I recently returned back from the motherland - Italia! - and after a few crazy days at the largest wine exposition in the world, VinItaly, I'm trying to ween myself off of salami, prosciutto, and parmigiano. But, there will be no weening of wine, my friends! Oh, no, the wine is still flowing. What an incredible trip, and the most exciting parts of the trip were meeting inspiring and passionate producers throughout Lombardy, the Südtirol-Alto Adige, the Veneto, and Friuli. Come travel back to Northern Italia with us as I open traditionally made, organic and natural wines from every region that my salami-induced inflated feet stepped upon!
NV Contadi Castaldi Franciacorta Brut (Lombardy), $29: A frothy, full-bodied bubbly from Italy's most important sparkling wine appellation: Franciacorta! This is the Champagne of Italy, and for under $30 it's a steal. Get those patio chairs out, pop this bling, and kick back with some bubbles.
2014 Tessari Grisela Soave Classico (Veneto), $18: Having dinner with the Tessari family was such a treat in the Soave region of the Veneto. Claudia Tessari, and her brothers Germano and Antonio, make all Garganega, and this Soave Classico is everything you want the Garganega grape to be: ripe, tropical, refreshing, with a dry finish and a touch of honeysuckle.
2014 Cantina Bolzano, Sudtriol-Alto Adige, Sauvignon Mock (Südtirol-Alto Adige), $30: Meeting Kalus, owner and winemaker at Cantina Bolzano, was my favorite part of the trip. The Dolomites (pictured above, left) are a magical place, producing magical wine. Thinking about the beauty of the Alto-Adige is giving me chills, or as they say in Italian, "Me vengono i brividi." Cantina Bolzano works with over 200 growers, producing some of the best South Tyrolean wines out there. Highly aromatic from steep gravelly slopes of 500 meters, this Sauvignon Blanc is all peach-mint fresh and mineral, with a long, smooth finish.
2016 Ca' La Bionda Valpolicella Classico (Veneto), $15: The fourth generation Castellani family produces wine in the historically classic zone of Valpolicella where Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara are considered the ultimate holy trinity of grapes. Ca’ La Bionda’s vineyards are hillside facing east 400 meters above sea-level with rich soil content of clay and limestone. This light-bodied red blend is all pomegranate pith and raspberry, with a stone-driven, quenching finish.
2014 Marco Sara 'El Re' Refosco Dal Peduncolo Rosso (Friuli), $31: We flew through Marco and Sandra's Schioppettino last month, and now we're flying through their Refosco from the special DOC of the Colli Orientali in the province of Udine. Fermented in stainless then barrell-aged in oak for about a year, this unfiltered, unfined, natural wine is all dark cherry, tobacco, and plum - it's sexy without trying too hard. Here come those goosebumps again!