GRAPE: Nebbiolo REGION: Valtellina COUNTRY: Italy AVE PRICE: $30
I’ve been off of reds lately and finding it a bit frustrating. Especially since I’ve been cooking a lot of gamey meats: elk, venison, and boar. But I knew I was missing a liquid partner. A couple of weeks ago I found myself on the West Side of LA (boos, hollers & hisses) so I decided to drop in @winehousela. I dig their Italian section. It goes on forever the way an Italian wine section should. But in a world of uncertainty one thing does remain constant, my love for Northern Italian wines. Oh wait, nothing against my Sicilian ancestors. But for Christ’s sakes, Northern Italy has stolen my heart, at least for now. If I remember correctly, the 2005 Balgera Sassella retails for about $35. And according to McCrum’s website it spends a year in tank then 10 years in large barrels. This math doesn’t make much sense to me, but alas, I’m not a businessman. One sniff, one sip and you’ll see this is an extraordinary wine for the price in comparison to much of the rotten juice floating around at this price point. Don’t bore me with economic rationalizations of why one wine cost more than another. I’ve been experiencing too many wines both domestic and imports at a similar price point that are either pretty damn boring and some that taste like dirty dishwater. I guess my point is, that this is a wine that is worth every dime and more.
The Balgera is liquid rock. There is something special about the wines from this region. Maybe it’s the decomposed morainic rocks. The tannins are gentle. The fruit is finessed. The acid is fresh. It was delicious with my pan seared elk and vegetables cooked along with boar bacon. This juice will cause a similar experience to what your brain experiences while staring at an expressionistic painting. It will enhance the beauty wipe away the ugliness in front of you and set fire to your imagination.
WEB: OM Wines
GRAPE: Nebbiolo REGION: Valtellina COUNTRY: Italy AVE PRICE: $32
I’m done with LA. Gonna get me adopted and move to Northern Italy. Elegant. Fresh. Gentle floral aromatics. Some cherries and liquid rock. Light body, high toned, solid acidity.
GRAPE: Aglianico REGION: Campagnia COUNTRY: Italy AVE PRICE: $29
Before spending the evening with Drogone. I had a previous late night encounter with Cantina Giardino’s 2006 Nude. The Nude is confident and seductive. Deep purple in color and fragrant. It’s a bit slutty, yet pure. The Nude is President, which makes the 2012 Drogone the Secretary of Defense. Like the Nude, Drogone gives you depth, confidence, and provides palate security. This wine has a solid well defined lines. There is layer upon layer of flavor. Musky and a bit herbal. Some black fruit and charcoal. The vines are old as chaos. Grown on volcanic soils. And aged 4 years in chestnut barrels.
My favorite meal. This Aglinico’s acidic, tannic, and muscular structure calls for a bloody, well salted grilled piece of meat. Burn the meat. The saltiness and bitterness of the charred flesh combined with the bloody interior followed by a sip of Drogone with it’s slightly bitter finish is nothing short of ecstasy.
I love all the wines I’ve had from Cantina Giardino. Their wines feel pure. Well cared for from inception to graduation. They must be receiving a gentle and intelligent guidance to be so perfect.
WEB: Scuola di Vino
GRAPE: Schioppettino REGION: Friuli COUNTRY: Italy AVE PRICE: $55
A tiny sniff of this wine will not only brighten your day but also will send you deep into your memory bank. At leasts that’s what it did for me. I remember my great aunt greeting every single individual who walked into her restaurant with love. Her place was called Sergi’s Ice House and was located in Little Italy, Baltimore. Her father immigrated from Sicily at the turn of the Century. He arrived in Philadelphia and made his way to the Anthracite coal mines. I can’t begin to imagine the hell at these camps. The shit I like to complain about these days is cupcakes and daisies compared to that life. When telling his family about his experiences he told them that the coal mines, “It wasn’t for him”. He then moved on to Philadelphia and sold day old fruit out of a cart. One day his cart was hit by a vehicle and destroyed. The owner of the vehicle gave him some cash and he headed to Little Italy in Baltimore and started making cheese. The health authorities shut him down. So he then started a business delivering ice. That’s where my Aunt got the name for her restaurant, Sergi’s Ice House.
I remember how much love she showered every person who walked through the door. Her restaurant had a heart and a soul. She’d go from table to table in making sure everyone had what they wanted. I can still smell and taste of her salads, pasta, and last but not least, the pizza! And more than that I remember her strength, honesty, love, and amazing stories. She passed away on June 1, 2017 at the age of 99.
I found warm memories of family and love in Bressan’s 2011 Schioppettino. It’s charming and elegant. It’s philosophical. It’s beautiful and has a fragrance resonating of dried rose, pine, with a subtle herbaceousness. It would definitely be worn as a perfume. If wine-making is a dance with nature then drinking this wine should be like a slow dance with a lover. You’ll experience some dried rose, mint, spices, along with a delicateness of warm berries.
If you’re not down with decanting, you better drive this wine slow. An hour or two of air you’ll feel it penetrate every fiber of your body and soul. You’ll experience a velvety explosion of pleasure in your mouth. There is no spitting this juice. This wine is free jazz when it comes to expression. Although I do not know the winemaker personally, basing it on this wine alone, I have to believe he is man of great emotion and passion and possesses a special relationship to the land.
WEB: Scuola di Vino & Bressan
GRAPE: Sciaglìn APP: Friuli Grave COUNTRY: Italy AVE PRICE: $17
The wine: Bulfon Sciaglìn 2014
I just lost my Sciaglìn grape virginity.
And it wasn’t anything like the time I lost my sexual virginity. That time I was in a double wide trailer off of Pulaski Highway shooting a flirtatious game of pool, surrounded by broken down cars, and barking dogs.
This time I was sitting my most romantic outdoor space in Silver Lake, just a stone throw away from a lively Sunset Blvd. listening to a rush hour orchestra of noisy cars, buses, all the while breathing in a shit load of particulate matter.
Sciaglìn is totally unique and will be a winner with all sorts of food. I kept twinkling my nose hoping a plate of a flaky white fish with a side of pasta would appear. The wine is fresh with decent acidity and saltiness. A pale yellow with hint of green. It has very unique and complex aromatics, challenging my most critical olfactory. It’s herbaceous, with stone fruits and a bit of white pepper on the nose. Some green apple skin and peach on the palate. It’s f++cking delicious.
The art on the label on the bottle depicts The Last Supper, I read somewhere that the winemaker himself designed the label. I don’t think I’d regret if Sciaglìn was the wine presented at my last supper. The native grape Sciaglìn was rediscovered by Emilio Bulfon. The grape is now grown in the area of Pinzano al Tagliamento and Castelnovo del Friuli, as Regional regulation.
WEB: Nomadic Distribution
GRAPE: Nebbiolo APP: Piemonte COUNTRY: Italy AVE PRICE: $40
Mauro Vergano’s Chinato has been the perfect companion for this month of bitterness. Dealing with the death of one of my beloved cats, all the while watching my other cat stumble around, walking in circles depending on the position of her brain tumor, crying out for her missing companion and my hours of cancer research and coming to some sort of decision on my treatment. I’ve about had it with 2017, I thought it would be enough to deal with the horseshit coming out of the nation’s capitol. But while the juice lasted, I was happy to have been able to reach out for this most pleasantly medicinal and bitter digestif. I found it a great opener for the evening or for closure. And paired most lovely with a hit of #weddingcake from @jungleboyz @tlcpropd and a bite of the darkest most bitter chocolate you can lay hand on. What’s in this Chinato? Nebbiolo, China bark, Chinese Rabarbaro and Ginseng, and aromatic herbs & spices (cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, coriander, bay leaf)! Delicious and relieves stress the moment it hurts your mouth.
WEB: Louis Dressner
GRAPE: Lambrusco APP: Sorbara COUNTRY: Italy AVE PRICE: $29
This sexy pale pink Lambrusco – simply put – is a powerful aphrodisiac. Subtle aromatics with a delicate tingling on the palate and a friendly assistant in devouring prosciutto from your lover’s fingers.
WEB: Cantina Della Volta