20 Under $20 in BC : February 2016
That’s Amore : Italia
Yes, it’s February, and the month of Valentine’s and cupid and all that. But that’s just one fleeting day (sorry Hallmark) and the reality is that we would prefer to cheers to our loves all year round: the love of wine. Later this month, the Vancouver International Wine Festival rolls into Vancouver, trumpeting theme region Italy. So what better filter to colour our picks this month than through l’amore per il vino – the love of wine.
Start your brunch off with Mionetto Prosecco Treviso Brut. Juicy fun and off-dry you can serve it with spicy, prawns dishes or serve solo well chilled.
In a classic, softer style, you can go for Ruffino Extra Dry Prosecco. A fresh honeysuckle nose mixes with apples and lemon lime. The palate is similar with more apple, pear and honey fruit with a soft creamy, off-dry finish.
Great for everyday, the Colle Secco Rubino Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2010 is soft and round and very easy to sip. Clean, fresh red fruit, black cherries and licorice root end with good length and a persistent smoothness.
Purato Nero d’Avola Organic 2013 is a friendly, solid, fresh organic red for mid-week spaghetti/pizza dinners. Expect an open aromatic menthol red fruit nose with pepper highlights.
A more serious example of the grape is Feudo Maccari Nero d’Avola 2013. A savoury, red-fruited nose springs from 12 to 34-year-old bush vines growing a little more than a kilometer from the sea. The attack is smooth, fresh and elegant with meaty, cherry, resin, liquorice and dried herb flavours with perfect acidity.
The grapes of Sella & Mosca Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva 2010 are aged for two years in large Slavonian oak barrels before spending several more months in bottle. The nose is fresh with that special Mediterranean warmth and even more plummy/raspberry cherry fruit aromas and flavours. The palate is balanced with a juicy, dry, fruity, savoury, cherry flavour throughout. Impressive for the price.
Tormaresca is an Antinori project in Puglia bringing modern attitudes to ancient grapes. This Trentangeli Rosso Castel del Monte 2012 is a 70/20/10 blend of organic aglianico, cabernet sauvignon and syrah that brings silky textures, spiced black fruits, raisins and liquorice together with freshness that breathes vitality into the finish. Perfect for lamb osso buco.
If you’ve read anything I’ve written, you’ll recognize that there is pretty much always fizz. What I’m loving about prosecco as of late is the serious, dryer styles settling into our market, at not crazy prices. Desiderio JEIO Brut is one from the legendary Bisol family. Glera makes up the majority of this Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG, accompanied by verdiso, pinot bianco and chardonnay. Crisp and bright, the 9 g/l RS is gobbled up by crunchy acidity.
In a marginally sweeter style, Bottega Il Vino dei Poeti Prosecco Brut steps up, with red apple, white flowers and peach sitting atop foamy mousse and a fuller, creamy body.
Carrying more residual sugar still is the stalwart Valdo Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Superiore DOCG Marca Oro Extra Dry. Candied grapefruit acidity manages the sugar fairly well in this extra dry style (from 12-17 g/l RS), leaving an impression of sugared pear, candy apple, juicy peach, white flowers and candy necklace.
Of course, you can bypass Prosecco and pop over to Emilia-Romagna for some Lini Lambrusco Rosso 910. Here notes of plum, blueberry and cherry compote are juicy and lively in the mouth, reigned by cherry pit/chalky tannins. Pour with pizza and enjoy.
One thing I love about Italian white wines is that you can get a whole lot of character and individuality without spending a lot of money. Anselmi San Vincenzo 2014 is a ringer example. The expressive garganega/chardonnay/sauvignon blanc blend carries almonds, wild herbs, honeysuckle and tropical orange along a waxy palate, one finely textured with broken stones. Nimble acidity keeps this light for all its concentration. Excellent value.
Umani Ronchi Verdicchio Dei Castelli di Jesi Classico 2013 is hard to miss with it’s vibrant green Exclamation Point label, and it’s a good thing too, because this young, bright and fresh oil-slicked verdicchio is brill with grilled seafood.
To debunk the myth that Italian pinot grigio is banal and insipid, break out the Tolloy Pinot Grigio 2014 from the foothills of the Dolomites. Tight and lean, with almonds, meadow, bitter lemon, medicinal herbs and quiet white florals riding along a river bed of stones.
Kris Pinot Grigio 2014 stands out as much for its striking label as juice within. Alpine herbs, peach blossom, anise and dried apple opens this north eastern Italian white, and continue to the palate, where crunchy acidity plays against a honeyed cushion of white peach, acacia, almond and citrus
Crisp, bright and juicy, Citra Pecorino 2014 is all orchard-fruit driven and an excellent introduction to the pecorino grape. Stainless steel preserves the tight Asian pear and lemon notes, while a medium cushion of white peach, white flower and light almond adds support.
Pagadebit, a grape that ripens even in cool years, gives its name the ‘debt payer’ to this delicious, perfumed floral Emilia Romagna white, Poderi dal Nespoli Pagadebit 2014. Look for a crisp and juicy blend of bombino bianco/sauvignon blanc with a vein of citrus that streams through the bitter almonds, mandarin, white florals and pear skin notes.
Of course, there are great red wine values from Italy as well. The honest Farnese Fantini Primitivo 2013 shows dark flowers, plum and perfumed blueberries throughout this smooth, fresh red. Black and red raspberries, blackcurrants, red liquorice and dried rosemary sit along finely grained tannins. The end is a bit clipped and granular, but I’ve no complaints for an $11 red.
Barone di Valforte Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2013 draws deep, wild black plum and cherry, herbs, branch and charred meats, all tempered with a bright, crisp vein of bright acidity. Steeping on the skins for two weeks lends a riff of textured intensity and light tannins to this juicy red.
Ripe, rich and concentrated, the Passori Rosso Veneto 2014 is a blend of later harvested merlot and corvina fermented to medium dryness and retaining the velvet underbelly of intentional residual sugar. This full bodied Venetian holds the 14 percent alcohol easily, making a pair for richer braised lamb casseroles or sharp cheese plates.
WineAlign in BC
In addition to our popular 20 Under $20 shopping guide, we publish the monthly Critics’ Picks report and include the wines across any price point and channel that excite us each month, as well as the BC Wine Report, a look at all things in the BC Wine Industry. Lastly, Anthony Gismondi closes out each month with his Final Blend column – an expert insight into wine culture and trends, honed by more than 25 years experience as an influential and global critic.
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