The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Expert Picks: Fantinel and Rocche dei Manzoni

Posted on | October 8, 2015 | Written by Will Di Nunzio | No Comments

will expertTwo of the most influential and historic Italian wines you can find are on extreme opposite sides of the spectrum: Prosecco and Barolo. Prosecco is one of the most ancient varietals grown and consumed in Italy—people have been drinking its wines for a few thousand years, actually—yet it’s almost always regarded as the ugly stepsister to Champagne or Spumante. Well, nay I say, Prosecco is a gorgeous little wine. Affordable yes, but that makes it even better. The beginning of every party in Italy, Prosecc’s bubbles bring happiness, and it’s the beverage of choice for “aperitivo” in Italy, so it gets the hunger going as well.

This week I enjoyed a glorious 10-year-old Barolo. Considered to be the most important wine of Italy by the average Italian, Barolo is the wine Italians open on 18th birthday parties, wedding days, anniversaries—you name it. If the occasion is important, Barolo gets opened; it’s a ritual, a process, and there is much gratitude by the participants. Barolo is an icon. It’s elegant, luxurious, smooth and noble; it’s a wine that you can bet you’ll keep enjoying over and over again throughout the years. I’ve chosen an emblematic Prosecco and that bottle of decade-old Barolo to share with you today.

Fantinel NV Prosecco Brut Extra Dry $16.00

Drinking a bottle of this Prosecco recently, I was impressed with Fantinel’s work, very impressed actually. I had forgotten how beautifully playful this wine is—it’s so pretty, with delicate bubbles, fresh flowers and peaches. Some citrus notes dance around in the glass as you sip, and you are instantly revived and happy when you taste it. It was an unexpected experience for me, and I was delighted. The Fantinel family began as restaurateurs and they have made quite a name for themselves since patriarch Marco Fantinel first purchased his vineyards in 1969. This Prosecco reminded me of how incredible a winemaker Fantinel is.

Rocche dei Manzoni 2005 Barolo Vigna d’la Roul $89.99

My first month at IWM so many years ago, I remember being struck by a wine from Rocche Manzoni. At the time, we had a selection of Barolos from the mid-to-late ‘90s, and they were simply incredible. I could not believe the quality-to-price value these wines delivered, and all these years later, I still can’t. To no surprise, the 2005 Vigna Roul was exactly what I wanted: it’s smooth, elegant, balanced, properly aged, and a vintage I love. Barolo doesn’t get much better than this! All three of Rocche dei Manzoni’s Barolos—the estate’s Big d’Big, St Stefano and Roul—are phenomenal bottles of wine to pick up for the season ahead.

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