Sunday, December 13, 2009

Quattromani Merlot del Ticino DOC

When you think of Switzerland, your first thought is probably of the magnificent Alps and skiing and not of palm trees. Mine too. However, there are plenty of palm trees in southern Switzerland in the canton of Ticino. To get to Ticino from the north you pass through the Alps via the St. Gotthard Tunnel, which is the longest tunnel in the world at 15.3 miles. This was a little uneasy feeling till we came out again. But when you do come out, you are in a region that is more tropical with palm trees and flowers that generally bloom year-round. It has even been called the Swiss Riviera. This small southern Canton is actually surrounded by Italy on the west, south and part of the eastern side. As could be expected from its northern Italian surroundings, Ticino has 2,500 acres of vineyards, of which nearly 85% are planted with merlot grapes. This beautiful setting overlooking Lake Maggiore is where we had one of our favorite Swiss wines, the Quattromani Merlot del Ticino. Quattromani means "four hands" which best describes the four wine makers (Claudio Tamborini, Feliciano Gialdi, Angelo Delea and Guido Brivio) who produced this outstanding wine. This medium-bodied, deep garnet colored wine is 100% merlot that has been blended from merlot grapes from each of these wine makers vineyards. It has wonderful aromas of dried cherries, plum and pepper with a hint of roses. On the palate, you will also pick up blackberry and mild oak along with the cherries, plum and pepper. The acidity is well balanced along with smooth tannins and a wonderful long finish. This wine will cellar well for 5-10 years. The Quattromani Merlot del Ticino will pair nicely with a carpaccio appetizer or white meats such as the traditional Swiss sausages (Bratwurst) and Swiss cheeses (Appenzeller, Emmentaler, and Gruyere).

This merlot will hold its own to any merlot in the world. The Ticino merlots have won many international wine competitions. Unfortunatly 40% of the wines from this area stay within the Canton, 55% get shipped throughout Switzerland and only 5% get exported thoughout Europe and to the US. THIS IS A MUST BUY IF YOU CAN FIND IT. It retails in Switzerland for about 55 Swiss Francs ($55).

Don't mistake this for the Italian Quattro Mani Montepulciano d'Abruzzo that retails for about $10-$11.

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