The Tasting Panel magazine

March 2017

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20  /  the tasting panel  /  march 2017 The Ransom Note is a monthly column by The Tasting Panel's East Coast Editor, David Ransom. Each month, David connects readers with some of the people, products and events that are making news along the Eastern Seaboard. I write a lot on Italian wines, so considering their level of saturation in my drinking life, I am always thrilled to make a new discovery, especially if that discovery is from a producer I am already familiar with! Recently, just such a thing happened when I had the opportunity to sit at a pair of lunches in New York City where two venerable producers poured a range of wines for us thirsty (for knowledge, of course) attendees. First up was a lunch at Upland with the Sardinia-based producer Sella & Mosca, where Chief Winemaker Giovanni Pinna took us on a journey through their expressions of that island's indigenous grape varieties, including whites Torbato ($20.99), an almost forgotten grape thought to be originally from Spain that was literally brought back from the brink of extinction by the winery (its only producer); Vermentino ($13.99); Cannonau ($16.99), Sardinia's signature red grape; and Carignano ($14.99) from the region of Sulcis. Also poured were a selection of vintages of the winery's acclaimed Marchese di Villamarina Cabernet Sauvignon ($65). Next, I had the great pleasure of dining at NYC's Del Posto with Alessio Planeta, whose family-owned winery produces some of Sicily's most exciting and best wines from grapes grown on six properties located throughout the island, all with individual wineries ("I spend most of my time in the car," Alessio says). Some of the wines poured were Planeta 2015 Frappato DOC Vittoria ($22), a fresh and vibrant red from the seaside red sand vineyards (in Vittoria) on the South coast; Nocera 2015 (5,000 bottles produced, not yet imported, but promised for this year), an experiment gone good that shows almost Pinot Noir–type qualities and is one to watch for; and of course, there were three of Planeta's Nero d'Avolas (prices from $24–45), which in the hands of Alessio, exhibited none of the rough and tumble coarseness that has kept many Nero d'Avolas out of my glass in the past. Instead, his food friendly versions show a beautiful balance and harmony in a more delicate, even silky style that only made me want more. Both Sella & Mosca and Planeta are imported by Palm Bay International. New Discoveries from Italy's Islands Sella & Mosca's Chief Winemaker, Giovanni Pinna. A lineup of Sella & Mosca's flagship Marchese di Villamarina Cabernet Sauvignon. Planeta's owner, Alessio Planeta, with The Tasting Panel's David Ransom at Del Posto in New York City. by David Ransom

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