THE Southern Italian Wine Dinner; wines of the Mezzogiorno

THE Southern Italian Wine Dinner!
Church Street Wine Cellars and Three Tomatoes trattoria in Burlington, Vermont present superstar Wine Guy Michael Burke from Vias Imports fresh out of VinItaly to share with us some of his newest and most exciting wines. Join us to celebrate the wines and cuisine of the south and the islands, the Mezzogiorno.

Chef Shane will be cooking up five courses of killer dishes matched with flights of 10 brilliant southern Italian wines. ONLY $59 per person includes tax and tip! Thursday, June 2nd, starting at 6 pm.

If you aren’t familiar with the wines of Southern Italy, you really, really should be. What a great way to start! Don’t miss this one. Seriously.

802-660-9533 or for reservations

Additional background info
A country only three-quarters the size of California, and one with such unique viticultural & climatic diversity and dozens of indigenous varietals, no other country on earth has more land under vine than Italy except Spain. According to the Italian Ministry of Forestry and Agriculture, there are currently three-hundred and thirty one actively cultivated grape varieties being farmed today, with a rich history of well over one thousand! A far cry from our mono-varietal culture of chardonnay, cabernet and merlot, you aren’t in Kansas anymore Dorothy!!

Only twenty-five years ago, Italy was not known for much more than Bardolino, Valpolicella, Soave, acidic Chiantis and In those days Riunite was the #1 imported wine in the United States. Forward to 2011: Italy is brimming with expertly crafted, world-class wines and is a top exporter to the United States. Nowhere else too will you find such a dynamic, innovative generation of new winemakers who seek above all terroir-rich, quality wines that effortlessly blend tradition and modern technique.

Come see the energy and dynamism in Italian winemaking in every glass. Nowhere else in the world will you experience such a rich selection of native varietals than in Italy and the most dramatic change in the wine world has been the renaissance and tremendous improvements in the quality of wine coming out of all regions of Italy. The Italian model can at first glance be daunting, so let Michael and the CSWC team be your guides to the vinuous and culinary pleasures of the Italian peninsula.

Join us for an unpretentious evening of fun, some great wines and camaraderie. Ciao!

Tentative Menu

Heirloom Caprese Salad
tri-color heirloom tomatoes, Maplebrook fresh mozzarella & Pitchfork Farms basil
Frascati Superiore, Tenuta di Pietra Porzia “Regillo” DOC Lazio 2009
Greco di Tufo, Terredora di Paolo DOCG Campania 2009

Vermont Fresh Pasta with cockles & fresh herbs
Cataratto/Pinot Grigio , Purato Organica IGT Sicilia 2010
Grillo, Feudi di Pisciotto “Carolina Marego” IGT Sicilia 2008

Sesame & Fennel-Crusted Tuna
quick-seared ahi tuna with fennel agodolce
Cerasuolo di Vittoria, Feudo di Santa Tresa DOCG Sicilia 2008
Nero d’Avola, Purato Organica IGT Sicilia 2009

Braised Brisket with Creamy Polenta
presented Southern Italian-style; braised with tomato, fennel, oregano, garlic, pancetta, kalamata olives and a hint of spice
Gaglioppo, Statti IGT Calabria 2009
Aglianico, Terredora di Paolo IGT Campania 2009

Special Chef’s Surprise Dessert
Passito di Pantelleria, Colosi DOC Sicilia 2006

To download a short video on Vias Imports, one of the most accoladed and dynamic of fine Italian estate wine importers, click here

Elegant Summer Whites: the Oregon Wines of Belle Pente Vineyard & Winery

Church Street Wine Cellars is very pleased to be able to offer the exceptional wines of Belle Pente in Vermont. Belle Pente is owned and operated by Jill & Brian O’Donnell, and their 70 acre property is located on a historic farm 2 miles east of the town of Carlton in the new Yamhill-Carlton District viticultural area. The vineyard site rises from 240′ to 500′ with south, south-east, and south-west exposures. The first vineyard was planted in 1994, and now includes 16 acres of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay. They have aggressively sought out unique, high quality, independent vineyards from which to source grapes to enhance their estate-grown vineyards. Many of these sourced vineyards are over 20 years old, and all are located in Yamhill County, most within a 5 mile radius of their winery.

Belle Pente (bell-pont’) means “beautiful slope” – a perfect description for their hillside vineyard site in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Their inspiration comes from the exquisite wines of Burgundy and Alsace, and follows the guiding principle that great wine is made in the vineyard and merely nurtured in the winery.

Brian’s standard practices include organic & biodynamic viticulture, carefully managing vineyard quality and yields, and meticulously hand sorting the grapes that arrive at the winery to remove all underripe or damaged fruit. His 3-level, gravity-flow winery is designed for gentle, natural winemaking in small lots, with minimal handling and manipulation, to produce premium wines of character and distinction. Since the beginning, they’ve taken a two pronged approach to insuring that their winery is supplied with the finest raw materials possible.

As a kid, native New Yorker Brian made wine from pilfered grapes, squashing them and fermenting the juice in a canning jar. This start to a winemaking career was interrupted by a high-profile, high-tech stint in Silicon Valley, where he met his wife, Jill. Their winemaking hobby grew and grew, and when they ran out of room in their San Jose garage for their barrels of homemade wine, they moved to Oregon in 1992 and bought land.

Brian and Jill both got the farming bug, and they built a farm as well as planted a vineyard. Way before the local food movement, the O’Donnells were raising goats, geese, sheep, and chickens. Driving up to the winery, a herd of gorgeous red-headed Scottish Highland cattle greets visitors.

A perfect Summer wine, Belle Pente Willamette Valley Muscat is made in tiny amounts. It is an Alsatian styled dry Muscat, crisply refreshing, with an intense floral nose that continues to show appealingly in the flavor. It is not-to-be-missed and is memorable for fans of French whites.

This is BP’s third vintage of an Early Muscat/Muscat Ottonel blend from Stag Hollow Vineyard, and they are finally starting to get it dialed in! Pure, wild floral aromatics with a touch of honey are followed by a remarkably substantial palate given it’s mere 11.3% alcohol! A great apĂ©ritif, delicious with a spicy dish, and gentle enough to enjoy for lunch! A rare treat!

Brian expresses his thoughts on Muscat: “Ever since visiting Alsace in 1995, we have wanted to make wine from all 4 of the varietals grown in the “Grand Cru” Vineyards. We started with Pinot Gris in 1996, added Riesling in 1998, then Gewurztraminer in 2003, and now Muscat! Last summer our friends Mark and Jill from Stag Hollow approached us about a partnership on their small blocks of Early Muscat and Muscat Ottonel, and we jumped at the opportunity! So here you have it. A bone dry aperitif or table wine (the Alsatians say it goes great with asparagus!) with the intense, crazy, floral Muscat aromatics that defy description. Ready for the asparagus season!”

A second wine, Belle Pente Riesling is one of the very best of Oregon Rieslings, crisp and refreshing, with lovely nuanced flavors of pear, lychee, fresh spring water, a hint of mineral.

Sadly, this is the last Belle Pente Riesling that will include fruit from the 1968 planting at Chehalem Mountain Vineyard. The vineyard ownership went through a transition and they lost access to the fruit in 2007. The good news is that it’s going out in style, contributing to what may be BPs finest Riesling to date.

True to the vintage, it is softer and more opulent than last year’s version, with more of the peach & apricot flavors and aromas than the citrus that previously dominated. The 1% residual sugar is balanced by good acidity, creating a perception of roundness and concentration and ripeness rather than overt sweetness.

Enjoy either one, or both for only $18.99 each, you won’t be disappointed!

Next time you are in downtown Burlington, Vermont, drop by for a visit or you can join our e-mail list for the latest in exciting new and allocated wines as well as keeping up with our special events at