The eighteenth-century English poet William Cowper coined the phrase “variety is the spice of life” in “The Task”: “Variety is the spice of life, that gives it all its flavor.” The poem examined everyday English life, but it could have easily been written by an Italian vignaiolo from a quiet, out-of-the-way region, attempting to persuade a skeptical customer to try something new. It must be challenging to give your life to your vines, honoring your region’s history and traditions, only to release the fruits of your labor into a crowded marketplace dominated by more renowned regions like Tuscany and Piedmont. “If you like Chianti, I’m sure you’ll love my Rossese,” our imaginary winemaker would say. And while those regions are justifiably famous, they represent only a fraction of what Italy has to offer. To limit yourself to them is to miss out on the chaotic, messy, bewildering yet sublime variety of Italian wine. Our Italian portfolio is full of wonderful producers from throughout the country, and we’ve gathered a dozen of them here to demonstrate how delicious variety can be. This sampler offers invigorating whites from Puglia, Sardinia, and the Veneto, and refreshing reds from Liguria and Sicily; wines made from Frappato, Verdiso, Lumassina, Molinara, Verdeca, Rondinella, and Rossese. We even include a few bottlings from Tuscany and Piedmont, just because. They’ll pair perfectly with the strangely shaped pasta or the oozy Italian cheese you’ve always passed up, until now.
If ever a wine could be described as a beacon of pure joy, it might just be the rare Lacrima di Morro d’Alba from Le Marche, near central Italy’s Adriatic coast. This dry red’s ambrosial perfume of lavender, roses, and tooth-staining wild berries is completely intoxicating, while its lithe, juicy freshness makes imbibing feel like a divine privilege. Made from the Lacrima grape—presumably named for the teardrop-like shape of its berries—in the gentle hills around the town of Morro d’Alba, near Ancona, this Marche specialty nearly went extinct before being revived by a handful of vignerons in the 1980s. Lucky for us, they salvaged this gem of a variety, which reaches an aromatic expression that, next to any other red wine, feels like stepping into technicolor for the first time: you’ll gaze in awe at brilliant flowers and succulent fruits bursting with sweet nectar; you may even feel something mystical we usually don’t experience in wine.
Kermit once said that when a wine lacks finesse, “a sniff and a sip can impress, but a second glass is not inviting.” At our Beaune office tasting, Chris was quick to say, “I’d have a second glass of that!”
Few places can produce a white that is an island wine, a volcanic wine, and a mountain wine all at once. But when the vineyards are situated high on the slopes of Etna, the active strato volcano that towers almost eleven thousand feet over the Mediterranean, the stage is clearly set for something special and totally unparalleled in the world of wine.
Drinking distilled spirits, beer, coolers, wine and other alcoholic beverages may increase cancer risk, and, during pregnancy, can cause birth defects. For more information go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov/alcohol
Many food and beverage cans have linings containing bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical known to cause harm to the female reproductive system. Jar lids and bottle caps may also contain BPA. You can be exposed to BPA when you consume foods or beverages packaged in these containers. For more information, go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov/bpa