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Category Archives: Italian wine

Wine of the week: Poggio Anima Uriel 2011

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Poggio Anima UrielThe Wine Curmudgeon always tries to find wine that people who don’t drink much wine would like, all part of my goal of spreading the gospel to consumers near and far. So when I saw the Poggio Anima Uriel ($12, purchased, 13%) on the wine list at a Dallas pizza restaurant, I knew I was in business.

Sure enough, the friends we were eating with loved it, including the non-wine drinker in the group. She pronounced it as well done as pinot grigio — score another victory for Sicily and great cheap wine.

The Uriel is a white wine made with grillo, a Sicilian grape used mostly for marsala until the island’s wine renaissance of the past couple of decades. Since then, a variety of producers have turned it into tasty and inexpensive dry wines, and the Uriel is yet another example. Look for enough white fruit to be noticeable, a bit of almond on the nose, and wonderful freshness and balance. This is the kind of wine, after you take the first sip, that you know you’ll want to drink all night.

How enjoyable was the Uriel? So much so that it was close to the highlight of dinner, given that the pizza was — as happens all too often in Dallas — over-hyped to the extreme. My non-drinking friend had an entire glass, which is like the Wine Curmudgeon drinking an entire bottle.

Wine of the week: Zenato San Benedetto 2012

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Zenato San BenedettoOne of the things that makes Italian wine so fascinating is its variety. You never know, literally, what you’ll find next. How else to explain the Zenato San Benedetto, a white wine made by a largish company that I had never heard of in more than 20 years of doing this?

That’s not unusual with Italian wine, where even the biggest companies are often little known. It’s also not unusual that their wines, like the Zenato ($12, sample, 13.1%), are worth knowing. This was a wonderfully pleasant surprise in what has been a spring of mosty dull, tiresome, and overpriced samples.

The wine is made with the trebbiano grape, the Italian version of the Gascon ugni blanc. But the flavors are different; none of the Gascon white grape, but white fruit (peaches?), a little citrus to flesh out the whole, and a soft, blossom-like aroma. It needs chilling, and an ice cube or two wouldn’t be out of place. If and when warm weather arrives in your part of the country, this is the perfect kind of wine.

It’s also an ideal wine to sip while contemplating this metaphysical question: Why do so many big wine companies in Europe making interesting cheap wine, while their counterparts in the states rarely do?

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.

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