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Camerani Marinella, of Corta Sant’Alda fame, and her eldest daughter produce this remarkably fresh wine from 5 hectares of vines in Valpolicella. The grapes (35% Corvina, 35% Corvina Grossa, 20% Rondinella, and 10% Molinara) are hand harvested, destemmed, and gently pressed. In the cellar, the juice is vinified using native yeasts in stainless steel. The nose is floral, with dark flowers. There is a hint of tilled earth along with more pronounced aromas of cured meat and red berry. The mouthfeel is relaxed, with exceptionally low tannin for wines of the region, and a thread of acidity that works to carry the cherry fruit on the palate. Pairing with hearty, earthy foods like Thanksgiving carrots, potatoes, and yams will work beautifully. David Hatzopoulos
Ausonia’s Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Anfora is made using an ancient method of fermenting and storing wine in clay vessel (or amphora) which originated in Georgia and was used by the Greeks and Romans for centuries. The amphora helps protect the wine from oxidation and gives the wine a tannic and earthy, yet mineral-driven character. Ruby red in color, this Montepulciano has an intense aroma of red fruits, sweet spices, dried flowers and turned earth. The palate is full-bodied and complex with a dense core, lush tannins, bright acidity, and flavors of ripe cherry, raspberry compote, dark chocolate, dried violets and a distinct minerality. The finish is long and earthy and full of licorice and herbal notes. This wine would make an excellent complement to hearty dishes, red meats, roasted vegetables, and grilled mushrooms. Anna DeBeer
Ausonia’s Montepulciano d’Abuzzo “Apollo” is named for the Parnassius apollo butterfly that lives in the mountains near the estate. The wine is made from biodynamically grown grapes, hand harvested and fermented with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel, and bottled without filtration. Deep and ruby in the glass, aromas of red and black berries jump out first, followed by light baking spices and a touch of thyme and oregano. On the palate bright red cherry, juicy blackberry, raspberry and a dusting of spices are wrapped around velvety tannins, with a slightly herbal and earthy finish. Medium-bodied and juicy with refreshing acidity, this is a great example of why Abruzzo’s cooling Adriatic breezes and warm sunshine are capable of producing such delicious wines. This one is easily enjoyed on its own or paired with grilled meats, pasta with meat sauce, and aged cheeses.
The word 'cerasuolo' means 'cherry-red' and is a great descriptor for the deeply colored and hearty rosati produced from the Montepulciano grape. Cerasuolo is made by macerating the skins of the grapes (which are high in natural coloring pigments) in the juice for a short period of time; the resulting wine is full of flavor, color, complexity and minerality. This Cerasuolo from Ausonia is a gorgeous and glistening cranberry color and is bursting with aromatics. Notes of cherry, wild berries, and raspberry, with good acidity and a slight tannic backbone. A great food rose, pair with anything from salads to pizza. Oskar Kostecki
Sicilian wine is generally perfectly suited for the Thanksgiving meal, as it goes so well with the mash up of savory and sweet sour that characterizes the island’s food - and our national feast. I’m a great fan of Frappato but rarely find compelling wines; COS makes the benchmark version, retaining freshness and avoiding the unfortunate opacity of flavor that most versions slip into. The COS Frappato is distinguished by haunting complexity, balancing fruit and earth and herbs, and showing depth and intensity, all with 12% alcohol. This wine is a crowd pleaser, satisfying the casual drinker and any serious geeks at your table. I’m now determined that we need some at our house! Jamie Wolff
Natalino Del Prete farms 10 hectares of mostly Negroamaro and Primitivo vines just north of Lecce in southern Puglia. Certified organic since 1994, his vineyards are never treated with any chemicals (they look quite wild!) and the vinification is decidely old-school, with minimal intervention and no sulfur added at any point, including bottling. The 2017 Negroamaro Anne is from a plot of 30 to 60 year old vines planted on clay soils. Rustic and slightly barnyardy on the nose, this wine opens with black cherry, black plum and a general medley of dark fruits, and finishes with notes of dark cocoa and earth. Medium plus bodied, with very good acidity, this is a wonderful example of "farmhouse" wine from the Italian South. Oskar Kostecki
Foradori's Teroldego feels like a benchmark. Not that there is excessive opportunity to do comparative tastings of this lesser-known grape, but of the ones that we've tried, this wine is neither over-oaked, nor reedy and thin, but always perfectly balanced in its intensity and expression. A medley of brambly red and dark fruit (blackberries, plum) interwoven with dark spice, earth and green notes of blackcurrant leaf. The 2016 vintage is quite reserved when first opened, but some air reveals its true potential. One of my favorite pairings with roast pork. It's a great testament to Elisabetta Foradori and her family, and the hard work that has been done in the vineyards and winery for nearly 40 years, that this expression of Teroldego has risen from relative obscurity to be a true staple. Oskar Kostecki
Azienda Agricola Le Strie is a tiny property located in Valtellina, composing a little over 1 hectare of vines located in Sassella and Valgella subzones, producing around 7,500 bottles annually. The grapes are farmed organically, hand-harvested, and fermented with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel. The subsequent wine ages for about 18 months in large botti. The Le Strie Rosso di Valtellina has a wonderful nose of raspberries, red and black cherries, red plum, rose, and crushed violets. The palate is precise, at once delicate and lifted, but also carrying intensity, with soft tannins and bright acidity. With a hint of earthiness, this wine worked beautifully with a mushroom risotto. Oskar Kostecki
Lino Maga described the 2011 vintage as "ampio-abboccato" meaning broad and slightly sweet, though it is already showing some signs of development. Slightly darker in profile than the vintages it proceeds, the nose opens with dark plum, blackberry, cassis, and licorice. The palate introduces a bit of development, with earth, fresh cut hay, and a hint of cedar, as well as an herbaceous quality of sage. Still great acidity, and a lot of energy on the palate. With a bit of time open it starts to reveal fresher characteristics, and gains in vivacity. As with all Lino Maga wines, a healthy decant is recommended. Oskar Kostecki
The bishop of Broni comes each year to sample Signore Maga's wines, and upon tasting the 2016 proclaimed it "mystical." So now Lino has a handmade plaque above his door that reads "We make mystical wine" and we as consumers have the opportunity to savor something divine. The 2016 will age tremendously. It is one of those vintages that has a touch of residual sugar, and a plumpness to the fruit quality. The nose is full of dark and enticing notes of plum, violet, black currant and baking spice. The palate is full of energy, with great acidity giving lift to the density; it also introduces red currant, ripe raspberry, dried orange peel, along with more nutmeg and spice. With a few hours open this wine harmonizes beautifully, carrying great complexity, softness, and depth. I've had this wine three times in the past two months and each bottle was spectacular. Just a baby right now, the 2016 will age for the next 40 years easily. If you do decide to open now (and it is delicious now), a few hour decant is highly recommended. Oskar Kostecki
From a one hectare site of 120 year-old vines planted on the slopes of Mount Etna, this is volcanic wine at its best. The nose opens with a lovely bouquet of ripe raspberry and overripe strawberry, red currant, macerated cherry, deep red forest fruits, and dried orange peel. There are hints of nutmeg and other pungent spices, sage, thyme, and a hint of something green, perhaps tomato vine. On the palate it is medium bodied, with bright acidity and medium but soft, very finely integrated tannins. The palate introduces more citrus (blood orange) and pomegranate on top of the red fruit. The volcanic minerality really shines here, melding the fruit and herbal notes with ash and smoke. There is beautiful grip and intensity on the palate, which leads to an incredibly long finish. Paired perfectly with grilled sausages, but this is a very versatile food wine. Drink now with an hour's decant, this will continue improving for the next 10+ years. Oskar Kostecki
Monterosso named itself after the reddish Etna soils of sand and pumice on which their vines are grown. The Volcano Rosato is produced using 100% Nerello Mascalese from 70 to 100 year-old vines with south-eastern exposure, farmed organically. Also, the producer uses an ancient style of vine training known as Alberello Egeo, which focuses on getting the most from the land for each vine. The low yields produced (though vines are densely planted) are due to vine age, intense pruning, and poor soils – all leading to a complex but focused wine. In the glass, it shows an elegant shade of rose gold. The nose is of cherry, wild raspberry, white and red flowers, with a lean accent of green herbs. The palate is more assertive, with cherry, cranberry, and laced with iron minerality. David Hatzopoulos
The Lagnusa Nero d’Avola vines ranging in age from 20-50 years old, and they give the wine remarkable depth and complexity. It has an opulent, silky texture, but it’s also a juicy and racy wine, with intense red cherry fruit, herbs like mint and thyme, and a hauntingly long stony finish. This shows the quality of much more expensive wine, and it’s full-on competition for the best Nero d’Avola from Vittoria and Pachino. Jamie Wolff
From 15 year old vines planted in both guyot and pergola training systems, Pranzegg's Lagrien is fermented with submerged cap for 4 weeks, and is a deeper expression of "mountain wine."Notes of dark fruit (blackberry, plum, and cassis) mingle with mineral notes wet stone and graphite. Framed by quite bright acidity, this is a great food wine, and will pair well with anything from a steak or roast pork, to a burger or barbacue. Oskar Kostecki
Sourced from 50 year-old vines trained in pergola and farmed biodynamically, this is a more profound expression of the grape Schiava than one usually finds. The wine is fermented with 30% stem inclusion and macerates for 6 weeks in large conical vats followed by elevage in old oak and cement tank for 10 months. 2015 was a warmer year, and the wine shows more exuberance than previous vintages. The nose is full of dark cherry, ripe plums, plum skin, dark wild forest fruit, violets, cracked black pepper, and blackcurrant leaf (my original note reads: "smells like a pristine forest"). The palate introduces more red fruit: raspberry and cherry. The wine has great verve and acidity, with medium tannins that are quite soft and well integrated. Well-rounded and well-balanced, this is at a great moment now, showing a bit of development, yet still retaining nice primary elements. Very giving, yet relaxed. An engaging food wine, that has the ability to pair with a wide range of dishes. One of my first choices for Thanksgiving dinner. Oskar Kostecki
The Ronchi di Cialla Rosato is made entirely from Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso and in the few years that it has been produced has quickly become a feature on our shelves every spring. It is certified organic, fermented on native yeast in steel tanks, and bottled after a few months on the lees. The 2018 has wonderful bright acidity and fine structure, with elegant, husky minerality on the nose and a bit of funk on the palate wrapped in fine, fresh strawberry notes. Perfect as an aperitif or with any manner of Mediterranean feasting options like mezze, cured olives, anchovies, aged sheep's milk cheese, hummus, or the traditional Istrian stew of Trieste, Jota. Andrew Farquhar
The Teresa bottling is 100% Ruché from a two hectare, organically farmed vineyard, fermented in stainless steel and aged for a year in large, old oak barrels. Continuing Nadia Varrua's commitment to natural wine, this was bottled unfined and unfiltered, with no addition of sulfur at bottling or at any point of the winemaking process. The 2018 vintage is ripe and juicy, showing beautiful forward fruit notes and an exhilarating floral character. The nose opens with forest berry fruit, ripe raspberry, cranberries, red currants, crushed grape skins, orange, orange peel, orange blossom, and an intense floral note akin to violets and elderflower. The palate is open and joyful, with vibrant acidity framed by medium, soft tannins. Paired wonderfully well with some braised pork, this would also be a perfect accompaniment to a cheese and charcuterie plate. Oskar Kostecki
2016 was a near perfect vintage in Taurasi, with just the right amount of rain and temperatures remaining stable throughout the growing season, leading to very classic, structured wines with a lot of tension. Satyricon comes from a 1.5 ha, southwest-facing parcel at 550 meters above sea level. Notes of black cherry, kirsch, and wild black forest fruit interweave with hints of tar, roasted meat, and bitter dark chocolate. The wine has great structure, with very well-integrated medium plus tannins offset by great acidity. A pleasure now, this will have a long life ahead of it, and I wouldn't hesitate aging this for ten to fifteen years. Oskar Kostecki
Guido Zampaglione and his wife Igiea farm 32 hectares (of which 17 are planted to grape vines) close to the town of Gramalero in Monferrato. The winery sells most of the grapes they harvest, and only keep the best for their own production, with Guido focusing on natural, low-intervention wines with the potential to age in bottle for a significant time. The 2004 Pecoranera is the current release in the United States, and is a blend of 75% Freisa, with Dolcetto and Barbera making up the difference. With only a tiny addition of sulfur added during racking, the wine is then bottled with absolutely no additives. A bit reticent upon opening, a decant of an hour or more helps reveal depth and charm. On the nose it shows notes of dusty cherry, red currants, red plum, black plum, cranberry, dried orange peel, hints of baking spice, nutmeg, tomato leaf, blackcurrent leaf, earth, forest floor, licorice, and a touch of smokiness. The palate is energetic, with rustic and still firm tannins balanced by lively acidity. Just gets better with time open. Oskar Kostecki
Unlike the other sparklings that we offer from Terraquila, this wine has been disgorged. The ‘zero’ in the name represents the fact that there are no lees left in the bottle. Like the Falcorubens, the varietal is Lambrusco Grasparossa, and it delivers intense savory profiles on the nose and palate. Aromas of heavily charred meat and grippy dark forest fruits match a lean palate of prickly plum skins, dried red cherry, and Provençal herbs. Dry, tannic, rustic, but bright and lovely. David Hatzopoulos
In Emilia-Romagna, Terraquila creates red méthode ancestrale sparklings from organic Lambrusco Grasparossa. Aromatically, the wine offers roasted coffee and dark forest fruit, with a touch of barnyard and earth. Similarly, the palate is full of burly flavors like smoke, plum, raw herbs, and espresso. David Hatzopoulos
A co-harvest of Corvina, Rondinella, Molinara, and Sangiovese from biodynamically farmed 53 year old, pergola-trained vines on the western shore of Lake Garda. Considered too atypical to be labeled under the Bardolino Chiaretto DOC, Daniele Deliani just labels this as a humble vino rosato, yet it was one of the more captivating ones we've discovered this year. Very energetic on the palate, with notes of wild strawberry, raspberry, grapefruit, grapefruit pith, and hints of an herbal character. The wine has good acidity, and a definite energy, with a shifting character; sometimes showing more the red fruit aspects, sometimes the slighty bitter and herbal. A thoroughly enjoyable and delicious wine that is very engaging on it's own or with a wide variety of food. Oskar Kostecki
Tasting Vinica’s Tintilia makes me wonder how this grape ever fell out of favor in Molise in the first place. It seems particularly well adapted to the high altitude vineyards of the region, showing a balance between ripe fruit and fresh acidity. The grapes are crushed at low pressure and allowed to ferment naturally in open top vessels before being held in steel tanks for two years. There is no temperature control at any point, which allows malolactic fermentation to occur naturally over time. The wine has a pleasant herbal tone of green pepper that peaks out on the nose over tart berry fruit, red roses, and moist earth. The palate is quite fresh and marked by bright acidity and soft tannins with a pleasant, earthy finish. This may not be a wine to cellar for ten years but it is a wine that casually conveys a sense of joy and is a carefree food pairing choice. Give it a try with rich pasta dishes, roast pork, stuffed mushrooms or open it at your next summer barbeque. Andy Paynter