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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