Sun 22 Aug 2010
Say you’re preparing an Italian dinner, or you want to take a couple of reasonably priced Italian wines to dinner, or you just want a couple of terrific and reasonably priced Italian wines to drink, I mean, I’m not trying to suggest a career path or anticipate your every need, but try this pair:
For the white, La Tunella Pinot Grigio 2009, from Italy’s far northeastern Colli Orientali del Friuli region, or “Eastern Hills of Friuli.” I gripe and bitch and moan about the mediocre quality of 90 percent of the pinot grigio wines on the market, but this is not one of those. And, no, La Tunella does not mean “the little tuna”; it is, rather, the name of a hill and village close to this impeccably run family property. Made all in stainless steel, La Tunella Pinot Grigio 2009 opens with a spurt of spiced and herbed lemon, followed by scintillating green apple and a hint of apple blossom, and then something warmer, acacia, roasted pear. Forget watery pinot grigios; this offers a lovely sense of weight and balance that join crisp, lively acidity with elegant lushness. The wine is spicier in the mouth, especially through the finish, where the lemon and pear flavors are haunted by a hint of grapefruit. Incredibly charming. The alcohol content is 13 percent. Drink as a beguiling aperitif or with grilled fish and seafood. Excellent. About $21.
For the red, here’s a robust example from “the sun-burnt South,” as Keats says, referring to Provence, except that the Rapitalà “Nuar” 2007 is from Sicily, which, as you know, as souther. The wine is a full-throttle blend of 70 percent nero d’Avola and 30 percent pinot nero (pinot noir), as unusual combination, as is the treatment. The nero d’Avola sees only stainless steel, while the pinot noir is fermented in stainless steel and then transferred to small French oak casks for nine months. The result is a wine whose ripe, fleshy, meaty black fruit scents and flavors provide a heady kick that leans to the funky side of the street. These aspects of black cherry, black currant and blackberry are heightened by a touch of fruit cake and baking spices, by an earthy and minerally, slightly granitic vein and highlighted by acidity that stops short of being pert. In several words, the Rapitalà Nuar 2007 is perfect for hearty pizzas and pasta dishes, for barbecue brisket or braised short ribs and other such rib-sticking fare. The alcohol content is 13.5 percent. Drink now through 2012. very Good+. About $16.
Samples for review.
La Tunella imported by Quintessential, Napa, Cal.
Rapitalà imported by Frederick Wildman & Sons, New York.