Having picked up the Schild, we were browsing the rest of the store when the manager, Steve, came by to see if we needed help. Sharon remarked that I was "in the zone" and this sparked a conversation between the manager and me. Turned out that Steve was the wine buyer for the store and he had a diploma from the WSET, the organization I received a certificate from. After a lot of intense discussion, Steve recommended a few Italian wines for me: Statti Mantonico 2009 from the Calabria Region and Ceppaiano Tenuta Di Ceppaiano 2009 from Tuscany.
Mantonico is a white varietal I'd never heard of and Ceppaiano is a label I'd never had, but Steve clearly knew what he was talking about. Plus, I always love learning about new varietals so I was excited to try to Mantonico. As advertised, both wines were great. The Mantonico was light, refreshing and elegant. It had some lush notes of honeysuckle and peach, but it was not overly fruity or sweet. On the other hand, the Ceppaiano Tenuta from Tuscany was big, bold and rich with notes of cooked fruit and smoke. And at $15, a lot cheaper than most Super Tuscans.
One of my favorite things about wine is there is so much choice and always something new to learn. Classes and tastings are a wonderful way to learn, but a helpful manager or wine buyer can be just as educational. Explore new stores or ask new questions at your current stores. If you end up taking home a Mantico, it will be well worth it.
Until the next sniff, sip or quaff,
*One final note: Schild Shiraz 2008 has since become controversial because Schild produced an additional 5,000 cases of 2008 after they received a Top 10 Wine Spectator ranking (an illegal practice in some wine producing regions). However, I believe the wine holds up - especially for $18 a bottle.