12/05/07 – Various Italian reds

By Jesse on December 4, 2007


In accordance with the wishes of our hosts, Theresa and Joe, we’ll be drinking reds this week — and, in impassioned celebration of their ancestral heritage, we’ll be drinking Italian!  With any luck we’ll discover a few delicious Italian reds that will pair well with the robust meals of the holiday season.  In order to maximize our potential for deliciousness and consistency, lets choose from the following four well-regarded Italian reds:

Barolo, which we recently tasted to great success at Daniella’s house, is grown in Italy’s northwestern Piedmont region, and made exclusively from that most difficult and majestic of Italian red varietals, Nebbiolo.  These wines tend to be deep of color, flavor and complexity, and often need some decanting because they’re so big and badass.  Barolo is often called Italy’s best wine, and I once heard someone call it the king of all wines or something.  These bottles run expensive, so feel free to split.

Brunello (Tuscan dialect for “the nice dark one”) is Tuscany’s most revered wine — more so even than it’s more famous cousin, Chianti.  Like Chianti, Brunello is made from Sangiovese, albeit a different clone.  It’s made in Montalcino, a walled medieval village clinging to a rocky hilltop, an hour south of Chianti Classico.  This region is warmer and, as a result, the wines have historically been bigger-bodied than Chiantis.

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is a red made from the Montepulciano grape in the region of Abruzzi (don’t confuse it with the similarly-named Vino nobile de Montepulciano, a wine made in the Tuscan village of Montepulciano from the sangiovese grape).  Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is fast becoming one of Italy’s go-to options for good value wines.  “Unlike a super-inexpensive Chianti, which will tend to be thin and hollow, or an inexpensive Nebbiolo [Barolo, etc.], which will tend to be thin and tannic, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is solidly built with a soft texture and good, thick fruit flavors in the middle.”  If the Bible says it, then it must be true.

Nero d’Avola might be another good option for solid value.  The most important red grape of Sicily is finally getting the recognition it deserves after decades of being made into rough-edged country wine and used as a blending grape in weak vintages of Chianti.  When done right, Nero d’Avola has a flavor profile reminiscent of a big Shiraz, with sweet tannins and plum and spice flavors.  The “30 Second Wine Advisor” calls it “a rich, perfumed and velvety red wine that’s easy to drink but that can take a bit of aging,” so see if you can find one with a couple of years on it.

We’re returning to Theresa and Joe’s Miracle Mile pad for the first time since August 8th! Bring a delicious bottle of one of the four Italian reds listed above (or a cool, crisp $10 bill), and we’ll see you all on Wednesday at 9pm.