Dreaming of Grignolino? "Allegory", Lorenzo Lotto, c.1505, National Gallery, Washington DC

Three Wonderful New Italian Wines

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Cantina del Lupo “Grignole” has arrived! Somewhat delayed by current events, but well worth the wait. By the time it did arrive, I couldn’t wait any longer, and I opened a bottle on the same day it reached the shop; I am thrilled with the wine! It’s delicious and easy to love, and it’s not expensive.

 

 

I'm a New Yorker, and (leaving aside current events) I'm accustomed to crowds. I thought that a mid-week afternoon might be a good time to visit San Gimignano - maybe it would be less busy than on the weekend. We were staying in Siena (about an hour away); it seemed like as good a time as any. All I can report is: don't do it! A distant view of the place - where you can see the famous towers - is really sufficient.  The town itself was nightmarishly packed - photos really convey how crowded it was - and we couldn't get out of there fast enough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aside from those famous towers, I wanted to go because I thought I might be able to indulge my long-running and irrational obsession with the wine called Vernaccia di San Gimignano. If you lived in New England in the late 1970's, when I first began to discover Italian wine,  one could reasonably have assumed that all white wine from Italy was either Soave, Gavi, or Vernaccia di San Gimignano. Somehow this stuck with me, and when we opened the shop I thought that it was necessary to have San Gimignano for sale - in the same commercial vein that we should have a Chianti, or other classic wine. Thankfully there was Montenidoli, the quality standard for San Gimignano, one of Italy's first certified biodynamic wines, and very fine. But irrationally I have thought for years, "there must be more good wine made in San Gimignano - it can't just be Montenidoli." For years I've tasted every version I could find; they range from horrible to decent, but not more. But now (with thanks to Iacopo Teodoro of the excellent NY importer called Artisanal Cellars) we have the beautiful Colombaia di Santa Chiara. Their Vernaccia is a candidate to challenge for the best wine of the place, but in any event it's a fantastic bottle. Jamie Wolff

 

Cantina del Lupo 2018 Piemonte Grignolino "Grignole"

“Grignole” is Astigiano (dialect of the region of Asti, home to Grignolino) for ‘a lot of seeds’ – Grignolino has a lot of seeds; hence the label – a festa of happy seeds, or if you prefer, pips. Grignolino is very light in color, and has both high acidity and tannin - A typically Piemontese grape. As Ian d’Agata says “Grignolino was, until recently, a tragically unfashionable wine because of its pale red-pink color, lack of obvious sweet, ripe, soft fruit flavors, and very high acidities and tannins.” A well-made Grignolino has low alcohol – 12.3% in this case! Grignole is made in stainless steel (no need for more tannin from wood), and macerates for just a few days; if you find that your Grignolino is dark in color, try a different version.Grignole is pale, almost like a rosato; it’s very aromatic with strawberry, sour cherry, pepper and delicate herbs. These follow through on the palate, which is layered and lively – and amazingly long and complex for such a humble and humbly priced wine. If you know Poulsard, the Grignole distinctly brings it to mind; it has quite a similar profile, and like Poulsard works well with cheese and other fairly rich food. Grignolino  is also very versatile at the table; we drank it with fairly spicy vegetarian tacos and pretty much finished the bottle without any struggle (or regrets).  Jamie Wolff

Very engaging on the nose, like uncovering a bowl of strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries while a breeze of light flowers and green grass stirs on a summer afternoon. Really, if the aromatics of this wine don't put a smile on your face, I don't know what will. The color is a translucent rhubarb hue. On the palate, there is vibrant acidity and only a minuscule tannic touch. The fruit on the tongue has more of an edge than it does on the nose, with tangy red cherry and crisp red apple. Edgy but deliciously fresh. David Hatzopoulos

  • red
  • 77 in stock
  • $14.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur

Colombaio di Santa Chiara 2018 Toscana IGT Rosato

This Rosato from Sangiovese is a happy find for us at the start of Rosato (Rose!) season. Like the Vernaccia, I thought this was even better on the next day, when the aromas of earthy clay and bright cranberry and cherry fruit are more dramatic. The palate is very bright, but beautifully balanced by the wine’s lush texture. This certainly has the acidity to go well with a lot of different foods, and I’m already dreaming about it with something from the grill, once this extended cold rain we’re having ends… Jamie Wolff

  • rosé
  • 31 in stock
  • $17.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur

Colombaia di Santa Chiara 2019 Vernaccia di San Gimignano Selva Bianca

Vernaccia di San Gimignano is not a very aromatic grape, but the Selva Bianca has very appealing notes of lime and chalk, and fresh green herbs like tarragon – a nice combo of delicate fruit and savory aromas. These follow on the palate with quite intense savory salinity; the wine is very clean and bright and fresh. If anything it was better – more complex, for one thing - on subsequent days, and it went beautifully with a range of vegetable-based dishes, including an attempt at Gigino Trattoria’s unique and delcious “Padrino” – spaghetti with beets, capers, and colatura. Jamie Wolff

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $21.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur