Category Archives: Italian wine

Wine of the week: Falesco Merlot 2011


Wine of the week: Falesco Merlot 2011The Wine Curmudgeon does not like merlot, and I fight this prejudice every time I taste one. I’ve had too many poorly-made, fruit-charged merlots (yes, California, this means you) to have an open mind, and the blog has suffered for it. In the six-plus years I’ve been doing this, only two merlots have been a wine of the week. Given that they were from Bulgaria and Texas, that’s hardly representative.

It’s time to change that, and what better time than Birthday Week and what better wine to do it with than the Falesco ($15, sample, 13.5%)? After all, didn’t the blog’s readers choose Falesco as the best cheap wine brand?

The various Falesco wines have been a fixture here since I started the blog, and almost every single one I’ve tasted in the past decade has offered quality and value, enough for the Vitiano to make the $10 Hall of Fame every year. The merlot is no exception, and that it’s Italian just makes it more interesting. Look for typical merlot richness and subdued tannins, combined with black fruit and enough acidity to remind you this is an Italian wine. Highly recommended, and worth every bit of the five bucks more than $10 that it costs.

And I have mentioned that Falesco’s Riccardo Cotarella is a genius?

Wine of the week: Purato Catarratto Pinot Grigio 2010


PURATO-CAT-PG-2013-okOne day, no doubt, the Wine Curmudgeon will stop writing about Sicilian wine in gushing, rapturous tones. I just hope it doesn’t happen anytime soon.

The Purato ($7, purchased, 12.5%) is a white blend from Sicily that, once again, offers everything a great cheap wine should. It’s interesting, which means it does more than just shove fruit in your face. It provides ridiculous value, even when it’s not a previous vintage (as this is). And it’s a delight to drink, which means the bottle is empty and an hour has gone by before you realize what has happened, and you’re wondering why you didn’t buy more of this when you had the chance.

Catarratto is a grape native to Sicily that has traditionally been used to make marsala, a sweet dessert wine. It’s increasingly being used to make table wines as part of Sicily’s wine renaissance, and blending it with pinot grigio is just another of those things the Sicilians have done that has turned out better than anyone could have imagined.

Look for lots of white pepper and a little pinot grigio fruit (maybe a lemon drop that isn’t sweet?), and without any of the bitterness or boredom that is the hallmark of too many Italian pinot grigios. This is a seafood or roast chicken wine, or even something to drink when you want a glass of wine and you don’t want to be bothered by any wine foolishness. Highly recommended, and if this isn’t in the 2014 $10 Hall of Fame, I should skip doing it.

Wine of the week: Maculan Pino & Toi 2012


pino_toiCue moody music.

The phone rang. The voice on the other end was sharp, abrupt. “You da Curmudgeon? I gots some cheap wines for ya. Go ta dis place” — and he mentioned a retailer in Dallas that specializes in Italian wine — “and tell ‘em Ace sent ya.” And then he hung up.

Shift scene to a neighborhood that has seen better days. I adjusted the brim on my fedora, pushed open the door. I got an up and down from the guy behind the counter. “Ace sent me,” I said. He pointed to the back of the store.

Which is where I found the Maculan ($8, purchased, 12.5%), a white blend from the Veneto region in Italy’s northeast. It’s made with two lesser known grapes, pinot blanc and toi, the latter of which is actually friulano but is called toi in that part of Italy. The result is an amazing wine — refreshing and clean, with green apple fruit, and even some kind of a finish. The pinot blanc adds a floral aroma, whilte the toil contributes that uniquely Italian white wine character that can best be described as bracing.’This is an amazing value for $8, the kind of wine that makes me wonder how I missed it in my decade-plus pursuit of cheap wine. But I’m certainly glad I was tipped to it now; highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2014 $10 Hall of Fame.


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