Sassarini Sciacchetra 2017 – Cinque Terre, Italy

A refreshing nose, with light autumn fruits and a hint of vanilla.  Caramel, pears, and apples hit immediately, with a clean light feel.  Clear, tawny coloring.  Zero tannin, but nice acid.  Fresh clean acid on the nose throughout.  Finishes clean and light with a nice lingering flavor of cider and that caramel warmth.  This is the 50th anniversary bottling from Sassarini and was the last bottle they had at Il Borgo di Campi’s restaurant, near Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre.  This Italian traditional dessert wine is rarely found outside of Cinque Terre because it’s made to be drunk soon after production – a laborious process that includes drying white grapes like bosco and vermentino before fermentation.

  • Rating: Impressive
  • Name: Sassarini Sciaccehtra 2017
  • Winery: Cantina Sassarini
  • Region: Cinque Terre
  • Country: Italy
  • Varietals: Unlabeled
  • Price: $50
  • Where to Buy: Il Borgo di Campi Restaurant

Peloro – Faro, Italy

Fresh flowers and moss on the nose.  Yep.  Fresh and mossy.  A light bodied red fruit explosion sneaks up on the front end, with a hint of vanilla.  Some pleasant green tannins bring this one to an abrupt close, and a lingering hit of that same freshness as it fades out to warm tannins.

  • Rating: Everyday Red
  • Name: Peloro Terre Siciliane Rosso 2014
  • Winery: Le Casematte SRL
  • Region: Faro (Sicily)
  • Country: Italy
  • Varietals: 70% Nerella Mascalese, 30% Nocera
  • Price: $21
  • Where to Buy: S&R Liquors

Shardana 2010 – Sardinia, Italy

Dank, dark, and rusty on the front end, like some old shipwreck pulled up out of the sea.  Nice tannins, leather, and some hints of vanilla.  This is a tough beauty.  Prunes and dark, black fruit.  A tight finish from not inconsequential tannins.  Excellent with seafood and fennel.

  • Rating: Impressive
  • Name: Shardana 2010
  • Winery: Neil Empson and Santadi
  • Region: Valle de Porto Pino, Sardinia
  • Country: Italy
  • Varietals: 85% Carignano, 15% Shiraz
  • Price: $28
  • Where to Buy:   Litteri

Bruno Giacosa 2015 – Dolcetto d’Alba, Italy

A pretty little medium bodied red with no surprises.  Luscious, with red fruit and faint leather and grass notes.  This one is easy-drinking and plays well with a variety of foods and moods.  Don’t think, just drink.

  • Rating: Everyday Red
  • Name: Bruno Giacosa Dolcetto d’Alba 2015
  • Winery: Bruno Giacosa
  • Region: Dolcetto d’Alba
  • Country: Italy
  • Varietals: Dolcetto
  • Price: ~$25
  • Where to Buy: com

Vermentino i Fiori 2013 – Sardegna, Italy

The nose of this one hits you with a mossy, salty note reminiscent of craggy rocks splashed clean by ocean surf.  The front of the palate echoes the same notes, smoothed with an almost creamy mouthfeel.  This is a minerally, slate and clay, white with a body that is at the same time fresh and summery, but not as light and forgettable as a languid Summer afternoon.  She plays well with all manner of seafood and well into the crushed leaves of autumn.

  • Rating: Impressive
  • Name: i Fiori Vermentino 2013
  • Winery: Azienda Agricola PALA di Mario Pala & C.
  • Region: Sardegna
  • Country: Italy
  • Varietals: 100% Vermentino
  • Price: $17
  • Where to Buy: Whole Foods et al.

Monica i Fiori 2013 – Sardegna, Italy

Starts with a woody, mossy nose, with background notes of red fruit.  The front pallet has a fresh red fruit and grass character, though not necessarily like the thinness of a young wine.  A certain fresh, green quality closes out with light tannins and a fascinating strawberry-balsamic after taste.  We tasted this one after the Corash, so the tasting could have been impacted by the bold fruit and toughness of its Sardinian cousin.  Both were had with Osso Buco and played stunningly well with it.

  • Rating: Impressive
  • Name: Monica i Fiori 2013
  • Winery: Azienda Agricola PALA di Mario Pala & C.
  • Region: Sardegna
  • Country: Italy
  • Varietals: Monica
  • Price: $17
  • Where to Buy: Litteri

Corash Riserva 2013 – Sardegna, Italy

This wine practically jumps out of the bottle at you.  Aggressive cherries and vanilla attack the nose, backed with scents like freshly hewn wood and green orchid.  (Yes, I know what these smell like – grew up in Kentucky, where I chopped more than I wanted to, and lived in Miami for a number of years, where you might just mow over orchids in your lawn.)  Many of these same flavors repeat on the front palate, with a burst of blackberries and chewy raisins.  A little acid and leather come as it glides across the tongue, with abrupt tannins that bring the finish up tight, with a slight floral after taste.  This one’s an adventure that was magnificent with the tender richness of home-made Osso Buco.

  • Rating: Impressive
  • Name: Corash Riserva 2013
  • Winery: Cantina Della Vernaccia Oristano
  • Region: Sardegna
  • Country: Italy
  • Varietals: Cannonau
  • Price: $20
  • Where to Buy: Litteri

Brolio 2011 – Chianti, Italy

Toasted sugar and strawberry cake on the nose.  Grassy, fresh berries, with slate and cocoa on the front of the palate at first taste.  I have to admit being braced somewhat by the tannins – I did not expect them, so they seemed a bit overdone.  Almonds, marzipan, and a leathery chewiness, with a crisp, almost tart abrupt finish.  A fun ride.

  • Rating: Everyday Red
  • Name: Brolio 2011 Chianti Classico
  • Winery: Barone Ricasoli
  • Region: Chianti
  • Country: Italy
  • Varietals: Sangiovese 80%, Merlot 15%, Cabernet Sauvignon 5%
  • Price: $20

Roccamora 2013 – Nardo Rosso, Italy

The nose here is like black rubber, cherry, and roses, with a faint hint of leather.  What a start.  The front end is juicy, with red berries.  Then something happens in the mid palate – it turns velvety and smooth, making the whole mouth feel coated with velvety iodine.  Yeah, it’s different.  The leather and red fruits melt into darker, chewy dried fruits (think prunes, dates, and currant), joined by a salty minerality.  The finish carries a slight hint of sweeter amaros such as Nardini or Nonino, and a soft hit of white pepper.  Such a fascinating wine.  I picked this one up at Appellation Wine & Spirits in the Meatpacking District of Manhattan on the owner Scott’s recommendation.

  • Rating: Impressive
  • Winery: Schola Sarmenti
  • Wine: Roccamora 2013
  • Varietal: Negro Amaro
  • Region: DOC Nardo Rosso
  • Country: Italy

Langhe DOC Rosso 2013 – Piedmont, Italy

IMG_3880Dolcetto, Nebbiolo, Barbera, Freisa, Pinot Noir, and Albarossa. Violet and mineral notes on the nose with just a hint of autumn mustiness. Fresh cherry, plum, and florals attack the palate on the front end, rounding quickly with brief tannins and a longer greenish mineral finish. This is a bright, acidic red just right for the onset of spring. I would call it light bodied, if not for some stubborn tannins on the backend that provide some depth and backbone. With toast and goat cheese, it’s stellar and I could not imagine a better foil. I picked this one up at Calvert Woodley for $16 on Mark’s recommendation. Verdict: Everyday Red.

  • Rating: Everyday Red
  • Name: Langhe DOC Rosso 2013
  • Winery: G.D. Vajra
  • Region: Piedmont
  • Country: Italy
  • Varietals: Nebbiolo, Dolcetto, and Barbera blended with small quantities of Albarossa, Freisa and Pinot Noir
  • Price: $16
  • Where to Buy: Calvert Woodley, 4339 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008