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Cantine Barbera, located in Menfi on Sicily’s southwestern coast, is producing wonderful wines from the indigenous varieties of the area like this savory rosato made from Nero d’Avola. The grapes are harvested before the sun rises to protect the acidity from the Sicilian heat, quickly destemmed, and softly pressed without skin contact. Fermentation is triggered with a pied-de-cuve and is conducted in steel where the wine further rests for three months with weekly lees stirring. To me it speaks as a classic Italian rosato: not overtly fruity, rather it is savory and herbal with a quiet backing of fruit. Briney notes come out on the nose with sage, mint and wild herbs over tart strawberry fruit and orange zest. The palate is fairly full with plenty of acidity and slight tannins with flavors of citrus pith, and strawberry fruit. This is a wine well suited to food pairing. I drank it alongside a pizza topped with olives, anchovies, wilted radicchio, and mozzarella but it would be great with charcuterie, olives, briney cheese, greek food, seared tuna, or lemon chicken. Andy Paynter
From very old vines (replanted in 2015), this is very much in the same mold as the Chianti – and was vinified identically – but is considerably deeper and rounder without any additional wood, alcohol, or extract – just a direct expression of the old vines. I think this is remarkable – it strikes a fascinating balance between palate-enveloping darker fruit and finesse. Really a super wine. Jamie Wolff
The Fiasco from Monte Bernardi is a more playful cuvee, but the wine inside the bottle is no less serious for the packaging. Produced from certified organic Sangiovese farmed at high altitude, fermented with native yeast, and aged for a year in tank it is meant to be fresh and easy going. Red cherries and raspberries overlay fresh mint and sage on the nose with a slight tone of red roses. The palate is light and juicy with only a bit of tannin and a slightly bitter finish. All in all this is a classic Italian table wine, able to match with whatever happens to be for dinner though certainly perfect for your next pizza night. Andy Paynter
When Michael purchased the Monte Bernardi Estate in 2003 he was committed to making traditional Chianti without the use of "Bordeaux" varieties even though estate was already planted with French grapes that found their way into so many of Tuscany’s wines. He was already in the process of replanting the vineyards used to produce Retromarcia, so rather than uproot more vines, he diverted all of the French grapes into his own Bordeaux blend: Tzingana. Composed of 45% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, and 15% Petit Verdot, all co-fermented for 3 weeks and raised in barrique and tonneaux for 2 years, the wine is certainly more dense and smooth than any of his Chiantis. Rich blackberries and cassis are lifted by the smell of black tea and bay spice. Soft texture and smooth ripe tannins are supported by nice acidity, and there is a discernible minerality on the finish. Andy Paynter
Retromarcia means “to back up” or “to reverse” and is Michael Schmelzer’s reference to an old approach to Chianti that is hard to find today, focused on allowing the character of Sangiovese to show above everything else. The wine is made from 100% Sangiovese composed of young vines planted on a mix of galestro and sandstone soils. The grapes are fermented with native yeast on the skins for 2 weeks in stainless steel and then raised in a mixture of old barrels and unlined concrete tanks for 18 months before being bottled unfiltered. This wine to me is always quite pretty and the 2015 vintage is no exception. Pale ruby in the glass, it smells of bright red cherry fruit, violets, and woody herbs with slightly darker earthy tone underneath. On the palate, it is light and quite refreshing with great acidity and lots of sour cherry fruit backed by delicate tannins. As a classic Chianti should be the acidity is mouthwatering, warming up the palate for a range of food; try it with everything from classic red sauce pastas, sauteed greens, and saltier cheeses all the way to richer food like roasted lamb or game birds. Andy Paynter