Wineries Buzzing About cal-ital Varietals

Cal-Ital refers to Italian varietals grown in California and is the new buzzword among some winemakers.

California's wine country was largely built on Italian-American grape growers, like Sam & Vicki Sebastiani of Viansa Winery, specializing in Italian varietals.

To learn of the intricacies of Italian wines, Viansa Winery offers a few Italian varietals worth tasting, along with some tips on how to pair them with foods for a complete epicurean experience.

* Sangiovese: A versatile wine, adaptable to many different foods, from pizza to hearty minestrone. "Piccolo" Sangiovese is a medium-bodied wine with a bouquet of raspberries, strawberries, blackberries and a hint of smoky tar to a plum-like flavorful finish.

"Thalia" Sangiovese is a complex, full-bodied wine blended with 80 percent Sangiovese, 16 percent Merlot, 4 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, and less than 1 percent Cabernet Franc. Aged for 15 months in oak barrels, "Thalia" is recommended to be decanted for an hour before serving with selections like veal or grilled duck breasts with cherry chutney.

* Barbera: Viansa's blend of 93 percent Barbera and 7 percent Nebbiolo, the "Augusto" Barbera has flavors of cherries, raspberries and strawberries. It's the perfect wine with cheese and salami. It also pairs well with lamb and rabbit.

* Nebbiolo: With distinctive aromas of strawberries, roses, mint and tar, this red wine is an ideal choice for dishes featuring the earthy flavors of mushrooms and truffles.

* Vernaccia: Viansa is one of the few producers of Vernaccia in the United States. This white wine is famous to the Tuscan region of Italy. It displays flavors of star fruit, mild melons and a crisp acid finish, along with flavors of pineapple, banana, hints of pear, dried fruit and creamy butterscotch, making it perfect to sip by itself.

* Pinot Grigio: Harvested from Viansa's Sonoma Valley Estate, the 2004 "Vittoria" Pinot Grigio has light flavors of apricots, pears and green apples with hints of orange, lingering hazelnut and macadamia flavors. This wine pairs nicely with shellfish, white fish, chicken and veal.

* Tocai Friulano: A new white wine for Viansa boasting aromas of apricot, guava, pineapple and glazed nuts. Viansa pressed whole clusters of fruit and fermented the wine in stainless steel in order to preserve the bright fruit flavors. This new wine is the perfect companion for shellfish like oysters and mussels.

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About The Author, Rodney Wright
Viansa Winery is owned by 360 Global Wine Company (TGWC.OB). To find out more about Cal-Ital Italian varietals, go to - NU