Count Giovanni Bonmartini-Fini is the winemaker and head of this family that has been making wine for over 600 years. Giovanni's late father, Francesco Bonmartini, had a fascinating life. In WWII, at the age of only 18, he was among the liberators of Dachau, and tasked with interviewing survivors. A chemical engineer by trade, his career took him to the US, where he invented the resin used in the Apollo program's heat shields. After his retirement in 1990, he headed back to Italy to revive the family winery, eventually handing the reins over to his son. Sadly, Francesco died in April of 2015 at his home in Delaware at the age of 88.
The estate is guided with a genuine pride for their unique terroir striving to protect it with sustainable practices and a "hands off" winemaking style. Grapes are harvested from 25-year-old vines and fermented in separate lots. The final blends are compiled just before bottling to maximize expressive layers of flavor. Pull up a patio chair and enjoy the setting sun with your new best friend, Barone Fini.
This past Thursday, the Barone Fini blind taste challenge took place and wine drinkers from all over gathered together and online to taste two different Pinot Grigios. I was excited when Steve from @winetwits invited me to participate. It’s no secret I’m a red wine drinker but I do enjoy a good white and Pinot Grigio is my savior when I’m at a sports bar cheering the Bronco’s on. We were fortunate to be joined by winemaker Giovanni Bonmartini-Fini who led us through the tasting.
Everyone was welcome to participate in this event and all you had to do was visit Winetwits.com, order a tasting kit and jump online Thursday night.The tasting kits included two bottles of wine in paper bags marked with 1 and 2, tasting sheets for notes on each wine as well as placemats for glasses.
At 8pm, corks were popped and we all gathered online following the #tastechallenge hashtag. I was joined by my parents and some friends who are huge Pinot Grigio fans but had never heard of Barone Fini. I opened both bottles and away we went sipping.
About the wine:
This was a pale yellow in the glass with apple and citrus fruit on the nose. I loved the minerality and crispness of this wine. The fruit was there but the balance and acidity were perfect. It was a light to medium body and reminded me more of a Sauvignon Blanc.
What other’s had to say on Wine #1
This was also a pale yellow but I got a vanilla, grassy nose on the wine. This was the more elegant wine of the night with apple, lime and a medium body. It was smooth and I immediately wanted to pair this wine with food.
What other’s had to say on Wine #2
- @amateurwino The Barone Fini pinot grigio is very fresh, very smooth. I’m not the biggest pinot grigio fan but this one is nice. #tastechallenge
I admit, I’m in the country and it took the video portion of this tasting a bit longer to pull up so I missed the opening part of Giovanni talking to all of us about the winery. What I did catch was Giovanni’s description of the terroir. He discussed where the vines are located and the difference between DOC and IGT wines. I was fully aware of DOC but had never heard of IGT so I was intrigued to learn more. Evidently, IGT vineyards are located in the valley below the DOC however there is not a huge difference in taste between the two. To be DOC the government has restrictions on the varietal to ensure it is top quality and meets Italian standards of excellence. Barone Fini’s vineyards are on terraces along the sides of the Alps where the mountain is made up of many things including seashells and is calciferous. According to Giovanni, this gives the wines tremendous character as well as a mineral aspect. He also confirmed his wine is 100 percent Pinot Grigio. It was fun listening to Giovanni and you could feel his passion for the wine when he spoke.
I was surprised at the end of the tasting to learn that Wine #1 was the Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio and Wine #2 was the Barone Fini. My family and friends tasting felt there was a big difference between the two wines. The Chardonnay drinkers loved the Barone Fini. Those who like a lighter, crisper wine preferred the Santa Margherita. For me, I enjoyed both and would drink either on a hot day. I was thrilled to finally taste the Barone Fini as it’s a wine that was very popular at Total Wine in Virginia. Price wise it’s the winner and really, it’s a very nice, easy drinking Pinot Grigio with a smooth, delightfully clean finish. Barone Fini retails around $11-$13 and Santa Margherita is around $18. In reviewing all the tweets from the night, it’s clear Barone Fini picked up many new wine fans. I know I’ll be shopping around up here in NY to see where I can get this wine.
Here’s a great picture from the night via: @foodwinechickie Barone Fini winemaker holding the two unveiled wines – one lovingly, one not so much 🙂 #tastechallengehttp://plixi.com/p/86610751
Thank you to @WineTwits for putting on a great event and to Giovanni for taking his time to provide us with great information. I can’t ever learn enough and it’s always special when the winemaker is the one educating on the wine. If you haven’t tried the Barone Fini, I recommend giving it a try. Again, I’m not a white wine girl, but I’d be thrilled if someone offered me a glass of this while being out and about. It’s a good quality, under $15, everyday kind of wine.