Grottafumata, named after the prevalent “smoky caves” near the estate’s olive grove, is both a grower of organic olive oil on the western slopes of Mount Etna and a micro-producer of wine from Etna’s historically important “south side,” or lato sud, near Zafferano. Not wanting to deal with the bureaucracy of the Etna DOC, Mauro Cutuli and Mariangela Prestifilippo chose to declassify their gorgeous, golden, wildflower-scented nectar. Their inaugural vintage, made predominantly from Carricante vines with some Catarratto and Minnella, is a field blend with a brief skin maceration in the Etnean tradition from ancient vines on steep, volcanic slopes.
An artisanal producer of Prosecco, the Gregoletto family’s azienda was founded in 1600 in the heart of this ancient growing region around Valdobbiadene. Manzoni is a more recent addition to the Italian pantheon of grape varieties, created in the early twentieth century by crossing Riesling and Pinot Bianco. Tradition meets modernity in this fun, easy-to-like, dry Italian white that seems to have just the right medium body, fruitiness, invigorating acidity, and deliciousness factor for everyday enjoyment.
My newfound love affair with Italian Verdicchio began with the wines of La Marca di San Michele. Their vineyards, in the historical heart of the Castelli di Jesi DOCG in Cupramontana, are worked organically and are planted on limestone hillsides facing the Adriatic Sea, with the Apennine Mountains at their back. The Verdicchio grapes harvested here are further pampered in the cellar, from a calm, relaxing life on their lees in large botte to their later easing into bottle unfiltered—a “slow passage” through life that ends up in your thankful glass. Savor each sip of this one-of-a-kind wine from the Le Marche region of eastern Italy. You will never think of Verdicchio the same way again!
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