With only a few weeks that have passed since the 6.2 magnitude earthquake in L’Aquila, Italy, so many of us are thinking and praying for a region that has lost hundreds to this natural disaster.
As wine lovers, of course, we have a special place in our heart for Italy. Central Italy, has birthed the likes of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and so many other favorites. It’s impossible for us not to think about the love and craftsmanship these people display each day and not mourn them even more.
So, needless to say, we’ve had Italy on our mind quite a lot, hoping that recovery is swift and human suffering minimized. And with that spirit in our hearts, we could think of no other wines better to inspire our Inspired Wine Club this month than some of our Italian favorites from Italy. Buona fortuna, cara, bella Italia—
2015 Bocelli Tenor Red IGT, Tuscany
One of the more recent Italian icons is the incredible tenor Andrea Bocelli, and we have learned that his wine is as beautiful and delicious as his voice. In truth, the Bocelli family has owned vineyards in Tuscany since the 19th century. Some may not know that in the rolling countryside near Pisa stands an outdoor amphitheater known as Teatro del Silenzio (“theater of silence”). For 364 days a year, the silence is only broken by sounds of nature. But one day each summer, Andrea Bocelli headlines a concert there with friends from around the world, leading a celebration of life and the coming harvest. Tenor Red is the Bocelli family’s homage to this spirit: a Super Tuscan blend of 34% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Sangiovese and 33% Merlot. With aromas of bright cherry, cassis, sage and cocoa, this is a big wine with robust flavors that hold up to that steak au Poivre or Tuscan steak, but are equally suited to accompany a hearty antipasti or tomato-rich cioppino seafood stew and a healthy piece of sourdough bread.
2014 Verso Nero d’Avola Terre Sicilane IGT, Puglia
Verso is from the southeastern coast of Central Italy, in a place so remote, that in a country the size of California, only 1 in 100 Italians have been there. Owned for three generations by the Botter family, current winemaker Luca owns a quirky patch of land that produces amazing, varietally classic fruit, aging the wines in large oak barrels for several years, gently and patiently imparting soft, sweet tannins. The resulting Riservas are immensely pleasing, ready to drink immediately. This is fun stuff, full-bodied, generous, redolent of dried red fruits and cocoa with a silky texture. A versatile, food-lovers’ wine that marries well with a rigatoni con salsiccia piccante e finocchio (with spicy sausage and fennel) as perfectly as it does with a grilled tuna or hard seasoned cheeses. Saluti!
Summer’s heat cries out for light, bright wines that won’t weigh us down. Whether we’re at a neighborhood block party, an outdoor concert or savoring a fine dinner out on the terrace, the dog days of summer bark out for wine that offers an additional note of refreshment.
Despite the heat in their vineyards (or maybe because of it!), Burgundian wine – both red and white – seems to be just the right solution. That’s why this month we are “inspired” by the French and their delightfully complex Pinot Noir and unoaked Chardonnay. These are two wines that are certain to make August fly by and have you wondering where the summer went.
2014 Domaine Manuel Olivier, Bourgogne Pinot Noir
Take a French winemaker who got his start as a farmer, growing strawberries, raspberries and black currants, and you get someone who knows how to draw just the right “fruity” characteristics from a true Burgundian Pinot Noir. That is the case with Manuel Olivier. One of the “new generation” winegrowers, Olivier has earned many medals since his start in 1990. With a red berry nose and radiant ruby color, this wine’s joyful palate has a freshness of balanced red fruit followed by an equally balanced finish. This versatile wine pairs with most meals, but is particularly enjoyable with a grilled, rosemary-rubbed chicken. Can even be enjoyed chilled!
2015 Pascal Berthier, Mâcon-Chaintré Roxanne
Named for Pascal’s first granddaughter, Roxanne, this is a refreshing pure and naked chardonnay fermented and aged in stainless steel vats. Anyone who has had a Maconnais chardonnay like this one can vouch for its suitability in the heat of the summer. On the palate, this charming, yet complex wine is dry, fairly full-bodied, with excellent crispness and some mineral notes. Again, this is a versatile wine that offers refreshment while still providing many layers of enjoyment. Pairs well with seafood (especially shellfish) and poultry, as well as many vegetable dishes and soft cheeses.
We’ve probably said it before but for us at Hinsdale Wine Cellars, it’s pretty easy to put the red and white in the red, white and blue that comes with July each year. However, this year, we’re going the extra mile…with a little help from the French.
Say “hello” (or “bonjour”) to a white Bordeaux from France and a red Bordeaux-inspired blend from Santa Barbara that is produced by the same producers (Jonata) of that all-American Screaming Eagle. Whether you are gearing up for just a regular ol’ firecracking Independence Day bash or prefer the red, white and blue of Bastille Day, we’ve got you covered.
Chartron La Fleur, Bordeaux, France
Dry and fresh – just the way we like our Independence Day weather – this Sauvignon Blanc is made for summer. A beauty in the goblet with its pale, yellow-straw color, it really is an unfettered, bright wine. Its floral and fruity nose brings out that lovely quality that we have come to enjoy and expect in Sauvignon Blanc as a refreshing, cool sipper, but it also marries well with that smoky grilled salmon or a shrimp cocktail served before dinner at your next barbecue.
The Paring, Santa Barbara, California
This magical mix of 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, 16% Cabernet Franc and 7% Petit Verdot really is capable of transporting your taste buds to France! What a lovely wine to sip, while recalling an outdoor café in Paris along the Champs-Élysées! A dark beauty in the glass, this wine is rich in smoky black fruit with dusty and herbal notes. A little bit of rest in the glass or decanter yields even more layers of flavor as well. This is an impressively structured wine with fine-grained tannins that coat the palate gently. If you have enough self-control, see how it morphs more beautifully the following day! A fabulous sipper, but really a perfect match for your all-American grilled ribeye or a nice helping of steak frites.