I have officially closed down www.GraciesItalianWineReview.com and will focus on putting wine reviews up here on this site. I wanted to share with you the first post I did on the old site. In fact since I wrote that piece I have repurchased each and every one of these wines. The Chianti Classsico as recently as last night. These wines are all still drinking well, but you may notice a slight increase in price since this post was first written.
I could not think of a better way to start this blog than focus on 5 great wines from Italy for under $30.00. With so many great wines to choose from this turned our to be a bit of a challenge. I decided the easiest way to narrow down the search was to focus on the five wines that I enjoyed the most in the past 5 months. Five wines that can be enjoyed year round, with most foods and will not break the bank in the process. Try these and let me know what you think. I would love to hear from you.
#1 Castello di Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva 2008
Wine Spectator rated the Castello di Monsanto Chianti Classico 2008 Riserva #31 of their top 100 wines of 2011. A full bodied sangiovese from Tuscany and a very typical version of Chianti Classico wines, with its ruby red color and rich fruit flavors to stand up to most any meal. Alcohol by volume in the Castello di Monsanto is 14.0%, not unusual for a Chianti Classico.
Chianti Classico are very special wines for me personally, as they were a family favorite and often served on special ocassions. A great holiday or party wine, when your hosting a big group and you don’t want to take out a loan to pay for the wine. Wine.com currently has this wine discounted and can be picked up for under $20.00.
#31 Wine Spectator Top 100 of 2011
This Chianti Classico Riserva is ruby red tending towards garnet. The bouquet is rich, intense and complex with notes of black cherry and spice. On the palate, it is full-bodied with rich red berry fruit flavors complimenting a backbone of tannin.
On a recent trip to Sicily I became a big fan of Sicilian wines, especially those from the Mount Etna region. Still finding their way in this country, Etna wines are growing in popularity however, as enthusiast discover how these wines explode with flavor, earthiness and spice. Most do well with a few years in the bottle, but I found the ’09 Pietradolce to be very drinkable now. James Suckling scores this wine a 95 and Wine.com has it listed for $29.99. Buy now and save for a special Sicilian meal.
Perfumes explode from the glass – cherries and caramel char, cinnamon and cranberry – once the bottle is opened. The flavors are at once lush and precise, as every sip gives you the incredible, delectable sensation of biting through the skin and flesh of the ripest summer fruit. Plums, raspberries, orange rinds blend with rose petals, pomegranate jam, even hints of red apples. Nerello captures the harmony of fine Burgundy with the stately grace of Barolo, yet given its volcanic heart, is definitely its own experience.
I love this wine and believe me you will too. Not many people are familiar with Aglianico’s, but this southern Italian grape rarely disappoints. Like most Aglianicos the 2007 Elena Fucci Titolo Del Vulture from the Basilicata region can stand the test of time with a mature date between now and 2022.
I like to let these wines age, but they are so good I rarely have the will power to do so. Dense and full bodies they pair well with meats, heavy pasta dishes and grilled foods. Wine.com once again offers this wine at a bargain price of $24.99.
The 2007 Titolo displays totally awesome potential, inky blue/purple, the explosive nose of raspberry, cherry and blackberry fruit complicated by violets, leather, tobacco, lava rock and tar, the palate is fully dense, with sumptuous flavors, powerful velvety tannins grip the mouth, but beneath the tannins lay an exceptional wine which is long, complex and deeply concentrated, and yet it never comes across as being heavy. This is a fresh, vibrant and powerful wine with decades of glorious life ahead of it.
I chose the 2009 Zenato Ripassa mainly because it fits nicely within our price point, but I could have easily suggested 2003,06,07 or 08. Zenato Superior Ripassa are just great wines from the Vento region of northern Italy. Often called baby Amarone, the Ripassa style uses the same three grapes used in the more expensive Amarone. Wine.com sells this Ripassa for $29.99.
One thing that always sets these wines off is the aromas they create and the anticipation one gets before taking the first sip. My first experience with Zenato was a number of years ago on the suggestion of a friend who knew a thing or two about wine. This sleeper of a producer has quickly become one of my favorites.
The deep ruby red color of the Ripassa, and the intense yet fine aromas come from the mixture of grapes. It is full bodied, harmonic, and velvety on the palate. Recommended with grilled meat dishes, Ripassa is excellent with rabbit casserole. This blockbuster wine is one of Winebow’s all-time favorites.
alcohol by volume: 14.0%
I could not do a grouping of 5 Italian Reds without including a wine from Piemonte. The 2008 La Spinetta Barbera d’Asti Ca Di Pian is a perfect candidate to fill that roll.
I love a wine that gives me an aroma of cherry and follows through on the palate. This Barbera does just that. What I like most about this wine however, is that it works at any season and on any occasion. Barbera’s are truly verstile, drink them now or put them down for a spell and they will not disappoint.
Available at a real bargain, wine.com is giving this wine away now for a sale price of $19.99. La Spinetta is also one of my favorite modern day producers out of the Piedmont region
Ruby red with purple reflections. The bouquet has beautiful and complex aromas of cassis, dried cherry and Indian tea. This is a complex, vibrant, focused wine with refreshing acidity and ripe fruit. Will age well for 10 to 15 years. A great pairing for all kinds of appetizers and soft cheeses.
alcohol by volume: 14.0%
“Black currant and bilberry fruit signals this fresh, vivid Barbera. It has light tannins, but overall shows balance and harmony. Lingering finish. Drink now through 2015.” 90 Points – Wine Spectator