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Learning to Get Past My Fear of Italian Wine: or, the 2010 Produttori del Barberesco Langhe Nebbiolo

19 Jul

Italian wine scares me.

I should qualify that statement.  I love Italian wine, and I believe Italian wine is exciting, versatile, and absolutely divine, but I know very little about Italian wine in general.  There’s the Piedmont with its Nebbiolo-based wines, then Tuscany with its Sangiovese-based wines, but come on!  Aren’t clones for sci-fi movies or Star Wars?  And can’t Italy just have a reasonable number of varietal–say, one hundred–instead of like… thirteen hundred (or up to 3,500)?  It also doesn’t help that many of Italy’s greatest wines–Barolo, Barbaresco, Brunello di Montalcino, for instance–are expensive and, in the case of Nebbiolo-based wines, tannic monsters when young.

It is for all these reasons that, when it comes to that game of blind tasting, I am absolutely useless when I try to identify Italian wines.  I can get Sangiovese, with its cherry and dried oregano notes, but I am just not as familiar with Italian wines as I am with French or Californian wines… not that I’m all that familiar with those, either!

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