Here we are in 2021 – a year for the history books behind us – and the need to get a taste of far away places has never felt more compelling. To me, it also means there’s never been a more exciting time to drink and explore wines that express their native land and the people producing them. This month, we’re taking you on a tour of Italy, with four specially picked bottles from four different regions of the country, all of them unique and delicious in their own way.
We’ll start up north in the Veneto, specifically in Valpolicella Ripasso, a region known for, not only, but typically bold, complex, red wines made from a crazy amount of indigenous grape varieties. The traditional style of Valpolicella blends grapes like Corvina and Rondinella and others for deeply savory and rustic wines. The wines from Giuseppe Quintarelli – the most famous winemaker of the region – are highly sought after all over the world. So, some twenty years ago when “Bepi” (as his friends and family called him) labeled Tommaso Bussola the “next best superstar,” the wine world paid close attention. We’re thrilled to include a wine from Tommaso Bussola in this month’s box.
Next, a region you’re probably most familiar with – Piedmont. This is where the great Baroli are made - wines of insane longevity, finesse, and power, made with the nebbiolo grape. The saying in Piedmont goes, “you drink the Barbera while you wait for the Barolo to age,” and we couldn’t agree with this thirst quenching decision more. The Cascina Fontana Barbera d’Alba is one of our favorites and we think it will become one of your go-to wines when you need a fun and easy-to-drink red.
Heading south to the vast and centrally located Basilicata – a region whose viticulture is really on the rise. If you’ve ever tasted a bottle from this region, it has likely been made from the sturdy Aglianico grape. In the hands of the right producers this grape yields wines of terrific quality and tremendous complexity. We’ve got a bottle from a winemaking couple who jetted from Tuscany (after making wine there for many years) and settled in the foothills of the Vulture volcano in Basilicata.
Fabrizio and Cecilia Picci’s Grifalco winery is producing some of the tastiest Aglianico coming out of the region and I’m excited for you to try some this month.
Last but not least, we make our way to the Ligurian coast – the perfect imagined getaway for January. There, Laura Aschero is making thoughtful and thirst-quenching wines from vines situated approximately 150 meters above sea level on year-round sun-kissed hills. We’ve included a bottle of her Pigato that, with one sip, will make you feel like you’re kicked back overlooking the beautiful Italian Meditteranean coastline.
I hope you enjoy this month’s sojourn to some of our favorite regions around Italy, and as always, don’t forget to pair them up with something tasty on the table.
Dustin Wilson, Master Sommelier
Bussola Valpolicella Ripasso 'Ca Del Laito'
Tommaso Bussola, a former stone mason, has become one of Italy’s most highly-regarded winemakers, producing wines from old, low- yielding vines. ‘Ca del Laito’ is a traditional Valpolicella blend, dominated by Corvina and Rondinella, showing robust red fruit flavors marked with notes of savory exotic spices.
PAIRING IDEAS: If you’ve got a go-to Italian take out spot, snag some fresh pappardelle and pork ragu and you won’t be disappointed.
Cascina Fontana Barbera D’alba
This vibrant and youthful Barbera oozes with flavors of red and black fruits, fresh thyme, and white pepper. Lean and refreshing, this acid-driven bottle just might become your house red.
PAIRING IDEAS: Excellent with charcuterie boards and red pasta sauces of all types and varieties.
Grifalco Aglianico ‘Gricos’
Aromas of black cherry and black pepper dominate this earthy and structured red. Elegant and floral on the palate with the signature touch of graphite typical of the wines made in and around Mount Vulture.
PAIRING IDEAS: This wine will do wonders with a juicy burger or steak.
Laura Aschero Liguria Pigato
Sea breeze in a glass, this varietal Pigato features notes of lemon zest and fresh herbs, and a salty tang. Its balanced and lively acidity will have you salivating and ready for another sip.
PAIRING IDEAS: While you’re probably not set up at home to whip up some Fritto Misto, this wine certainly screams for it. It’s also perfect for apero hour, paired with simple cheese & charcuterie.