Oregon Pinot Noir, specifically, that which originates in the Willamette Valley, is the most prized by wine lovers next to that which is produced in Burgundy.
Oregon is one of the few areas in the world that has the right conditions to produce one of the most fickle, thin-skinned grapes in vinous. A unique combination of cool nights, volcanic soil and intense daytime sun and the careful cultivation of carefully researched and cultivated clones has produced well-crafted wines that garner awards and top dollar year after year.
Wine lovers in Chicago had a rare opportunity to taste more than 200 Willamette Valley Pinot Nolirs, poured by the winemakers and owners themselves, at Pinot in the City. All of the big names were there, as well as some lesser-known small producers whose boutique wines have developed intense loyalty and an underground following among oenophiles. Few wines inspire as much passionate debate and fervent devotion as pinot noir. Those who achieve a new "find" jealously hang on to their sources. Pinot in the City pulled back the curtain on some magnificent wines that may have been hiding in plain sight all along.
Here are just a few of the favorites:
Sokol Blosser 2015 Estate Pinor Noir-$38.
This is, to me, the bench mark for good Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. CEO and Co-President Alison Sokol Blosser is a Second-Generation Winegrower, and clearly knows her stuff. The 2015 Dundee Hills is 100% Pinot Noir. It is a tight package of dark fruit flavor; deep purple plums, blackberries, ripe blueberries and hints of chocolate and mint going down. The wine has well-integrated tannins, giving it a smooth, polished finish. All of this is achieved by lengthy aging in neutral oak barrels which have the primary function of providing balance and velvety texture without imparting any added spice or smoke. The sublimely elegant fruit is allowed to sing its own aria to the applause of wine aficionados and critics alike.
Knudsen 2015 Pinot Noir-$55. Managing Partner Page Knudsen Cowles is a fountain of information on the genealogy of her terrific wines. Formerly known as Knudsen-Erath, the winery has emerged to create its own distinctive oeuvre.
Knudsen Vineyards is the acknowledged pioneer of winemaking in the Willamette Valley. In its prime location in the heart of the acclaimed Dundee Hills AVA, it overlooks the Willamette Valley and both the North Cascade Mountain range and majestic Mt. Hood. Wines are created by blending estate grown fruit from various Blocks among the foothills to create wines of uncommon elegance and complexity that express the unique terroir of the Dundee Hills. Layers of silty clay loam, reddish brown and red clay layers lie beneath well-drained soils rich in minerals. This is the same soil that produces the beautiful Douglas Fir trees and hazelnuts that we prize during the Holidays. The soil supports the growth of several types of highly coveted Dijon clones.
Over 45 years of winemaking speaks for itself. A rich and flavorful wine bursting with flavors of ripe red cherries, cranberries and pomegranate with a hint of cinnamon spice from long oak aging in new and seasoned oak. The wine has a long finish that is great with food. Allow it to breath for at least half an hour as you grill a giant Porterhouse or Cowboy Cut Rib Eye or Lamb Chops dusted with fresh Rosemary from the garden.
Van Duzer 2014 Dijon Blocks Pinot Noir-$50.
Florent-Pierre Merlier, Winemaker
This wine is aromatic and elegant. It starts with an appealing nose of warm, freshly baked cherry pie, with flavors of ripe strawberries and blueberries intermingled with banknote flavors of crushed rose hips, with brown sugar and star anise mid-palate. There's a bonus shot of licorice and vanilla after silky tannins give the wine a creamy texture leading to a long, mouth-watering finish. If you have some Humboldt Fog cheese handy, and one of the new CD or (preferably) vinyl releases of remastered sides by Miles or Trane, you just might have the makings of a perfect evening.
Johan Vineyards 2016 Farmlands Pinot Noir-$20
Jack Tragenza-Production Assistant
Not every respectable Oregon Pinot Noir has to set you back half a yard or more. Farmlands from Johan Vineyards is a prime example of "New Age" natural winemaking. Everything is natural, from the yeasts that develop naturally in the field, to the method used for fermentation, which is spontaneous, rather than inoculated. The wine is produced entirely by hand and all with estate fruit, just like the big boys! The result; a fresh tasting, delicious wine that's easy to drink and with fresh, ripe berry taste that reminds you of the sensation of biting into a blueberry pie that your grandmother just made and set out on the windowsill to cool. Its hard to believe that you're getting such an extraordinary wine for this price, but its definitely unhip to look a gift horse in the mouth.
Angela Pinot Noir has been a long time favorite and this year's vintage doesn't disappoint. The 2013 is no exception. This single vineyard wine is grown from fruit from a newly purchased vineyard, known for producing exceptional wines. Sleek and refined, this wine is pristine. Nicely rounded red cherry fruit with hints of orange peel and orange pekoe tea leaves with finishing notes of rich, Jamaican coffee and dark chocolate shavings. There's some lingering notes of truffles and wood ear mushrooms, and a hint of sassafras and cedar shavings that belie the wine's careful and lengthy oak aging.
The 2013 Abbott Claim Pinot Noir has silky tannins, flavors of ripe red currant and raspberry, cherry cola, sassafrass. Rich mushroom and white truffle aromas and an overlay of sassafrass and sweet cedar or pipe tobacco. Supple and expressive, this is a wine that I like to drink alone, without anything. With so many subtle, ravishing things going on, it would be a crime to let any other flavors intrude on the sublime experience of savoring a truly great wine.
King Estate 2015 Pinot Noir-$28
David Kouzmanoff, Central General Manager
Here's another example of a terrific Oregon Pinot Noir coming just under the $30 wire. It represents tremendous flavor and value at an unbeatable price. The wine is made entirely from certified organic and Biodynamic grapes. The earliest harvest in the winery's history resulting from exceptional weather conditions produced a wine of unparalleled beauty. This is the best that Willamette Valley has to offer! The nose hits you with aromas of ripe black cherries, plums and the taste of licorice and cloves on the back of the throat. Easy t o drink with soft, well-integrated tannins and a pleasant acidity that's just enough to make you want to pucker up an d ask for more. Aged 8-10 months in French oak barrels, this is a hand-crafted wine that best examples the signature style of Willamette Valley Pinot Noir.
King Estate 2015 Domaine Pinto Gris-$30
King Estate is a sustainably farmed, certified organic vineyard with a state of the art winery. Situated on a hilltop above the rolling slopes of the Coast Range Foothills, the winery is situated in world-class vineyards that also play hoost to organic orchards, vegetable gardens, and native wildlife, including black bears, and cougars. King Estates' flagship win is Pinot Gris. A glistening straw color heralds the bursting fruit flavors inside the bottle; ripe Asian pear, pineapple and Key Lime pie give way to subtle sensations of violets, honeydew and wildflower honey. Framed by mineral notes from rich slate, the wine has a long, clean finish that is crisp and refreshing. Simple salads, ripe cheeses, and the freshest of seafood prepared as quickly and minimally as possible to preserve the fresh taste, is the best way to pair this wine. I know this article is supposed to be all about Pinot Noir, but this Pinot Gris is just too good to pass up and its a nice way to refresh the palate at the end of a terrific wine tasting experience.
NATIVE GRAPES INVITE EXOTIC FOOD SENSATIONS FROM THE MEDITERRANEAN AND BEYOND
TROUPIS WINERY WINEMAKER YIANNIS TROUPIS WITH HIS HOOF AND LUR 2017
by Dwight Casimere
For Greece to be one of the oldest wine producing regions in the world and the first to introduce wine and winemaking to most of Europe, it is mind-boggling how little today's wine drinking public is familiar with wines from that country.
Perhaps the popularity of Retsina, a dry wine that became the national beverage of Greece in the 1960s, cemented the perceptions of Greek wines in the public mind. It has been an uphill effort ever since to reshape the image of Greek wines as being those of unique character and exceptional quality.
Greek wines have their own distinct flavor profile and are made from indigenous grapes with names unfamiliar to most wine lovers; Assyrtiko, Roditis, Malagousia, Debina, Moschofilero, Robola, Savatiano, Lagorthi to name but a few of the hundreds of locally grown grape varieties that comprise the universe of Greek Wine.
Currently, several groups of winemakers from all of t he Greek wine growing regions are touring the United States, conducting tastings at venues in all of the major cities, introducing their latest vintages. The wines are exciting. Their unique flavors are perfect for today's ever-changing culinary scene with its emphasis on ethnic and fusion cuisines and current trends for lighter and more flavor inhanced fare, which incorporates a kaleidoscope of new flavors from the Mediterranean and beyond.
Here are just a few of the wines that garnered attention at a recent Greek Portfolio Tasting DNS Wines, a grower-focused portfolio of wines from environmentally responsible producers. The wines all communicate a sense of place and are pure expressions of both their varieties and their terroir.
HOOF AND LUR 2017-$15, MOSCHOFILERO "ORANGE WINE" FROM TROUPIS WINERY, PELOPONESSE, WINEMAKER YIANNIS TROUPIS
This is the most recent example of "orange wine" which is all the rage in Europe. Its been around for a few years, but is only recently making waves in the U.S. Made from native Moschofilero grapes, the wine achieves its unique color and characteristics by fermenting the wine must on the skins for a short time and then continuing fermentation for several months 'on the less,' or the dead yeast to enhance richness, texture and flavor. The winemaker, Yiannis Troupes, wanted to create a wine that harkened back to the rural traditions of his native Peloponnese island. Hence the Hoof and Lur name, which harkens back to the agrarian traditions of the area, and the 'orange wine' technique which takes advantage of the use of only the natural yeast produced on the vine instead of refined agricultural yeast. The wine also reflects the full expression of the complex soil of Peloponnese, which is a combination of sandy loam and rich clay.
Hoof and Lur has a unique flavor profile. The nose of blood orange, intense lemon citrus, star fruit, and a hint of anise gives way to flavors that dance in the mouth. The natural acidity of the wine gives it a long finish and enhances the flavors of the Mediterranean. Marinated and pickled vegetables and fruits, salads drenched in olive oil and infused vinegars, soft, ripe cheeses and fish and lighter meats such as chicken thighs, lamb or flank steak slathered in herbs and garlic-infused olive oil turned quickly over hot coals on a flaming grill are the perfect accompaniments. This is truly a wine of summer. Look for the distinctive bottle with the hoof-like indentations on the bottom!
PALEOKERISIO SEMI SPARKLING WINE 2016 -$10 FROM DOMAINE GLIVANOS, EPIRUS
This is a semi-sparkling wine made from 97% Debina grapes, which is very seminary to Chardonnay. The winery utilizes sustainable practices and the wine reflects their attention to the environment and to meticulous detail in winemaking. This is yet another variation on "orange wine," with a very distinctive deep bronze color reminiscent of honey or cognac. Understandably, this Greek sparkling wine is surprisingly intense, with exceedingly complex aromas of apple and sweet spices, such as cinnamon, clove and a hint of cardamom. There's a banknote of vanilla and a yummy mouthfeel of melted butter that makes it easy to drink. This is perfect as a crowd-pleasing introduction to a garden party. Serve it with a light buffet of assorted pickles, olives,hummus, cured meats, cheeses and crudite.. Save a few bottles to pass around during the dessert tray of baklava and other Mediterranean sweets.
This wine is a real charmer. Persistent intense fruit throughout with some unusual, but delightful flavors that get more dense and complex with every sip; red peach, gooseberry, quince with a hint of smoke. It has a creamy finish. Open it at least a half hour before serving to let it breath. The air brings out the complexity.
Greek wines are affordable and exciting. Their unique flavor profile gives you an opportunity to expand your culinary horizon and introduce some new, spicy and exotic flavors to your summer menu repertoire.
Evriviadis Sclavos-Director of Operations-Sclavos Wines, Cephalonia with his All Natural Robola "Vino Di Sasso"2016 $12
Nerantrzi Mitropoulos with his Syrah 2011-$30
Domaine Nerantzi Malagousia 2016-$13
The father-daughter winemaking team of Nerantzi and Eva Mitropoulos of Domain Nerantizi, Macedonia
MICHAEL MONDAVI FAMILY ESTATES CARRIES ITS FAMOUS NAME FORWARD WITH WINE FROM NEWLY DESIGNATED PETALUMA GAP AVA
Emblem 2016 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
Morning fog in the Petaluma Gap vineyards
Michael Mondavi, estate founder (l), his daughter and son, Dina Moondavi (c) and Robert Mondavi, Jr.
by Dwight Casimere
Just an hour or so north of San Francisco lies the Petaluma Gap, a unique stretch of land about 30 miles wide that stretches along the coast between Bodega Bay and Tomales Bay and east to the mouth of the Petaluma River. It is near the city of Petaluma, California. The most distinctive features of the Gap are its weather conditions; lingering coastal fog, strong, fresh marine winds, and an abundance of powerful afternoon sunlight that bathes the area throughout the rest of the day. These conditions are perfect for growing wine grapes and vineyards have been in abundance in the Petaluma Gap since the 1880s. Because of these unique growing conditions, the Petaluma Gap was given its own designation as an American Viticultural growing area (AVA) beginning in January, 2018.
Although the Petaluma Gap has been a wine producing region for more than a century, tourists might best know it for its proximity to the town of Bodega Bay, a sleepy seaside town that resembles a New England fishing village. It was made famous as the location for the exterior scenes of Alfred Hitchcock's 1963 film, The Birds. Shrouded in fog and mystery, the area seems ripe for the setting of a suspenseful thriller. It also sets the stage for the production of a great and distinctive wine like Emblem 2016 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay.
Emblem 2016 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay is the latest edition from the Michael Mondavi Family Estate. Founded in 1966, it continues the tradition of California's leading winemaking family, the Mondavis. Led by family patriarch and winemaking icon Robert Mondavi, the name has become synonymous with premium California wine throughout the world. The brother and sister team of Robert Mondavi, Jr. and Dina Mondavi carry the mantle forward as they run the winery founded by their father, Michael Mondavi.
The Mondavi pedigree is evident in every sip of Emblem 2016 Chardonnay. The depth and beauty of California's most cherished grape is captured in every bottle. Conditions were unspectacular during the wine's growing season, which is a good thing for winemakers. An early start brought forth firm, healthy grapes with vivid, deep flavors, great acidity and soft tannins that make for wine with freshness and finesse. Barrel fermentation under constant cool temperatures preserved that freshness and contnued throughout the aging process. The wine's richness was further enhanced by aging in small French oak barrels for 9-10 months in 15% new oak and 85% neutral oak barrels, which gave the wine a soft, round mouth-feel.
This is a beautiful wine, bursting with flavors of ripe red pears, crisp green apples and hints of lemongrass and the warmth of vanilla and baking spices. The finish is long and delicious with a texture that makes you want to experience the pleasure of drinking it before, during and after the meal.
Summer is perfect for Emblem 2016 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay. Serve it to your guests at just below cellar temperature, but not too chilled, so that they can enjoy the sudden burst of fruit flavor that cascades into their mouth with the first sip. Summer salads, chilled seafood, such as shrimp cocktail, oysters on the half shell and a first course of seared scallops or peel and eat shrimp are great pairing possibilities. Some grilled salmon or fresh trout stuffed with a bit of fresh herbs would make a perfect first course, followed by some lamb chops covered with fresh garden rosemary and cooked to a just-pink doneness over hot coals covered in apple wood chips. Save some Emblem Chardonnay for a dessert of Key Lime Pie or strawberry shortcake and you have a dining experience that even the Mondavi's might envy.
Robert Mondavi, Sr., Napa Valley wine icon at a Napa Valley Wine Auction with celebrity auctioneer Jay Leno in the background
A cluster of Chardonnay grapes
Alfred Hitchcock on the set of The Birds with stars Rod Taylor, Tippi Hedren and Jessica Tandy (c)
Promotional stills for The Birds-Universal Pictures 1963
WINES OF NAVARRA SPAIN BRING A TASTE OF SUMMER TO CHICAGO AND THE U.S.
Dwight The Wine Doctor with April Cullom-winemaker Cinco Sentidos/Destination Spain Specialist
Victor del Villar-Olano-winemaker Castillo de Monjardin
Giuliano Rosi-Bodega Otazu
Pablo Aguirre-winemaker Bodegas Ochoa with his Gran Reserva 2010
Bodegas Ochoa-Pablo Aguirre winemaker
An ancient structure in a vineyard in Navarra
Christian Bungard-Bodega De Sarria
Senorio de Sarria No. 5 2017
The rooftop deck at Bernie's Lunch and Supper River North
Bodegas Nekeas wines Vega Sindoa Chardonnay 2017, Chardonnay Barrel Fermented 2017 and and Vega Sindoa Rosado 2017
by Dwight Casimere
Summer season's most intriguing wines come from one of Spain's undiscovered areas: Navarra. Located in the north of SpaIn just outside of Madrid, its provincial capital is Pamplona, made famous by the Ernest Hemingway novel "The Sun Also Rises" and the festival at the town of Los Sanfermines and the celebrated annual running of the bulls.
The sheer variety and complexity of the wines, not to mention the exceptional value, makes these wines perfect for summer and the wide variety of dishes to be served at garden parties, al fresco cafes and barbecues. The wines are exceptional and selling at bargain prices. Get in on the fun or lose out once they catch on and prices start to skyrocket as in all things worthy!
Chicago's Bernie's Lunch and Supper rooftop deck in the restaurant mecca of River North was the setting for a lavish Grand Tasting of wines from a Baker's Dozen of wineries from D.O. Navarra, Spain. The wines ran the gamut from crisp, fruity Chardonnays to robust Crianza's.
Navarra is known as "the garden of Spain." Made famous by its quality produce and sheep's milk cheeses, it is also praised for its superb vineyards, cultivated for more than 300 years since the arrival of monks during the Crusades of the Middle Ages. Multiple micro climates and a confluence of unique terroir produced vineyards that create an abundance of 'international' grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay as well as hearty and flavorful local varieties such as Tempranillo and Garnacha (Grenache).
Wine makers from Navarra were at the rooftop lounge at Bernie's Lunch and Supper in River North to present their wines. Among them were such historic vineyards as Castilla de Monjardin. Tucked away in the foothills of the Pyrenees along France's border, the winery was founded in 1988 by the Del Villar-Olano family. Wine maker Victor del Villar Olano was on hand to personally pour his selection of wines, ranging from his unoaked 2017 El Cerezo Chardonnay ($12.99) to 2014 Reserva Cabernet ($14.99) . The wines displayed exceptional character, particularly the 2017 La Cantera Garnacha Old Vines. This jammy, red wine displayed all of the bright fruit and balanced structure that belies its youth. With flavors of ripe red cherries and raspberries backed by a hint of spiciness, the wines are a perfect match for grilled meats and barbecue. I defy you to find another red wine of such depth and complexity at this price.
Winemaker Giuliano Rosi was a revelation with his Bodega Otazu wines and his recounting of the storied history of the winery and its unique setting and holdings.
"Bodega Otazu is unique," winemaker Rosi explained. " First of all, it is one of 14 wineries in Spain to have the recognition of Vino de Pago, which is the highest category a vineyard can obtain." Located in Spain's most northern red wine producing area, its setting in a forest is magical. The winery houses one of Spain's largest private museums of art history, with more than 250 pieces of priceless artworks, dating to the Middle Ages. The Manor (Senorio) itself consists of two sixteenth century palaces and a fourteenth century dovecote, intended to house pigeons and doves for their eggs and as a source of food, and a twelfth-century church. Next to all of this is a most modern winery with state of the art equipment and an avant grade underground cellar. Winemaker Giuliano Rosi described one of the winery's technical processes. "We have worked very hard, hand-in-hand with the University to develop modern methods of monitoring the humidity and our soil composition. We have sensors placed at various soil depths that tell us exactly when moisture is required for maximum growth potential. This information is carefully recorded and factored in at every stage of the growing process." Otazu's vineyards are ideally situated with a microclimate of both Atlantic and Mediterranean influences. A blend of alluvial clay terraces, pebbles and rocky terrain create grapes of unique character and complexity resulting in wines of distinction. Otazu 2017 Chardonnay is a fruit forward white wine with bristling flavors of ripe melons, tropical fruits and zesty lemon. The wine is cold fermented under constant temperatures and aged unoaked to preserve its fresh fruit flavor. The wine is very clean and bright with flavors of apple peels, lemon, pineapple and a touch of ripe peaches. Grilled fish and chicken, ripe cheeses and assorted summer salads are the perfect pairing. Have plenty on hand for your next garden party and at less than $10 a bottle, you can't go wrong. Order a case!
Bodegas Ochoa is an exceptional winery from the northernmost village of Olite in the Ribera Alta. Its family history dates back to 1845. Following a long tradition of wine production from the field to the bottle and, ultimately, marketing and selling. the winery remains in the hands of the original family. The married couple of Javier Ochoa and Marivi Aleman are the winery's sole proprietors and their daughters Adriana and Beatriz serve as the winemaker and marketing and sales director respectively.
Bodegas Ochoa became the first winery in Spain to undertake an R and D project. Some of the projects currently underway include water stress control mechanisms,, irrigation and vegetation cover, late-harvest, small-grain muscatel and Zero carbon footprint.
Everything is done on premises, from the harvesting to bottling. Sales and marketing strategies are conducted and executed in-house. This wholistic approach is evident in the quality of the wines. Ochoa Grand Riserva 2010 can be had for under $20 and is probably one of the great wine buys of the year.
Exceptionally sophisticated and complex, with concentrated ripe red fruit flavors and hints of baking spice and smoke, this is the wine to drink with your favorite meal of grilled aged Porterhouse or Rib Eye steak and a side of garlic mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus.
NAVARRA WINES ARE THE HISTORY OF SPAIN IN A GLASS
Although the winery was founded in 1953, the history of Senorio De Sarria of Navarra goes back to the 13th century. Located in the heart of the pilgrim's route to Santiago in Puente la Reina, its sun drenched slopes offer the perfect climate and soil conditions for a full range of top-quality wines. Each of its grape varieties is able to find its perfect place in its 247 acres of vineyards. Light, humidity and temperature conditions are carefully monitored to allow the wines to express their uniqueness of terroir to their fullest. Winemaker and Technical Director Milagros Rodriguez has honed a philosophy of harmony. "For me, a good wine is a wine that is able to express by itself. It is able to speak about the soil, the region and the climate from which it comes. This is a wine where all of the grape varieties combine to form an harmonious whole."
Bodega De Sarria's Marketing Director Christian Bungard poured six wines from the current portfolio; Senorio de Sarria Chardonnay 2017, Senorio de Serra No.5 Rose 2017, Crianza 2014 Red, Vinedo Sotes 2014 Red, Riserva Especial 2012 Red and Riserva 2011 Red. The wines are all in the $8 to $10 range and represent terrific value. The Sardinia No. 5 Rosada, for example, is 100% Garnacha (Grenache) and is a crisp, dry rose brimming with bright, candied fruit flavors; ripe red wild strawberries, raspberries, pomegranate and a hint of tarragon. The wine sells for an astonishing $6 in most retail shops. Great with grilled salmon or herb stuffed Branzino. The latter is a delicious Mediterranean fish also known as "Greek Sea Bass." It is typically roasted whole, slathered with lemon juice and olive oil and thrown on the grill. You can accomplish the same result in a super hot oven, but over the open fire is how they roll in Spain. Save some Bodega De Sarria wine to sip with some ripe Manchego cheese by the fire pit as you watch the sun set in blazing tones that will have you thinking that you're gazing at the Pyrenees.
SAGRANTINO TAKES ITS RIGHTFUL PLACE AMONG ITALY'S GREAT WINES WITH
ARNALDO CAPRAI MONTEFALCO ROSSO 2015
Dwight Casimere with Marco Caprai-CEO and winemaker at Arnaldo Caprai at Vinitaly
Arnaldo Caprai Montefalco Rosso 2015
The Sagrantino grape
Arnaldo Caprai winery nestled in the hills of Montefalco in Umbria, Italy
by Dwight Casimere
Bordering on Tuscany and right above Rome is the lesser-known and lesser-traveled region of Umbria. It’s Italy's best kept secret and its been hiding all along in plain sight. Home to some of the country's most delightful, yet undervalued wines, the region is starting to get some respect thanks to its flagship grape Sagrantino.
Although its been around for centuries, the origins of Sagrantino are shrouded in mystery. Some say it gets its name from the fact that it was believed to have been used to make sacramental wine by the monks. Thick skinned and jam packed with flavors of blackberries and ripe blueberries and dark red plums, the grape has its own smoky hints of oak and spice, which is why local wine law requires that it must not be released before 30 months of aging. Only a few growers produce Sagrantino, most of them located in and around the town of Montefalco.
Chief among them is Arnaldo Caprai, the undisputed king of Sagrantino. A successful textile entrepreneur, he began the winery in 1971 with the purchase of 45 acres in Montefalco with the expressed purpose of resurrecting the Sagrantino grape to its original glory. Through diligent research and the judicious use of both ancient and modern techniques, Caprai produced wines of elegance and distinction that reflect the richness and complexity of Montefalco culture and tradition.
A case in point is Arnaldo Caprai Montefalco Rosso 2015 ($25), a food-friendly blend of Sangiovese, Italy's premiere grape, which gives it bright, fresh fruit flavors, and Sagrantino, which gives it structure and warmth. A stellar combination of depth and freshness, richness and elemental delight, this is a wine that "plays well" with a variety of dishes, from pasta to grilled meats and vegetables.
Got a hankering for ribs? Ask your butcher to thin slice some Short Ribs into a relatively new cut called Flanken. Marinated overnight in herbs and olive oil, they cook up in minutes on a hot grill, whereas normal short ribs take hours to cook in a slow cooker. Pair with asparagus brushed with garlic infused olive oil and turned quickly on the grill and add a side salad of arugula and red onions with basalmic vinaigrette, and you have a summertime meal fit for the gods...or at the very least, the monks that first vinified Sagrantino.