best Italian Wines for september 2012

Wine for september - Under $25

Cantina Novelli, Trebbiano Spoletino Umbria 2008 (about $14)

The Trebbiano Spoletino grape is a historic white grape variety that dates back to the Middle Ages and is indigenous to the Umbria region in central Italy. The variety was on the brink of extinction when Cantina Novelli rediscovered it through an extensive research initiative as part of a long-term effort to recover and promote the native varietals of the Umbria region.  Thanks to Cantina Novelli’s pioneering initiatives there are now acres of Trebbiano Spoletino in production at Cantina Novelli as well as other vineyards in Umbria.

Cantina Novelli is located in the Montefalco area of Umbria, an area made famous by the highly-regarded Sagrantino DOCG wines produced here. The winery has extensive vineyard holdings in the Montefalco area and also a little further south near the town of Spoleto. Founded in the year 2000, it is a new winery by Umbrian standards but has within its short life become one of Umbria’s leading wineries producing a number of quality red, white, rosato and sparkling wines.

2008 Trebbiano Spoletino from Cantina Novelli in UmbriaNovelli’s 2008 Trebbiano Spoletino is made entirely from Trebbiano Spoletino grapes harvested in late October from the winery’s Spoleto vineyards. The wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks for 5 months prior to bottling and release for sale.

The wine is straw yellow in color with green highlights and is delicately scented with citrus and herbal notes. It is medium-bodied with intense citrus and white fruit flavors. The 2008 Trebbiano Spoletino has a rich, toothsome mouthfeel from the extended lees contact that is deftly balanced by appetizing acidity. There’s a lot going on in the glass that is easier to indulge in than to describe.

This wine goes well with most appetizers, especially seafood antipasti, as well as risotto, grilled vegetables and main courses that involve grilled fish, shellfish or white meats. It would be an excellent accompaniment for fried octopus or Ancona-style fish stew.

Wine for September – $25 and over

Tormaresca, “Bocca di Lupo” Castel del Monte Aglianico 2006 (about $30)

“Bocca di Lupo” means “mouth of the wolf” in Italian and is named after the estate in Puglia where it is produced.

The Tormaresca winery was founded in 1998 by Piero Antinori, one of the most historic and famous names in the Italian wine constellation. Antinori started investing in Puglia in the late 1990’s as part of a broad-based initiative to expand both nationally and internationally beyond his traditional base in Tuscany. His substantial investment in what had heretofore had been a lackluster sector of the Italian wine scene generated a lot of attention and raised the overall outlook for Puglian wines.

The Tormaresca winery consists of two parts: a large, 620 acre estate along the Adriatic coast in southern Puglia’s Salento DOC and a smaller - but still large - 320 acre vineyard estate, named Tenuta Bocca di Lupo, in the Castel del Monte DOC in central Puglia. Both vineyards grow a mix of traditional, native grape varieties as well as “international” varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay.

Aglianico (ahl yahn’ ee coh) is a black-skinned, late-ri2006 Tormaresca "Bocca di Lupo" Castel del Monte Aglianicopening grape variety native to southern Italy. Aglianico wines are generally full-bodied with soft tannins and high acidity. They are big wines, bold and rich with complex contours that share some of the same profiles as the more well-known and highly sought-after Barolos from the Piedmont region. However, Aglianico wines are a great value when compared to their considerably more expensive colleagues to the north.

Tormaresca’s 2006 Bocca di Lupo is comprised entirely of Aglianico grapes grown on the estate’s Castel del Monte vineyards. The fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks followed by malolactic fermentation in small oak barriques for 15 months. The wine then spends another 12 months in the bottle prior to release for sale.

This Aglianico is a real treat. It is red and black in color with a seductive blend of blackberry and kitchen spice aromas. It has a rich and earthy mouthfeel without being heavy. The Bocca di Lupo has a more fruity character and softer texture than Aglianico wines produced elsewhere in southern Italy. But it is definitely Aglianico in nature with its rich, aromatic flavors and trademark lingering, acidic finish

The richness of this Aglianico begs for companionably strong, rich food. This is a wine meant for beef, lamb, goat, game, pasta with meaty sauces and seasoned cheeses. Pair this wine, for example, with veal shank and herbs or Sardinian-style meat sauce with celery over penne di ziti.

To read reviews of other Aglianico wines, see I Sassi, Tenuta le Querce and Bisceglia.

©Richard Marcis
September 2, 2012

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