Tuesday, February 5, 2008

New Wine Shop, Adonna Imports and New Friends Tasting Italian Wines

There is a new wine shop in Salem, Massachusetts that our Passionate Foodie friend from the North Shore turned us on to. On the fifth of February, Eric of the Salem Wine Imports hosted an Italian wine tasting featuring seven of the wines from Adonna Imports. We even got to meet fellow North Shore Blogger Richard, ring leader of The North Shore Winers.

Eric talks about a Gamay from Switzerland. (c)2008 SmellsLikeGrapeThis was our first visit to the new wine shop located on 32 Church Street in Salem, Massachusetts. The store is beautifully set up with a stunning offering of wines. Eric felt that Salem was right for a niche wine shop. There are lots of packies in the area, but having a wine shop where patrons can come in on a Tuesday night, have a tasting, socialize and procure some mighty fine wines is what Eric wanted. Salem Wine Imports has a great selection of Italian, French, Californian, Spanish wines as well as a wonderful selection of wines from Oregon and Washington.

Taster B checks over the Italian section. (c)2008 SmellsLikeGrapeIf you are looking for the unusual, the unknown, the hard-to-find; but most importantly high-quality wines at a good price, scamper on over, that’s exactly what you will find. Now, I’m a bit hard boiled when it comes to value. I saw some very good wines for the less than $20.00. How unusual? How about a Swiss Gamay? When was the last time you saw one of those? I'm not a Gamay fan, but this one had me taking another look. He also has wines in the $50.00 price point and above for those special occasions.

Eileen Write of Adonna Imports talks about her unique portfolio of Italian Wines. (C)2008 SmellsLikeGrapeThe Tasting
Eric invited Eileen Wright of Adonna Imports to present a flight of six Italian wines from the Adonna portfolio.

Conte Vistarino 2004 Pinot Nero
Conte Visterino also from Lombardy has a long history of working with Pinot Nero dating back to the 1800's. The vineyards are located on The Count's vast Estate (mid 1500's) in the Oltrepo Pavese on the banks of the Po river. The winery is now run by his daughter Ottavia. Her objectives remain the same as her ancestors; create elegant, authentic wines that express their terroir. The Conte Vistario 2004 Pinot Nero is a lightly smoky, tannic little extra acid that one would expect from the region.

La Piane 2004 La Maggiorina
Le Piane is located in the Boca region of Italy in the lower Alps of the Piedmont.
The La Maggiorina is a Colline Novarsi DOC, district of Novara. The wine has a mixture of Croatina, Uva Rara, Vespolina and Nebbiolo. The name of the wine comes from the traditional Maggiorina system, where four vines are arranged in the four cardinal points, forming a cup. This is a newer DOC (1994) that also has a white wine made exclusively of Erbaluce grapes. The Maggiorina is a pleasant drinking wine with fruity and spicy aromas. The alcohol level is at 12% which I find to be typical of the Piedmont region. The wine maker Christoph Kunzli bought the property in 1988 from Antonio Cerri one of the last local wine growers of this almost forgotten region. The label states “dry red wine” which leads me to believe that it is the Rosso which would be Nebbiolo 30% min, Uva Rara max 40%, Vaspolina and/or Crotina max 30%. Yup, we brought one of these puppies home.

Martilde 2006 Bianco IGT "Gelo"
Italic Riesling grapes producing a still dry white wine with a simple profile is what's under the cork. The low yield and the advanced age of the vineyard guarantee the right level of ripeness (with grapes tinged with gold), resulting in a good structure and very mild acidity, which make it pleasantly full. Color a warm bright yellow, ample and compound nose, faintly citrusy. You can have it for the whole meal, with starters, first courses, or main courses of fish, poultry or white meats. (I’m thinking lobster.) On the label, is their male sheepdog "Gelo" in one of his favorite postures.

Martilde 2005 BonardaMartilde 2005 Bonarda is made entirely from Croatina grapes. A genuine, straightforward wine, ruby colored and with a simple clean nose, pleasantly reminding of small red fruit. This wine is not barrel fermented and will do well for enjoying now up to three years. It pairs well with soups, roasted meats, vegetables and light grillades.

Solatione 2004 Chianti Classico
Solatione is located in the heart of Chianti Classico region. The winery gets its name from the great exposition of the sun. The Vineyard is thirteen hectares, family owned and operated since 1972. Until 1991 the wine was sold to other vintners but in 1992 Fabio and Francesca (brother and sister) decided to bottle their own wines. The Chianti Classico is aged in Slovenic oak barrels for 12/16 months. This wine was definitely very delicious, well structured and firm tannins and very Sangiovese. Other Chianti Classico lovers were ooooing and aw-ing over this one. Taster B was also pleased with this offering with the only disappointment that it was sold out by the time we were ready to leave. (This is the one that got away!)

Redondel 2005 Teroldego
This winery is located in the Trentino owned and operated by a young winemaker Paolo Zanini He has a long family history in his vineyards. The vineyards are full of naturally maintained older vines with low yields and a small production. The wine comes from the Mezzolombardo in the Rotaliano plain.

A little about Adonna Imports
The company was started 3 years ago by Jeannie Rogers and Eileen Wright. Jeannie also owns Il Capriccio restaurant in Waltham, Massachusetts. Their portfolio consists of small winemakers who work well in the vineyards as well as the winery. Most of their producers are either 100% organic or working towards that goal. Jeannie has known most of the producers they work with for over 20 years. Jeannie also travels back to Italy frequently to source new winemakers. (I want that job!) Their portfolio 95% Italian but they do work with a few Austrian and one California winemaker.

Talking with Eileen, she tells us that they are having great success filling a niche market, catering to smaller wine shops and restaurants. The wines the get are from small producers and many (including some of the wines we tasted) are exclusive Adonna imports. Working with small lot producers and quality wines gives them the feeling of personal customer service and allows them to work closely with their clients.

Because their producers are small, many of their selections come in by the tens of cases, which is much too small of a quantity to be of interest to the large chain discount houses. Eileen tells us that she enjoys her work and particularly likes the idea of promoting the smaller, high quality producers.

As someone looking from the outside in, I get excited when I do business with folks like Eileen and Eric. Personalized service, quality products and I walk away with a feeling that we made some great friendships.

I also want to shout out to the Passionate Foodie for turning us to this. As a reward for getting through this posting, here is a tip. Eric is planning on having tastings most Tuesday nights. Check out his blog for details. The tip??? Salem Wine Imports encourages you bring your favorite tasting glass!


Eileen said...

Thanks so much! The site is thoughtful, interesting and informative without being overwhelming.
I will let you know when and where we are having our next tastings.
Best regards,

Dr. Debs said...

What a great line-up of wines. Teroldego is on my list of grapes to try (of course). What did you think of it?

Taster A said...

Eileen described this as a chewy wine. (I still have a button on Chewy and couldn’t see that it fit the definition of chewy as given by Robert Parker, Jr. Ref the glossary link to the right. The alcohol level was not that high, ~12.5% and not a feeling of high glycerin.) Others were in agreement with Eileen on this point, so it may just be me.

The wine was very dark red with nice suede-like tannins. It had a very light perfume quality with the smell of berries. I don’t want to say “fruit forward”, but more “berry forward”. I enjoyed the wine and found it very pleasant and full bodied and real dark. The aromas and flavors were in synch, which I like. This did not have a big woody component (i.e. oak, vanilla and toast), which I find to be fun when trying new varietals.

I was walking around the wineshop with my nose in the glass which is always a good indicator.

Eileen told us that it is a good expression of that grape and a good vintage. Toroldego is usually blended and as of recently has become a varietal wine being marketed as a premium vino da tavola. I hope this helps!

Jean-Marc said...

Hi there,
I know this article was posted long time ago but since I am trying to get Adonna Import phone, I am leaving a comment.
I am a small biodunamic producer in the Rhône Valley using 50 years old vines and MA is the only State I am looking for distribution (we already have 8 importers).
Can somebodu help me ?
Jean-Marc Espinasse
Domaine Rouge-Bleu
Tel : +33 6 15 10 52 01

Find our wines at :

Taster B said...

Hello Jean-Marc, I hope someone can help you. I would suggest you try to look up Nick Cobb (see post: http://smellslikegrape.blogspot.com/2008/03/lavender-fields-and-pudding-stones.html )Sorry, I don't have the name of the company he's with.

I don't want to speak for Adonna but, last I checked they dealt solely in Italian wines. The company Nick is with deals in Rhone wines...Good luck!