Wines of the Week:
IL Pollenza, elegant wines steeped in rich, Italian history
Dwight Casimere | 1/30/2014, 7:46 p.m. | Updated on 2/1/2014, 10:50 a.m.
TOLENTINO, Italy — Rising amidst the gorgeous landscape of the Macerata hills, is the gorgeous 16th century building that is the centerpiece of the estate of Il Pollenza winery, producers of exquisite and elegant wines in Italy’s Marche region.
The history of the estate goes back to the time of Napoleon and beyond. Spread over splendidly picturesque hills in the Marche, the centerpiece is a beautifully restored 16th century building designed by Sangallo.
The site of the winery was the battlefield for the famous Battle of Tolentino, fought in May, 1815 with the Neapolitan army, led by His Royal Highness King Joachim Murat pitted against Austrian troops led by Baron Federico Bianchi. The clash resulted in the demise of the Napoleonic era and the repression of the struggle to establish the great Italian Risorgimento. The land was lost and re-conquered many times over the course of history.
What remains in Tolentino are the gloriously restored buildings of the Il Pollenza estate and its state of the art winery. Il Pollenza exudes a sincere passion for the land and a commitment to the best cultivation techniques, resulting in wines that reflect the highest in quality and flavor.
The real beauty of these wines is that they are not only rich and delicious, but, for most, they also have an average price of $17!
Il Pollenza estate was purchased by Count Brachetti-Peretti more than twenty years ago from the house of Antici Mattei and its principality. The exceptional wines offered for sampling covered the spectrum, among them a white wine, Brianello Bianco 2012, Marche IGT.
This was my choice with pheasant, roasted with fresh truffles and a hint of fresh sage. Fennel salad with a lemon vinaigrette dressing was the first course. The meal was followed by Mango sorbet with fresh strawberries. It was truly a delightful lunch that brought out the best in this well structured, evenly balanced wine.
Balance is the name of the game with the 90 points plus rated Il Pollenza-Cosmino Marche Rosso IGT 2008 $30. The wine is silky smooth with black cherries and blackberries literally dripping from the corners of your mouth. There’s a distinctive back note of licorice and dark Belgian chocolate with undercurrents of the rich, black mineral soil from whence the grapes came.
This is still a young wine, with plenty of room for aging. However, gluttony ruled the day, and I wound up consuming this one in a single sitting with a pound and a half Prime Aged Cowboy Steak with Morel mushrooms and a dark brown sauce made with a splash of the wine.
Il Pollenza DiDi Marche IGT, also $17, proved to be one of the most interesting wines of the sampling collection. A blend of red grapes normally associated with the Burgundy and Rhone regions of France, Pinot Noir and Syrah respectively, it has a delightfully bright pink color and a tantalizing, seductive flavor to match.
You wouldn’t expect such a vibrant color from the decidedly heavy, tannic and spicy grapes involved, but, according to the winery, the practice of blending the two grapes has been around for some time.