I had the pleasure of working with Bill Tramontano on the 14th annual Brooklyn College Wine Tasting this past April. Bill, the provost at the college, is a fabulously knowledgeable wine enthusiast and oenophile. He provided a very enjoyable and edifying time for all of us. Phil Gallagher, a professor at the college, worked with me to make sure the wine tasting was all that it could be. I've reprinted here the article I wrote in the Faculty Circle Newsletter describing the event.
A Taste of Tuscany: 14th Annual Brooklyn College Wine Tasting
Over 24 ebullient Faculty Circle members and guests were treated to a superb Tuscan wine tasting hosted by our own provost Bill Tramontano on Thursday, April 29th. Bill, a life long wine enthusiast and oenophile brought the enraptured crowd through a guided tour of the Tuscan wine country through a sampling of some of its outstanding wines. Aided by a map of Tuscany, we were whisked away to the magical land of the Tuscan sun. At Bill's request the wine was complemented with a superb Pecorino Tuscano Stagionato as well as a exciting Tuscan chestnut honey. The tradition is to serve wine with honey drizzled over the cheese.
The tasting consisted of one white and six reds. Reds heavily predominate in the Tuscan region. I've included my personal tasting notes. The seven fights were, in order of tasting:
Fontaleoni Vernaccia di San Gimingnano 2008 - This Vernaccia is a dry, crisp, lively white that I found refreshing and pleasing to the palate. This is a perfect wine to drink on a long, hot summer's day; which I did when in Italy two years ago.
Le Fonti Chianti Classicao 2007 - Chianti is made from the Sangiovese grape, which is the main grape of central Italy. This Chianti seemed a tad rough and unbalanced at first but later softened and pleasant. It has a medium color, a short nose and an adequate finish.
Dei Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2006 - The Vino Nobile had some real depth and complexity, and paired well with the Precorino. I picked up cherry and perhaps even blueberry notes with a nice finish. It was not as big as I thought it would be but had good structure and sufficient body.
Mocali Rosso di Montalcino 2008 - A baby Brunello, as it is sometimes called, possessed a fine minerality, a softness and balance that was very enjoyable. I picked up modest cherry notes and smooth tannins. This is a delicious Sangiovese wine.
San Filippo Brunello 2004 - I very much enjoyed this wine. It is softly elegant, well stgructured with a long luscious finish. I picked up deep berry flavors and even some hint of citrus; stupendous with the Tuscano Stagionato and chestnut honey.
Soffocone di Vincigliata Toscann IGT ("Super Tuscan")_ 2007 - A ruby red color, cherries and spices, mid to full-bodied, nice acidity, fine tannins. Super Tuscans are wines that do not follow the traditional blending laws of the region and can be blends of other grapes, especially Cabernet Sauvignon. I found this wine to be very enjoyable and perhaps the least "Italian."
Travignoli Vin Santo del Chianti Rufina Riserva 1999 - Very appealing, relaxed yet with lively sweetness. The iconic Tuscan dessert wine.
We are looking forward to Bill's next wine tasting which may take us to the northeastern area of Friuli, the home of many outstanding Italian wines. In contrast to Tuscany, Friuli is known for its outstanding whites.
Many thanks to Bill for his excellent and exciting presentations of some of Tuscany's finest wines.