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Serious Italian Wines for
An All-American Feast: Thanksgiving

By Simone Zarmati Diament

This is a time when most people in America focus on family parties and how to enhance them with wines. And wines there are aplenty, from all corners of the world, so it is with a sense of adventure that we quaff our quest for serious wines with character, that require the kind of food that we are getting ready to prepare. Italy is offering a range of rich, high-caliber wines, Chiantis, Barolos, Amarones and Super Tuscans (blends), from Veneto, Piemonte, Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna from 1998 to 2000.

If 1998 was a good year in in the post-harvest dry period, turning out to be more than respectable Amarones; 1999 was an extraordinary year for Barolos, Merlots and Chiantis, and 2000 had ideal conditions and produced superb wines such as the Colombaio di Cencio and Panzanello, both from Chianti in Tuscany.

Umberto Cesari, "Liano"1999 (Emilia-Romagna) ($33.99)
Ultra modern techniques are used in Umberto Cesari's wineries, and in his 131 acres of vineyards in the hillsides of Emilia-Romagna, which produce about 25% of all the D.O.C.G produced in that region. The "Liano" is made from 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 70% Sangiovese, much like the famed Super Tuscans. It is a deep ruby red wine with touches of violet that will turn into chestnut-color as it ages. That is if you don't drink it now. It is dry, complex with intense rich flavors, balanced tannins and a lingering finnish.

Cesari, Amarone "Il Bosco" 1998 (Veneto) ($66.99)
The Il Bosco Vineyard, with vines 18 years and older, lies south-east of Castelrotto in Vernona, from the Veneto region, where Dr. Franco Cesari produces this amazing Amarone from a late-harvest of Corvina, Molinara and Rondinella grapes. The grapes are first dried (raisining period) almost to the point of botrytis and pressed and fermented dry before being aged in small barrels. This process gives a deep, richly dense, inky ruby wine with a nose of dried plums and peaches and a full-bodied texture. Yet it retains enough acidity to fill the mouth with complex layers of flavors. You can drink this wine with red meats, game, hard cheeses and desserts.

Mauro Sebaste, Barolo "Prappo"1999 (Piemonte) ($65.99)
Mauro Sebaste is well know for producing refined wines, and Nebbiolo grapes -- of which this wine is made, (100% Nebbiolo)-- is know for producing some of the finest, most distinguished and longest lived wines in Italy, such a Barolo and Barbaresco. This big, red ruby colored wine has an amazing aromatic complexity with fragrances of violets, leather and chocolate, a fullness of flavors which balances the relative high acidity and substantial tannins present. While you can already drink it with your best holiday dinner, this wine can be very long-lived with an aging potential of twenty years.

Viberti, Barolo 1999 (Piemonte) ($46.99)
Another Barolo from Piedmont, also made from 100% Nebbiolo by the Vibertis who have been established in the region for over 100 years, this is the equivalent of a grand cru with the style and elegance of a great wine. Nebbiolo's typical aromas of tar, violet and chocolate in the nose is round and smooth on the palate, with soft, yet well-balanced tannins and a strong structure that make it very drinkable now, and in 15 to 20 years. This is a superb wine for the price.

Colombaio di Cencio, Il Futuro 2000 (Tuscany) ($84.99)
This quintessential modern Italian wine is a blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet and Merlot, much like the best "Super Tuscans" in the region. Born in Munich, winemaker Werner Wilhelm settled In Gaiolo, in the Chianti Classico region, to dedicate himself to his passion: great wines. His Colombaio di Cencio is lush and seductive, with aromas of black plums, vanilla and hints of licorice, and the spice of oak. This is a cellar-worthy wine that will mature superbly over the next 10 years.

Panzanello, Chianti Classico Riserva 2000 (Tuscany) ($39.99)
100% Sangiovese grosso give this wine aromas of flowers, spice and fruit and tastes of rose, coffee and ripe orange. The estate of Panzanella is located in Panzano, in the heart of Chianti, 480 meters above sea level, and specializes in organic wines, such as this beautiful Chianti.

Photos: Carla Dazarola, Miami Photo Shoot Inc.

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