Wine Fellowshippers Jump Start the Holiday on December 12

–submitted by Steve Mixtacki and Mike Wilson

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Pictured from left: Meryl Mixtacki, Dick Pearson, Noel Pearson, Mike Casey, Dori Hosek & Robyn Kitson

The Wine Fellowship Group met at Steve and Meryl Mixtacki’s home on a cold December night but a very warm event followed.  One very new member, Mike Casey, came along, together with 13 other Fellowshippers. The evening focused on Italian varietals selected from the cellars of Steve Mixtacki and Mike Wilson.  The wines were divided into four groups: Italian varietals from America, typical varietals from several regions of Italy, and then examples of the wines of the Piedmonte (Nebbiolo) and Central Tuscany (Montalcino).  They were all reds.

Steve & Meryl Mixtacki

Steve & Meryl Mixtacki

While Mike and Steve provided the wines, Mike’s wife, Patty, provided 5 cheeses and crackers to match with the wine and Steve’s wife, Meryl, provided bruschetta, breads, and chocolates to enhance the experience.  As a result, a good time was had by all.

The US-made wines included a Sangiovese from Napa, a Barbara from Alexander Valley, and a Super Tuscan from, of all places, Arizona.

Mike Wilson brought a favorite from Puglia in the “boot” of Italy (Negroamaro grape), another from the isle of Sicily (Nero d’Avola), and a lesser red wine from the Piedmont (Dolcetto). These are the classic common red drinking wines of these regions.  The first two wine bottles were signed by the vineyard owners, and there were tales of these characters from when they were promoting their wines in the States.  These wines were at the end of their useful shelf lives, but each was of good quality and tasting well.

Mike Wilson also brought some Nebbiolos from the Piedmont.  This grape is considered the King of Italian grapes and there are many regions where this is grown e.g. Langhe and Roero, and then there are other names used for different regions where better Nebbiolo’s are made e.g. Barolo, Barbaresco , Gattinara and Ghemme.  These are the wines that can be classified as DOCG (this Guaranteed classification has the wines tasted before release by a panel to ensure the quality).  We tried two Langhe (2002 and 2008) and ended up tasting two Barolo’s 2004 and 2009.

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Photo 1: Dori Hosek & Robyn Kitson; Photo 2: Ginny Yuska, Ken Yuska & Beverly Simone; Photo 3: Mike Casey & Dori Hosek

Three wines came from the Montalcino region in Tuscany.  Two were Brunello di Montalcinos, which are also DOCG wines, are the most well-known wine from the region, and are made from 100% from Sangiovese.  “Regular” Brunellos are not released until 50 months after harvest, while reserve Brunellos need to age an additional 12 months.  The third wine was a Rosso di Montalcino, sometimes referred to as a “baby Brunello,” which is also 100% Sangiovese, but only needs to be aged one year before release to earn a DOC classification, allowing producers to offer a less expensive wine and allow for some cash flow while the grapes from the same vintage are aging for Brunello.

The Wine Fellowship Group had a great evening socializing, learning about – and enjoying – Italian varietals, and getting a jump on some holiday celebration.

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Dick Pearson

Happy Holidays
from the Rotary Club of Madison Wine Fellowship Group!

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