Wine is a delicious gateway to learning more about a culture and I recently received a refreshing lesson about the Italian holiday of Ferragosto courtesy of Barone Fini wines. Celebrated annually throughout Italy on August 15th, Ferragosto has its roots in the church but it is a time for all Italians to gather together for food, fun, fireworks, and wine! Giovanni Bonmartini-Fini, president of Barone Fini, may love Ferragosto even more than most Italians because it is also his birthday - Tanti Auguri, Giovanni!
The roots of Barone Fini can be traced back to the 1497 when two noble Venetian families, Bonmartini and Fini, joined together in marriage and began producing wine. Giovanni represents the 15th generation of his family to carry on this tradition and it isn't hard to be swept away by his passion for producing wine that honors his heritage but also appeals to consumers in Italy and beyond. Barone Fini focuses exclusively on two varieties - Pinot Grigio and Merlot. Sourced from old vines, the wines are produced in an ultra-modern winery located atop the ruins of an ancient Roman winery. Giovanni is committed to not over-manipulating wines and believes that "in winemaking, when too many things are added, things can go wrong" and "letting nature do what it does best" is the most authentic approach.
Yes, Pinot Grigio is everywhere but quality Pinot Grigio can be elusive. So many winemakers have taken advantage of Pinot Grigio's blockbuster popularity and flooded the market with insipid and bland wines with no flavor. I'm happy to report that Barone Fini is not guilty of insulting the consumer - give Barone Fini a swirl if you want a reminder of what Pinot Grigio actually tastes like.
Barone Fini Valdadige Pinot Grigio 2015 DOC (around $12) is a crisp and clean white wine that expresses the mountainous terroir of Trentino in northern Italy. This pretty Pinot Grigio has lovely lemony flavors that are balanced by hints of melon, minerality, and vibrant acidity. A great apéritif on a hot day, this wine also pairs nicely with salad, fresh seafood, and poultry. Perfect for al fresco dining!
Giovanni says that "you are tasting the mountains" when you drink Barone Fini Pinot Grigio Alto Adige 2015 DOC (around $20). Produced from grapes sourced from small mountain-top plots, this limited production wine takes Pinot Grigio to the next level. Round and supple, this wine has defined but graceful fruit and floral flavors that are balanced by crisp minerality and a lingering finish. A lovely match with grilled fish, pasta with cream sauce, and herb roasted chicken.
White wine and rosé may rule the summer, but juicy lighter-bodied red wines can also refresh your palate on a hot day. Barone Fini Merlot Trentino 2014 DOC (around $10) is smooth with soft tannins, lively acidity, and mouthwatering flavors of ripe cherries, plums, violets, and blackberries. Unoaked, this is a nimble and unpretentious expression of Merlot.
If you're in New York City and want to experience a taste of Ferragosto and Barone Fini wines, on August 15th I Trulli Enoteca e Ristorante will offer a special four-course Ferragosto menu for $58 and glasses of Barone Fini will be offered for $10 each.100% of the proceeds from each glass of Barone Fini will be donated to the Food Bank for New York City. What a delicious way to wine & dine and do some good in the world. Buon Ferragosto!