Thursday, February 10, 2011

Unknown Italian Gems under $20

We all know some of the great and famous wines and regions of Italy; Brunello di Montalcino and Chianti Classico from Tuscany, Barolo and Barbaresco from the Piedmont, Amarone from the Veneto. Quality everyday wines like Montepulciano d'Abruzzo and Valpolicella are also well known. With such a long tradition, the reputations of these wines are well deserved. Additionally, there are other areas of Italy that have equally long winemaking traditions and that produce wines of fantastic quality. These wines, and the grapes they are made from, are not as well known but offer remarkable quality, personality, and value. Here are some real Italian Gems that we sell for less than $20:

Montalbera Grignolino D'Asti ($17.99) - from Piedmont, grignolino is a light bodied, pale red with woodsy aromas, tangy red fruits, and has more tannin and structure than you would think of from a wine that looks like rose, our friend who imports it likes to have it with lamb.

Gumphof Sudtiroler Vernatsch ($17.99) - from Alto Adige (Sudtirol or South Tyrol) in the northeast, the grape vernatsch is also known as schiava, it's very light with a savory meaty undertone and absolutely delicious.

Occhipinti Alea Viva ($19.99) - from Lazio, the grape is aleatico and it's grown on the shores of a volcanic lake about one hour north of Rome, very expressive aromas of fresh red berries and flowers, the wine is light but has bright acid and present tannins to give balanced grip in the mouth, it reminds me of good pinot noir from Beaune mingled with rose petals.

(picture location: United Meat Market, Windsor Terrace Brooklyn)

Colli di Serrapetrona Collequanto ($16.99) - made from a rare and historic grape in the Marche called vernaccia nera, it's a wild and spicy red, smells of cinnamon, tastes of sappy red fruits and cranberry, it's one of my very favorite unpretentious and unique wines.

Vestini Campagnano Casavecchia ($15.99) - this "old house" is made from the uncommon indigenous varietal named casavecchia, from Campania in the south near Naples, the wine is full and dark, with tangy plums, and shows the minerality of the volcanic soils in the region.

Statti Gaglioppo ($17.99) - from Calabria in the deep south, the gaglioppo grape here is medium bodied with ripe and spicy cherry fruit, a perfect foil for tangy tomato sauce, pizza, it even has enough sappy ripeness to handle a little peperoncino heat.

I wish you the pleasure of trying one of these wines, "alla salute".


  1. nice post Mig! And I love the fact that yu brought those wines over to the meat market for a photoshoot.

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