I am currently on vacation with my family and we spent the better part of last week in Rome. Since it was the first time in the Eternal City for all of us, we took in a lot of the tourist attractions, but we still had a bit of time to do as the Romans do and drink a little bit of wine. Here were some of the wines we tried:
2018 Aka Salento Primitivo Rosario IGP: Restaurant 38€. We decided to go around the corner to a restaurant suggested by the owner of our VRBO to try this resto, but it would need a reservation. The boys were exhausted and the wife was indignant. I insisted we try. I dropped a few words of my limited Italian, flashed the dimples, and we were in. It helped that there were only two tables occupied, but that is immaterial; I credit the dimples. We sat to a glass of rosato spumante, which the server described as “Prosecco.” I took the time in my (very) limited Italian and her (even more) limited English to explain that it likely won’t be until 2020 that “Rosato” will be allowed officially on bottles that include “Prosecco” on the label. (Dropping some knowledge on the locals is always a must when you’re the wine guy.) After the apéritif, the owner came over and asked if I wanted bianco or Rosa and I responded “rosato.” He immediately sported a huge grin and said “Ah, we have a connoisseur, I know what he wants!” At least that is what he said in my mind since I really had no idea what he said. (OK, I said I had some “limited” Italian skills, which means I can basically say ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ [it helps that they are the same word], ‘tomato,’ and ‘anchovy.’ Well, at least three out of those four.) I was slightly taken aback since it was a rosé Primitivo, a white Zinfandel, if you will. I thought for a moment that he had pigeon-holed us as the Americans we were–wanting a wine that was more reminiscent of Fanta than Falanghina. Dark in the glass, fruity and a bit smoky on the nose, and despite being a touch sweet on the palate, this was far from a white Zin. ‘Perfetto’ after a really long, hot (98°) day in Rome. Hey, wait, there was another word I know in Italian! Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2007 Azienda Agraria Torri di Barattano Borgese Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG: 38€ (restaurant). This was “our” neighborhood gastronomic stop and we were well into our first bottle of Rosato. At the end of the second course (primati) we were out of wine and the secondi was presented: a whole heckuva lot of meat. We needed another wine. I thought a Vallopicela would work, but the owner suggested this. 2007. 38€? Giddy-up. He broke out the decanter and we went to town. Slightly stewed cherry, black cherry, and a touch of leather. Yum. The palate is delectable: reserved but vociferous fruit (oxymoron?), intense earthiness, and a tannic grip on the finish that screams “too soon.” All given? Close to a whoa. Excellent. 91-93 Points.
2014 Ca’ del Bosco Dosage Zéro Franciacorta: 54€. 65% Chardonnay, 22% Pinot Nero, 13% Pinot Bianco. We finally got into the resto that I had wanted to try since our first day in Rome and the kids decided it would be the day that they staged an insurrection. Everything annoyed them: the temperature, the cigarette smoke, the sky, their own breath. My wife and I contemplated getting them something quick to eat and then sending them back to the apartment, but they have both inherited my completely non-existent sense of direction and we feared the worst (but were still tempted given their collective demeanor). Instead, we opted for a bit of a mini-escape, this bottle of Franciacorta from a well-known producer. But this was something I had not yet tried from them: a Zero Dosage wine (which means no additional sugar was added after the second fermentation). A bit oaky on the nose with lemon curd and a bit of hazelnut. The palate is tart, but also full-bodied and muscular with deep flavors and a heft that surprised me given that it is predominantly Chardonnay. Lengthy finish and healthy sparkle, this is a gem. Wait, where did the boys go? Excellent. 91-93 Points.
2016 Produttori del Barbaresco, Barbaresco: 29€ (restaurant). 100% Nebbiolo. We were at the restaurant above and we kinda blew thru the Ca’ del Bosco. My wife only had “planned” on one bottle but when the Secondi arrived, our glasses were dry and the kids were still being royal pains in the rear. Not wanting to break the bank, I opted for this Barbaresco from (one of?) the largest cooperatives in Piedmont. Score. Red fruit a go-go, mostly dark, but some bright red. The palate is simply delightful with oodles of fruit, brilliant acidity, and a certain joie de vivre (OK, I should have used the Italian equivalent here, but as I already said, my Italian is limited, almost as limited as my Google) that makes this a delight to drink. Even though my kids were being a pain. Wait, I have kids? Very Good to Excellent. 90.