Reviewing some Italianos

Prosecco

We’ll start this Italian review with a couple of Proseccos. Prosecco is Italy’s answer to France’s Champagne, but unlike that French bubbly, which is fermented in the bottle, Prosecco is produced using the Charmat method, in which the secondary fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks, making the wine less expensive to produce, as well as featuring the fruit more than the yeast.

 Bellarosa Prosecco Superiore (Valdobbiadene, Veneto, Italy) - Regular Price $21.00/ Feature Price $17.85

Ever since we introduced this “extra dry” sparkler last fall, it’s been a customer favorite. It has a refreshing tartness to the finish that makes it a fine foil to cheeses and other canapés.

 Nino Franco “Rustico” Prosecco Superiore (Valdobbiadene, Veneto, Italy) - Regular Price $23.15/ Feature Price $19.68

We’ve carried the "Rustico" for several years, and it’s the one I point customers to if they prefer a little more fruit in their bubbly. This one is just “off-dry” and goes well with fresh fruit or not-too-sweet desserts. Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate gave this wine 90 Points and wrote: “The palate has lovely balance, an utterly seductive leesy/creamy texture and a smooth finish that leave the palate refreshed and wanting more." I’ll say! Try it now and you’ll know what you’re going to serve at your first holiday get-together.

Pinot Grigio

Pinot Grigio is certainly the best-known Italian white wine, and now the grape has traveled around the world, mostly in its “Pinot Gris” form. These three represent the various levels of Pinot Grigio from its original home. I’ve never showed them side-by-side before, but this will give you a chance to see whether you think I’ve got the “you-get-what-you-pay-for” right.

 Cielo Pinot Grigio (IGT Venezie, Italy) Everyday low price - $9.75

 Bidoli Pinot Grigio (Friuli, Grave, Italy) Regular Price $13.50/ Feature Price $11.48

 Lis Neris “Gris” Pinot Grigio (Venezia Giulia, Italy) Regular Price $29.80/ Feature Price $25.33

Soave

Pieropan Soave (Classico) 2008 (Veneto, Italy) Regular Price $21.00/ Feature Price $17.85

Searching the Wine & Words...& Gourmet website, I found that I reviewed this wine a year ago in our 2011 “Italian Review” tasting. I keep coming back to it because some Soave can be thin, dull and sour; so when you find a good one, stick with it. This is a good one, made in the “old school” way from 85% Garganega and 15% Trebbiano di Soave. I love to tell the story of how the Pieropan family are not entirely old school in that they decided to bottle their 2008 Soave Classico with a very “new school” Stelvin screwcap, and thereby lost the right to put the coveted “Classico” designation on the label. But we know it’s the same wine as before...even better, because it comes to you fresh and lively as when it was made.

 

Falanghina

Fontanavecchia Taburno Falanghina Del Sannio 2011 (Campania, Italy) Regular Price $15.95/ Feature Price $13.56

The folks at Fontanavecchia have made quite a reputation with the wines they make from both the Aglianico (red) and the Falanghina (white) grape year after year. The Falanghina grape was probably brought by Roman merchants from Greece to Italy. It owes its Latin name to the word "phalange", namely "tied to the pole", describing the ancient system of cultivation used to make the vines grow. The volcanic soil around Naples gives the wine an incredible mineral crispness, with a finish almost like grapefruit juice. The 13.5% alcohol makes it a great pairing with food...like maybe the end of summer’s shrimp and crab. This one’s been missing from our lineup for a while, and I’m very glad to have it back. And the price has actually come down a few bucks since the last time we Featured it...always a good thing!

Reds

Sant’Evasio Barbera D’Asti (Piedmont, Italy)Regular Price $12.75/ Feature Price $10.84

MontferratoMontferratoThe Barbera grape originated in the Montferrato region of Italy’s Piedmont. That’s where this medium-bodied red wine is from. Its moderate 13.5% alcohol makes it a great dinner companion. And don’t forget that we carry this same wine in the convenient (and economical) 3-Liter (4-bottle) bag-in-box.

 Montalto Nero D’Avola/Cabernet (IGT Sicilia, Italy) Regular Price $12.75/Feature Price $10.84

This is a blend of 70% Nero D’Avola, the “black grape of Avola” (a Sicilian native) and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. The Nero D’Avola is done in stainless steel and the Cab is aged in French oak for 4 months before bottling. You can serve this with anything Southern Italian...or maybe pair it with Giacomo’s salami from North Carolina.

Lucignano Chianti Colli Fiorentini (Tuscany, Italy) Regular Price $18.25/Feature Price $15.51

Lucignano, ItalyLucignano, ItalyLucignano's vineyard surrounds the medieval town of Lucignano, located only a mile outside the western border of the Chianti Classico zone, hence the designation Chianti Colli Fiorentini, “Chianti from the area around Florence” (I like to think of “colli” as being from the same origin as “collar”). The wine is made from 80% Sangiovese with the addition of 10% Canaiolo Nero and 10% of other local varietals depending on the vintage. It's lighter in body than the big Chianti Classicos we like to serve with wintertime pasta and Italian sausage. This one goes with our summertime fare, or when you just want a nice glass of red wine on a warm evening.

 Lamole di Lamole Chianti Classico 2008 (Tuscany, Italy) Regular Price $25.60/ Feature Price $21.76

Legend tells how the burghers of Florence and Siena came to an agreement in the 13th century to end their constant wars. They outlined their own areas of influence, a task undertaken by two riders who each left the provinces of Florence and Siena at cock-crow to meet at a place which would form the boundary of the two zones. The devious Florentine side starved their black cockerel so it crowed much earlier, meaning they got a headstart on their Sienese rivals and managed to meet them at Fonterutoli, only nine miles (15 km) from Siena – this is a possible reason why the Classico wine labels feature the black rooster, gallo nero

This Lamole di Lamole has been my choice for the one Chianti Classico we carry...vintage after vintage. It’s big and powerful but very smooth and sophisticated. From the heart of Tuscany, this is a wine that will take you there in your glass.

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