This week, Meghann and I ventured across town to the Bellevue suburb of Nashville to attend a wine tasting presented by fellow wine lover Andrea, who runs a local import of artisan Italian wines. We three go back 5–6 years when we met at a now-closed local Italian ristorante south of town called Uncle Gio’s. Oh how we miss the deliciousness served daily by Giovanni who created a quaint authentic Italian destination complete with creekside patio and walls covered in ivy.
One evening while enjoying the housemade dishes–likely Gio’s outstanding Lasagna or Chicken Parmesiana, both made with succulent Roma tomatoes and fresh herbs–we started a conversation with our server, Andrea, simply so we could hear his thick Italian accent. Plus, he shared a wealth of knowledge about the “wine-a from-a my homeland-a” that paired so well with our dinner, and his passion for wine was quite contagious.
Andrea is from the fair city of Verona, of Romeo & Juliet fame, in the Veneto region, and he taught us the subtle differences of Valpolicella Classico and Valpolicella Superiore and other nuances of Italian wine. As we planned our Italian excursion, we made certain to visit the Veneto region to experience la vita Italiana for ourselves. We fell in love with that region so deeply, and we’d move to Verona “tomorrow” if we could.
I say all of that about Italy as a testament to our affinity for all things Italian, especially Italian wine. In the past year or so, we reconnected with Andrea, who is now the owner of 100% Italiano, a Nashville-based importer of artisan Italian wines.
Thanks to Andrea, who invited us to a wine tasting that featured artisan wines from boutique winemakers of Southern France…Oui, la France…we Italian wine aficionados were enchanted by rare French wines including La Croix Gratiot Picpoul de Pinet, Domaine de Terrestrial Falmet Cinsault, Chateau Virgile Blanc, Domaine Grand Jacquet ‘La Cuvee des Grands Hommes, and several more.
But one particular wine surprised us.
That wine is 2007 Alain Voge Cornas Vieilles Vignes, a 100% Syrah from Cornas in the northern Rhône wine region of France south of Lyon, one of the smallest appellations in the Rhône valley, producing only red wine. Yay! Red wine!
The name Cornas is Celtic for “burnt earth” and that burnt earthy-ness becomes apparent upon first sip. Wine Spectator gave this wine 93 points and describes it as “bright, racy, offering a dense core of black currant, damson plum, tobacco, and tapenade notes.” The Wine Advocate uses similar descriptives when saying “superb, dense purple-colored wine exhibiting aromas of incense, blackberries, and scorched earth.”
And I must concur with those descriptives. Meghann refers to it as the “leathery” wine (oddly accurate), and I noticed hints of oak wood reminiscent of a whiskey barrel. In short, it is rich and robust. From the first sip, we noticed the peppery, spicy, incense-like notes mixing with rich berry notes creating a wine discovery experience worthy of its own wordy blog post by this foodie wine lover. As silly as that may seem, this wine really is remarkable.
So remarkable that it is extremely rare: the vineyard produced only five barrels (that’s a mere 125 cases) for the entire world to enjoy. Given that rarity, I highly recommend procuring a bottle or two to experience this surprise oo la la for your yourself.
In the Nashville area, you can find a few bottles at Red Spirits & Wine at the corner of Old Hickory Boulevard and Hwy 70S in Bellevue. Outside the Nashville area, visit Wine.com for information on shipping to your door. Bottle pricing ranges from $55–65. This is a special occasion wine, suitable for celebrating a recent engagement, rehearsal dinner, anniversary, or other celebration that calls for the “fine” side of wine. And that could even be a simple home-prepared dinner for two.
We’re still dedicated lovers of Italian wine, and this French wine tasting experience may be the key that opens the cellar door of interest in “that other Old World purveyor.” Here’s to expanding horizons and enjoying delicious wine together! Cheers!