A lively, vivacious under $18 Italian white!
Finally, some consistent white wine weather (or just spring weather for the rest of us). As the mercury rises in New York, it means only one thing: it’s the perfect time for a lively, vivacious white. I decided to enjoy my weekend with Sartarelli 2014 Verdicchio Castelli di Jesi Classico.
This wine was born in a region called Castelli di Jesi, arguably the best region for Italy’s Verdicchio grape. Situated around 1,000 feet above sea level where nothing blocks the cool sea breezes coming off the coast of Ancona, Sartarelli’s vineyards impart the estate’s wines with a rich minerality. This mineral core balances out the wines’ fruitiness and adds substantive structure. Despite the seemingly ideal landscape for Verdicchio, the talents of winemaker Alberto Mazzoni make Sartarelli wines something special. Dedicating Sartarelli entirely to Verdicchio, Mazzoni uses his experience with the ancient grape to create wines with a silky texture.
Like most of Sartarelli’s wines, this Verdicchio Castelli di Jesi Classico is an easy starter wine and a real crowd-pleaser. And did I mention that this wine is under $18? Yes, this white is probably one of the best value wines we offer at IWM. I shared this with my friends and heard nothing but excellent reviews as we drank it with linguine and shellfish. Although it has powerful fruity aromatics, this Verdicchio is very well balanced and goes well with almost any food as its flavor will not overpower any dish. However, I will say we particularly enjoyed it with seafood. Its minerality and almost almondy finish just seemed to lend itself perfectly to mussels, clams, and linguine. I full-heartedly recommend keeping a few bottles (or cases) of this on-hand for the warm weather ahead.
Two expert selections from John Camacho Vidal
When we think of international grapes in Italy we think of red Super Tuscans. But in Italy’s North, winemakers have experimented with the same vigor as Toscana’s producers; however, they often embrace white grapes, not reds. One such producer is Angelo Gaga. Located in Piemonte in the district of Langhe, Gaja is mainly known for producing Barbaresco and Barolo, but he has long been a maverick and an innovator, credited with developing techniques that have revolutionized winemaking in Italy. The “man who dragged Piedmont into the modern world,” Gaja embraced Chardonnay, and his work with this French grape is almost unparalleled in Italy. I’ve chosen two Chardonnay bottlings from Angelo Gaja that show how great this meeting of Piemonte and French white grape can be.
Coming from several vineyards owned by the estate, Rossj-Bass is composed of Chardonnay with a kiss of Sauvignon Blanc. Named after Angelo Gaja’s youngest daughter Rossana (Rossj), the wine is elegant with a nose of citrus, white flowers and honeydew melon followed by minerality and a slight herbal note. The palate is bright with zingy acidity that sits nicely mid-palate and a nice, lengthy finish that leaves the palate fresh. Drink now to the end of the decade.
Gaja Chardonnay 2005 Gaia & Rey $329.00
The first white wine that Gaja produced, Gaia & Ray derives from Gaja’s first Chardonnay vineyard, which is named after Angelo’s daughter Gaia and his grandmother Clotilde Rey. This wine has a rich, full nose full of honey and citrus notes that mingle with slight stone and floral notes and a hint of toast from the oak. The palate is balanced with bright acidity, ripe fruit, a full mouth-feel, and a long finish that persists for over a minute. Drink now and into the next decade.
A $22 white that makes converts out of red wine lovers
When the sun is out and the sky is blue, there’s nothing like a good white wine. You hear a lot of wine drinkers say, “I’m just more of a red person. With all deference to these people, I think they haven’t been properly introduced to a great white wine. I decided to put this theory to the test this past weekend, using my roommates, avowed red wine lovers, as the test subjects. I went with the Sartarelli 2013 Verdicchio Tralivio, an excellent starter wine, and the result was just what I was looking for.
Sartarelli began its career selling its grape production every year; however, in 1972 the property starting making its own wine. Picking fruit only from the oldest vines and selecting the finest grapes in its vineyards, Sartarelli produces a unique, rustic, and full-bodied wine. Verdicchio holds a reputation as being one of Italy’s finest white grapes, lending its floral and fruity character to many beloved Italian white wines. However well known, Verdicchio reaches great heights with the talents of Sartarelli’s winemaker Alberto Mazzoni. Sartarelli grows only Verdicchio, and the estate consistently crafts excellent quality wines. By sticking to traditional cultivation methods, meticulously searching for the best low-yield grapes, and perfecting its aging protocol, Sartarelli creates an intense and complex Verdicchio that most producers can only dream about.
This Verdicchio Tralivio was a terrific starter wine, especially given the $22 price tag. As I had anticipated, the expressions on my red-wine-loving roommates’ faces changed as they were hit with notes of lemon and pineapple followed by a wave of flowers, all followed by a surprising late hint of smokiness. As it crossed the palate, this wine revealed an excellent feel and consistency, likely due to the meticulous aging process put forth by these masters of Verdicchio. This Sartarelli Verdicchio is very food-friendly, particularly with white meat and greens, and, more importantly, its easy drinkability made white wine fans out of my red-wine friends.
A bright, juicy under $23 Antinori Vermentino with a perfect recipe complement
Today, I’m going to share a great Italian recipe with you: “Rombo al forno con le Patate.” Even better, I’m going to put it with the perfect wine pairing, Guado al Tasso 2014 Bolgheri Vermentino from Antinori, a sharp and floral new release from this Bolgheri estate. This classic Italian recipe is as good as it is healthy; it’s also simple and focuses on the high quality of one of the most noble fish from the Mediterranean: the Turbot.
One of the most prestigious wine producers in Italy, Antinori gained international renown for crafting the world-famous Tignanello, Solaia, Cervaro della Sala and, of course, Guado al Tasso, the flagship wine of the estate of the same name. The Guado al Tasso estate is located near Bolgheri on the Tuscan coast, 60 miles southwest of Florence. Its 750 acres of vineyards sit in the center of the so-called “Bolgheri amphitheater,” the rolling hillsides that surround a splendid plain that slopes gently towards the sea; it’s a microclimate with unique characteristics.
In the glass, this ’14 Vermetino is almost straw yellow kissed with green highlights, and its nose is quite floral but delicate. The fresh and precise, palate is mineral laden, and it holds the typical notes of a Bolgheri Vermentino such as citrus fruit, and flowers. Fresh and acidic, this wine’s balance is perfect and it has a long and savory finish. Less than $23 a bottle, this Vermentino is especially good for the price!
Now, here’s your ideal pairing, “Rombo al forno con le Patate”
One small Turbot, 1 ½ lb per person
3-4 Yukon Potatoes
Extra virgin olive oil
Pre-heat the oven at 375F
Slice the potatoes thinly with a mandoline slicer and make a layer on a baking sheet, add olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh rosemary
A look back at the week that was
For Monday being a holiday, Inside IWM packed a lot into this week. Sean Collins told us how he wowed his friends with an unexpectedly delicious $19 bottle of Chianti Classico from La Maialina. We got an inside view of the IWM NYC showroom from John Camacho Vidal, who explained how what we do is different from every other wine shop. And we completed our series on Italian red wine grapes with a rousing post that details some of our favorites; from Refosco to Uva Rara, this exploration of red grapes expands your wine knowledge.
Our Experts were similarly intense. Crystal Edgar looks forward to summer with two fine Verdicchio wines from Sartarelli, one of our favorite Le Marche producers. Michael Adler looks at Meursault and “Meursault,” offering a pair of wines that will reward lovers of fine Chardonnay. And Will Di Nunzio picks a pair of under $35 quintessentially Italian wines, making sure that you can drink great wine any night of the week.
Here’s to making the most of your time–and enjoying it with terrific wine and even better people.keep looking »