Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Just in time for the Holidays, the wines of Marche and Abruzzo, Italy

Italian wines of the Marche and Abruzzo: terrific wines, terrific values 

Story by Dwight Casimere

New York--It's not much of a stretch to say that Italy is one big vineyard. Flying into Milan recently on the eve of a Wine Education tour of the Piemonte, led by Paul Valke, author of the Piemonte Wine and Travel Atlas (available at Eataly, New York), I was struck by the vast expanse of well-manicured vineyards that covered the landscape as my place made the approach to Malepensa airport.

Italy produces some of the best wines in the world today, but little is known of the true depth and breadth of terrific Italian wines that are available outside of their country of origin. Everyone knows of the great wines of Tuscany and Umbria, but how many have explored undisocovered beauty of the wines of the Marche and Abruzzo,

Coined the "New Tuscany", the Marche Wine Region is one of Italy's last untouched wine regions. Le Marche, as it is lovingly called, is a beautiful wine region, with miles of untamed coastline, romantic fishing villages and Renaissance gems tucked away in its medieval hamlets and mountain villages. Le Marche is right next door to Tuscany and Umbria, but for some unknown region, has languished in the shadow of its more famous neighbors. 

Saladini Pilastri Rosso Piceno Piediprato ($14.99)-Located in the picturesque town of Spinetoli in Le Marche, this is a beautiful, medium-bodied red wine that best exemplifies the winemaking style of the Pilastri family. With a history that dates back to the year 1000, the Count Saladini Pilastri is a noble family from Ascoli Piceno. Agricultural activities at the Count's farm began three centuries ago. Located on a gently rolling hill that slopes down to the Adriactic Sea, the farm has always produced wines of exquisite character. The Rosso Piceno Piediprato is no exception.

Saladini Pilastri Falerio ($8.99)- This wine is one of the most significant values in terms of a white wine, that is currently on the market. With exceptional fruit-forward aroma and flavors of citrus and a hint of tropical fruit, it is a perfect accompaniment to seafood, Asian and Mediterranean-influenced dishes. A versatile wine as an aperitif or with first courses of salads, seafood and cheeses,this is a wine that carries easily through today's lighter cuisines. Perfect for the Holiday meal, particularly with poultry, this is an exceptional value worth getting by the case.

Fratelli BarbaColle Morino Montepulciano ($11.99)-The winery is located in 
the northern part of the central Italian region of Abruzzo, along the valley of the Vomano River and on the surrounding hills, in the towns of Cellino Attanasio, Atri, Pineto and Roseto. The Barba family has 68 hectares of the best vineyards in the area: Colle Morino, Casal Thaulero and Vignafranca, all of which fall within the areas designated Montepulciano DOC. This is one of the great red wine values out there! It lists for $11.99, but I've found it for $10 flat at Binny's in Chicago and other discount wine houses in Miami, Atlanta, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Its a really well-balanced red wine that goes with just about anything; turkey, roast beef, ham, pizza, hamburgers. Its got a medium dry, fruity taste with just a hint of the complex red and black fruit that make it interesting. If you see it at a good price, buy a case. You won't regret it. You'll get a lot of mileage out of it, especially if you entertain a lot over the holidays. The label design is nice and imaginative too, so it looks great on the table. How can you lose! Enjoy!

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