Yes, this is indeed a Vermouth gracing our wine pages! Bèrto comes from a family-owned distillery that specializes in small-batch traditional Piemontese Vermouths. On plots of land high in the Alps, the family grows organic aromatic herbs and spices (absinthe, gentian, rhubarb, and many more), which are gently infused into a neutral spirit and then blended with a local white wine. A splash of Barbera d’Asti accounts for the rosso’s deep color. It is highly aromatic, slightly sweet, and pleasantly bitter on the finish—perfect in a spritz with some Prosecco or served ice-cold with a twist of orange alongside chocolate-based desserts. Deeply refreshing and surprisingly complex, it has even been known to convert ardent wine drinkers such as myself.
Several years ago, Kermit and Dixon were trekking the back roads of Piemonte. Dry and wearied after a long morning of tastings, they ordered a carafe of white to refresh their palates. The wine in the pitcher—a local Arneis—was not only drinkable, but really quite good: lively, typical of the grape and of the region, and an ideal companion to the antipasti of the day. Oh, and it was cheap. That fateful carafe led them to Tenuta La Pergola in Cisterna d’Asti, at the crossroads of the Langhe, Roero, and Monferrato regions. As they would discover, La Pergola produces some of Piemonte’s best values, offering the versatility and crowd-pleasing delight that every trattoria wine should aspire to achieve. The new 2017 is a bargain ticket to authentic Piemontese refreshment.
When the occasion calls for an absolutely slurpable purple drink to help wash down a plate of pasta, there is no better candidate than a tasty Dolcetto. Massimo Benevelli’s comes from the storied slopes of Monforte d’Alba, where conditions are perfect for making intensely perfumed reds of inimitable local character. Loaded with aromas of violets and ripe berries, it is full-bodied yet soft and effortlessly downable, providing satisfaction without pretense or a fancy price tag.
Silvio Giamello’s minuscule production numbers and reserved demeanor ensure that his wines stay under the radar. He is a vignaiolo in the truest sense of the term, a farmer whose work in the cellar relies solely on patience, tasting, and the wisdom passed down from previous generations. This entails natural fermentations, aging the wines in botti grandi (oak casks), and bottling them unfiltered. The sunny 2015 vintage gave notably rich wines with aromas of ripe fruit, but some aeration quickly reveals the delicacy and floral notes we love in great Barbaresco—trademarks from this humble master.
Alessandro and Gian Natale Fantino manage to marry two crucial elements in their Barolos: the deep structure that guarantees a long evolution through the years and the plush, inviting texture that endows their wines with immediate drinkability. Ultra-traditionalists in the cellar—they swear by large casks—they are blessed with top-class vineyards in Bussia, a renowned cru of Monforte d’Alba. Sweetly perfumed with supple, fine-grained tannins, this 2012 Barolo will drink beautifully over the next fifteen years.
Sadly for the great dessert wines of the world, the general public’s inclination is trending toward wines that taste drier and drier. As Tintero’s Moscato so poignantly demonstrates, this could prove to be the biggest mistake in the history of trends since fanny packs, mullets,* and popped collars. Have a sip of this delectable nectar—what possibly is there not to love? Who could resist such a heavenly ambrosia, with its scent of kaleidoscopic spring wildflowers, fragrant citrus blossoms, and succulently ripe grapes? It is just sweet enough, but not too sweet, while a razor-crisp acidity and tickling spritz cleanse and stimulate the taste buds with each gulp. There is simply no better pairing for panna cotta, cobbler, or spicy chicken wings on NFL Sunday. This may be the forbidden fruit of Eden, partially fermented and bottled for our quaffing pleasure.
*Sincerest apologies to all our mullet-bearing customers.
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