Cin-Cin to Italian Wine!
by Anna Tarzia Zappia
As an Italian-Canadian, Italian wine has been part of my daily life since I can remember. It was the first thing that was placed on the dinner table when it was being set!
Growing up, on special occasions we were permitted to add a drop or two to our “gazzosa”. In fact, it’s the only way I tasted wine into my early teens because the alternative was—how do I say this nicely—undrinkable!
Everyone in our family made their own wine from grapes that traveled from California and probably spent some time in the sun before they were sold; despite the results, which clearly demonstrated the effects of this turbulent travel, they all bragged about how their wine was the best. I’m speaking about my own experience here and this is not to say there isn’t any good homemade wine out there. I mean, hasn’t every wine been, at one time, a homemade wine?
When I arrived at Opimian over 40 years ago, it wasn’t the product that was the attraction. Frankly, I was excited about working and having some spending money.
A funny anecdote: When one family friend learned I was going to work for a wine club, he actually said that the club’s wine wasn’t “real wine”; it probably came from a “bustina” – à la Kool-Aid.
For the longest time, I stayed away from wine all together. So, those early days at Opimian I drank up all the knowledge and stories that were shared by our then Master of Wine Kenneth Christie, producers, and Area Representatives. Actually, I don’t think I was legally allowed to drink anyway, but I knew the wine was really wine, despite the opinion of said family friend.
As the opportunity to participate at tasting events presented themselves, I was able to connect what I had read to the actual wine; the grape variety, where it grows, how the wine was made, was it aged in oak, etc. And you only had to experience Volatile Acidity once for it to make its mark in your memory; that’s what I was picking up in the homemade wine!
I thought, this is fun! Not only was I learning that wine has many faces, but I was with a group that found this fun too. This is what makes Opimian so special. It brings people together from all ages and walks of life. We travel the world through the wines and the producers that bring them to us. Many lifelong friendships develop, and the world becomes a smaller place. Any Opimian Member could go practically anywhere in the world and be able to drop into a winery and see a friendly face!
I’ve had the opportunity to taste many Opimian wines; that’s the only wine I drink in fact. I’m also in the unique and fortunate position of being part of the team that works with all the producers and Jane Masters MW to source the wines that will ultimately be featured in an Opimian cellar offering.
I order a variety of wines, but I order mostly Italian wines. I am culturally and emotionally attached to Italy and that factors into my enjoyment. They are the benchmark to which I compare all others.
Le Vigne di Sammarco’s Solemnis Primitivo, IGP Salento has been one of my long-time favorites. This wine was first offered about ten years ago. It’s a wine with some ageing potential; unfortunately, I haven’t been able to evaluate that potential because the bottles aren’t around long enough! They are just too tempting sitting there in the cellar “talking” to me…” Why wait when I’m perfect now!?”
I am currently drinking the 2017 and it is de-li-cious! Dark, deep purple, perfectly balanced rich, dark fruit, and acidity with complementary oak as the finishing touch.
We’ve all been locked away in our homes with no opportunity to dress-up and go out. But there is one thing I could dress-up and that is the dinner table that always includes Opimian wine. This past Mother’s Day, Solemnis Primitivo was the perfect match for Rigatoni with a spicy ground beef, pork and veal tomato sauce.
Solemnis Primitivo is back on Cellar 286 and to add to the excitement will also be offered in magnums; they’ll be great for family gatherings and will add pizzazz to any barbecue! Perhaps, I’ll order the Solemnis Primitivo bottles and Verve Negroamaro magnums… decisions, decisions. Either way, they are both making it into the order.
Le Vigne di Sammarco will include two new wines. One is Jane’s Coups de Coeur, and you know what that means! Cellar 286 is going to be a challenge for me. There are just too many of my favorites being offered, and so many new wines being introduced, but it will be the only opportunity for me to order these wines this year, so… sacrifices must be made!
Brindiamo alla buona salute e ai tempi felici! Cin-cin!
Order Wines from Le Vigne di Sammarco through July 12, 2021
Anna Tarzia Zappia is Opimian’s Wine Sourcing & Logistics Manager