2017 Macchialupa, Campania Aglianico — This wine comes from Campania, in the boot heel of southern Italy. The winery is located at around 450 meters elevation in the mountainous, interior Beneventano subregion and their focus is on local indigenous grapes.
Aglianico is the most important and widely grown red grape in the region, known for producing full-bodied wines with good acidity. This one is aged about three months in stainless steel, followed by three in French oak, resulting in a deep red wine with delicious notes of plum and spice (characteristic of the region), and a hint of smoke. The tannins are soft and well integrated and the acidity is perfectly balanced. The high elevation of the vineyards helps the fruit retain freshness, without losing any of the classic, rustic Aglianico character. Enjoy with meat or vegetable dishes. $24
2020 Domaine Bigonneau, Reuilly Blanc — Reuilly is a small appellation in the eastern part of France’s Loire Valley. Like its neighbor Sancerre just to the east, Reuilly has Kimmeridgean limestone soil and also produces beautiful Sauvignon Blancs. But happily, the wines of Reuilly are much less expensive. The Bigonneau family has been producing wine here for several generations. In 2006 Gérard Bigonneau brought on his daughter Virginie to take over the winemaking. With her experience studying in Dijon and working in cellars in Champagne, Burgundy, and Alsace, she brought a new focus to their wines. This 100% Sauv Blanc from 25-year-old vines is aged on the lees in stainless steel and is complex and elegant, with notes of citrus and white fruit, a touch of spice, and lovely depth and texture. Perfect for shellfish or seafood dishes. $17
2020 Tahbilk, Marsanne — Marsanne originated in the northern Rhône where it is an important grape in the stunning white wines of Hermitage and St. Joseph. It first appeared in Australia in the 1860s when Tahbilk Winery was established and began planting it in the Nagambie Lakes region of central Victoria. The winery fell into decline over the years but in 1925 it was bought and restored by the Purbrick family, still in charge today. The historic estate is renown for its older vines and its commitment to Marsanne, with the world’s largest single holding of the grape as well as some of the oldest plantings, dating back to 1927. Marsanne tends to produce full-bodied, aromatic wines. This one is creamy and fresh, with floral and citrus notes and beautiful minerality. Enjoy it over the next two or three years with pan-fried trout, chicken, or Asian fare. $18
2018 Casas del Toqui, Barrel Series Reserva Carmenère — Carmenère was once a major blending grape in Bordeaux. But it did not always ripen reliably and, after phylloxera devasted many European vineyards, it was rarely replanted. Luckily some cuttings had made their way to Chile, where they thrived and eventually became that country’s flagship grape. This one is produced by Casas del Toqui, established in 1994 as a partnership between Bordeaux producer Château Larose-Trintadaun and local producers in Chile’s Cachapoal Valley, south of Santiago. The late-ripening Carmenère grape thrives in the local alluvial soils and temperate Mediterranean climate. This one sees eight months in French oak and is rich, savory, and chocolaty with silky texture and smooth tannins. Try it with beef, pasta, lamb, or poultry dishes. $18
2019 Michel Chapoutier, Bila-Haut, Côtes du Roussillon Villages — Michel Chapoutier is a highly-respected producer of both northern and southern Rhône wines. He is a long-time proponent of biodynamics and, known as a “scout for soil,” he loves exploring other regions and terroirs as well. This wine comes from his Bila-Haut estate in Roussillon, in southern France. Located near the Mediterranean on the Spanish border, it has rocky soil with a mix of schist, gneiss, and clay from the Devonian and Kimmeridgian periods. This blend of Syrah, Grenache, and Carignan has flavors of plum and black cherry, with notes of spice, peppery herbs, and rustic, yet elegant richness. It is complex, yet fresh, and its minerality and aromas of garrigue express the essence of the local terroir. Enjoy it with grilled meats or Mediterranean fare. $17
2020 Cantine Europa, Sibiliana Roceno Nero d’Avola — Cantine Europa is one of the largest cooperatives of small growers in western Sicily. It was founded in 1962 by a group of farmers in the coastal town of Petrosino and today all of the member growers are dedicated to organic and sustainable farming, with no irrigation. Nero d’Avola is the most widely planted red grape in Sicily and, while it was historically regarded as being rather wild and rustic and used more as a blending grape, thanks to better growing and production techniques over the past decade or so, it has become much more respected for its ability to produce deeply-colored wines with notes of plum and chocolate and juicy acidity. This unoaked version is somewhat reminiscent of a Syrah, another grape that grows well on the island. It is ripe and inviting, with notes of brambly fruit and balanced tannins. Perfect for zesty pasta, roasted meats, or Napolitana-style pizza. $14