2020 Tre Donne, Donna Chiara Arneis — Back in the 1980s, sisters Antonella, Rosanna, and Daniella Lequio had to work hard to convince their reluctant and skeptical father that they could take over the family winery (rather than “just marry a good winemaker”).
But he had to relent when they won more awards for their wines in their first year than he had in his entire career. They are based in northern Italy’s Piedmont region, with vineyard sources in various zones. This crisp, clean wine comes from Roero, just across the Tanaro River from Barolo, and is 100% Arneis, an aromatic white grape with moderate acidity. It comes from 35-year-old vines with roots growing deep into the tufo clay soil, adding complex notes of stone fruit and mushroom, a hint of salinity, and brisk minerality. Try it with pasta dishes, fish, or calamari, $21
2017 Felline, Sum, Susumaniello — Gregory Perrucci, owner and operator of Felline, in Italy’s boot heel region of Puglia, is also the founder of Accademia dei Racemi, an organization he created in 1996 to study the indigenous grapes and soils in Puglia and help local growers and producers improve and promote their wines. His work has been instrumental in reviving lesser known and underrated indigenous grapes of the region. One grape he helped rescue from the brink of extinction is Susumaniello, once widely grown in Puglia, but which had been long forgotten and nearly disappeared. Susumaniello produces rich, ruby red wines, with aromas of red berries and plums and notes of peppery spice. This one is smooth and juicy, with nicely balanced tannins. Perfect to pair with traditional Puglian pasta or meat dishes. $18
2020 Ancarani, Le Signore Famoso —This wine comes from a small family winery in Emilia-Romagna, a region just north of Tuscany that spans almost the entire width of Italy. Here, Claudio Ancarani tends ten hectares of vineyards that were planted by his grandfather in 1934. Claudio farms naturally, with minimal intervention, and focuses exclusively on the indigenous grapes of the region, including the rare white grape, Famoso. While the name comes from the word “famous,” it remains relatively unknown, even in Emilia-Romagna, but Claudio has played a big role in rescuing and reviving the once nearly extinct grape. Famoso produces fresh, aromatic wines, with notes of orange blossom and citrus, moderate acidity, and a hint of nut skins. This one, made using indigenous yeasts and with minimal added sulfites, is aged on the lees, giving it added structure and balance. Try it with a rich pasta carbonara or perhaps pork belly. $19.75
2019 D.V. Catena, Tinto Histórico — The Catena family’s history in Argentina dates back to 1902 when Italian immigrant Nicola Catena planted his first grapes on the slopes of the Andes. Over the years the family has continued to research the soils and microclimates of their high-altitude vineyard sites to find the ideal location for each of their selected clones. This robust blend was created in honor of Don Domingo Vicente Catena (Nicola’s son), who was famed in the 1930s for producing rich, red blends that were popular in the French-styled bistros of Buenos Aires. This vintage of the Tinto Histórico is a blend of 75% Malbec, 19% Bonarda, and 6% Petit Verdot, sourced from their high altitude mountain vineyards and aged 12 to 14 months in new and used French oak. It is smooth and balanced, with rich, dark fruit flavors and notes of spice. $19
2018 Gota Vinhos, Prunus, Tinto — The Dão, in north central Portugal, is one of the country’s oldest wine regions. Surrounded on three sides by tall granite mountains and sheltered from the Atlantic, it has a continental climate with warm summers and cold, rainy winters. Prunus is a practicing organic winery with dry-farmed vineyards in the lower elevations of the region where the cooling winds coming off the mountains help retain natural acidity in the fruit. This wine is a blend of 80% Jaén (aka Mencía), 10% Tinta Roríz (Tempranillo), 5% Alfrochiero, and 5% “others,” grown on granite and clay soil and aged six months in 225-liter French and Portuguese oak barrels. The result is an elegant, expressive wine with silky texture and fresh flavors of plums and dark cherries, and a hint of spice. Enjoy with poultry or pork dishes. $14
2020 Terres Blondes, Gamay — Gamay is best known as the red grape in Beaujolais. But it is also an important grape in France’s Loire Valley, where the growing conditions also suit this light, relatively acidic grape. This estate, located in the Touraine district, has been owned by the Marionnet family since 1850 and today is run by Jean-Sébastien Marionnet. Fruit for this unoaked Gamay is sustainably grown and hand harvested and the wine is made using semi-carbonic maceration. The process involves putting whole clusters of fruit into tank and, as the grapes on the bottom are crushed and begin to ferment, releasing carbon dioxide, fermentation begins inside the uncrushed grapes on top. The method produces vibrant, fruity, thirst-quenching wines with relatively low tannins. This Gamay is fresh and juicy, with nice texture and a hint of chocolate. It’s a red you could chill a bit and enjoy with just about anything. $15