If you want to get to know the Crovino grape, a red variety indigenous to the Ligurian coast that is today extinct save for a lonely hectare in cultivation by the Ruffino family at Punta Crena, then here is your chance. The hot, dry 2017 vintage concentrated the grapes such that Crovino’s unique characteristics are enhanced tenfold. Black pepper, sweet exotic spice, and smoky dark fruit are delivered with an intensity that makes its smooth, well-rounded structure come almost as a surprise. This, I daresay, is undoubtedly the best Crovino you’ve never tasted.
Elena Lapini and her husband, Luca Polga, are the type of bon vivants you’d more expect to encounter in the Beaujolais than in Tuscany: down-to-earth, quick to laugh, and always eager to pull a cork and whip out a homemade salame. The Chiantis they craft from their little hillside vineyard overlooking the town of Greve are classic Tuscan country wines, brimming with earthy flavors of the land and right at home alongside the rustic local cuisine. The cool 2014 vintage provides a level of drinkability not typically associated with Sangiovese: you’ll find that jovial Beaujolais spirit in this bottle, with bright red fruits, a balsamic, herbal note, and supple tannins—all with a savory Tuscan twist. You’ll definitely want to get that salame and pocketknife ready for this one.
Brothers Alessandro and Gian Natale Fantino own prime land in Barolo country—some of the top vineyards in Monforte d’Alba. While their venerable Barolos belong in every collector’s cellar, it is their beguiling everyday rosso that I find myself craving the most. Its perfumed Nebbiolo fruit and sweet, tender tannins would make a full-grown Barolo look back longingly at its former self, nostalgic for its sprightly youth. Serve it ever-so-slightly chilled.
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