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For those of you that have read this blog for more than a heartbeat have no doubt been able to glean a thing or two about my wine tendencies. First, I am a bit of a champagne guy (perhaps an understatement). Second, I do not hesitate to get my Pinot Noir on (so much so that I have declared 4:30 to be #PinotTime on Twitter).
Third, I have tried not to (OK, that is a lie), but I have let it slip a few times my relative disdain for Italian wines. Most of the derision has been directed at Italian white wines, particularly my favorite whipping grape, Pinot Grigio. In a nut shell, I do not understand why the Italians insist on producing oceans of rather nondescript, bland, flabby whites that do not go well with food and are perhaps even worse on their own.
Yes, I know that is harsh, but the French (and increasingly Oregonians) seem capable of producing amazing wines using the same variety, but using the French pronunciation: Pinot Gris (yet another facet of my wine “profile”—I am a bit of a French wine snob).
I can be a narrow-minded jerk.
I get that a lot.
I have not been all that enamored with Italian reds either, but for different reasons (and yes, I know that I am treading on sacred ground here). I classify Italian wines into three rough categories: Relatively thin and soulless, over-extracted and stewed, and ridiculously expensive.
Most of the Italian wine I have enjoyed over the years have come from that last grouping, but I bought them before the relative price explosion of higher end Italian wines over the last decade or so (to be fair, most mid to higher end wine prices have gone through the roof—forget about buying any decent Burgundy even if you are independently wealthy, which certainly does not describe me).
As a result, I have pretty much written off Italian wines altogether, other than the occasional Chianti, I rarely even consider Italian juice.
In the last few months, however, I have come across a few wines that have chipped away at my rather well-entrenched views on wines from the boot.
First, there were a few wines from Le Marche—a region on the Eastern part of the country that I sampled back in May. Then there were two wines from Elena Walch from Alto Aldige in the North, that went quite a ways to try to reverse my blanket assessment of Italian whites.
And just a few weeks ago, I received a wine to sample from Sicily, off the toe of the “boot” in the far South:
2013 Siciliana Nero d’Avola: Retail $13. Translucent ruby color with plum and strawberry on the nose. Tart cherry and a hint of vanilla on the palate. I do not have a ton of experience with Nero d’Avola, but it is clear that I need to have more. This seems to be a fairly versatile wine with plenty of pairing opportunities. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
I am constantly searching for a relatively inexpensive ($10-20) that we can drink during the week, and this certainly fits the bill. Many domestic wines in this price range are usually overly fruity—what I refer to as a “fruity mess” but this Italian wine, has fruit, certainly, but it is in balance with the other elements of the wine (acidity, tannin, etc.).
Listen, this wine will not cause a vinous epiphany, but it did cause me to make an early resolution: I am determined to explore other regions of Italy (particularly Sicily), searching for wines like this that will pair well with pasta, barbecue, and pizza.
This wine is available at wine.com, and they are offering a few specials this month: