Everytime a new year starts in January, most people are big on making resolutions that at the end cannot keep. But if these would involve drinking more wine… it might make things a little smoother and more enjoyable.
I love Italian wine because of its rich diversity. With more than 800 wine grape varieties, 20 unique wine regions, and a long legacy of viticulture, Italian wine is a everlasting tale from grape to glass. While Tuscany and Piedmont may take the lion’s share of Italian classical wine, Campania, Friuli and Sicily are the new trend setters. So i dare that for your new year’s resolution, you take upon the study of Italian wines. Start slowly by exploring an unfamiliar region or a new wine style (natural wine). If you are not ready to leave your comfort zone, start off by exploring a new producer from your favorite wine area. To give a little push for this resolution, here are my recommendations as to where to start:
Start your new year exploring the diversity of Sicilian wines. Beyond conventional winemaking, Sicily offers an exciting array of biodynamic and natural wines showcasing the bounty of Sicilian indigenous grapes. A good bottle to kick off your new year is the COS Frappato 2016 ( SAQ # 12461488, $29.30). Subtle and delicate with bright strawberry nuances and wild herbs undertones. Fresh tasting with medium tannins and bright acidity, this wine is fresh and highly quaffable. COS is an amazing natural winery in the Vittoria region of Sicily that revolutionized winemaking in southeastern Sicily in the 80s and 90s
Another Sicilian producer that I hold dear to my heart is Cusumano. This estate always impressed me with their wines that truly convey a sense of place. Founded in 2001, Cusumano is managed by brothers Diego and Alberto Cusumano and the winery has extensive holdings across the island. At the latest Montreal Grande Degustation, I had a chance to taste the Alta Mora Etna Rosso 2014 ( SAQ # 13041961, $25.95). A wine with a deep elegance displaying notes of wild raspberry, cherry and dry oregano. On the mouth, very fluid with a bright acidity and streamlined tannins.
How about a wine from the Aosta Valley?. Sandwiched on the mountains of northwestern Italy lies Aosta Valley, the Bel paese smallest region. Located between the Swiss, French and Italian Alps, Aosta Valley is a place where viticulture is like an extreme sport instead of a romantic affair. With little arable land, the region’s vines strive in rock terraces on very high alpine slopes with an altitude that pass 1200 meters above sea level (Europe’s highest vineyards). Aosta Valley enjoys a wide range of Italian, French and Swiss grapes, the most well-known being Picotendro, a local version of Nebbiolo. I recently tried the Grosjean Torrette 2016 ( SAQ # 11660645, $25.75). A blend of Petit rouge, Cornalin, Fumin and Vien de Nus that will seduce your senses with its aromas of bright red fruits and herbal undertones. Fresh tasting, a bit rustic but nicely balanced in the finale.
For those cold days of the weekend when you crave pasta al forno, how about a Rosso di Montalcino. Not long ago, I tried the Il Poggione Rosso di Montalcino 2015 ( SAQ # 12921974, $27.05). Il Poggione is Montalcino's fourth important estate and is well known by Italian wine critics to be one of the most reasonably priced and cellar worthy wines on the market today. Enticing aromas of raspberry jam with nuances of tobacco and black earth. On the palate, round with bright flavours and sultry tannins.