For a product that is supposed to be so simple — wine essentially has only one ingredient — it sure can present many faces. This got me thinking of an app to get wine lovers out of their ruts and exploring the universe of wine. My app, on which my team of IT engineers (and lawyers) is working furiously, is called: Pokémon VINO.
This is a subscription app and here’s how it works: You point your device toward the internet and get a subscription to the AJC. You then find this column and “capture” a VINO character … something you might think of as a wine. The more VINOS you capture, the more points you get.
And it looks like you’re already on your way to being a successful VINO collector. Great job! Today, you’ve just captured a Terre Siciliane Rosso called Planeta “Burdese.” Terre Siciliane Rossos are high-value targets with lots of experience points because they can comprise several unique grape varieties.
Terre Siciliane Rossos inhabit the island of Sicily, just southwest of the Italian peninsula. You won’t find many VINO homelands more ancient than Sicily, which can date grape cultivation back 4,000 years. Greeks and Phoenicians were making wine here at least by 800 BC.
Some VINO collectors may immediately associate Sicily with Marsala and abundant but uninteresting wines, but modern Sicilian winemakers have news for them.
The Terre Siciliane Indicazione Geografica Protetta Rosso (a mouthful, I know) wine designation was conceived by Italian wine authorities in 2011. It allows winemakers to use native Sicilian grapes, such as nero d’avola, nerello muscalese, nerello cappuccino and perricone. It also allows for non-traditional grapes such as cabernet sauvignon, merlot and syrah. Sicilian winemakers who take advantage of the freedom offered by the Terre Sicilia IGP designation are generally forward leaning with an eye toward more modern styles (fresh fruit, lots of tannins and intense flavors).
And before you codgers start complaining that these are just more indistinguishable, international red blends, take a Geritol and listen up. Granted that most of these wines are higher in alcohol (the Burdese is 14.5 percent) and tend to be a bit more extracted than more traditional red wines, they maintain a distinct Sicilian accent.
Remember, back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when the heretic winemakers in Tuscany started dabbling in non-traditional varieties? After ridicule turned into reverence, the soon-to-be-known Super Tuscan winemakers forced the Italian winemaking establishment to create the Indicazione Geografica Tipica category (the forerunner of the IGP designation mentioned earlier). The IGT designation distinguished these fine wines from truly inferior "table wines," which was the category they originally occupied. It’s too soon to say if we’ll start seeing Super Sicilian sections on wine lists, but you never know.
As of this writing, my daughter, Erika, has captured 92 of the 721 known characters in the Pokémon GO universe. Not bad for the first weekend. While a definitive number is hard to pin down, there are easily 5,000 types of wines in the Pokémon VINO universe. As any Poké collector will tell you, there is a certain reward to capturing your prey, but the real fun is in the hunt. You gotta try to catch 'em all!
Gil Kulers is a sommelier and maitre d’ for an Atlanta country club. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 2010 Planeta, Burdese, Terre Siciliane, Italy
- Two Thumbs Up
- Rich aromas of cola, black cherries, clove, tobacco leaf and a subtle minty note. Full-bodied flavors of dried cherry, blackberry, milk chocolate and coffee with velvety, muted tannins.
Note: Wines are rated on a scale ranging up from Thumbs Down, One Thumb Mostly Up, One Thumb Up, Two Thumbs Up, Two Thumbs Way Up and Golden Thumb Award. Prices are suggested retail prices as provided by the winery, one of its agents, a local distributor or retailer.