, and softer on the palate than the nose would lead you to believe. Lots of plummy fruit and some tar. Recommended.

Marchesi Biscardo Corvina (2011) Veneto – $16

Corvina is one of the three grapes that make up Valpolicella, and this is produced in a Ripasso style, but it can’t be labelled Valpolicella because the appellation rules require that the wine be blended. This was served side-by-side with Niccolo Biscardo’s Valpolicella, accompanied by lamb stew.

Color: purple-black in the core and purple on the edge.

Aroma: chewy and chocolatey.

Taste: excellent fruit. Fresh and with good acidity, would be a nice pairing with charcuterie. Also recommended.

Marchesi Biscardo Ripasso (2010) Valpolicella – $24

Ripasso means that it uses the leftover skins of the Amarone pressing to add some additional flavor to the partially-fermented Valpolicella wine (the juice is ‘re-passed’ over the skins). This adds some extra complexity and depth without the big cost bump of drying the grapes to raisins, which is how Amarone is made.

Color: just a little older looking – red instead of purple.

Aroma: spice and dried fruit, plus a little smoke.

Taste: a classic Ripasso profile, softer and smokier with an easy finish. He may have used some newer oak in this as well. With food, the herbal notes pop out as well as the soft structure into the finish. Also recommended.

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