What we’re drinking: Italian wine

Mary writes:

One of the best ways to try new wines is to have a wine tasting party. The Thursday night Tasters is a group that I’ve been meeting with off and on for almost 10 years. Everyone brings a bottle and dish to share and then the wine tasting begins.

A recent get together was Italian themed. We had spaghetti with meatballs and Bracioli (stuffed round steak). And some excellent wines. The first three wines listed below are readily available. The last two came out of my cellar.

Epicuro Beneventano Aglianico IGT 2010

Aglianico is an Italian grape variety from central Italy’s Campania and Basilicata regions around the city of Naples. It buds early, and ripens late. And the grapes are naturally high in acidity, making it a perfect food wine and a likely candidate for the cellar.

This wine was a blackish-purple color with an intense blackberry and cherry nose with hints of the spice rack. The great full-bodied flavors echoed the nose and it was jammy, clean with a lingering finish. A favorite.

Found at Trader Joe’s, this wine costs less than $7.


Caminetto Beneventano Aglianico 2011 12.5

Another Aglianico from the Campania Region. This was not planned but a great introduction to this grape and wine region. The nose was tight and closed. This one was plummier, spicier, drier and a bit angular.

Given that it was a year younger, we ventured that this could taste as lovely as the previous wine with a year’s worth of age.

Found at Grocery Outlet for less than $6.


Wind Rose Cellars 2009 Nebbiolo Wahluke Slope 24K Vineyard

Wind Rose Cellars is the husband and wife team of David Volmut and Jennifer States. They began with the 2009 harvest and their specialty is Italian varieties. As you can guess, many Italian varieties are not readily available in Washington, so what is produced is very small — around 100 cases per lot — with total production around 900 cases. In fact, they use another winery for part of the production. It says so on the label: “Bottled by Yakima Valley Vintners, Grandview.”

This wine is such a blend of Nebbiolo and 15 percent Barbera. These are grapes from the Italian region of Piedmont, in the northwest corner of the boot. The color is ruby and the aromas of lush cherry and plum with a sprinkling of tobacco follow through on the palate. The Barbera adds color and acidity. It is a beautiful wine that could age well for several years or decant for a few hours.

From the winery for $24.


Castello di Gabbiano Chianti Classico Riserva 2005 13.5

This top-of-the-line Chianti receives special treatment. The best Sangiovese grapes from the castle vineyards are harvested by hand, pressed and de-stemmed, and then fermentation begins with daily pump overs and malolactic fermentation. Then it’s aged for a year and a half in new French oak barriques.

With all this care, this is a wine that rewards patience. The nose is of black fruits and hints of anise and black pepper. The flavors have depth and complexity with black fruit, anise and black pepper and perfect balance of fruit, oak and spice. The tannins are soft and velvety.


Allegrini Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2004 DOC

Amarone is a style of wine from the Valpolicella (translated it means valley of many cellars) region of northeast Italy. There are five different styles of DOC Valpolicella and around 57 varieties of IGTs in the area. This one is made from the typical blend of 75 percent Corvina, with the balance in Rondinella and Molinara grapes.

This style of Valpolicella is made will dried grapes. After drying for several months, the grapes are macerated for about a month, fermented and aged in new French oak barriques for an Additional two years and then for good measure another year in bottle. What comes out of the bottle is deep purple liquid with a bouquet of dried fruit, with hints of baking spices.

The flavors are rich, round, with lots of black fruit predominantly black currants. It has wonderful structure in a full body and a long silky finish of fruit, spice and mineral.