A lot of sniffing, sipping, and spitting goes into each Kermit Lynch selection, especially when we are responsible for the final cuvée. Such is the case with Azienda Santa Barbara’s dazzling Verdicchio and Tenuta La Pergola’s affable Il Goccetto, in which we’re confident we’ve captured, at the friendliest price point, the house vini you only seem to find while vacationing in Italy.
Housed in an old monastery just a few miles from the Adriatic Sea, Azienda Santa Barbara is one of only two estates we recently began to import from the Marche region. Grown on the outer limits of the fortified village of Jesi, this traditional Verdicchio—as green and crisp as it sounds—is vinified in cool, stainless-steel tanks and bottled with the gentlest spritz of naturally occurring carbon dioxide to minimize sulfur use. If bitter lime notes from more familiar grapes like Grüner Veltliner and coastal Vermentino appeal to you, this low-alcohol, youthful bianco will readily rinse your palate clean and complement delicate fare like crudo and Meyer lemon risotto. I’d be remiss not to mention its subtle, chalky texture that reminds me of much pricier French Chablis.
East of the Langhe, just beyond the provinces of Alessandria and Asti, a cornucopia of native grape varieties grow together to offer the most diverse range of wine styles known to any single region in Italy. Here in Monferrato, at family-owned Tenuta La Pergola, matriarch Alessandra Boda collaborates with us on our second Italian cuvée: the old-school, vino rosso of our dreams named Il Goccetto. The precise blend may vary from one year to the next, but you can always expect a healthy dose of aromatic Brachetto (vinified dry), with juicy Barbera, and a splash of rosy Freisa, or crunchy Croatina. Il Goccetto falls firmly in the light red category, so you’ll want to serve it chilled, perhaps in a glass pitcher, for full trattoria effect.
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