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Wine Review: Italian varieties reminiscent of old world

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Each of us has a dream, a situation, a fantasy or something that they always wanted to do but knew they never could. It is that very special and personal thought that, when you are relaxing, brings a smile to your face.

My fantasy is a formal dinner in the classical European style with elegant dinnerware, shining silverware and four glasses of different sizes in front of each attendee. After each course, the table would be cleared, a new tablecloth put down and the dinnerware, glasses and silverware replaced in preparation for the next course. This would be repeated with each course, which also would be accompanied by a specific wine to match the food being served.

That type of dinner was reserved for kings, emperors and potentates. Today, they and their way of life have all but disappeared, and there have even been reports of a Pizza Hut delivery truck inside the front gate at Buckingham Palace.

There is one group, Italians and Americans of Italian descent, who still retain many of the old ways. There is something in the Italian character that loves the formal family dinner, especially on Sunday after church. There would be plenty of food, plenty of wine and a true example of what the word family really means.

In days gone by, it was probably grandpa who made the wine. Today, the wine comes from dealers' shelves and, although it is impossible for the old- timers to acknowledge, the products often are as good as grandpa’s and, in many cases, even better. With that in mind, I would like to introduce you to some of grandpa’s latter-day rivals.

La Segreta il Rosso ($24)
Even grandpa would approve of this wine, as it is a true example of what an Italian red wine should be. It’s bold and enjoyable while holding nothing back. The glimmering dark ruby color announces that there is something special in the glass. This wine is a blend of the Sicilian favorite nero d'Avola along with merlot, syrah and cabernet franc. The deep, dark ruby color of the wine is enough to stir the interest, but there is more. The aroma broadcasts cranberry, red currant, raspberry, cherry and prune, not in just hints but in a lingering expression. The finish is fruity and long lasting, displaying everything that a red wine should. I was impressed by this wine, and there will be lasagna on the dinner table tonight to accompany it.

Montecucco 2016 Sangiovese Riserva ($24)
Another wine grandpa would probably have approved of is the Parmoleto 2016 Montecucco Sangiovese Riserva. This wine is dark enough that when I first saw it, I believed the bottle was painted black. It was not. Rarely, in my career as a wine columnist, have I encountered so dark a wine that was not bitter and super tannic. The aroma is kaleidoscopic, alternating between cherry and blackberry with hints of tobacco, leather and cedar intertwining with each other. These aromas continue into the flavor, where they merge with warm spice and fruit. The finish is equally as interesting, being fruity and complex. The wine, although well aged, seemed fresh and ready to drink.

Auspicium 2016 Monteucco Roso de Vinosalvo ($25)
This is another almost jet-black beauty. This time it’s a blending of the popular sangiovese with the equally popular syrah, resulting in an interesting and enjoyable wine. The aroma displays blackberry, strawberry, cassis, red berries and the unmistakable sangiovese aroma of violets, which also can be found in the flavor. The finish is, to say the least, incredible, displaying all of those on the aroma with a bit of oak added. This is a really nice wine that goes far beyond the ordinary and will definitely find a place in my wine library.

Wine columnist Bennet Bodenstein can be reached at


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