Posted by: tomciocco | April 15, 2014

MARZEMINO – GOOD ENOUGH FOR MOZART, GOOD ENOUGH FOR ME

Looking back over the hundreds of posts put up onto this space, I was shocked by the fact that I had never posted about a pretty important Northern Italian red grape variety that goes by the name of Marzemino, so here’s the first…As can be seen from the title of this post, the Marzemino variety has a close association with the truly great Austrian composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Legend has it that wines made from Marzemino were the preferred grape-based drink for this super genius and notorious bon vivant, so much so that the librettist for one of his greatest works, Don Giovanni, knew of the young genius’s love affair with this grape, and a s a consequece, wrote it into the opera in which Don Giovanni himself sings “Versare il vino, eccellente Marzemino” (“Pour the wine, excellent Marzemino”). High praise indeed.

The first written mention of this vivacious red variety appears in the account of a Papal dinner held in the earliest years of the 15th century in Friuli in Northern Italy. But despite this very early date of attestation, the latest genetic research has shown that Marzemino is actually the offspring of another even more ancient Northern Italian red vine, Teroldego, which as it turns out is not only the “father” of Marzemino but yet another Northeastern Italian staple variety, Lagrein (see Jancis Robinson’s exhaustive oenological reference, Wine Grapes).

All three of these varieties can be found thriving in vineyard patches scattered all over Lombardia, Veneto (tonight’s wine emanates from this region), Trentino, and Friuli, and it can be included in numerous blends as well in mono-varietal bottlings like this evening’s wine. And though “father and sons” all have their distinct personalities, the common family traits of deep color, wild berries flavors and aromas, and prominent acidity are easily notable in all three. And of the three, like its greatest admirer Mozart, Marzemino is the most youthful, ebullient, and saucy, and though it might not be the most elegant and sophisticated member of the family, it is the one that is most likely to elicit the most elated giggles if not as many full throated “bravos”. So if you’ve never witnessed a “performance” of Marzemino, this particular production is an excellent place to start.

I matched this particularly successful example of this exuberant grape with a fist course of bread rounds spread with a buttery paste of porcini mushrooms, onions, parsley, garlic and lemon juice and zest topped with a slice of hard-boiled egg, followed by sausage braised with red and green cabbage, red wine, tomato, onions, and sage.

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Vignaioli Contra` Soarda Marzemino “Gaggion” Veneto I.G.T. 2010

Very deep crimson/purple color. Sassy but still well-bred nose of salted plums, mulberry, blood orange, wet stones, dark chocolate, licorice, cinnamon and purple flowers. In the mouth the wine shows a medium weight with a velvety texture, a moderate tannic structure and spunky acidity that envelops flavors of black currants, black cherry, black tea, juniper, walnut paste, and a slight earthiness. Long bitter/sweet black raspberry notes on the fairly complex finish.

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Responses

  1. Hi, Tom. It was such a crazy coincidence running into you at Madame Claude’s. Thanks for the review of our Marzemino. Don’t forget Don Giovanni’s exclamation were his last words before being whisked off to Hell, not that it has any bearing on the Contra Soarda version. Your reviews are wonderful, rich in exposition and detail, and no matter what time of day I read them, I get very, very hungry.

    It seems you don’t often make reference to the price of the wine, in either general or specific terms. Your readers might benefit from knowing that a lot of the bottles you enjoy, like this Marzemino, don’t require taking out a second mortgage. Cheers,

    Tom

    • Thanks for the message, Tom.

      I’ve entertained on and off making price reference, but since I almost never write about anything that’s over $25, and typically, under $20, and because prices can vary so dramatically from market to market, and finally because I have a fairly international readership, the issue of the price points of the wines diminishes rapidly, but on your urging, I may reconsider. Thanks again for the kind words, and great seeing you again. Let’s keep in touch.


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