2020 Marchetti, Tenuta del Cavaliere Verdicchio — Verdicchio is one of the classic white grapes of central Italy.
This one is made by Maurizio Marchetti who farms organically in Italy’s Marche region near the Adriatic coast. His family has been making Verdicchio for generations and his “basic” one is superb, but for this later harvest version, he leaves the fruit on the vine an extra month to develop additional body, structure and fruity richness. The result is a wine with all the fresh acidity and minerality typical of a Verdicchio, but with unexpected depth and complexity. Marchetti makes only a tiny amount of this wine each year and it disappears quickly. Enjoy it with rich seafood dishes, such as lightly seared scallops with lemon and olive oil, calamari, or vegetarian fare. (Don’t serve it too cold or you might miss out on the complex aromatics.) $16
2017 La Quercia, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Riserva — Last month we featured La Quercia’s Pecorino for the first time. This month we revisit the much-loved reserve Montepulciano from this small, organically-farmed estate in the Abruzzo region on central Italy’s rugged east coast. Winemaker Antonio Lamona prunes the 40-year-old vines that go into this wine to a miniscule yield of about two thirds of a bottle per plant! He then ages the wine for 12 months in large Slavonian oak barrels, plus an additional year in stainless steel. The result is a rich, full-bodied wine with dark fruit flavors, juicy tannins, and a wonderful earthy character from the older vines. He doesn’t produce a lot of this wine and only a small amount makes it to the U.S. each year. It’s a great match for roast pork, tapenade, or other savory fare. $19.75
2018 Bodega Pablo Fallabrino, “Anarkia” Tannat — This Uruguayan winery is located four kilometers from the Atlantic coast, in one of the coolest growing regions in the country. It is owned and operated by Pablo Fallabrino, whose grandfather arrived in South America from Piedmont in 1920 and started two wineries. Pablo began his own winery in 1997 with a focus on Piedmont varieties as well as Tannat, a dark, high-tannin (hence the name) grape originally from southwest France but now widely grown in Uruguay. Pablo’s unoaked Anarkia Tannat is made from sustainably farmed fruit, fermented with native yeasts, and has no added sulfites. It is aromatic and juicy, with notes of dark red fruit, fresh herbs, and a hint of meatiness. It has mouthwatering acidity, stony minerality, and soft tannins and is perfect for beef or hearty braised dishes. $18
2019 Mulderbosch, Chenin Blanc — In 1989 Larry Jacobs bought a farm in the Stellenbosch region of South Africa known by the locals as vuilplasie, an Afrikaans word meaning “dirty little farm.” Seeing great potential in the site, he cleaned up the property, began planting vineyards, and built a small cellar. The winery, Mulderbosch, grew in both size and reputation over the years and they were the first producer in the country to make a barrel-fermented version of Chenin Blanc which they called Steen op Hout, or “Chenin on wood.” This one is fermented about one third in French oak barrels and large foudres and the rest in stainless steel. The oak aging adds a layer of complexity and soft texture to this fresh, clean wine with its flavors of white stone fruit and citrus and hints of spice from the oak. Enjoy it with fish or moderately spicy dishes. $17
2019 Morgenster Estate, Cabernet Franc — This wine also comes from South Africa’s Stellenbosch region. The winery, one of the oldest in the country, dates back around 300 years. It was bought by Giulio Bertrand in 1992, who worked to restore the estate to its former glory. He chose to focus on Bordeaux varietals and brought on Pierre Lurton, of Bordeaux’s Château Cheval Blanc renown, as a consultant. Since then, Morgenster has become one of the leading South African producers of Bordeaux-style wines. This Cab Franc is one of their single varietal offerings and it shows how well the local terroir, a mix of decomposed shale and granite, is suited to Bordeaux grapes. Aged 12 months in used French oak barrels, it shows the classic Cab Franc notes of dark fruit and baking spice with a touch of smokiness that is uniquely South African. It is smooth, rich, and very expressive. You could pair it with lamb, game, duck, or a hearty lentil soup. $16.50
2019 Domaine de Bérane, Les Agapes — Côtes du Ventoux is a large appellation on the southeast edge of the southern Rhône. It takes its name from the dramatic 6,500-foot Mont Ventoux which looms over the region. The mountain and the Rhône River combine to create a variety of soil types and exposures for growing grapes. It is here that Anne-Claire Rabatel and Bertrand Ferary have their ten-hectare, organically farmed vineyard. (They chose the salamander for their logo because it can only thrive in unpolluted places—like their vineyard.) This wine is a blend of the three grapes they grow: 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 10% Mourvèdre. “Les Agapes” is a biblical term referring to a meal taken after work—a great time to enjoy this wine with its rich, juicy flavors and notes of Provençal garrigue and spice. With its nice depth and medium tannins, it is a great wine for poultry dishes, a hearty stew, or cassoulet. $16