Significantly more depth than the very fine Barolo classico, with herbs and meaty notes along with notable chalk tang – very fine grained tannins; a bit richer and rounder than the 2010, but lacking none of the finesse that Rocche (and the Brovias) can produce. Jamie Wolff
The Cantina Del Lupo 2014 Barbera d’Asti is a textured, fruit forward Barbera that feels more serious than many of the Barberas coming out of Asti. Rather than light red fruit, the Cantina Del Lupo shows fairly concentrated dark berry fruit on the nose with an herbal tinge to it. Fairly full and showing some sweet spice on the palate, it has fresh acidity and very soft tannins. Pair it with pizza, tomatoes based pasta dishes, simple chicken dishes. Andy Paynter
Troglia was a wine merchant in Torino. Until the 1970s most wine was sold in bulk to merchants or private consumers, and then bottled for re-sale or home consumption — it's still quite common for producers to sell some of their production in bulk. We've had Cappellano Barolo bottled by Troglia back to 1954, and they certainly did a good job of it, using the funky, misshapen bottle associated with Gattinara.
From the ripe 2009 vintage, Giacomo Conterno's Barolo Cascina Francia avoids the overly rich character of some of the wines of their neighbors. Perfumes of orange oil, earth, grilled meat arise from the glass. The palate while dense and structured shows fine counterpoise between power and elegance, with sweet fruit, soil notes, and savory notes framed by ripe tannins and buoyed by good acidity for the vintage. This is quite pretty and while drinking nicely with decanting, this will benefit from another 10-20 years in the cellar when the fruit and structure should integrate. John McIlwain
A consistently excellent wine — we've been lucky to get to taste this several times in the last few years. It needs a lot of time to breathe, and then it provides a classic example of fully mature Nebbiolo. Jamie Wolff
We will taste Ai Valloni Boca 1999 and 2001, and also Vallana 1961 Spanna Campi Raudii, Antoniolo 1964 Gattinara, Nervi 1964 Gattinara, and Nervi 1964 Ghemme; Dessilani 1978 Fara, Cantalupo 1978 Ghemme, Travaglini 1985 Gattinara, and Sella 1986 Lessona.
Barbaresco: “Notu” was Fabio’s grandfather, and the name of the wine means “Notu followed the drops of water.” Although it may not be intended, the reference to water makes sense when you taste the wine, which has a kind of crystalline freshness and clarity that reminds one of spring water. Fabio writes: “48 months fining barrel (the wood Fabio use are not really “toasted,” but vaporized with specific volcanic hot rocks (no any creation of toxic elements after this treatment) and after unique mass for 6 months in porcelain jars (Fabio is the designer and the ceramist of his own porcelain jars; very probably the first one winemaker in the world that uses “no breathing ceramics” for winemaking). 1175 bottles made.”The 2011 is an edgy, dynamic wine, showing ripe fruit balanced by great lift and transparency. It stands out in the vintage, and it’s exciting to drink. Jamie Wolff
What we know: Giuseppe Mascarello, father of Mauro, was named after his grandfather. His father was Maurizio. I've been told that Natale was his (Giuseppe's) uncle. The Giuseppe Mascarello cantina was - and is - in Monchiero. From a logical and chronological point of view, it seems likely that Giuseppe (Mauro's father) made this wine.Maybe someone knows why - assuming I'm correct - the wine is labelled like this? Jamie Wolff
The color has faded to a soft ruby with rosy hues, but this vintage has aged quite gracefully. Aromatically, it's quite lifted with maraschino cherry fruit and porcini undertones. On the palate, it's a bit denser and structured with stewed cherry, and carob/dark chocolate flavors. Although it's reached maturity, the wine is still quite fresh and could hold on for another 10 years. A testament to Gattinara's oldest producer and the ageability of Nebbiolo in Alto Piemonte. Jonas Mendoza
There's a similar litheness and elegance to Nervi's 1964 Gattinara, but the development is more advanced with darker fruit and richer dark chocolate notes and flavors. The tannins have nicely resolved; a solid birth year wine or a vino da meditazione for Nebbiolo's ability to age. Jonas Mendoza
In 2010 Chiara and Michele were living in Milan with their two young children when they decided to buy a small organic farm in Paderna and start making wine. They have 3.5 hectares made up of 10 small parcels of 15 to 100-year-old vines. The vineyards face both north and south at an altitude of about 300 meters, with soils rich in limestone and clay. For the Barbera Superiore, the grapes are destemmed and fermented in cement tanks. Maceration on the skins lasts 40 days depending on the year, with malolactic fermentation taking place in barrels. The wine spends 18 months in barrels and a minimum of 6 months in bottle before it is released. The result is a Barbera with a complex nose of black cherries and cloves. On the palate you get ripe black plums, violets, sage and dark chocolate. This is a really unique and interesting Barbera, and one that I will certainly be drinking more of! Christine Manula
This Rosso is 90% Barbera and 10% Dolcetto. We will drink some on Thanksgiving – we have a miscellaneous crowd of fellow-orphans, and they represent a wide range of taste and interest in wine, or lack thereof. I am not normally a fan of blends from Piedmont, so it’s surprising to me that I love this wine. There is still plenty of old vine Barbera character, but extra vivacity and complexity from the Dolcetto makes it really delicious and interesting. I anticipate it to be a crowd-pleaser, with enough intrigue for wine lovers, easy drinkability for the drinkers, and a very good pick to play well with the crazy range of Thanksgiving flavors. Jamie Wolff
Mint, balsam, on top of full Nebbiolo aromatics and a lot of minerality; very ripe and firm tannins. This shows that it’s not all about 2010! It’s made from younger vines in Boscareto (see below), usually harvested rather later than the neighbors. Principiano thinks that his organic viticulture has made a huge difference in the health of the vines, even in difficult growing seasons. The wine gets about a month of maceration and then is aged in 20,000 and 40,000 liter barrels. It’s a harmonious and deep wine with a long future. Jamie Wolff
Still doing very well at 40+ years, with intense mature Nebbiolo aromatics, dry and savory; the wine is not overly tannic, but no Piemontese would ever serve this except at table, with a main-course meat dish like ossobuco or something grilled; do so and you will have a memorable treat.
Medium ruby color with hints of brick on rim. Black cherry and black tea flavors with prominent notes of hoisin and balsamic. Quite along its development, but still has firm tannins and resonant acidity (1/17/17). Jonas Mendoza
Montestefano is one of the great Barbaresco vineyards, producing long-aging, structured wine. Prunotto was making very good wine in the 1980's. This should be a real treat.
Lovely wine with a deep penetrating nose of leather, spice, mineral, cherry and chestnut. Palate has great inner mouth aromas and nice juicy fruit. Great ripeness with good chewiness. Lovely stuff!
For Christmas this year I would like to be given the Giuseppe Rinaldi 2002 Barolo, in magnum. Please. In Piedmont the summer of ’02 saw unprecedented quantities of rain, cool temps, landslides, hail, and downpours of frogs – just about every bad wet weather thing that can happen, and many producers didn’t even make wine. By way of contrast, Giacomo Conterno bottled only Monfortino; I haven’t tasted it for a while but it was pretty spectacular then (it would be very interesting to taste the 2002 Monfortino blind… does anyone with a bottle want to join the experiment?). And G Rinaldi made really good Barolo, which I was first wowed by in 2007, and then again last May. So I’d like that mag, please. Jamie Wolff
Formerly labeled Cannubi San Lorenzo - Ravera, this is close to same blend / same wine. Early on (from barrel in 2014) the Tre Tine seemed closer in style to Brunate than usual, sharing a dark core of ripe fruit, and very ripe tannin. A year later there was more obvious difference, with the elegance of Cannubi beginning to shine. Out of about 120 Barolos, this is one of the very best 2011s we've tasted. Jamie Wolff
1988 is considered to be a very fine vintage in Montalcino.
Back in 1972 Alberto Carli wanted to make a great Brunello, so he hired the famous Tuscan Enologist Giulio Gambelli to be his winemaker and together they created Il Colle Brunello di Montalcino. They produced about 150-200 cases a year and stored them in an underground cellar, never releasing them on the market. Apparently it wasn’t until he was dying that he told his family about this secret wine they had been making for almost 20 years. His daughter Catarena took over the winery in 2001 and picked up where her father left off. Little has changed in the last 35-40 years: they still use natural yeasts, there’s no temperature control, there are long maceration times, no filtering, and the wine is aged in Slavonian botti. Although I’m sure it will only improve with age, the wine is quite beautiful now, ripe with stewed plums, leather and anise. When you’re ready to cook a leg of lamb or a pot roast, this would definitely be a good choice. Christine Manula
Aside from Gregory Dal Piaz’s fervent recommendation, I fell for Lecci e Brocchi for obvious reasons: the wine tastes like Chianti – very good Chianti, in fact. It’s aromatically quite intense, with bright red fruit bound to stone and savory rocky herbs. On the light side of medium-bodied, the palate follows the aromas – if anything the stony-iron character is more present. This is a very harmonious, long, and quite elegant Chianti. Tasted in the July heat, a little cool, it showed energy and grace (and was fantastic with butterflied leg of lamb from the barbeque). Jamie Wolff
This single-vineyard wine is from a small vineyard (2.5 hectares, Biodynamic viticulture) tucked into the hills south of Panzano, in Tuscany — prime Chianti Classico terroir. The wine is medium-bodied, with rich and lush/concentrated notes of red and black currants that intermingle with violets, clay and earth with a long finish.
For those who love old school Valpolicella, it can a be a bit difficult to find wines of the character Hemingway described as: "dry, red and cordial, like the home of a brother one gets on with." Moderate in alcohol and combining fresh cherry fruit, bright acidity, and a pleasing hint of bitterness on the finish it's especially useful at the table, pairing beautifully with lighter fare. Unfortunately, many examples trade freshness for richness to accommodate modern tastes for heavier, more extracted wines. Fortunately, organic grower Adalia in Mezzane di Sotto makes lovely old-fashioned Valpolicella. The 2015 has black cherry, crushed herbs, with a hint of anise on the nose. The light-bodied, racy palate offers delicious cherry, black tea, red berry flavors with a flush of cherry pit on the finish. With a light chill this gulpable red is superb paired with saltimbocca, mushroom risotto, or Piave cheese. John McIlwain
Produced in the historic DOC of Botticino near Bresica, Grace is a delicious still rosato from one of our favorite producers of Italian bubbles. Made from a blend of Barbera, Schiava, Marzemino, and Sangiovese it is very pale and delicate in the glass with aromas of juicy orchard fruit and tart strawberries with rose petals and woody herbs. The palate has a fairly rich texture with mouth watering acidity and a crisp mineral finish, refreshing with fresh fruit and a savory cut. Pair with grilled chicken, herbed potato salad, soft cheese or simply drink on a nice hot summer day. Andy Paynter
I fell in love with the Bonavita estate originally through their indomitable red wine, a delicate, spicy, and intense red made from Nerello Mascalese, Nerello Cappuccio and Nocera in the Faro DOC north of Etna in Sicily. It is continuously one of the most fascinating reds I’ve tasted from Sicily. Happily, the rosato holds as much allure while being even more accessible. Fairly deep ruby for its quick maceration of 12 hours, the nose is packed with rich red fruit, purple florals, notes of cardamom and allspice or cinnamon with an undeniable freshness and lift. The wine is effusive on the palate with fresh strawberries and red apple skin, a persistent spiciness, and just a whisper of tannin quickly relieved by bracing acidity. Absolutely lovely. Try this rosato lightly chilled with sausages on the grill, paella, kebabs, or lightly spicy Indian food.
The Greeks started producing wine in Cirò about 3,000 years ago and used to offer it to winners of the ancient Olympics. The Calabretta family has been growing grapes in this part of Calabria for four generations, but in 2008 Cataldo and his sisters Maria and Michela decided to start their own estate and refurbish the family cellar. Cirò Rosso Classico is made from 100% Gaglioppo, which is the main grape variety of the production zone of Cirò DOC. Their vineyards are situated on rolling hills of limestone and clay about 50 meters above sea level. The harvest takes place at the end of September. There are 14 days of skin maceration, fermentation takes place using wild yeasts, the wine then matures for 10 months in glazed concrete tanks and seven months in the bottle. The Rosso is very earthy and gamey with lots of black plums and cherries. After about three hours, it really opened up with hints of mushroom and violets. Definitely pair it with strong flavors like Chicken Marsala, Braised Beef Ragu with Garlic Polenta, or Porcini Mushroom Risotto. Christine Manula
High atop the Murge Plateau in Puglia, Cantine Carpentiere is a small family-owned winery that produces two indigenous Puglian grape varieties: Nero di Troia and Bombino Nero. Made from 70-year-old Bombino Nero vines, this is the only rosato in Southern Italy that has DOCG status. At 450 meters above sea level, the vineyards are rich in limestone and surrounded by stone walls originally built to protect local flocks of sheep. Tannins from the maceration process make this a great food wine, but it retains its freshness and acidity from the 5-6% of white grapes that are naturally included in each cluster of Bombino Nero. Ripe watermelon and wild strawberries with hints of pepper, try pairing it with a salmon salad, orecchiette with broccoli rabe or even a juicy burger. Christine Manula
High atop the Murge Plateau, Cantine Carpentiere is a small family-owned winery that produces two indigenous Puglian grape varieties: Nero di Troia and Bombino Nero. Uva di Troia is an ancient grape apparently named after the Puglian town of Troia, which was founded after the siege of ancient Troy. Carpentiere’s Nero di Troia is on the lighter side of some of their neighbors, with raspberry, cranberry and a hint of spice and vanilla on the nose. It starts off quite floral and develops into a more rustic wine as it opens, with touches of cranberry, rose petals, spice and smoky cloves. I think this is a great summer red and perfect for barbecuing ribs, burgers or a hanger steak. Christine Manula
When Gabriele Marano decided to retire in 2000, his son-in-law Pietro Topi took interest in continuing the family’s legacy at Collebello. With some of the region's oldest and healthiest vines that had always been organically farmed, Pietro and his childhood friend Martino Taraschi built a modest winery in 2006 and began producing wine under the name Tenuta Terraviva, meaning “living earth”. They hired Claudia Galterio to give them a hand, one of Piemonte’s top new winemakers respected for her non-manipulative style. After a few vintages, they were finally making the wines they have envisioned, using only indigenous yeasts and very little sulphur. Intense ruby red in color and aromatic, with black berries, smooth tannins and earth. Perfect for pork and lamb dishes, as well as hot and spicy peppers. And of course, any kind of pasta with red sauce. Christine Manula
Cos Pithos Rosso is always one of my favorite wines to drink during a big meal with plenty of courses. Made from 60% Nero d’Avola and 40% Frappato raised in amphora, the 2014 is stunning, showing dark fruit, vibrant herbal tones and lift on the palate. The nose is very aromatic, led by bay spice and lavender with ferrous earth followed by rich dark red fruit. Medium weight on the palate with soft tannins and great acidity, it is more fruit-driven than the nose with dark red plums and red florals over a crisp mineral tone. Despite having great depth, the Pithos Rosso is ultimately a refreshing wine, perfect to cut through the richness of a Thanksgiving table; pair with herbed stuffing, game birds, turkey, or roast pork loin with wine sauce. Serve slightly chilled and enjoy. Andy Paynter
Defino comes from organically farmed grapes (a friend who is one of Tuscany’s best winemakers consults on the winemaking), and it’s a really lovely fresh red, light and juicy but with plenty of intensity on the palate. This is on the short list for the ultimate pizza wine, but really we mean that in reference to: “it’s Tuesday night, and we want a glass of something delicious that doesn’t break the bank”. Actually Frappato is a terrific food wine — a red-wine-with-fish wine, and very versatile.
Torre Nova is 100% Negroamaro from 30-60 year old vines grown on clay and rocky pebbles. The 2015 is quite light and a bit higher in acid than the last vintage, but it’s really pretty on the palate. Think tart cherries and red plums, it’s very herbaceous with a hint of nuts and pepper on the finish. Try pairing this with roast pigeon, a simply prepared fish or even beef tartare. Christine Manula
Named after Natalino’s wife Anne, this Negroamaro is from 30-60 year old vines grown on clay and chalk. At harvest, Natalino destems and presses the grapes 2 -3 times, puts it in cement tanks for five days of skin contact, racks the wine and then leaves it in cement from September to March. Before bottling, he puts the wine in stainless steel for a few weeks to refine and then adds a very low dose of sulfur at bottling. The result is a medium bodied wine with good tannins that tastes of dark cherries and cocoa, with a hint of nuts and pepper. Try pairing it with a traditional Pugliese dish like pasta with chickpeas and anchovies, slow cooked lamb with potatoes, or just throw a tuna steak on the grill. Christine Manula
“Nataly” is named after Natalino himself. The wine is fermented and aged in concrete tanks and underground concrete vats, with a very low dose of sulfur at bottling. It’s bit fuller in body than the Negroamaro with meatier tannins, juicy dark plums, violets, anise and a hint of pepper on the finish. Try pairing Primitivo with Spaghetti Puttanesca, Seafood Jambalaya, Short Ribs or hard cheeses like Edam or Smoked Gouda. Christine Manula
Dinner at Franny's, including great food, 6 wines from Madonna della Grazie; Aglianico del Vulture 1995 and 1998 from d'Angelo, and 2 cuvees of 1998 from Paternoster. Plus Taurasi 1996 Feudi di San Gregorio, 1998 and 2000 Terradora, and Mastroberardino 1973 ("one of 2 best vintages of the decade") and Mastroberardino 1990, and a surprise or two...
In my experience, the Sagrantino grape can produce some fairly stern, even forbidding, wines; the naturally very high tannins often seem unwieldy, simultaneously smothering and sharp. That's not the case with Angelo and Letizia Fongoli’s 2009 Sagrantino di Montefalco. As fourth generation winemakers working with Umbria’s fiercest red grape, they have made a wine more elegant than unwieldy. The wine is fermented in cement, raised in old 500L Slavonian oak barrels for three years, and then rested in bottle for an additional three years. Rich on the nose with deep hedge fruits tinged by aromas of bay and cedar, floral notes of violets and rose, it also conveys a ferrous quality. The palate is full and structured but the tannins are ripe and round, mellowed by age rather than muddled by new wood or over-extraction. The berry aromas suggested on the nose follow through on the palate braced by earthy notes with a pleasant hint of anise on the finish. Drinking well now (Angelo advised it will be best with 3-4 hours open), this wine will certainly have a long life ahead of it. Serve with steak, pork chops in wine sauce, rich game dishes, or charcuterie.Andy Paynter
Fongoli’s Montefalco Rosso is a great example of an Italian table wine in the best sense. Made mostly from Sangiovese, Sagrantino, Montepulciano, vinified separately and raised for two years in 40 hectoliter Slavonian oak barrels. Fresh red cherry fruit comes through on the nose with pleasant notes of rosemary and thyme and a hint of moist earth. The palate is full and smooth with noticeable tannin and good acidity, though it is more overtly fruity showing both cherries and a touch of blue and black berries. The pairing choices are endless: try it with meaty pasta dishes, roast chicken, pork chops, mushroom and Parmesan risotto, hard cheeses. A beautiful wine for any table! Andy Paynter
Pitch-perfect weeknight Nero d’Avola: light on its feet, with a vibrant acidity and ripe berry and juicy plum fruits. The bright, playful palate is balanced by just the right hint of dried herbs and spices to underscore any red sauce pie or pasta. The Rossojbleo is dry farmed from about ten hectares of head-trained bush vines without the use of any chemicals or machines. Gulfi’s commitment to a manual harvest, along with organic practices in the vineyard and vinification using native yeasts, makes for a seriously satisfying young wine. And while this definitely holds up on day two, it’s pretty hard to resist finishing the bottle! Equally tasty lightly chilled for summer drinking. Karina Mackow
Il Fortunato aced it with their Rosato Spumante; another lively sparkler produced from organic vineyards with only a minimal addition of sulfur. The nose is playful with a mix of bright berry fruits and fresh red cherries cut by tart apple skins. On the palate, a delicate mousse lifts the wine showing some weight, great acidity, and just touch of sugar. Absolutely lovely! Pair with charcuterie, simple pasta, or simply drink on its own. Andy Paynter
Drogone comes from a small parcel of vines planted in 1964. The wine is aged for two years in older, large tonneau of French oak, and then for years in bottle — the 2007 is the current release. A wine of great depth and considerable density, it shares the elegance and finesse of all Madonna delle Grazie wines. It's very cool to taste the highest quality Aglianico that has some age; we're happy that it's still available at such a fair price. John Rankin and Jamie Wolff
Making Aglianico in a fresh, food-friendly style is not easy; in so many wines ripeness takes over, resulting in a charmless,“hot” wine that tastes of alcohol and roasted fruit. Messer Oto* avoids these pitfalls and showcases Aglianico's ability to carry lifted flavors of brambly fruit and smokey minerals. This is very dry but with some rich black fruit, ripe tannins, and plenty of peppery nuance and complexity; bright acid provides balance and makes this a very versatile food wine to accompany anything from grilled salmon or chicken to burgers or richer stews. John Rankin and Jamie Wolff *There is a fine public fountain in the Vulture town of Venosa which dates to the 1300s and which is named for a “Messer Oto”, who must have been a local boss of the day.
As with Amarone, Sforzato is very labor-intensive: the drying grapes must be carefully tended every day to prevent mold, and of course the drying process results in much less wine. The Valtellina’s cliff-like vineyards require so much work (an hour of labor in the relatively gentle hills of the Veneto is the equivalent of 6 hours in the Valtellina) that the wines are never inexpensive, but we love good Sforzato. For one thing the higher acidity of Nebbiolo gives the wine some lift and brightness that makes them a bit easier to drink. The trick is to get the complexity and concentration that comes with drying the grapes, but to avoid cooked and stewed flavors – not a simple accomplishment. Alberto Marsetti is a very small producer. He’s one of the few in the region to forgo small new oak for aging his wines, and the results are very fine and pure. Sforzato needs some time in bottle, and the 2006 is now beginning to show its stuff.
One of our favorite Italian winemakers is actually American. Michael Schmelzer moved to Italy in 2003 with his family and purchased 10 hectares of organic vineyards in the "belly button of Chianti Classico" at Monte Bernardi. Since that time he has branched out and started making wines from Sicilian grapes as well. This spring he introduced his Tetra Pak Rosato which is made from 100% Nero d'Avola grapes. Don't let the vibrant pink carton fool you. It's more subtle on the inside - fresh and energetic with great acidity and a slight grip. Raspberry, strawberry, and fresh watermelon fruit make this the perfect beach or picnic wine. An added bonus is that Tetra Pak cartons use 54% less energy, create 80% less greenhouse gasses, and produce 60% less solid waste volume than a 750ml glass wine bottle. So you can celebrate summer and save the environment. Christine Manula
Good Lagrein can remind us of northern Rhone Syrah, perhaps usually higher in acid and a bit more rustic. This one immediately made me think of Cornas, rich but with good acidity, earthy and mineral but with real elegance, a bit of meatiness, and olive and black cherry. It is altogether a remarkable expression of Lagrein, fine to drink now but likely even better after another couple of years. Jamie Wolff
We love Schiava (also called Vernatsch in the Alto Adige, and Trollinger in Germany and Austria) for its light and easy-drinking character. At the same time it reminds us of a hypothetical wild mountain cousin of Nebbiolo and Pinot Noir, hinting at a more important structure and complexity beneath the surface of pretty color and fruit. This one delivers much more –the result of great biodynamic fruit, and a long slow fermentation and maceration. It’s unmistakably Schiava, but there is a depth and complexity to the wine that we haven’t found elsewhere (excepting Nusserhof), and despite the typically light color of the wine, the delicious cranberry fruit, the cut and lift present, there is a core that suggests much more. You can have your fun and think about it too! Jamie Wolff
Vinified and aged identically to “Neccio”; together the two wines present a clear case for Cesanese’s transparency in reflecting terroir. The Ca’Litro vineyard soils are made up of white sandstone, and this is the most structured and full-bodied of the Riccardi-Reale wines. Dark and tart brambly berries, quite floral, eucalyptus, bigger tannins. (My favorite!) Christine Manula
Collepazzo is a blend of fruit grown on the two distinct soil types in the Riccardi-Reale vineyards: volcanic and sandstone. From biodynamic farming and straightforward vinification with indigenous yeasts; the wine spends nine months in cement and eight months in the bottle before being released. There are beautiful cherry / kirsch notes, along with some stone and clay, and light pepper and baking spices. There’s fruit on the palate but it’s savory and dry, with a thread of tannin, lots of lift and energy. Jamie Wolff
Neccio shows fruit, but it has pronounced smoky stone and ash aromatics – it seems easy to guess that it’s from volcanic soils. It’s light-medium bodied, and a classic type of Cesanese, both serious and easy to drink, with bright fruit, savory forest elements, and that underlying minerality. The wine spends nine months in wood (some of it large old barrels made of chestnut) and eight months in the bottle. 2014 seems to have been a fine vintage in Cesanese country, giving plenty of ripe material and great balance. A fine intro to the grape! Jamie Wolff
Vittorio Savino, owner of Fenicotteri, joined Foti’s small association of producers called i Vigneri (some of whose wines from Mt. Etna we always have on our shelves). I Vigneri offers unparalleled expertise in every aspect of viticulture and production (including the services of Ciccio, the group’s mule). Foti’s work at Gulfi, and his knowledge derived from the vines in Pachino must have been very valuable when trying to restore a vineyard that’s virtually on the shore of the lagoon. The farming is impeccable (only copper and sulfur and sheep manure are used on the bush-trained vines) but it’s the location that brings an incredibly compelling mineral and saline lift to the wine. It’s perhaps on the light side of medium-bodied, savory aromatics with typical plummy Nero d’Avola fruit, and in a perfectly balanced state for current drinking – fresh, with great cut and moderately tannic structure – entirely satisfying. Called Fenicotteri (flamingo, in Italian) after the migratory flamingoes who visit the lagoon next to the vineyard, this is one special wine. Jamie Wolff Eighty percent of the clusters are destemmed and crushed. It’s macerated for 14 days in steel vats, matures in used barriques for at least six months, and then spends six months in bottle before it’s released. The result is a beautiful Nero d’Avola, deep and dark. Tart red cherries and ripe blackberries, violets and earth with leather and spice on the finish. With medium high acid and medium tannins, this will be perfect to pair with gamey meats, BBQ, a hearty beef stew, roast turkey or even tuna steak. If you're a vegetarian, try it with lentils and shitake mushrooms. Christine Manula
We’ve met Maria Teresa several times at Angiolino Maule’s fantastic natural wine fair, Villa Favorita. She’s the image of a charming southern Italian lady with a broad smile and an aura of generosity and hospitality. We finally made the decision to buy some of her wines, and we couldn’t be happier with how they’re showing. This is an Aglianico from vineyards close to the Roccamonfina nature reserve, among Starnalia’s almost 100 acres of organic grapes, olives and chestnuts. The 2010 has delicious flavors of dark plum and a deep, spicy mineral presence. The Aglianico’s formidable tannins and vibrant acidity have been tamed by extra age in the bottle — drink now with hearty, red sauces and other rustic Italian fare. John Rankin
Made from 100% Sangiovese grown in the hills of Romagna, brothers-in-law Davide and Mauro have been making Primo Segno together since 2005. Villa Venti is certified biodynamic and went completely solar-powered in 2010. They are working with four Sangiovese clones that are planted according to the type of clay found in the soil. Red clay, mixed with some sand, gives the wines structure and the sea breeze from 10 kilometers away creates a micro-climate that keeps the wines fresh. Bright ruby red, there is an intense nose of berries and violets. Crisp and juicy with good tannins and acidity, the Primo Segno is ready to drink now but will only improve with some age. Try it with braised rabbit pappardelle or lamb with rosemary. Christine Manula
A luminous, almost ethereal blend of indigenous Sicilian varieties from the volcanic slopes of Mount Etna. Palmento is the term for the traditional wine cellars of the region, with stone troughs for crushing grapes by foot. Winemakers Anna Martens and Eric Narioo honor the old methods with a blend of organically farmed Nerello Mascalese, Nerello Cappuccio, and Alicante as well as the native white grapes of the island Minella, Catarratto, and Insolia. Everything is crushed by foot from old bush vines with no fining or filtration and minimal sulfur at bottling. The result is a rush of pure, vibrant fruit as soon as you pop the cork: raspberries, cranberries, hints of juicy meyer lemon tumble into a bracing snap of acidity. A whiff of tannin reminds you (just barely) that this is still a red wine. It is also a fabulous solution to the "red wine with fish?" conundrum, especially with bolder, oily fish like mackerel or sardines. Grill up a few to enjoy with a baguette and a simple salad alongside a lightly chilled bottle the next time you're stumped for a seafood pairing with red-only drinkers, and raise a toast to Captain Alex! Karina Mackow
In the Albenga neighborhood of Liguria Rossese yields a vibrant wine with light, translucent, cherry color, and a palate that is intense with shades of wild berries,soft moss and a clean, sappy finish. Like our favorite Cru Beaujolais, this is a wine to serve slightly cool. The Vio family produces fresh, organic wines to complement their main business: the cultivation of delicious organic herbs and vegetables. They also served us the best focaccia that we’d ever tasted! John Rankin