LAMBRUSCO 'SANT AGATA', PALTRINIERI
Grape: 100% Lambrusco di Sorbara
Region: Sorbara, Modena (Emilia Romagna)
Pairings: a perfect aperitive, meaning pairs with nearly anything, and great with parmigiano or mortadella.
Drink by: best now, up to 2020
Notes: from historic 'area of the Christ' aka Sant'Agata, 2 days of maceration, fermentation in autoclaves (Charmat-ansestral)
Description: What is the first thing you think of when someone says Lambrusco? Let me guess...those good old underage drinking days in high school or college with bad memories, or super sweet wines that hurt your teeth, or the name Riunite?
Forget everything you associate this word with. This wine might just open your mind to a new world of what Lambrusco can and should be. The name Sant'Agata is given to this wine because it comes from a historic growing area 'Il Cristo' where loose, silty and potassium rich soil is the ideal condition for the grape. Lambrusco di Sorbara is found in small quantities but the quality is exceptional (if we can acquire enough of it one day, maybe we'll add his Le Clisse or Radice labels which are out of this world delicious).
Don't judge this wine by it's bright pink color - I know it looks like we dropped a watermelon jolly rancher in it the glass but on the palate it is nothing like that. Crispy and light with wild forest berries, it is quite versatile as an aperitivo or drank as we did with a nice pasta bolognese, some quality parmigiano and balsamic vinegar from Modena, and gnocco fritto (but you might have to be in Sorbara to find those goodies).
ROERO ARNEIS 2017, PALLADINO
Grape: 100% Arneis
Region: Roero (Piemonte)
Pairings: fresh goat cheese, pesto, fish, white meats.
Drink by: now, or by 2022
Notes: 0.6 hectares, stainless steel used, manual harvest
Description: Roero. You've certainly never heard of it for nebbiolo, even though it's merely a hop over the Tanaro River from Barolo, but lightyears away in quality for nebbiolo - and yet, it's so, so close. And Arneis? Ever heard of this white grape of Piemonte, that is mainly known for reds? Roero was possibly more famous for truffles and peaches, and this old grape was nearly extinct after WWII. Finally producers in the region are seeing the beauty again in this centuries-old grape.
Palladino...you may know their Barolo (and if you don't, you should). Veronica and Alessandro are two of the nicest people, winning awards for everything they make. This wine is beautiful in the summer - it's crisp, delicately perfumed with tropical fruits and white flowers with very subtle almond notes and a nice dose of minerality on the palate.
BARDOLINO 2016, MONTI DEI ROARI
Grape: Corvina, Rondinella, Corvinone
Region: Garda (Veneto)
Pairings: Tortellini, light meat dishes
Drink by: now
Notes: Biodynamic, not filtered, no added sulfites, aged in cement eggs, 20-40 year old vines, 5,000 bottles
Description: Wine tasting is not a race. It is not a matter of finding the best…no winner or loser. No jury can determine for you at a photo finish, which will be the best or the winner. And the best for what? What is wine without you and your friends sharing an experience together? And what was wine meant for?
Keeping it in the cellar, waiting for the perfect moment that will never come. A label to show to your friends? Wine, please don’t forget, is sometimes just about drinking them, and now. It’s not all about Barolo, Super-Tuscans and 100 point Parkers… Wine is also about simple light moments. Not fruit juice with alcohol, but that complex simplicity that you have in those bottles, that fulfills your palate with meaningful, light thoughts. Sometimes a wine can be fruity and easy drinking without being ‘cheesy’ – and that is what this Bardolino is about. Small little strawberries with a nice salty finish. With Paul Giamatti I would call this wine ‘quaffable’, if this didn’t sound insulting, because it’s more than that. It’s the essence of a winery that makes straight and honest wines with no fake stories, no selected yeasts, no fertilizers, no sulfites…just grapes and soil. Drink it now meanwhile you are reading this, on a soft late afternoon, when the weather is not too cold or warm, and the sun is balancing a fresh autumn breeze and your friends are with you. No need to discuss the wine, it will soon become part of the group…one of those quiet friends that you can rely on.
TOSCANA ROSSO 'TRONCONE' 2014, LE RAGNAIE
Grape: 100% Sangiovese Grosso
Region: Siena (Tuscany)
Pairings: roasted and grilled lamb and pork, good quality salami and hams, aged cheeses
Drink by: now until 2023
Notes: certified organic, 2 weeks of skin contact, 12 months in Slavonian oak and 6 in concrete, 12,000 bottles produced
Description: Sadly, it's almost an anomaly to find a 'good' quality wine in this region (don't believe us? Take it from Adamo from Contucci). Most is coming from a forested area or the valley floor which is not ideal, nor was never included in some of the original 76 hectares in 1963 (current size is some 2400+ hectares). And whether or not you believe in the idea of global warming, being at the highest point of Montalcino where it's cooler helps in these warm years where the valley floor suffers. Maybe I'm partial to his wines since he has an American wife, or maybe it's just that everything tastes great when you're perched up on a hill with breathtaking panoramas and sipping 'under the Tuscan sun'... Or maybe it's Ricardo's love for Burgundy which inspires his style - elegant, powerful, complex and persistent on the palate, maybe not over-oaking his wines like most are to cover over bad wine, or maybe his various and complex terroirs (now even including a vineyard on the famous Montosoli cru) are what make his wines so beautiful but regardless, this bright and lively expression of Sangiovese will not disappoint.
ETNA ROSSO 'A RINA' 2016, GIROLAMO RUSSO
Grape: Nerello Mascalese (small amount of Nerello Cappuccio)
Region: Randazzo - Etna (Sicily)
Pairings: Steak, aged red tuna fish, fried anchovies or fish and chips, or salted cod or mackerel.
Drink by: now until 2024
Notes: 3700 bottles, organically cultivated, 15 year old oak barrique barrels
Description: Winemakers...the biggest liars in the world (well possibly right after sommeliers). A big circle of lies. The soil, the terroir, the efforts, the traditions, struggling against nature and marketing. Here are some tips to recognize a lying winemaker.
• To us, the most important thing is defending tradition.
• We don't care about marketing.
• I make wine for myself, not for the market
Everything is a logo nowadays, even the non-logo (biodynamic, natural, etc). If you have something to sell, you are a liar. BUT...sometimes I like to believe, I need to believe, that there is something true in all of this. This is how Guiseppe Russo presented himself:
• I didn't care about wine when I was younger.
• Countryside and farming represented suffering to me.
• Most of what is said about Etna is bullshit.
• 'No please, don't ask me to speak about the minerality in the Etna wines'
• The more I do this job the less I know how to do it...
...and other anti-marketing statements. And at the end, when I taste Russo wines, at the moment they are simply the best of all the Etna wines. A beautiful balance between 'minerality' (whatever that means) and fruit, power and elegance, complexity and drinkability, deep yet quaffable. Yes, I know, Guiseppe doesn't have a fairytale to tell...no passionate family tradition, but they don't care: the volcano, the 90 year old plants, the unique micro-climate, the 900 year old history...they just don't care about marketing, about journalist expectations, because they were there before us and will be after us. Drink it with venison and a berry or wild forest fruit reduction, facing a mountain.
SUCIAJA 2015, LA COLOMBERA
Grape: 100% Nibiò (Dolcetto)
Region: Tortona (Piedmont)
Pairings: prime rib, steak, red meat
Drink by: now until 2023
Notes: 3600 bottles produced, organic farming (not certified), 12-15 day maceration, 9 months in barrique and
Description: Do you know those kind of people who are always smiling, who seem happy in a contagious way? In Italian, we say solare, from sole - sun, sunny. Not in a goofy or hypocritical way but really happy in their smile, their eyes. My girlfriend is like this. I told her yesterday. We met at my tasting 3 years ago and I was literally shocked by her simple smile, not fake, not nervous, but natural - so Californian I would say (actually Santa Barbara). It's the same as some wines which make you feel happy from the very first sip. Beyond the alcohol content, I’m talking about wines that are able to be deep and easy drinking, complex and soft at the same time.
And when you meet Elisa, from la Colombera, it's kind of the same experience. As though you knew her for a long time. The happy and welcoming sister you never had. No matter the climate, she smiles because there’s nothing too serious about wine even if her wine is seriously a masterpiece.
Nibiò grapes offer spicy notes with fruity and delicate floral touches. Pepper, vanilla and tobacco blend with red fruit. Perfect in winter to warm up the belly and for a nice hearty meal.