Full disclosure: I never really find wine boring, but I do feel the need to break up with my current wine habit and try something new.
Lately I’ve been all hot and heavy with Pinot Noir. In need of something totally unique, I spent a week opening bottles from the sample boxes, tasting unusual grape varieties and wines from lesser-known regions. This month, among other things, I discovered the concentrated purity of wine from Mt. Etna and the freshness of organic Greek red. If you don’t see these on your wine store shelf, I suggest asking your wine retailer to steer you in a similar direction. To honor many of the great wines that go unnoticed by the masses, this recurring column will feature a selection of unheralded gems that merit a mention as well as wines with a great story. The whole point is to break with habit and explore. And, if you find something amazing in the process, well then, please share.
2009 Tascante, IGT, Sicily, Italy. Mt. Etna’s lava-laced soils inject a special vibrancy and zippy minerality that leaves the mouth-watering complexity on the palate long after the wine is gone. It’s built for food, but I enjoyed sipping it long after dinner. New York Chef Melissa Daka, owner of two Sicilian-inspired restaurants, Bar Eolo and Pastai, praises the versatility of Mt. Etna’s wines, noting, “Wines have been produced since antiquity on Mount Etna, but a recent resurgence of winemaking on the volcano is finally making a name for these intense, multi-faceted wines on the international market. The area’s bold, dry reds pair well with braised meats, especially with lamb and goat, which are staples of Sicilian cuisine.”
2010 Sofos, The Wise Old Man, Greece. Made with organic grapes, this blend of Cabernet and Agioritiko has notes of cherry cola on the nose and a mouth-puckering savory quality. It has a nice fruit forward personality balanced with nice structure and soft tannins.
2007 Arnaldo Caprai Sagrantino di Montefalco, Italy. Luscious and intense, a cerebral wine that needs a good bit of air before truly opening up. I might even suggest opening this bottle the night before you want to drink it. Black Cherry, forest, spice—some bitter chocolate notes, layered and complex. Tannins are dusty in a rustic way. Serve a steak, aerate this wine, and watch it evolve throughout the evening.
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