Uncorked: Italian winemaker and sommelier gives tasting
by Pat Kettles
Special to The Star
Feb 27, 2013 | 2268 views |  0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
If perusing the prosecco section of your favorite wine outlet, a distinctive label likely catches the eye: the one with the scene of Etruscan toga clad figures cavorting over the bottle of one of Italy’s most popular proseccos made by the Candoni family.

Technically it is not a label, but rather a silk screen applied directly to each bottle that permanently imbues the bottles with images of Etruscan banquets, music, dance and fashion.

The bottle designs, the brainchild of Candoni matriarch Elviana Candoni De Zan, were inspired by unearthed frescos painted by the Etruscan civilization predating that of ancient Greece and Rome. It is thought the Etruscans introduced wine from the Arabian Peninsula to Italy around the eighth century B.C.

If one should be thinking of making a decorative candle holder from a wine bottle, Candoni bottles are the ones to use. Repurposing these bottles is so popular that Candoni maintains a section on their website devoted to arts and crafts using their bottles.

While the Candoni family is likely best known for their prosecco and its eye-catching label, they also annually produce 500,000 cases of wine featuring an array of varietals and styles. Fruit for Candoni wines is sourced from the founder’s native Friuli and the Veneto, Italian wine-growing regions near or centered around Venice, as well as other Italian growing regions, specifically Tuscany’s sangiovese for Chianti, and Apulia located in the heel of the boot of Italy for moscato.

The beautiful and charming Caterina Candoni De Zan, vice president of sales for the Candoni family winery, stopped off in Anniston a couple of weeks back to pour a sampling of her family wines for a group of assembled tasters.

Caterina speaks perfect English. Although born in Venice, her mother and father, Armando De Zan and Elviana Candoni, moved the family to Atlanta when Caterina was 6 years old. Her parents came to Atlanta to establish Arel Group Wine and Spirits in order to facilitate the importation of their wines to America. She returned to Italy to attend high school and university. Caterina has completed the second level of sommelier certification and is now based in the company headquarters in Venice.

On a cold, damp, miserable Alabama evening, the effervescent Caterina charmed with the following wines:

Candoni Prosecco Brut — $13 at the Wine Cellar on Quintard in Anniston. Light and refreshing with vibrant bubbles. Great as an unadorned aperitif, but also good mixed with various fruit juices for an array of cocktails.

Moscato D Italia — $13 at the Wine Cellar. From the moscato grape, this wine is only 7 percent by volume, making it an excellent choice when something light is needed. Visit Candoni’s website for sparkling wine cocktail recipes. Both of the above wines should be served chilled.

Candoni Pinot Noir — $10 at Tyson’s Fine Wine and Things in Golden Springs. I am not known for my love of pinot, but I’ve tasted several recently that I found quite pleasant. This one falls in the pleasant category. Yes, pinot noir is grown in the Veneto. Pinot noir needs cool temperatures, and grapes for this wine are grown on terraces in the foothills of the Veneto Alps where cool evenings give way to warmer days. Surprisingly, this wine is quite fruity. Though light and tasting of red berry fruits, it does not come across as diluted. There is body here, but it is balanced with the fruit, making it a very versatile wine for an array of food.

Candoni Organic Merlot — $10 at Tyson’s. From grapes that are 100 percent organically grown. In Italy the government passes out organic certifications. I am a lover of merlot and this wine reminds me of earlier California merlots before some became as bold as California zins. An easy quaff. Not overtly complicated. Dark berry flavors and a balanced finish.

In addition to these wines, Tyson’s also stocks Candoni Pinot Grigio, a regular merlot, Chianti and an organic pinot grigio all for $10 per bottle.

Contact Pat Kettles at pkettles@annistonstar.com.
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Uncorked: Italian winemaker and sommelier gives tasting by Pat Kettles
Special to The Star

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