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Category Archives: Italian wine

Wine of the week: Lungarotti Torre di Giano 2011

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Wine of the week:  Lungarotti Torre di Giano 2011The Wine Curmudgeon tries desperately not to let the wine geek inside him get out, but sometimes it’s very, very difficult. I know I need to taste more cabernet sauvingon and merlot, but, as my pal the Italian Wine Guy says, “If it’s got two grapes no one has ever heard of, you’re going to like it.”

Which bring us to the Lungarotti ($15, purchased, 12%), a white blend from Italy made with three grapes that mostly fall into that category — vermentino, trebbiano, and grechetto.  Wine drinkers might know one of them (vermentino isn’t all that rare), but all three? The wine geek in me was salivating. Trebbiano, of course, is the Italian name for my beloved ugni blanc, star of so many fabulous Gascon wines. And the grechetto may be the geekiest of all, a grape that has shown up in only one reveiw here in seven-plus years.

Best yet, the wine did not disappoint, even for $15. It’s a funky and fun blend that tastes more sophisticated than it should, a sign that someone took pride when they put it together. It’s clean and fruity (a little bit of lime zest?) and almost floral, but also crisp and refreshing. Floral wines, typically, aren’t that, another sign of quality. Highly recommended, either with seafood or on its own, and even for those who don’t have a wine geek hiding inside.

Wine review: Cleto Chiarli Lambrusco Vecchia Modena Premium 2012

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Wine review: Cleto Chiarli LambruscoThe Wine Curmudgeon does not like red sparkling wine. This dates to an unpleasant experience with sparkling shiraz at a trendy Fort Worth restaurant and a waiter who knew a lot less about wine than he thought. The less said about it, the better.

Still, the only rule of wine is to drink as many kinds as possible, whether one likes it or not. So when the Italian Wine Guy said the Cleto Chiarli ($14, sample, 11%), a red bubbly from Italy, was one of his favorites, who was I to argue? And which demonstrates that you should always listen to people who know more than you do.

Because I enjoyed it, as quirky as it was. Quirky because it had very dark fruit, very dry, and even slightly tannic, hardly what Americans expect from the sweet and soft fruit Lambruscos that most of us know. It’s not for all tastes, and especially for someone expecting a sweet wine or a more conventional sparkler.

But if you want to try it, you’ll find a very well made wine with better quality bubbles than I expected and that is unlike almost anything else you’ve ever had. Serving it chilled wouldn’t hurt, and the tannins make it a better food wine than expected. And you might even like it, which is the best part.

One caveat: The bottle has an old-fashioned wire closure — the best comparison is a piece of clothes hanger holding the cork down — and not a sparkling wine cage. I used a screwdriver to pry it off, though I doubt that’s the traditional method.

Wine of the week: Adami Prosecco Brut Garbèl NV

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Wine of the week: Adami Prosecco Brut Garbèl NVThe problem with Prosecco for those of us who don’t understand it is that it doesn’t taste the way we expect it to. It’s made differently, so it’s sweeter and not as bubbly. That makes it difficult to judge Prosecco as Prosecco, and not in comparison to Champagne, cava, or any sparkling wine made in a more dry and bubbly style.

Which is even more difficult if you’re one of the world’s greatest living advocates of cava and someone whose only criticism of Champagne is that it’s too expensive.

But the Wine Curmudgeon is nothing if not persistent, and my exploration of Prosecco over the past month or so has helped me get a better idea of what it is and why so many people like it. Because they do: Two-thirds of the increase in imported sparkling wine sales in 2012 in the U.S. came from Italy, and most of that was Prosecco. The key to understanding Prosecco? To accept it for what it is, and not to make the mistake that Champagne snobs make when dismissing cava for no other reason than it isn’t Champagne. Prosecco is supposed to taste like Prosecco, and nothing else.

The Adami ($15, sample, 11%) is a big step in that direction. It tastes like quality Prosecco, with more character and interest than many others at this price. That means more structure — a beginning, middle, and end, instead of just a sweetish, fruity middle — and apple fruit instead of softer tropical flavors. The bubbles are also a little sturdier. All in all, very nicely done, and you could do much worse tonight when toasting the New Year.

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