In March, Italy was the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic earthquake in Europe, with the northern part of the country hardest hit. In the fourth and final column in this Italian wine region, I pay homage to the region.
In Veneto, Azienda Agricola Inama is famous for Soave Classico. Original garganega is primary white wine, usually producing crispy grapes from oranges and honey.
The 2019 “Vin Soave” ($ 16) is fantastic value. The 2017 single vineyard “Vignetti di Carbonare” ($ 28) is richer and more complex – worth the extra money.
Tenuta Sant ‘Antonio produces organic grapes planted on plantations, especially Valpolicella. Original Corvina is the most important wine. Early-grade Valpolicella, such as Nanfrè 2018 ($ 15), is usually fresh and light, offering cherry tarts.
Amarone della Valpolicella, usually a flagship producer, is a special type of Valpolicella that is made using the “appassimento” process by drying grapes to concentrate the juice. The 2015 “Selezione Antonio Castegnedi” ($ 47) is a good representative, simply featuring dark fruits, cake seasonings and mocha from raisin grapes, this complex. Another good example, Familia Pasqua 2015 ($ 50), is a fleshy and easily accessible wine, with an abundant aroma of spices and skin.
With the style in between, Valpolicella Ripasso achieves a richer taste by heating fresh Valpolicella with the remaining grapes after Amarone fermentation. The result is grapes like Monti Garbi 2017 ($ 22), with intense black fruits and amazing complexity.
In the northeast corner of Italy, Alto Adige is known for producing crisp and aromatic white wines from various native varieties. Alois Lageder is arguably the most influential producer in this region.
For a good entry-level value, get 2018 Pinot Grigio ($ 16), quick orange, melon and quinine, and 2018 Pinot Bianco ($ 15), aromatic, lime and lemon grass with a pleasant round palate. Pinot Grigio 2017 “Porer” ($ 26) combines fresh, fermented juice on the skin and stem. While the aroma is calm, the ceiling is very hot with zesty melons, oranges, peaches and lush textures.
Manzoni Bianco 2018 “Forra” ($ 31), a cross between riesling and pinot bianco, offers oranges, apples and apricots, with strong acidity and luxurious texture.
Piemonte rests on a view of the western Alps. Here, nebbiolo reigns among red wine. The best wines carry the names of places like Barolo and Barbareso. Usually, this offers red berries, spices, and tannins which are easily gripped, and some of them are the most expensive from Italy.
I recently tasted two good examples at more affordable prices. Enrico Serafino Barolo 2015 “Monclivio” ($ 40) offers a hint of sweetness, eucalyptus, oak and forest, another good introduction is the 2015 Luca Bosio Barolo which produces darker and more modest fruits ($ 45). A good comparison is Barbaresco ($ 37) Bosio in 2015, a different expression of nebbiolo with sour red fruit and interesting salt quality.
For a more affordable taste, try “Langhe Nebbiolo” like Serafino’s 2017 “Picotener” ($ 25), which produces a rare sub-variation of nebbiolo to make spicy wine with a softer texture and lighter tannins.
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