Delightful Italian Wines for May 2014
Wine for may - Under $20
Carminucci, “Naumachos” Rosso Piceno Superiore 2009 (about $17)
Some interesting and distinctive red and white wines have been produced in the Marche (mar kay) region in east central Italy for centuries but these wines have been largely overshadowed by those from other close-by regions such as Umbria and Tuscany. While the region is probably most well-known for its superb white Trebbiano and Verdicchio wines, neither it’s red or white wines are especially well known in the U.S.
Rosso Piceno (roh’ so pih chay’ no) is, along with Rosso Conero is one of the Marche’s best and most popular red wines. The Rosso Piceno DOC was instituted in 1968 and was the region’s first DOC. It is a sprawling DOC zone that extends from the region’s southern border into the central provinces of the Marche region.
The DOC regulations require that at least 85 percent of a Rosso Piceno DOC wine must consist of Sangiovese and Montepulciano grapes while other local red varieties can constitute up to 15 percent of the total. Some of the best Rosso Piceno wines are Sangiovese and Montepulciano blends exclusively. The Sangiovese contributes body, bright acidity and structure while the Montepulciano imparts fruit flavors and spice notes to the blend.
Wines labeled Rosso Piceno Superiore are produced in a very limited area in the province of Ascoli Piceno and must be aged for at least one year with a minimum alcohol level of 12 percent.
The Carminucci winery was founded in 1928 and has approximately 75 acres of vineyards in the Grottammare zone that lies on the Adriatic coastline in southern Marche. The estate grows primarily Montepulciano and Sangiovese grapes in addition to some local white varieties.
The 2009 Carminucci “Naumachos” (car mi nooch’ chi no mock’ os) Rosso Piceno Superiore is a 70 percent Sangiovese and 30 percent Montepulciano blend. It has a dark, almost-brooding color that reveals a rich, full-bodied wine with good tannins. It is a serious but voluptuous wine, warm and smooth, with concentrated dark fruit flavors with some spicy, earthy notes underpinning the fruit. There’s a lot of wine to love here at a very reasonable price.
This is a great wine to serve with roast meats, game, lamb, lasagna and other full-flavored dishes.
Maculan, “Dindarello” Veneto Moscato IGT 2010 (about $21 for 375 ml bottle)
The Maculan winery consists of 37 acres of estate-owned vineyards in the bucolic town of Breganze located a few miles north of Vicenza in the foothills of the Dolomite Alps in Italy’s Veneto region. Maculan also has contracts with other nearby owners of vineyards in the Breganze DOC.
The Maculan family has been making wine for over three generations. But it was not until mid-1970 when Fausto Maculan assumed management responsibilities for the family business that the Maculan winery started to produce some noteworthy wines that soon garnered serious international attention.
While Maculan produces a number of red, white and rosè wines, it is probably their dessert wines for which they are most well-known. The Dindarello is one of four dessert wines produced by Maculan and is a great introduction to their style of dessert-wine prowess.
Their Dindarello is made exclusively from Moscato grapes (specifically Moscato Fior D’Arancio which translates as “Moscato Orange Blossom”) harvested from Maculan’s six acre Dindarello vineyard. The Dindarello is made entirely of Moscato grapes.
After fully ripening, the Moscato grapes are carefully selected and harvested by hand after which they are taken to special drying rooms where they are allowed to ripen, passito-style, for one month on special wooden mats. This drying procedure causes the grapes to lose water and in the process concentrates the Moscato sugars and flavour components. The grapes are then gently pressed, fermented with only naturally occurring yeasts and then aged in stainless steel tanks. The Dindarello is bottled after 7 months ageing.
The 2010 Dindarello from Maculan has a pale lemon-yellow colour with delicious aromas of honey, ripe citrus fruits and orange peel. It is sweet, full-bodied and the honeyed lemon, nectarine and orange flavours dance delightfully across your tongue. The sweetness is perfectly balanced with fresh, lively acidity and a long, abiding finish. It is a delightful sweet Italian wine with the added bonus that it also has a sweet price when compared with other dessert-style wines and is not a budget buster.
This dessert-style wine goes well with a variety of fruit pastries and not-too-sweet desserts such as a bowl of fresh fruit or some simply-prepared Pignoli cookies. For a truly cosmic match, serve Maculan’s Dindarello with panna cotta topped with fresh raspberries.
May 8, 2014
To view other wine of the month selections, see Monthly Wine Reviews