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We have a fondness for Italian wines and decided to squeeze in one more Italian wine event before the end of the year. These wines arrived this week and will no doubt be your first opportunity to taste them. Italy remains the number one wine producer in the world and reigns at the top with the most varietals under cultivation. Winemakers there are not after “knocking your socks off”; rather they seek to balance all the elements of wine to harmonize with food. You cannot sip their wines for long without desiring at least an antipasto, or pasta, or pizza.
2008 UMANI RONCHI VERDICCHIO, MARCHE
List price 10.50; our price 8.99
The Bucci family has been involved in viticulture in the classic Castelli di Jesi zone of the Marche for over three centuries. Today they tend some 21 hectares of vineyards, sited mainly around the village of Montecarotto, using wholly organic methods. A combination of low yields in the vineyards and meticulous vinification, results in wines of memorable intensity and power. The bouquet is quite floral and the palate reflects ripe fruits which together display considerable finesse.
2008 CASALE MATTIA FRASCATI SUPERIORI, “TERRE DEL CASALE”, LATIUM
List price 13.00; our price 11.75
Frascati is one of the classic Roman appellations, a white wine that many (correctly) associate with open-air dining in the Eternal City. Like many other Italian wines, it is a blend, and it must be at least 50% Malvasia Bianca di Candia. That’s set, but winemakers have considerable latitude for the remaining 50%, typically mixing in Trebbiano and Greco. The bouquet is bright, with fresh, rather pungent floral accents supported by clean bright fruit. The palate, too, is bright, with lively minerality and clean citric acidity that flow into a lovely fruit finish with a hint of bitterness.
2007 TERUZZI & PUTHOD TERRE DI TUFI, TUSCANY
List price 19.95; our price 17.99
This super Tuscan from San Gimignano is a blend of Vernaccia, Chardonnay, Malvasia and Vermentino. The aromas and flavors are of fresh pineapple, flowers and mineral. It is medium-bodied and silky, with good, clean fruit and a lingering finish.
2007 BADIOLO CHIANTI, TUSCANY
List price 12.00; our price 9.99
Chiantis are based on the Sangiovese grape, which typically yields a medium-bodied wine with strawberry and cherry fruits that are accented with delicate notes of green herb, dusty soil, leather and spice. While Chianti can be produced exclusively from Sangiovese, the vast majority of Chianti is blended with a small percentage of other grapes. Traditional grapes like Mammolo, Colorino, and Canaiolo are used to add some flesh and aromatic complexity to the finished wine but always play second fiddle to Sangiovese. Many producers now include some Merlot, adding fruit and richness, or Cabernet Sauvignon, which contributes power and dark fruit flavors, to their Chianti yielding a wine that is richer and chunkier than the wines of the past. This bottling in straw-wrapping is known as a “fiasco” and is done in the light-to-medium straight forward Sangiovese style.
2008 UMANI RONCHI MONTEPULCIANO D’ABRUZZO, TUSCANY
List price 9.95; our price 8.99
Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is one of the most widespread native varieties of Italy, mainly along the Adriatic coast. It is appreciated for its full, mellow qualities and its aromatic persistence. A careful selection of the grapes is followed by fermentation on the skins for 10 days. After malolactic fermentation the wine is stabilized and matured in bottle before release. The resulting product is medium bodied and dry, with a finely textured structure and ripe, plumy fruit. It pairs well with Provencal lamb with Mediterranean vegetables, lamb and red pepper kebabs, pasta with sun-dried tomatoes, olive and goat cheese or pork tenderloin with balsamic-cranberry sauce. This blend is 90% Montepulciano and 10% Sangiovese.
2004 DE VALIER VALPOLICELLA RIPASSO, VENETO
List price 24.00; our price 19.95
The first contemporary Ripasso wine was produced in 1964 by applying the technique of a second fermentation of Valpolicella grapes (70% Corvina, 20% Molinara, and 10% Rondinella in this blend) on the skins and lees of the Amarone, transforming young fresh wine into rich full bodied wine suitable for aging in barrel and bottle. The nose is floral and full with fruity scents of cherry, blackberry and hints of vanilla. The taste is medium bodied, well structured and balanced, harmonic with sweet tannins, and an elegant finish; an excellent example of the renowned Italian classic from Veneto.