Wine Time

Dennis Sodomka is a guest columnist | Contact Dennis

Wine Time: Piccini Memoro Bianco NV, Italy

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COST: $10-12

WHAT: It seems I have been drawn to a lot of Italian wines lately. I’m not sure if that’s because so many more Italian wines are available now or if we are just more aware of them in the American market.

I do know there is a lot of interest in Italian wines among the wine drinkers I talk to. There is a good reason for that because you can find so many very nice wines at great prices.

The Piccini Memoro Bianco is a great example of that. It’s a lively white wine, full of flavor and depth. There are no heavy aftertastes, only a fine balance between fruit flavor and acidity. It is a crisp wine without being overly sharp, fruity without being soft or flabby.

This is a wine you can sip by itself, but it really opens up when you pair it with food.

The company chose a compass rose for the label to suggest the bottle contains expressions of four distinct Italian regions: Sicily, Trentino, Maremma Toscana and Marche. The blend is 40 percent Viognier, 30 percent Chardonnay, 20 percent Vermentino and 10 percent Pecorino.

The owners said they wanted a wine that would not only taste Italian, but feel Italian. After much research, experimentation, testing and blending, they came up with a great formula.

The Viognier from Sicily lends warmth, structure and soft tannins as a result of malolactic fermentation in wood barrels. Chardonnay, from the cooler climate Trentino, adds apricot and apple aromas and a fresh taste. Vermentino from Maremma adds delicate floral notes, and the ancient Italian grape of Pecorino from Marche adds sweet pear.

It is a fantastic blend, worth drinking over and over. Every time you drink it you pick up another nuance of this complex wine. I would serve it well chilled and let it warm up a bit in the glass.

The company also produces Memoro Rosso, a red blend.

WINERY: Begun as primarily a Chianti producer, Tenute Piccini has grown to one of the best known brands in Tuscany.

The tradition began in 1882 with Angiolo Piccini, who started with a small family plot of only 17 acres. Since then each of the next four generations has embraced Angiolo’s guiding principle: “It’s not how much you do, but how much passion you put in the doing.”

Angiolo bought additional small parcels of land in the 1920s and his son Mario took over in 1925. Steering the company through the Great Depression and World War II, he exported the company’s first wines to Germany and Switzerland. Now nearly 90 percent of Piccini’s wines are sold outside Italy. The company produces 800,000 cases of wine a year and exports to 72 countries.

When Pierangelo Piccini and his wife, Marcella Sanmicheli, inherited the winery in 1963 they added to the company portfolio, concentrating on value wines. Piccini sells no wine for more than $50 and most are in the $15-$20 range. Piccini offers a wide selection of red and white wines from Tuscany and other regions. Their orange label Chianti sells for about $10 and the Chianti Superiore for $13.

Piccini is one of the most recognized brands of Tuscan wines in the world. Siblings Mario and Martina Piccini, the fourth generation of the family, remember what their father once said: “Everything that we do in the present is both for the past and for the future.”

This has been Piccini’s guiding philosophy for decades, uniting tradition with a constant focus on the future.

Located in Castellina, one of eight cities in the Chianti area, the Piccini estate has deep roots. The original estate is now the main headquarters, comprising 1,000 acres of vineyards among the best in Tuscany, with a special emphasis on Chianti and Chianti Classico.

Intimately connected to the vineyards they come from, the Piccini wines focus on enjoyment, which is ensured by a modern approach to traditional winemaking. They put a modern face on Tuscan traditions.

Piccini was one of the first wineries to abandon the traditional hay-wrapped bottles for its Chianti in favor of sleek, modern bottles.

Flagship wines include Piccini Chianti Superiore, Classico, and Classico Riserva and Sasso al Poggio (a super Tuscan). The company also includes the labels Fattoria di Valiano, Villa al Cortile and Tenuta Moraia.

GOES WITH: My wife, Teri, and I had this with a special treat provided by her daughter, Erin. For Mother’s Day, Erin bought her a food package from Blue Apron.

After you tell Blue Apron your food preferences, such as chicken, beef, fish, vegetarian, they send you recipes and ingredients for three meals. They send you everything, down to olive oil and thyme sprigs. A new package is available every week if you choose to subscribe. The package also comes with illustrated cooking instructions.

It’s a great idea, and we loved the first meal we tried, Chicken Supremes. It came with sweet potatoes that we boiled and mashed, and sugar snap peas cooked with ramps.

The chicken was a breast portion with a wing attached that I sauteed in a pan with olive oil. I melted butter over the chicken while it was still warm, adding chopped garlic and lemon thyme sprigs. After removing the chicken and thyme, I added more olive oil, cooked the ramps and then added the sugar snap peas, which I cooked for a couple of minutes. Before I served the plate, I drizzled lemon juice over everything.

The food was delicious and was a perfect match for the wine. The chicken and peas had a little kick to them that really set off the complex flavors in the wine.

It also would go well with food with creamy sauces, poultry and seafood.

WINE EVENTS

THURSDAY, JUNE 12

Wine and tapas tasting, 5 p.m. until closing, La Maison on Telfair, 404 Telfair St.; four wines and three tapas, $25; (706) 722-4805

JUNE 13-14

Wine and beer tasting, 4:30-6:30 p.m. Friday and 2-6 p.m. Saturday, Vineyard Wine Market, 4414 Evans to Locks Road, Evans; price dependent on flight selection; (706) 922-9463

THURSDAY, JUNE 19

Wine tasting, 5-8 p.m., Wine World, 133 Georgia Ave., North Augusta; three whites, three reds and cheeses, $5 with rebate on purchase of a featured wine; (803) 279-9522


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