Category Archives: Italian wine

Wine of the week: Colosi Sicilia Bianco 2013


Colosi Sicilia BiancoWhat better way to celebrate the blog’s eighth birthday than with a cheap Sicilian white wine made with three grapes no one has heard of? These are the days when it’s fun to be the Wine Curmudgeon.

The Colosi Sicilia Bianco ($10, purchased, 12%) is everything that I love about cheap wine, but that so many others don’t understand. It’s a light, simple, well-made, and refreshing wine, with green apple and lemon flavors, a bit of crispness in the back, and no oak. In this, it makes the point that sometimes all we need is a light, simple, well-made, and refreshing wine, whether to drink with dinner, to enjoy after work, or to sip on a weekend afternoon just because we want a glass of wine. Not every wine occasion has to be a big deal, and not every wine buying decision has to be as convoluted as purchasing a house.

The grapes, by the way, are inzolia, catarratto, and grillo (the latter of which I like almost as much as ugni blanc). Their combination gives the Colosi Sicilia Bianco a slightly chardonnay aroma, which is both surprising and not unwelcome. We don’t want U.S. wine consumers to be to turned off by a wine that has almost nothing in common with the stuff that Big Wine shovels at us in the grocery store, do we?

Wine of the week: Felluga Pinot Grigio 2014


felluga pinot grigioMichele Pasqua, the winemaker for Italy’s Marco Felluga, is passionate about Italian pinot grigio. “Most Americans don’t know what pinot grigio tastes like,” he says, “because 85 percent of the pinot grigio they taste is not pinot grigio.” 

His example? The Felluga pinot grigio ($15, sample, 13%), which is mostly everything that the tonic water pinot grigios that are so popular in the U.S. aren’t. For one thing, it has fruit — lemon, and some lemon peel on the finish and just not the sort of almost minerality that is one of grocery store pinot grigio’s reason for being. For another, it smells good, as un-wine as that sounds, with an enticing, flowery aroma. This is wine, and not something devised to sell to American women of a certain demographic.

And, yes, it’s worth the couple of extra bucks. Chill this and drink it on its own, and you’ll smile at how much you enjoy it. It’s also a food wine; pair it with anything grilled that would pair with white wine — shrimp would be terrific, as would chicken thighs marinated in herbs, garlic, and olive oil.

Wine of the week: Straccali Chianti 2014


Straccali ChiantiThe retail market, despite years of producers wishing otherwise, is still awash in cheap Chianti, the Italian red wine made with sangiovese from the Chianti region of Tuscany. Most of it, save for a couple of brands like Melini, tastes like you’d expect: harsh and bitter, with little reason to drink even though it costs less than $10. 

Add the Straccali Chianti ($8, purchased, 12%) to the first group. It’s not just a better value than the Melini, which I love, but a well-made wine that embarrasses all those $15 grocery store red Italians with their cute names and shiny labels. One of the great questions in Italian wine: Why, if the country’s winemakers can do something like the Straccali Chianti, do they do so many dull, overpriced, Paso Robles-style wines on the theory Americans prefer them? Trust me — we want quality, not marketing.

Look for more depth than the Melini, so that you have to swallow twice to get a hint of everything that’s going on. It’s also less rustic, with black pepper, red cherry, a little more grip, and the acidity that Chianti is famous for. One key to this wine: a touch of merlot is blended with the traditional sangiovese and canaiolo grapes, which rounds out the flavors and mouth feel. Plus, no oak, which lends more freshness than you expect.

Highly recommended, and almost certain to be added to the 2016 $10 Hall of Fame. Drink this as the weather cools on its own if you want a glass of red, or with pork or beef that will complement the crisp red fruit, as well as red sauce.


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