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ITALY -- Alto Adige
In Italy's Northern-most wine area ("South Tyrol" -- officially bilingual with a majority of inhabitants speaking German), the Adige river flowing south from the Austrian Alps has cut a steep valley which is cultivated in terraced vineyards. In the summer, however, the valley floor gets incredibly hot (with temperatures often higher than Sicily!). St. Pauls Cooperative Winery (named after one of the oldest recorded parishes in South Tyrol) was founded in 1907.
ITALY -- Campania
The Martusciello family of Quarto, province of Naples, are known for their focus on "tipicita" or authenticity & their "Grotta del Sole" wines brought to notice the quality wine traditions of the long-ignored Campania region (including an official feature at the G-7 meeting in Naples). Now son Salvatore offers a select line under his own name.
SPARKLING: Asprinio "Trentapioli"
WHITE: Falanghina "Settevulcani"
RED: Gragnano “Ottouve”
ITALY -- Friuli
After a career in Italy's Nat'l Volleyball League, dynamic Max di Lenardo assumed direction of his family's 100 yr old farm & restricted their wines to single-vineyard productions from their own estate (vs. grapes purchased from other growers). His wines are now consistently recognized in Gambero Rosso as "Oscar" winners for quality/price, thanks to Max's vision & his equally impressive pricing policy: insisting that wines are meant to be drunk and enjoyed!
DESSERT: Verduzzo "Pass the Cookies!"
ITALY -- Lombardy
After more than a decade as renowned winemaker at Tenuta Mazzolino (including the coveted "Tre Bicchieri" award 5 years in a row for his Pinot Noir), Jean-François Coquard relocated to his native France -- now an artisan négociant, drawing dually on his longtime ties in Italy's Lombardy region & his roots in Burgundy & Beaujolais. Jean-François' first "Coquard" cuvée reflects both influences in a delightful rosé of Pinot Nero.
ROSE: Pinot Nero Rosato
Oltrepò-Pavese has always felt French influence & for centuries has excelled in cultivating native French varietals (Chard, Pinot Noir) alongside interesting locals (Bonarda). The Braggiotti family estate calls upon top Burgundian winemakers & their "Noir" is considered one of Italy's best Pinot Neros, repeatedly recognized by the famed Tre Bicchieri.
SPARKLING: Brut Metodo Classico Rosé “Cruasè”
ITALY -- Marches
When the father of Stefano Antonucci (present owner/winemaker) needed a larger facility, the only suitable building available for sale in the town of Barbara was the old convent (named Santa Barbara after an early Roman Christian martyr) which had been abandoned by the nuns. Hence the winery's name -- No connection with California!
ITALY -- Piedmont
Marco Crivelli is one of Piemonte's quiet superstars, content to work a small amount of vineyard (8 hectares), and produce a small handful of wines. As president of the Consorzio of the Ruchè del Castagnole Monferrato, Marco is largely responsible for the recent DOCG status obtained for that wine. His village of Castagnole Monferrato is an artists' haven and Crivelli's Ruchè is a true work of art.
For most of his life Andrea Oberto held down 2 jobs: truck driver & farmer. After a long week of driving, his passion for the land pushed him to work yet further, on 3 hectares of inherited vineyards. Today the family-run vineyards extend over 16 hectares (40 acres); per Wine Advocate "arguably La Morra’s most important under-the-radar growers."
In the Piedmont towns of Caluso, Gian Luigi Orsolani follows his family's tradition (since 1894!) of making wines that restore & elevate the ancient reputation of now-rare Erbaluce.
SPARKLING: "Cuvée Tradizione" Brut
WHITE: Erbaluce di Caluso (incl. "Al Bacio" + "La Rustia")
DESSERT: "Sulé" Caluso Passito
Brothers Mauro & Fabio Fracchia, 4th generation winemakers, produce unique wines such as the inimitable Casorzo. In Piedmont dialect, "Sulin" means "sunny" -- describing these hilltop vineyards belonging to the Fracchia family. Their "Terre d'Aleramo" line, named for the legendary founder of the Monferrato area, shows classic Barbera in a young, fresh, approachable style - at an unrivaled value. (The label depicts Aleramo's fateful horseride that defined this zone.) Labels on their "Antichi Giochi Piemontesi" line depict "ancient Piemontese games", reflecting their wines' tradition.
DESSERT: Casorzo "Voulet"
Since the late 1950s, Vietti has been a recognized leader in quality and style when Alfredo Currado made the innovative decision to produce only "Cru" wines. His love of fine art led him to create striking labels showcasing Piedmontese artists (another innovation which spawned many imitators). The Currado-Vietti family remains a leading proponent of the traditional style of wine. Following Alfredo’s lead & passion, his son Luca took over the winemaking and was featured on the cover of Wine Spectator as one of Italy's most exciting top young producers.
RED: Barbaresco "Masseria" + Barbera (incl. d’Alba "Tre Vigne" + "Scarrone" + "Scarrone" Vigna Vecchia + d’Asti "Tre Vigne") + Barolo (incl. "Castiglione" + single vineyards "Brunate" + "Lazzarito" + "Ravera" + "Rocche" + "Villero" Riserva) + Dolcetto d'Alba "Tre Vigne" + Nebbiolo "Perbacco"
DESSERT: Moscato d'Asti "Cascinetta"
ITALY -- Puglia
D & N
Blended and bottled by one of our longtime favorite producers, Andrea Fossi, D&N is named for his grandfather (Duilio) & his son (Niccolo) who were born exactly 100 years apart. The wine is half fermented in the traditional style & half using modern techniques.
RED: Primitivo del Salento + Rosso di Puglia
ITALY -- Tuscany
Gabriele Buondonno is one of the new breed of Chianti Classico producers who goes beyond rich to a particularly seductive, lush fruit... bounded by solid structure. He severely restricts the vineyard yields. Buondonno's certified organic production respects traditions and reflects the unique terroir of his property.
Stefano Grandi farms his six hectares of vineyards organically (certified), w/ a total output seldom exceeding 4,000 cases. Canneta's Vernaccia is traditional, distinctive, and elegant: a perfect example of the classic Tuscan dry white wine.
WHITE: Vernaccia di San Gimignano
RED: Rosso "Fiore"
The Guicciardini family traces its proprietorship of the castle at Poppiano from 1150 AD, when it was built as a Florentine outpost in an era of great social upheaval. The present Count Ferdinando Guicciardini, not content to rest on his family's illustrious laurels, founded the Consorzio of Chianti Colli Fiorentini; then in 1997 he also turned to Southern coast Maremma, where dry-farmed vineyards of the "frontier" produce an exciting, rustic cousin to neighboring Montalcino.
DESSERT: Vin Santo
The Di Napoli Rampolla family has owned this historic, prestigious estate in the southern valley of Panzano since 1739. One of the first Tuscan estates to grow Cabernet Sauvignon, Rampolla helped create the "Super-Tuscan" category. Also at the forefront of the Biodynamic movement, Rampolla works their vineyards biodynamically.
Paolo Masi took over the family's Chianti business from his father Renzo in 1993 and has since been recognized by Decanter magazine as an up and coming star of the Rufina area. Wine with a great price/quality relationship. More than just a fun name & label, the "Il Bastardo" and "La Bastarda" wines also offer great fruit & an approachable style.
The Savignola estate (a name of Etruscan origins) was originally a Christian "complex", built in the early 17th century. Savignola's first real success came from Paolina Fabbri who between the two world wars co-founded the Chianti Classico ("Black Rooster") consortium. Now granddaughter, Ludovica Fabbri, follows in her feisty footsteps --shining in a still predominately male domain. Wine Spectator enthused: "If Mozart made Chianti, it would be Paolina."
The Nanetti family produces a distinctive Brunello, with a uniquely herbaceous nose while retaining the typically powerful nature of the Sangiovese Grosso grape. Wine Advocate declared: "The wines, already good in the mid-1990's have moved up a notch… elegant Brunello and Rosso di Montalcino from the eastern part of the zone."
ITALY -- Umbria
Founded in 1884, Cantina Scacciadiavoli (“cast out the devils”) takes its name from a 19th century exorcist who lived in the small village bordering the vineyard. He was known to use the wines while performing his exorcist ritual of ridding poor souls of demons. The historical estate (built by Roman Prince Boncompagni-Ludovisi; today owned by the Pambuffetti family) covers a hill in the heart of the “Montefalco” appellation, known for the indigenous Sagrantino.
SPARKLING: Brut Rosé
ITALY -- Veneto
Brothers Franco & Armando Adami (referred to locally as "The Prosecco Brothers"), are small producers with some of the best vineyard sites in the esteemed Valdobbiadene area. Franco has lead the Prosecco marketing consortium. Adami's "bubbly" wines are elegant, wonderfully aromatic, deliciously dry, delicately soft yet crisp, and versatile.
The estate is located in the province of Vicenza, halfway between Verona and Venice. Following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, Nicola Dal Maso has brought Dal Maso to the forefront of wine quality in the Veneto, winning the prestigious Tre Bicchieri and bringing recognition to the little-known zone of Gambellara.
DESSERT: Recioto di Gambellara
The Degani family has been growing vines since 1900 but only in 1970 did they begin making wine and selling it regionally, mostly in the Verona area near their winery. Starting in 1988, a younger member of the family, Aldo Degani, turned their attention to making the highest-quality wines possible and has also garnered international attention.