Tag Archives: Italian wine

Wine of the week: Falesco Vitiano Bianco 2014


Falesco Vitiano BiancoMy tasting notes for the Falesco Vitiano Bianco are simple and to the point: “Cheap wine doesn’t get any better than this.”

The Falesco ($10, purchased, 12.5%), an Italian white blend, has been that way since I first tasted it 10 or 12 years ago. The red and the rose have been equally as impressive, an example to the the rest of the wine world that it’s possible to combine value, quality, and terroir in a cheap wine. This wine is so well made and so dependable that a distributor friend of mine practically went into mourning when his company lost the rights to sell the brand.

What else do you need to know about this blend of verdicchio and vermentino from Umbria in central Italy? Look for some citrus aromas, white fruit flavors (somewhere between apricot and peach) and a pleasing Italian minerality at the end. Drink this chilled on its own, whenever you want a glass of white wine after work. It’s also a fine food wine, pairing with almost anything, be it Chinese takeout or spaghetti with clam sauce.

Highly recommended, and the Falesco Vitiano Blanco will return to the 2016 $10 Hall of Fame next month. And, in this, the perfect wine of the week to introduce the third annual Best Cheap Wine Poll, which starts tomorrow.

Wine of the week: Tormaresca Neprica 2012


tormaresca nepricaOnce, the Tormaresca Neprica was among the greatest cheap wines in the world. It was the best-loved wine on the blog, getting the most visitors for any review, and its popularity here even translated into better sales and distribution (or so I was told).

And then one of those things happened that happens in wine, and the Neprica ($12, sample, 13.5%), an Italian red blend, was never the same. Where it had been dark and plummy and even a little earthy, it became soft and too fruity and a little ashy in the middle. Who knows why? Did the grapes come from a different place? Did the winemaker decide to do something different? Was the brand sold (which, apparently, is sort of what happened)?

The result was just another $12 grocery store red wine that tasted like every other grocery store wine. The Neprica dropped out of the Hall of Fame, the number of people who read the reviewed dwindled to insignificance, and the world moved on. I’d taste the wine every year or so to see if anything had changed, and it hadn’t.

Until this one. The Tormaresca Neprica still isn’t what it was, but it is more than another grocery store wine. Look for lots of red fruit, but not so much that there isn’t anything else in the wine. The ashy taste in the middle is mostly gone, and the finish is pleasant if not long. Pair this with red sauce and winter dishes, and be glad it’s worth drinking again.

Mini-reviews 79: Black Friday wine


Black Friday wineReviews of wines that don’t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the final Friday of each month. This month, four wine reviews for the price of one — how much more Black Friday wine can you get?

Marqués de Cáceres Rioja Reserva 2009 ($18, sample, 13.5%): Spanish red from the Rioja region is terrific value, especially since it’s probably much cheaper in most supermarkets. True reserva tempranillo, with integrated oak and tart cherry fruit, and not just a fruitier version of the entry-level crianza.

Campo Viejo Rioja Reserva 2009 ($14, sample, 13.5%): This Spanish red, like the Caceres from one of the country’s biggest producers, is also much better more enjoyable than its crianza, though not as well-rounded as the Caceres reserva.

Gianni Masciarelli Villa Gemma 2013 ($17, sample, 13.5%): This Italian white, made with two little known Italian grapes and a splash of chardonnay, is heavier and richer than I expected, with white pepper and only a little white fruit. Having said this, it’s an intriguing wine that needs food (chicken in a wine sauce?) and should improve with age.

Georges Dubœuf Beaujolais-Villages 2013 ($9, purchased, 13.5%): Surprisingly acceptable French red, given how disappointing so much Beaujolais is these days. A little rustic, even though it’s an older vintage, but varietally correct, grapy and fresh.

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