Welcome to the exciting world of Italian wines. Unlike France or the US, Italy cultivates vines virtually everywhere on the peninsula – from the Alps in the north to Sicily in the south (which is closer to Africa than France!) Italy’s mountainous geography, especially the Apennine mountains which form a backbone of the peninsula, explains the ubiquity of vines and viticulture. Grapes love nutrient-poor soils. High-elevation vineyards create freshness and complexity through slow-ripening and extreme diurnal variations in temperature. This created tremendous diversity – Italy has over 400 indigenous grape varieties!
The names we all know are synonymous with fine wine the world over: Barolo, Barbaresco, Brunello, Chianti. This month, we are introducing new regions and producers that represent the best of what Italy has to offer outside of those classics. These wines are quintessential Cru Cellars: family-owned and operated, everything done by hand, organic farm practices when possible, and a strong sense of place (tipicità).
Donnafugata Tancredi Red Blend
This full-bodied red comes to us from southwestern Sicily. It is a blend of Nero d’Avola (indigenous Sicilian variety known for its dark color, full body, & sweet cherry fruit) and Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine ages in wood barrels and vats of varying sizes for 14 months, then rests for another 24 months in bottle. It is broad shouldered, muscular, and intense – perfect for a grilled steak.
Kellerei Terlan Winkl Sauvignon Blanc 2014
Notice the German spelling instead of the Italian cantina? Terlan comes from deep in the Italian Alps, just across the border with Austria. In fact, locals here speak both languages fluently! Manual harvesting, whole cluster pressing, fermenting in stainless steel all lead to pure expression of Sauvignon Blanc. The wines rests on its lees for 5 to 7 months adding texture and seamless body. Citrus & stone fruits intermix with a solid mineral core and zippy acidity.
New Sotheby’s Wine Encyclopedia