During this epic winter in the States, I have been uncorking special bottles to connect with the people and the places I love in Italy. No matter how snowy and cold it is outside, these wines bring back memories of the first springtime buds on the vines, the long, sunny days of summer when the grapes were ripening, the bustle of the harvest, and the quiet of the cellar. So whether by the fire or in front of the sunset or around a table with friends, here are some of my 2015 winter favorites.
Montevertine Rosso Toscana IGT 2010 (see data base) comes from the heart of Chianti Classico classification area in Tuscany, but Martino Manetti (and his father before them) have always produced their wine as IGT (IGP). Originally, it was because they used 100% Sangiovese (actually a clone called Sangioveto) in their premium wine (Le Pergole Torte) when, at the time, the classification required the addition of other varieties. Even though Montevertine conforms with the DOCG classification, Manetti prefers IGT. This fresh, medium weight organic Chianti is easy to pair with everything from antipasto, to soups, meats and cheeses. (about $30) Locate and Buy.
Salvo Foti’s I Vigneri Etna Rosso DOC 2012 from Mt. Etna in Sicily struck a dramatic pose in front of a California winter sunset. I was sharing it with friends who are regular California Cabernet drinkers but like adventuring into new grape varieties. They found it to be as stunning as the reds in the sky. The grape varieties, Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio are unfamiliar to American palates but even more so, the wild flavor of the Etna volcano. This organic wine has complex layers of flavor and crisp minerality, but is not heavy. It was perfect with our steak on the grill dinner, but could have easily stayed in the cellar for 15 years and to become one of those wines you never forget. (See blog and data base.$35-45) Locate and Buy.
Montesecondo Chianti Classico DOCG 2012 (80% Sangiovese, 15% Canaiolo, 5% Colorino) is not your average Chianti. Maybe it’s the terroir, or the organic methods or the “do less in the cellar” philosophy at the vineyard, but the freshness and vivacity of the wine stands out. I was drinking it with friends in New York, and we only got around to taking the photo when the bottle was empty table had been cleared. ($20-30)
Foradori Teroldego Sgarzon Vigneti dei Dolomiti IGT 2012 is the 100% Teroldego wine that Elisabetta Foradori makes using biodynamic agriculture and amphorae in the cellar. It is a single vineyard cru (the “sister” wine is Morei) with a unique combination of earthiness and elegance. (Read Foradori post and on database.)
As Elisabetta herself says: “The wine is immediate. There is nothing between you and the terroir.” You taste Trentino and her Campo di Rotiliano vines in your glass: the minerality from the river bed soil, the freshness of the mountains that cradle the vineyards and the warmth that flows up from the lakes to the south. Locate and Buy.
La Stoppa Cuvée Buster IGT 2000 was a one-time experience from the archives. (Only 50 cases were ever made.) Having visited Elena Pantaleoni at La Stoppa in Emilia Romagna (see post), I was curious to try this wine which Elena Pantaleoni and Giulio Armani made as a final experiment with international grapes (Grenache, Mourvedre and Syrah) before planting only the native varieties (Barbera and Bonarda). It was an unusual centerpiece for dinner with friends in Brooklyn: not fully a Rhone wine and not fully what I think of as La Stoppa. I wouldn’t have missed it but can’t wait to get back to Italy for more of La Stoppa’s Macchiona and Trebbiolo. (More on what a Cuvée Buster is from importer Louis Dressner.) Locate and Buy.
Ar.Pe.Pe. Il Pettirosso Terrazze Retiche di Sondrio IGT 2007 was a bottle I had been saving ever since I purchased it when I visited the vineyard. It is rare, made only in top vintage years with a mix of wine (vinified separately) from the Grumello and Sassella vineyards, sub-zones of the Valtellina in northern Lombardy. The grape variety is Nebbiolo (best known for Barolo wine from the Piedmont region). The grapes grown on dizzyingly steep, south facing terraces north of the lakes region and just south of San Moritz. Unlike Barolo, the wine has gentle tannins and after eight years in the cellar was like a smooth ride down groomed slopes. Finding this vintage may mean a trip to Italy. ($25-35) Read more on the database. Locate and Buy other Ar.Pe.Pe. wines.
I found this mysterious Seuna Cannonau di Sardegna DOC at the DOC Wine Bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The rustic, homey trattoria specializes in wine and cuisine from the Italian island of Sardinia. I tried two versions of Cannonau (the Sardinian word for Grenache, the dark, red wine grape variety used to make rich wines in the Rhone Valley in France) and liked the Seuna best…an adventure for a dark winters’ night. Since I can’t find it elsewhere for sale, you’ll have to go to Brooklyn to try it.
NB: I use the “Pro Version” of Wine Searcher when making the Locate and Buy links. It provides more sources than the free one.