Favorite Italian Wines of the Past Year

January 10, 2013 at 2:05 pm 8 comments

07At the end of one year or beginning of another, “best-of” lists are quite common; I’m no different, as I’ll include a few of these posts soon. But for today, I’d like to highlight a few of my favorite Italian wines I enjoyed during 2012. Some of these will be included in my year’s best list, but many will not. The difference between “best” and “favorite” is rather arbitrary to begin with anyways; quite often all of us get too caught up in the “best”, as we believe that having these wines will enhance our lives. Perhaps, but more often than not, my “favorite” wines are the ones that best fit the moment, whether it’s an ideal match with the meal I’m enjoying or simply a wine that delivers great character for the right amount of money.

Enough with the philosophizing, on to the list!

2011 Jankara Vermentino di Gallura – Vermentino is a successful white along the coast of Tuscany as well as in Liguria and Sardegna. This Jankara version is from the latter region and it’s a textbook example of what this variety is all about, with its expressive aromas of jasmine, grapefruit and green apple, excellent richness on the palate and vibrant acidity. This relatively new producer made a nice version of this wine from the 2010 vintage, but this 2011 is far superior! This has an especially lengthy finish and is ultra clean with excellent complexity; pair this with just about any type of shellfish. ($26)

Emanuele Rabotti

Emanuele Rabotti, Monte Rossa (Photo ©Tom Hyland)

Monte Rossa Franciacorta Blanc de Blancs Brut “P.R.” - I tasted so many wonderful bottlings of Franciacorta during my visit to this district back in November, with many different styles from Extra Brut to Rosé. Here is one my my favorite Blanc de Blancs, a 100% Chardonnay with a very fine and persistent stream of bubbles along with beautiful melon, pear and acacia aromas and flavors. Medium-full with excellent persistence, this has good acidity, lovely varietal character and ideal balance. It’s also delicious, whether enjoyed on its own or with risotto or lighter seafood. Every cuvée from this first-rate producer is something special!

2011 Giovanni Manzone Dolcetto d’Alba “Le Cilegie” -This renowned producer from Monforte d’Alba crafts some pretty special examples of Barolo – his 2008 “Bricat” is outstanding – but he also puts a great deal of effort into his other, more “humble” wines such as this beautiful Dolcetto. This has classic aromas and flavors of red plum, boysenberry and black raspberry fruit along with a hint of lavender on the nose and it’s a juicy, fresh and absolutely delicious wine! Medium-bodied, this has moderate tannins, balanced acidity and it’s nicely balanced and above all, such a pleasure to drink. What a great partner for lighter pastas or a simply prepared roast chicken. If more people were not as serious about “great red wines” that can age for decades and more excited about a purely delicious wine such as this – one that’s a real crowd pleaser – Dolcetto would be one of the most popular wines – red or white – in this country.  ($25)

2008 Zyme Valpolicella Classico Superiore – Today in the Valpolicella district, Amarone has become so famous and so revered that Valpolicella has become somewhat of a forgotten wine. Thankfully, there are numerous producers who still produce an excellent example of Valpolicella; this version from Celestino Gaspari offers delightful bing cherry fruit along with hints of tar and cedar in the nose, while there are moderate tannins and very good acidity and overall balance. This is a medium-bodied red that’s so typical of what a well made Valpolicella should be – a wine to be enjoyed with lighter red meats or risotto or stews tonight or over the course of the next year or two.

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A Great New Year! The Best Barolo You’ve Probably Never Tried

8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. @franciacortausa  |  January 10, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    We like that Monte Rossa appears here!

    Reply
  • 3. Renato Spanu  |  January 12, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    Thank you so much we are thrilled that you enjoyed our Vermentino! It is truely an honor to be on your favorite list!

    Grazie Mille,
    Renato, Angela & Emma Leah Spanu

    Reply
    • 4. tom hyland  |  January 12, 2013 at 3:31 pm

      Thank you very much for taking the time to write- the 2011 is a lovely wine!

      I hope to meet you soon in Sardegna!

      Reply
      • 5. Renato Spanu  |  January 12, 2013 at 8:52 pm

        The best time is September for harvest!! We can use all the free labor we can get ;0) ! Just kidding, we would love to have you visit and see the magic that Gallura and the Vein of San Leonardo offers to Our Vermentino grape, it is truely a special place, the best time is really September it is great to see the vineyards in their splendor!

      • 6. tom hyland  |  January 12, 2013 at 9:11 pm

        I hope I can come then!

  • 7. Mauro Manzone  |  January 29, 2013 at 3:02 am

    Ciao Tom, this is a very nice review! Thanks!

    Reply
    • 8. tom hyland  |  January 29, 2013 at 8:09 am

      Mauro: Thank you for taking the time to write. I’m glad you liked my review!

      Reply

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