Corkbuzz Piedmont vs Tuscany

July 2017

New York, New York

Having attended a few Corkbuzz events in the past, when we got an email advertising “Piedmont vs Tuscany: Walk Around Party” we booked immediately. These are our absolute favorite wine regions and we have been fortunately enough to visit both areas with sufficient knowledge to speak to them. The event details included tasting over 25 different wines highlighting the different wines in each region along with a snack menu for a three hour party. The walk around party would count votes for the wines then reveal which region, Piedmont or Tuscany, is the favorite of Italy.

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We took the train into the city (times like this we wish we lived in NYC!) and arrived to Chelsea Market for the 7:30PM start time of the event. Greeted with our first wine, we were given a program listing all of the wines we would have the opportunity to try in this three hour event.

Piedmont Tuscany
Giacomo Fenocchio Roero Arneis ’16 Cecilia Elba Vermentino ’16
Ca’ dei Mandorli Gavi Verdecielo ’15 Il Conventino Rosato del Concentino IGT ’16
Cieck Erbaluce di Caluso Tradizione ’13 Massa Vecchia Rosato di Toscana IGT ’14
Elio Altare Dolcetto d’Alba ’14 Mocali Morellino di Scansano ’15
Sottimano Barbera d’Alba Superiore ’14 Isole e Olena Chianti Classico ’14
G.B. Burlotto Langhe Freisa ’15 Valdipiatta Vino Nobile di Montepulciano ’13
Poderi Roset Verduno Pelaverga ’14 Collemattino Rosso di Montalcino ’14
Scarzello Langhe Nebbiolo ’14 Oiaddia Carmignano Riserva Mauro Vannucci ’13
Marchesi di Barolo Barbaresco ’10 Altestino Brunello di Montalcino ’11
Giacomo Conterno Barolo Riserva Monfortino ’08 Montevertine Le Pergole Torte ’09

Reading the list was like seeing old friends. Our trips to Italy, especially the Tuscany and Piedmont regions, have enabled us to have immersive learning with the wine produced, so we were immediately excited. While we noticed a few new grapes, particularly in the white wines, we were anxious to try the last two wines in each category.

The main grape of Piedmont is Nebbiolo that makes the respected wines of Barolo and Barbaresco.

  • If the Nebbiolo grape is grown in the Barolo or Barbaresco region, then the wine is able to be labeled Barolo or Barbaresco.
  • If the Nebbiolo grapes is grown outside of these regions, the wine is labeled something more generic or reflective of the region outside of Barolo or Barbaresco, such as Lange.
  • Other grapes characteristic of Piedmont include Barbera and Dolcetto- all grapes that were plentiful on our trip to Asti, Piedmont.

The main grape of Tuscany is Sangiovese that makes the respected wines of Chianti and Brunello.

  • If the Sangiovese grape is grown in the Chianti or Chianti Classico region, then the wine is able to be labeled Chianti or Chianti Classico.
  • If the Sangiovese grape is grown outside of Chianti or Chianti Classico region or does not contain the required percentage of Sangiovese grapes, then the wine is labeled something generic or reflective of the region outside of Chianti or Chianti Classico, such as IGT or Super Tuscan or Nobile di Montepulciano.
  • If the Sangivoese grape is grown in the Brunello region of Montalcino, then the wine is able to be labeled Brunello.
  • If the Sangiovese grape is grown outside of the Brunello region (Brunello is always 100% Sangiovese), then the wine is labeled something generic or reflective of the region outside of Brunello region, such as Rosso di Montalcino.

In short, most of the wine from the Piedmont and Tuscan area are actually all the same grapes (Nebbiolo and Sangovese, respectively) but the nomenclature is different and while the same grape, the terrior can change the taste completely- same grape, different region.

The room was separated into three tasting areas that showcased several wines from each list.  We decided to start in the middle section, mostly as there were fewer people surrounding the tasting area. We recognized Isole e Olena Chianti Classico ’14 as out local wine store, Princeton Corkscrew, showcases this wine and hosts the vintner, Paolo di Marchi, frequently (happy to see we already drink a respected Chianti!). I recall the Elio Altare Dolcetto d’Alba ’14 being extra delicious, a typical table wine in Piedmont, and the G.B. Burlotto Langhe Freisa ’15 as well.  This table also had two additional wines off the menu including a Syrah from Tuscany (Podere Il Bosco Syrah di Manzano- nontraditional but was quite flavorful!) and Mascarello Natale fu Maurizio vino Grignolino ’65 (yes, 1965!).

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The second table in the back had our favorite representations of Nebbiolo and Sangiovese grapes. We are always impressed with Langhe wines since they can be as delicious as Barolo and Barbaresco for a fraction of the cost and the Scarzello Langhe Nebbiolo ’14 was just that. In similar fashion, we try the Collemattino Rosso di Montalcino ’14. The greatest advantage of these tastings is the side by side comparison that otherwise would require you to open several bottles of wine alone. Getting to taste the Barbaresco (Marchesi di Barolo Barbaresco ’10) and Brunello (Altestino Brunello di Montalcino ’11) directly after the Langhe and the Rosso di Montalcino (respectively) allowed for analysis and appreciation of these wines and the impact of terrior.

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We finally made our way to the front to our final tasting table for the headliners: 3L of Montevertine Toscana Rosso Le Pergole Torte ’09 & Giacomo Conterno Barolo Riserva Monfortino ’08. These wines were nothing short of incredible- absolutely everything you would want out of a Barolo and Sangiovese (the Le Pergole Torte is 100% Sangiovese outside of the Chianti DOC/DOCG, lacking the Chianti/Chianti Classico designation but resembling also Brunello by being 100% Sangiovese- a true hybrid of Tuscan wine).

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Along with all the wine were several passed snacks including:

  • Caprese skewers with Italian dressing (Mozzarella pearls, fresh basil, baby heirloom tomatoes)
  • Ricotta and spinach tart bites (House made ricotta, spinach)
  • Prosciutto and peach rolls (Balsamic reduction, micro greens)
  • Mushroom Arancini (Risotto, Pecorino fonduta, chive)
  • Cotechino sandwich bites (House aioli, Salsa Verde, balsamic)
  • Apricot jam grilled cheese (Brioche bread, gruyere cheese)
  • Italian grinder (3 meat choice, tapana, roasted peppers, Swiss cheese, arugula)

“Piedmont vs Tuscany: Walk Around Party” was way worth the price of admission ($85 a person for the snacks above, the over 25 wines, and the expertise of the Corkbuzz staff) and even more worth it having to go to work the next day extremely tired (yes, the event was a Tuesday night).  I hope Corkbuzz continues to have these walk-around styled parties as it provides a relaxed, inviting atmosphere to learn about the wonderful world of wine.

So which wine region do you prefer? Tuscany or Piedmont?

Update: Tuscany ended up wining by two votes! Close match!

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