his month we showcase three wines from the Small Vineyards Direct Import program. Small Vineyards scours Italy to find boutique family winemakers who produce sustainable estate wines using dry farming and organic techniques, even though many cannot afford the official certification. Since these winemakers have limited production, their wines are not offered for year round sale. Select restaurants are invited to tastings where we pre-order based on available inventory – a veritable Pampered Chef party for wine. Then we wait 3-4 months for the container to arrive. We can always count on these wines to be a perfect match for food, particularly Chef’s Bill Mediterranean fare. Close your eyes and smell the Ligurian Sea or the minerality or earthiness of the soil; these wines resonate the terroir of their region.
The other fun thing about these wines is that they allow us to taste and learn about the vast variety of grapes that Italy grows. Italy’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry documents over 350 different official grapes and more than 500 other varieties that are grown in the country. These wines allow us to expand our cellar with wines made from these more unusual grapes.
La Quercia Santapupa Abruzzo AOC Montonico
$37 (restaurant pricing)
Made from centuries old vines, this white wine has a bright and crisp finish with lovely floral, citrus and salt air aromas. Pair with seafood, vegetable soups, mushrooms. 100% Montonico. (Abruzzo – East Central on Adriatic Sea)
De Tarczal, Trentino Moscato Giallo D.O.C.
$39 (restaurant pricing)
As soon as you read Moscato you probably thought about the sweet sparkling white wine served as an aperitif or for dessert. While the floral notes, apricot and peach on the nose offer the impression that you are going to taste a sweet wine, the wine delivers a crisp dry palate with intense sage and apple notes. Pair with Thai food, mildly spicy cheese and hard Alpine cheese. 100% Moscato Giallo (Alto Adige –North East)
Casa Contini, Verso Rosso Salento
IGT $32 (restaurant pricing)
This full bodied luscious red wine is made with a small percent of ‘appassimento’ or raisined grapes. It drinks like a baby Amarone with vibrant spice that will pair well with duck breast, olive tapenade, or figs with chevre. 60% Negroamaro, 35% Primitivo, 15% Malvasia Nera (Molise, Central)
We didn’t mean to tease you and get you excited about wines that are not readily available on the open market. Perhaps it is another great reason to drop in for dinner this fall. Don’t worry you won’t break the bank. We are always amazed how these winemakers can put so much love in the bottle and still offer their craft for such a great value. Salute!