Italy is a world of wine unto itself which produces a broad range of varietals and styles that don’t always make their way to the U.S. But there are efforts underway to expand the varietals that can be found on our shores, and today we’ll be reviewing five excellent Italian wines that may be new to many but which deserve serious attention.
2020 16 Filari Nero D’Avola DOC – Made entirely with Nero d’Avola grapes, this wine shows brooding notes of blackberries and cherries as well as a slightly savory character, plus a touch of black pepper on the nose and palate. There’s good structure here too, with acidity and tannins offering a nice mouthfeel and a drying finish. Surprisingly, the wine is medium in body; the dark fruit and structure suggest something heavier. This wine would go brilliantly with pork chops. B+ / $35 casealte.it
2009 Case d’Alto Taurasi Riserva DOCG – This well-aged Taurasi has a complex nose of rich plum and cassis along with leather and a touch of dusty mocha. The palate shows plum and cassis as well, but also black cherry. The leather is more pronounced and joined by tobacco notes, and the mocha comes at the end with a long, drying finish. This is a big wine, with a lot going on, but the various elements, although enjoyable, do not come together quite as nicely as they might at this price point. A- / $80 casedalto.com
NV Luretta Puck – This red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Barbera is produced in Emilia-Romagna, a region in northern Italy. The nose is bold and fruity, showing raspberries and strawberries along with a light smoky/meaty note. The palate is also very fruity but quite dry with more raspberries and strawberries, joined by some interesting minerality. The wine has medium body, good acidity, and an enjoyable, dry finish. For the price, this is an excellent wine that I would love to pair with grilled meat. B+ / $24 luretta.com
2018 Etna Doc Bianco Enrico IV Contrada Santo Spirito – This white wine features the Carricante grape, grown on the slopes of Europe’s tallest active volcano, Mt. Etna, on the east coast of Sicily. The nose is big and rounded, with grapefruit-heavy citrus, peach, mint, honey, and stone minerality. The palate follows suit, introducing a complex wine with multiple overlapping notes as well as light salinity and zippy acidity. This is a contemplative wine that rewards attention as the gentle citrus, peach, mint, honey, salt, and minerality all stand out yet come together well. This wine will go brilliantly with oysters, cioppino, or other salty seafood. To enjoy its complexity fully, let it warm up a little after refrigerating. A- / $34 cantinevalenti.it
2016 Sicilia Cembali Nero d’Avola DOC – Deep purple, almost black in color with a ruby halo, this Nero d’Avola exudes bold, fruity notes of plum, rounded off with a little black licorice. The palate follows suit in beautiful fashion, with ripe, fleshy plum mingling nicely with light licorice and a touch of pepper. Medium acidity and medium tannins come together to provide structure and a silky mouthfeel to this big Italian wine that has a long, drying finish. Fantastic. I would love to pair it with pork ragù pasta. A / $40 bagliodipianetto.it