May 08 Wine Selection – Under $25
Argiolas, Costera Isola dei Nuraghi 2006 (about $14)
Some of Italy’s best wine values today come from Sardegna (Sardinia) and the 2006 Costera Isola dei Nuraghi from the Argiolas estate is no exception. Made principally from the Connonau grape, generally believed to be a descendant of Grenache, and small amounts (8 percent or less) of other local, indigenous grape varieties, this wine is at $14 a remarkable value. It has a brooding, dark-purple color and intense aromas of black cherries, plums and prunes come through cleanly even before putting nose to glass. With this introduction, the taste does not disappoint – it is lush and full-bodied with ripe fruit flavors. With an undercurrent of acidity and soft, well-integrated tannins, this is a wine that begs for a piece of meat such as roast beef, filet mignon, game or that special occasion herb-marinated rack of lamb.
With intense aromas and lush, well balanced fruit flavors, it is – in a word – delicious. Another bravura performance by one of Sardegna’s – and southern Italy’s – leading producers.
Fattoria di Felsina Berardenga, Rancia Chianti Classico Riserva 2004 (about $40)
This spectacular, 100 percent Sangiovese wine from one of Tuscany’s premier producers gets my wholehearted “thumbs-up” endorsement.
The Felsina winery is located in the far south-eastern part of the Chianti Classico zone just a short jog north of Castelnuovo Berardenga and slightly to the east of Siena. The Sangiovese grapes come exclusively from the ancient Rancia vineyard and are vinified and bottled separately. After fermentation, the wine spends 12–18 months in small to medium oak barrels and 6-10 months in the bottle before release for sale.
Dark ruby color with aromas of blackberry and plum and just a hint of spiciness, it follows through with a bold and rich taste of cassis, black cherry and vanilla. And with a long, 30-second+ finish, it will keep you coming back for more.
I tasted this ‘04 Rancia Riserva a few months ago at a refreshingly informal wine tasting attended by several chattering wine neophytes and a few wine pros. Upon taking our first sips of the Rancia the room suddenly went quiet as we savored the extracted fruit flavors and collectively knew we were on to something special, a level of Sangiovese not experienced before.
Although ready to drink now, it has good acidity and sufficient tannins so it should continue to evolve and improve with another 2 – 5 years of bottle age.
This elegant and distinctive wine is one of Tuscany’s – and Italy’s - best. Gambero Rosso, Italy’s acclaimed wine rating authority, bestowed its prestigious Tre Bicchieri (Three Glasses) award to the ’04 Rancia in 2008 as it had for the ’03 Rancia the previous year.
At approximately $40, this is a value wine with a pedigree.
Where can I purchase this wine? - available at Schneider’s of Capitol Hill and MacArthur Beverages.
Note – prices indicated are generally the lowest available and will vary from store to store. While in stock at time of writing, stores may sell out of the selections so availability is not guaranteed. Call to check on price and availability before making the trip.
For other wine of the month selections see Italian Wine Reviews.