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The wines from Barale always strike me as such elegant examples of their varieties----they are high-toned with bright fruit, layers of complexity, and considerable polish; the 2014 Langhe Nebbiolo is no exception. The wine is quite light in the glass and very aromatic, showing intense violet and rose floral notes with sour cherry fruit and red apple skins backed by fresh cremini mushrooms and subtle hints of earth. The body is smooth with some well integrated tannins and plenty of acidity; the florals fade on the palate to show a more pure cherry fruit and mushrooms with quite a mineral finish. This young, elegant Nebbiolo would pair wonderfully with veal scallopini, mushroom risotto, or beef tartare. Andy Paynter
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
You could certainly cellar this wine for some years to come, but I like the way it’s drinking now. The nose is warm with baking spice, rose, and savory aromas; there’s a dark core to the wine but it’s actually quite elegant, with velvety tannin, and it even becomes delicate on the long finish. Miles ahead of the competition! Jamie Wolff
Assuming that you don’t want your wine oaky and jammy, this is one of the best Nebbiolos from the Roero that I’ve tasted, and it compares favorably with the finest produced in Barolo / Barbaresco. It hits lovely savory and cherry liqueur notes; it’s intense and mouthfilling but light on the palate; firmly tannic, this will play well with a wide range of food, so long as it’s nothing too delicate in flavor. Jamie Wolff
I think the 2010 Barolo is a special wine, showing transparent Bussia dark fruit, elegant and austere stoniness, and the harmonious character of the vintage's best wines. The equilibrium and finesse that are part of those best wines is very evident; although the 2010 will age (and improve) for a very long time, it’s quite delicious now. Regarding Bussia, in Barolo MGA, the great cartographer Alessandro Masnaghetti writes: “The first cru, along with Rocche di Castiglione, to be officially declared on a Barolo label in the “modern era”, Bussia is not only the best vineyard site in all of Monforte d’Alba, but one of the super-stars of the entire appellation, capable of stimulating the dreams and desires of wine lovers all over the world.” Don't be put off by the low price! We set prices based on what we pay – if we get a good buy, then you do too. The Clerico wines are imported for Chambers Street; with more beaks dipping, the Barolo would normally be 50-60% more expensive in this market, as is the case for many of Clerico’s peers. The favorable exchange rate with the Euro has also helped make this an incredible buy for the quality of the wine. Jamie Wolff
It is a real treat to find a deep, savory Barbera that hasn't been clouded by new oak. The 2011 Clerico Barbera d’Alba is just such a wine. The nose is complex with notes of dark red berry fruit and black plums followed by violets, sweet spice, and a leafy undertone. Fairly full-bodied with a soft but present tannic structure, the palate is lifted by fresh acidity and more forward red fruit. Delicious on its own, it would pair wonderfully with pizza margherita, or pasta with chicken, tomatoes, and artichokes. Open early and enjoy! - Andy Paynter
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 note about hand-written labels, and other variables in wine packaging: My parents traveled a lot in Europe in the 1950s and ‘60s, and I remember that even in the 1960s they would remark on how signs of the war lingered – bomb damage and other un-reconstructed traces, of course, but also shortages of some basic consumer goods, like soap and toilet paper. Not surprisingly the difficulty in finding supplies extended to wine making; for example you couldn’t count on getting all of the same type of bottle every year. Add to this a farmer-wine maker’s natural and sensible frugality and you get further explanation about why some wines are not always packaged the same way. I’m not talking about First Growth Bordeaux, but in a place like Barolo, that was actually poor, and where selling wine was by no means a certainty, you made due with the materials on hand, including recycling last year’s bottles and labels when you could. For the most part wine was bottled on demand, and so the same vintage might be bottled over several years and might incorporate a variety of materials, including different bottles, corks and capsules, a variety of labels, handwritten details, or perhaps one vintage crossed-out and another written in its place – thus not wasting a perfectly good label. As related to us by Maria-Theresa Mascarello, this practice was certainly true for her grandfather and father, who until the 1980s sold almost all of their wine from the cellar to people they knew well, who were buying for their homes or restaurants, and who no issue with some mix of packaging. Even now this kind of thing happens: at another cellar my wife and I were given a bottle of the new vintage, but the vintage tags hadn’t arrived, so the wine maker wrote the year on a label from the previous year. In a sweet way that bottle is now an extra-special souvenir, and of course we have no intention of ever selling it. We just need to wait about 20 years… Jamie Wolff
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
Lovely nose of caramel, wet earth, tar, roses, rainwater and old barrel spice. The color is an octave lighter than the Produttori. Elegant and juicy with vivid cherry fruit and a speherical sense on the palate. Great concentration and gritty tannins. Lovely acidity. Long finish. Totally mature wine. LF
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
Nowadays, Grignolino is often made in a fairly heavy, extracted style that mimics something of the structure of Nebbiolo, but this one is old-school: light, fresh, juicy. It’s dry and savory with lovely bright cherry fruit and a foundation of chalky earth. The wine sings! It’s perfect for fall appetizers — salume, crostini, rich soups — or as red-wine-with-fish. This wine is an absolute delight. Jamie Wolff
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.
This is a fantastic straw hued Soave (Garganega) from the mother-daughter team at Adalia in the Veneto. Crisp and dry with a hint of grassy texture and a long mineral finish. Eben Lillie
After working in Franciacorta as consultants for a few years, Giovanni Arcari and Nico Danesi started their own label in 2006. They now have 12 hectares just outside of Coccaglio (limestone and clay) and Capriolo (silt and clay), averaging between 150-330m above sea level. The Dossagio Zero is 100% Chardonnay from vines planted between 1985 and 2008. Even though it says NV on the bottle, the base wine is from the 2012 harvest. The first fermentation takes place in stainless steel using only native yeasts. The second fermentation takes place in bottle, using native yeasts and grape must (not sugar), spending 31 months on the lees. The result is a bright and beautiful fruit-driven sparkling wine. Straw yellow in color, with an intense nose of apples, lemons and refreshing acidity, perfect with grilled pork and fennel or even a mushroom risotto. Or just keep it simple and grab some prosciutto with parmigiano and melon. Jamie thinks it goes with everything. Christine Manula
Crivella is made with fruit from Bianco’s oldest vines, including some planted in the mid 1800s by Riccardo’s great-great-something grandfather; such old vines are extremely rare, and while they produce very little fruit, it’s impossible for Riccardo to even think about replacing them. At a tasting in the shop a customer said, “Like Sauternes with bubbles!” which was a lovely way to describe the wine and its rich and unctuous character. made lively with fizz. While there’s no botrytis, Crivella is much more complex and detailed than all but the very best Sauternes. I’ve certainly never tasted anything like it — a stunning wine. Jamie Wolff Moscato d'Asti is usually a fairly light and simple affair, but this bottling has gravitas to stand up to the most complex, aged cheeses. If an old Stilton and Port sounds a bit much, try this invigorating Moscato for a bit of a lighter approach. John Rankin
I’ve been trying to figure out Arneis for years now. I know I like Brovia’s version, but I like all things Brovia. My impression is that Arneis is a fairly subtle and undramatic grape, and it’s therefore easy to skew its profile – almost all Arneis is produced with selected yeasts, which produce uniformly adequate but dull wine. On top of that it’s very easy to overdo it with wood, an common thing when it comes to the ‘riservas’ or top of the line bottlings, whatever they call it. It must help the Chiesa Arneis that it is fermented in stainless steel with indigenous yeasts; there’s some light batonnage until malo. It’s lively and bright, quite savory and chalky/mineral; it’s very vinous and clean with rich underlying texture, and has compelling dry honey and pear flavors that are a bit reminiscent of Chenin. By far the most interesting Roero Arneis I’ve tasted. Jamie Wolff The vines for the Roero Arneis were planted in 1960 on sandy soils with a southeast exposure. Aged in stainless steel for 6 months, the wine is bright straw yellow and has persistent flavors of green apples, stone fruit, and white flowers, with just a touch of honey. Would pair well with light pastas, fish / shellfish, antipasti, or even a mild curry. Christine Manula
After graduating with a degree in Economics in 2003, Francesco decided he wanted to make wine and found a farm in the foothills of Abruzzo where his family was originally from. The first time he saw Agricola Cirelli he fell in love. It’s now an organic farm where there are vineyards, olive trees, garlic, spelt, wheat, barley, figs and geese. Francesco has two hectares of Trebbiano that are grown on calcium and clay soils. Both fermentation and aging are done in stainless steel, and the wine is not filtered or fined. The wine is straw yellow in color and tastes of waxy green apples, pear and cured lemon peel. Try it with shrimp and orzo salad, Vietnamese food or even a veal schnitzel. Christine Manula
Not many folks know that Trebbiano is the most widely used white wine variety in the world's top two wine producing countries - Italy and France. In Italy, it is commonly used for white blends and in France (Ugni Blanc) it is used to make Cognac and Armagnac. Corrado de Angelis started making wine back in 2002 on this small estate in northern Abruzzo, just east of Rome. The farm is eight hectares of vineyards, all south and south-west exposure, and 250 meters above sea level. They are certified organic and in the process of converting to biodynamic farming methods. Corrado harvests the grapes early to capture the aromatic quality of the Trebbiano grape. The wine undergoes spontaneous fermentation using indigenous yeasts and matures in stainless steel. This is a Trebbiano with incredible depth, but a good amount of acidity keeps the wine fresh. It's loaded with ripe pear, citrus, some vegetal notes, and a nuttiness that lingers on the finish. Delicious! Christine Manula
Catarratto might sound like an obscure Italian varietal, but it is actually the second most planted grape in Italy and accounts for 60% of Sicily’s total vineyard area. Historically it’s been used as an ingredient in Marsala wines, as a blending component and even for grape concentrate. But happily people are starting to recognize that Catarratto on its own can make an interesting wine. A luscious, medium-bodied wine with stone fruit, pineapple and hints of meyer lemon. Try it with shrimp, anchovies, grilled vegetables, or soft goat cheese. Christine Manula
Organic farming (certified), organic wine making (certified vegan), almost no SO2 added; all this yields a fresh and dry Prosecco - nothing funky about it, just a very good and delicious wine at a fantastic price!
From biodynamically grown Vermentino, the wine is made in stainless steel using indigenous yeasts; it spends 2 days on the skins, which may add a little structure but not a hint of ‘orange wine’. It’s not fined or filtered, and a small amount of sulfur is used at bottling (the wine has a final so2 of 40mm). The proximity of the sea is suggested in the wine’s pronounced salinity – first on the nose, along with nuts and light herbs and hay, all of which follow-through on the palate, supported by bracing citrusy acidity and fresh chalky minerality. There’s a really clear sense that this is a true wine – true to variety, true to place, transparent and compelling. Savory, medium-bodied, with excellent persistence, it’s a really versatile food match and is proving a crowd-pleaser with guests. We don’t have air-conditioning and La Bettigna is helping to lighten the mood and cool us down in the sweltering heat. 12° alcohol! Jamie Wolff
According to history, the Camaldolese monks started making wine in the area of San Michele back in 1186. Today La Marca carry on that tradition of making Verdicchio in Le Marche, the eastern Italian region that sits between the Apennine Mountains and the Adriatic Sea. Their vineyards are located on hills of clay and limestone soil 350-400 meters above sea level. The wine stays on the lees for a minimum of six months and is fermented and aged in stainless steel. The result is a medium-bodied full-flavored white, ripe with stone fruit, citrus, herbs and a touch of honey. Try it with roasted flounder, scallops, mushroom risotto or roasted chicken. And if you are looking for a white to age, this would be a perfect candidate. We just opened the 2012 which was still extremely fresh and lively, but rich with dried apricots and honey. Christine Manula
In the Moscato d’Asti zone, farming is driven by volume over quality – almost all the wine made there is from industrial agriculture and industrial winemaking, which is why Moscato is usually cheap wine in every regard. The fruit for Belb comes from edenic hillside vineyards where chemicals have never been used. The winemaking matches the farming. The result is one in a million (think Moscato from Bera, the best possible alternate to Belb) – a focused wine, fresh and clean, with deep layers showing classic Moscato attributes like apricot and pear, delicate floral hints and nutty flavors. Belb is relatively low in residual sugar so it tastes fruity rather than cloying. We sell a lot of Belb to people looking for Barefoot or one of the other brands; despite the relatively high price they come back for more, converted. Jamie Wolff
This is rare mountain wine. Heinrich Mayr, along with his wife and daughter, farm almost all of the 3 hectares left in the entire world of this variety. Blatterle (“little leaf” in German), is indigenous to the Sudtirol and the Mayrs grow it on their tiny biodynamic oasis in the heart of the industrialized city of Bolzano. Although only 3 producers still farm this endangered grape, when vinified with the care and attention of the Mayrs it is capable of producing a truly delicious and unique wine: medium—bodied yet fresh, with bright lemon and mineral notes. A characteristic snap of mint on the finish cuts perfectly through salty charcuterie, rich cheeses, or the thick heat of a summer afternoon. Karina Mackow
Since releasing her first vintage at the age of 24 in 2006, Arianna Occhipinti has been a champion of Sicilian viticulture – through organic practices, cooperative work with other winemakers, and raising the profile of her island’s indigenous grapes. The SP68 Bianco is a bright, easy blend of 60% Zibbibo (or Muscat de Alessandria) and 40% Albanello meant for everyday drinking – SP68 is the name of the road that runs along her parents’ farm. After 15 days of skin contact, fermentation with native yeasts, and bottling with filtration, however, this offers complexity far beyond that of most weekday whites! The nose is lively and floral, leading into a clean palate of stone fruits with glimmers of sage. I couldn’t stop thinking of a seafood pairing when we tasted it – fish tacos drizzled with lime crema or a grilled sea bass topped with mango-peach salsa.
Timorasso is a golden-colored grape from Piedmont's Colli Tortonese. Aside from Gavi and Moscato, Piedmont is not well known for white wines, and Timorasso has a bit more richness and weight compared to most white wine grapes. There's a bit of spice and an almost nutty character that complements marmalade and orange fruit tones. This wine is very interesting to try as an example of an heirloom variety that almost went extinct, and it is extremely capable at the dinner table for anything from seafood, Middle Eastern food, or rich pastas. John Rankin
Famoso di Cesena, a native grape of Romagna, was first documented in 1437 but had all but disappeared by the early 1900s. In 2000 two old rows of vines were spotted in Mercato Saraceno (Forlì) and the owner knew it was Famoso. Today the grape is being revived by a group of winemakers who are convinced that the unique features of this grape variety should not be lost. Davide and Mauro at Villa Venti are growing Famoso on red clay and Messinian-age sand. Serenaro is fermented in stainless steel and aged six months on the lees then matured four months in bottle. No added yeasts and minimal sulfur is added. The result is a very aromatic wine with floral/lavender notes and hints of dried fruit. On the palate, it’s refreshing with citrus peel and nice minerality. Perfect with fish, fresh cheese and all'ascolana (fried stuffed olives). Christine Manula
Albenga, lying along the western stretch of Liguria’s coastline, is thought to be the best subzone within the Riviera Ligure di Ponente DOC for growing Pigato. Vio’s example of the native variety certainly does nothing to disprove that assertion! From vines averaging 35 years of age and fermented with native yeasts in stainless steel, Giobatta, or Aimone as his friends call him, certainly has his vineyard practices right – the small estate has been certified organic since 1999. Stone fruits and a distinctive almond note dominate the fresh aromatics, along with a hallmark saltiness on the palate that pairs deliciously with bolder seafood preparations and, most traditionally in the region, pasta with pesto. Karina Mackow
In the early 1980s, Marinella quit her job as an accountant and moved to the family's five hectare farm 13 kilometers northeast of Verona. She’s the first in her family to make wine and learned primarily by doing -- reading books, tasting lots of wine and experimenting. Now she and her partner Hector farm 40 hectares, 20 of which are vineyards. Marinella has always farmed organically and has long worked biodynamically. Ripasso (given its own DOC in 2007) is a blend of Corvina, Mollinara, and Rondinella; and is kind of the half-way point between Valpolicella and Amarone. After pressing the dried grapes that make Amarone, the extra skins are used for the second fermentation of Valpolicella. Adalia's Ripasso is a beautifully complex wine, ripe with blackberries and hints of dried oregano, mint, liquorice, tobacco leaves and peat. Christine Manula
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 2011 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
From the northeastern side of Sicily near Messina Giovanni Scarfone produces this wonderfully earthy and complex red. Comprised of indigenous grapes Nerello Mascalese, Nerello Cappuccio, and the less known Nocera variety, Faro is a wine that combines pretty red fruits, floral notes with powerful minerality. The 2012 has plum, dried rose petal, and smoky notes on the nose. The palate balances the plummy fruit, meaty savory soil flavors and a rich, chewy structure. The Nocera adds acidic lift and freshness to the wine which ages quite gracefully. This has the structure to stand up to pasta with a lamb ragu, short ribs, or roasted meats and will soften and mellow with age to pair nicely with aged cheeses. Essential for Sicilian wine lovers and worthy of a look for fans of earthy Pommard and Nuits St. Georges. John McIlwain
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
The 2014 Cataldo Calabretta Rosato is an unusual rosato that definitely side steps the mold of simple aperitif wine. This wine, rather than being dominated by fruit, shows elusive umami notes on the nose; spiced brine, anise, and miso with blood orange and tart cranberry following. The palate, while still savory, shows more citrus and stone fruit like pithy orange and white peaches. With more tannin than most roses and bright acidity this wine demands food; grilled mackerel or sardines, briny olives, hard cheese, or a caesar salad (with anchovies!). Andy Paynter
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
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
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
Liscone is an old Contrada, or farm; Paulo says that the fruit for the Liscone bottling comes from younger vines — only 30 years old... After 15-20 days in open-top fermenters, the wine goes in old tonneau. It's intense — smokey, very mineral. Savory, with ripe tannin, this isn't a fruit-driven wine, but a really sophisticated expression of the Vulture. The wine is certainly drinkable now, but this is a fine candidate for mid-term aging. A bottle tried recently was open for three days and still quite delicious. Fine stuff! John Rankin and Jamie Wolff
A deeply-colored, dry and aromatic winter rose from the Aglianico grape. Fuller in body than what we often drink during the high heat of summer, this has a plush, silky mouthfeel with plenty of generous cherry fruit, a hint of bitterness on the finish, and streaks of smoky Basilicata minerality throughout. I would love this as a bolder, fall aperitif rose while cooking or welcoming guests, and at the dinner table as a refreshing yet substantial companion to any vegetarian or poultry-based feast. Karina Mackow
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
Arianna Occhipinti turns the usual Cerasuolo di Vittoria ratio on it's head with her everyday Rosso, opting for 70% Frappato and only 30% Nero d'Avola. Inverting the traditional blend in favor of the lighter Frappato grape gives a unique freshness and lift, while 10-15 days of maceration on the skins ground the high-toned elegance with a subtle counterpoint of satisfying tannic grip. Fermentation is with indigenous yeast, followed by six months in concrete vats before bottling unfiltered. A pure, floral nose leads to bright red berry fruit on the palate with grace notes of hallmark Sicilian earthiness and spice. Karina Mackow
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
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