Thursday, November 22, 2012

Via Tevere

I got the call from my Dad that my Aunt Belle and Uncle Lyle had arrived in town for a short visit prior to their heading South of the border for Black Friday.  We had the one night that we could get together for dinner; so, I talked them into coming to our neck of the woods and a trip to Via Tevere.  Naturally, our timing wasn't the best and our group of six had to wait a good 45 minutes before we got seated.  Good thing they liked the pizza - and, just as importantly, the wine.

I knew that Via Tevere participates in the "new-ish" Bring Your Own Wine program that's been introduced in BC.  This is only the second time that Boo and I have taken advantage of the opportunity - and the first occasion was here as well.  After an initial flurry of press, I haven't heard much about BYOW at all and I don't know of many restaurants that are participating - not that we get out all that much.  It's a nice option though and I hope to be able to participate a lot down the road.

1290.  2004 Avignonesi - Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (D.O.C.G. Vino Nobile di Montepulciano - Tuscany - Italy)

I can't say that I know much about Avignonesi; however, I clearly remember that I was advised to keep an eye out for their wines while Boo and I were in Italy a couple of years back.  If memory serves, we were particularly tipped off about one of the winery's Super Tuscans: 50 & 50.  We never found that wine, nor did we even get to try an Avignonesi wine before time constraints forced us to leave Italy and return home.  Although the Vino Nobile is a traditional Tuscan wine (as opposed to a new fangled Super Tuscan),I was glad to run across this bottle in a local bottle shop.

The winery is named after the Avignonese family - founders of the original estate.  It was purchased in 2009, however, by a retired Belgian lawyer.  While the new owner's intent was to build on the winery's reputation, one of her first steps was to look to switch vineyards over to organic viticultural practices.  Being a 2004, our vintage had, obviously, been bottled long before the change in ownership but I can only hope that quality levels stay the same - if not improve - because I quite enjoyed it and I'm hardly a big fan of Chianti - the region's prime wine.

The Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is more localized than Chianti; however, the wine is still primarily based on the Sangiovese grape, although producers generally use a local clone known as Prugnolo Gentile.  That varietal provides the majority of the wine's fruit - but there's an added bonus for me in that small quantities of Canaiolo Nero and Mammolino are used as well.  Neither of those varietals have been added to my Wine Century Club tally.

Got to love that fact that I get to add to new varietals - while dining with the relatives and enjoying a wine to boot.

1291.  2011 ViVi - Falanghina (IGT Campania - Italy)

It was clear from the outset that we were going to need more than one bottle.  I didn't know whether we could bring two of our own bottles; so, we bought the Falanghina off the wine list.  I'd say that we were more of a red crowd - except for Aunt Belle - but there was no worry about leaving any of the white in the bottle.

The ViVi website doesn't actually provide a whole lot of information about the winery but I'm guessing that Vivi is more of a bulk, brand producer than Avignonesi.  That may well be the only way that a Falanghina varietal vine could be marketed in Vancouver though.  Falanghina is hardly going to be a grape that most people could go into a liquor store and rattle off as being the wine they want to pick up.  Marketed as a well-priced white wine might be a whole lot more sensible from a winery standpoint.

Italian whites aren't usually high on my list of faves - and this one didn't reach favourite status either - but it was well made with a nicer acidity to it than I often find with Italian whites.  The fruit was lacking (when compared to the local Okanagan wines) but the bottle was picked primarily for Aunt Belle's palate and she quite liked the wine.  So, the bottle definitely lived up to its task.

We called it quits after our wine and pizza because Boo had put one of the leftover Halloween pumpkins to use and made us a pie that wasn't pizza pie.  Homemade pie a tempting thought - especially when I remembered there was another bottle waiting at home.

1292.  2007 Pacific Rim - Vin de Glacière Riesling (Columbia Valley - Washington State)

Pumpkin pie and a Washington dessert wine seemed like an appropriate way to cap off our early start to American Thanksgiving.  I don't think Belle and Lyle were going to take in Costco for Black Friday, but I'm pretty sure I picked up the Vin de Glacière awhile back during a States-side visit to Costco ourselves.  I gather that the wine is a take on Canadian icewines.  

The big difference between this wine and a true icewine is that these grapes are harvested when they've reached high enough sugar levels and, then, they are frozen.  While the grapes are, indeed, pressed while frozen, the winery doesn't have to take the risks involved with waiting until the grapes have frozen outside in the vineyard before they can be picked and pressed.

The end result is still tasty though.  There was still plenty of honey and ripe tree fruit on the palate but I think it could have used a bit more acidity to balance out the sweet.  The cost was nowhere near as precious as an icewine would cost and that's hardly a bad thing.

All in all, I'd say things went well.  Everyone was still chatting away in our dining room when I called it quits.  Being the only one of the crowd that had to get up first thing in the morning, it was time to hit the sack.  And that had nothing to do with the fact that we'd finished off the evening's wines.  Truly.

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