Warm Up This Winter With These Italian Wines!

Italy is a big part of my wine cellar! From Veneto to Tuscany, to Campania and Sicily, I absolutely love them all. I have some wines from some pretty obscure unknown but beautiful regions in Italy too! Italian wines are special to me since I have family in Italy as well as have visited several times where I enjoyed the most amazing food and wine experiences. Everything is better in Italy, that’s what I like to say. The food is amazing, the people are so kind and welcoming, the scenery is breathtaking and many of the wines are extraordinary. There is so much history and culture that goes into everything they do, it’s one of my favorite countries to visit.

Starting in early fall is usually when I tend to drink more old world wines. Something about fall weather and the holiday season makes me want to drink wines with a bit more terroir influence, old-world characteristics, and family history. That doesn’t mean I only drink old world wines in the cooler months, I just tend to gravitate more towards their style with fall and winter flavors; especially the reds. I had the pleasure of visiting Italy last year three times, from October-December and it was a fantastic experience before the pandemic hit. You could say that’s part of the reason I also have been drinking more Italian wine this time of year, just reminiscing and dreaming of when I can go back, and being grateful I can at least travel to Italy through my wine glass!

Here are some fantastic Italian wines that you need to know about and try to find at your local store. They each have their own unique style, region, and delectably rich history!

Montecucco, Italy: A hidden gem in Tuscany! Neighboring Montalcino, this region is often known as a hidden gem of sorts. It doesn’t get a ton of tourist traffic, but that just makes it all the more reason to visit. Here you will find fine produce, lovely hospitality, and plenty of wineries to taste as well as stay at. They specialize in Sangiovese so you will find this grape varietal dominating the wines which are high in quality, style, and taste!

2015 Parmoleto Montecucco Sangiovese- 100% Sangiovese from 200m high vineyards! There is wonderful minerality in this wine, from the clay soil’s influence. The color is deep in purple and really beautiful with notes of cherry, sweet spice, and tobacco. There is nice tannin structure and acidity in this wine, making it ideal with winter foods such as Pot Roast, Strip Steaks, and even Bronzino! The flavors on the palate are really nice and boast dark fruit, spice, and vanilla. $15

Emilia-Romagna, Northern Italy’s deliciously rich region in history as well as food and culture! You may know this region for its medieval architecture, as well as its famed capital Bologna, but the wines here will surely impress!

Liano Rosso Sangiovese Cabernet Sauvignon Rubicone IGT 2017- This beautiful wine is a blend of 70% Sangiovese and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon named after Umberto Cesari’s Liano vineyard in Colli Bolognesi, which is just 10 miles south of Bologna. It has an attractive bouquet of black cherries, jam, and cooked fruit notes, combined with hints of vanilla, spice, and an approachable taste. This wine really is very nice, and ideal for this season… especially when we’re all drinking a little more wine lately. It’s soft but structured and has a really nice lingering finish. $35

Chianti, a Tuscan region with classic tastes and incredible wines!  This area is Sangiovese dominant but also grows other fantastic varietals to make these Chianti blends we know and love so much.

2017 Toscolo Chianti Classico DOCG– 95% Sangiovese and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, and only 36,000 bottles produced. This Chianti is aged in barrique for one year followed by six months in the bottle and is full ruby in color. Gorgeous violet and vanilla on the nose make this wine very alluring. Rich berry notes and a silky texture add layers of complexity to this wine, alongside an attractive finish. $15

 

Sicily is the largest Mediterranean Island just off the “toe” of the boot! Known for its Sicilian wines as well as seafood, stunning landscapes, and the city of Palermo.

2017 Mandrarossa Frappato–  This is a fruity and luscious wine full of aromas of ripe red berries, sweet baking spice, and a savory finish. Made on the southwest coast of Sicily, this gorgeous wine was born out of a mission for excellence. It’s a versatile wine that will easily pair well with grilled fish, Chesnut soup, and even Korean bbq! $22.99

Cerasuolo di Vittoria, Cortese!  Cerasuolo is a wine dating back to ancient Greeks! Inspired by antique winemaking, this Sicilian wine is one to watch, and should be on your must-drink list!

2017 Cortese La Selezione Sabuci, Cerasuolo di Vittoria Classico– This wine is made from Frappato and Nero d’ Avola grapes, two stunning varietals in Sicily. The grapes were fermented on the skins in amphora, followed by another year of skin contact. Fruit forward aromas, elegant spice, and vanilla notes make this wine very attractive, following through to soft tannins, and silky black fruit flavors. The earth flavors from the Nero are complemented by the Frappato grapes in this really stunning wine. $24

If you’re seeking some Italian wines for your holiday season or winter to come, look no further than these amazing regions highlighted above. Each wine has been tasted and approved by your Sommelier in the city, and I truly believe these would also make excellent gifts to give. These wines can age a bit longer if you wish but are also very drinkable now in their own ways.

Get out of your comfort zone, and try some new fantastic wines this year, 2020 may be almost over, but it’s time to open your palate and be more adventurous in 2021 and try some other regions of Italy!

Always remember, eat what you like and drink what you love. Please pair responsibly. 

Sara Lehman

About Sara Lehman

Sommelier, Private Chef, & Food and Wine Pairing Expert in NYC! Sara is a Wine Writer, Wine Ambassador, and Wine Consultant specializing in pairings, parties, entertaining and education.

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