9/8/2023 — Shoulder season Italian wines at best pricing around

Offer available through Monday, 9/11/2023, or as inventory lasts.

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Hi everyone –

An incredible offer has fallen into our laps due to inventory reductions at a local wholesaler. They sampled out a bunch of wine for our consideration and here are the three best. All price reductions are passed on fully to you. These are perfect wines for a little re-stock of the wine shelves and for all-purpose weekend drinking for the fall and winter seasons.

All of them are way above grade, especially at the prices we can offer them at. Enjoy!

Additional notes in this color block are from Katie Janke, who works for the local distributor of these wines and is awesome. Many of you know Katie from the First Thursdays tastings at Solo Vino.

From Katie:

I was thinking a lot about how we’ve hit fall shoulder season when I was writing this up. That curious time of year when the temp swings from 97 degree to 63 degree highs in a manner of 24hrs. When we transition in to sweatshirts and shorts. The garden starts to wane and we move from cucumbers to squash and pools to backyard fires. My friends all start going off on their hunting excursions for the year and return with wild game of all sorts and a renewed spirit of sitting around a fire in the evening. It makes me hungry for grilled pizza, stews and soups of all kinds, pot pies, and apple cobbler. With their bright balances styles, intriguing complexity, and innate ability to pair with foods (and friends), I think Italian wines are some of the best pairings for this special time of year.


Lunae, Colli di Luni Vermentino 2021

I’m a sucker for a Vermentino. I love the grape dearly.

I’m a big fan of top notch Vermentino. It’s a rarity to find, but worth the hunt.

I’m over the moon for the best of the best Vermentinos, and that’s what you have here.

More and more often grapes such as Vermentino, Godello, Garganega, and Assyrtikio are finding homes on our table instead of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. Why? For a reason that I come back to quite often: the balance between acidity and body is a careful act and usually one is sacrificed for the other. Here you get solid medium bodied wine that has kicking acids and tons of complexity. I’m finding some of the best Vermentinos are consistently coming from Tuscany rather than Sardinia, for reasons I’ll get into in a future email.

From the importer’s website:

The winemaking tradition of this land has its roots in the ancient past. As early as 177 BC a Roman colony named “Portus Lunae” was founded at the mouth of the Magra River. Pliny the Elder, in his encyclopedic “Naturalis historia” wrote about the wine of this place: “Etruriae Luna palma habet …” (65 AD): “… in Etruria, the wines of Luna bear away the palm…”.

This is the origin and inspiration behind our name, embodying all the principles that guided and continue to guide our work in the vineyard and in the cellar. The Bosoni family has always been rooted in this land. For four generations, for business and for pleasure, we have done three things: tended the vines, produced wine, and preserved the great culture and history of our land.

https://www.banvillewine.com/dc/en/producer/253/lunae

Jason’s tasting note: Serious Vermentino is a joy to drink. Loads of complex apple and pear aromas, laced with sea spray and oceanic joy. I swear I smell oysters and clean fishing boat in this! The wine attacks well, with powerful but not aggressive aromas. The complexity is off the charts. The mouthfeel is complete, rich, and doesn’t drop out in the mid-palate like lesser Vermentinos do. There is nothing simple or basic about this wine. Finish goes on for a minute. I need some great seafood, like right now.

Katie’s note: Cantina de Lunae is located in Liguria; a thin arc that extends from the border with France to the northern part of Tuscany. With the Alps to the west and the Apennines to the east, it enjoys views of the Ligurian Sea from every angle. The landscape is textured by fingers of mountain ranges that lend to its more temperate climate. The Colli di Luni is located in the easternmost corner of the region, overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Gulf of La Spezia . It is sheltered by the alps which gives it the perfect balance of warm sea breezes, sunshine,  and cool mountain air allowing a varietal like Vermentino to absolutely shine.

Vermentino is wonderfully complex and varied in it’s production style making it perfect for all year consumption (and especially shoulder season foods). Swinging from crisp, citrusy and bright to more textured and leesy with that lovely almond note on the finish. I love it anyway I can get it; Corn chowders to fish tacos, it just works.


Ilico Montepulciano d’Abruzzo “Illuminati” Riserva 2018

I used to describe Montepulciano d’Abruzzo as “God’s pizza wine,” but I’ve changed my tone a bit. My old description implied a simplicity, and what has happened in the last ten years is an overall increase in quality and attention to detail in this once rustic land.

So I’ve changed my line to: “Montepulciano is God’s pizza wine if God was bringing a bottle (and paying the corkage fee and leaving a good tip, of course, because he’s God) to Pizzeria Bianco to enjoy what is arguably the best pizza in the United States.” (Of course God would order the Wiseguy pizza just to be cheeky.)

From the importer’s website:

In nearly 130 years of history, the Illuminati vineyards have grown from 15 to 130 hectares in size in Controguerra (Teramo), a special wine-producing area between the Gran Sasso mountains and the Adriatic Sea.

The Illuminati family represent all that is great about modern winemaking, with their possession of some remarkable vineyard sites, a respect for tradition and family that dates back to the winery’s inception in 1890 and a totally up-to-the-minute technological bent which sees their winemaking facilities equipped to best practice standards.

Quality, not quantity drives Dino Illuminati and his family and their wines are characterful, impressive and fiercely individualistic: the focus is on Montepulciano made in traditional fashion and offered in excellent, drinkable mealtime bottlings to more nuanced, muscular vineyard selections, most offering terrific value. Sustainable farming, low sulfites. This wine is aged in 25 hl oak barrels for 12 months followed by an additional 12 in the bottle.

https://www.banvillewine.com/dc/en/producer/254/illuminati

Jason’s tasting note: Really nice Montepulciano nose, full of the soft raspberry and earthy spice I seek in these wines. Medium bodied and fresh, with a depth that shows the Rieserva designation. Long finish, firm acids, really good wine all the way thru. Solid. Now I’m craving really good wood fired pizza, and I don’t have any near me.

Katie’s note: Fun Fact: Montepulciano is the 2nd most planted red grape in Italy (after Sangiovese). The varietal has a reputation for being a low-priced, juicy, chuggable red wine; Fortunately there are producers digging deeper with this grape, showing its about quality and not just quantity.  With this hand we see bolder expressions of montepulciano that have layers of darker fruit and spice mingling with the bright red fruits the grape is known for. 

The Illuminati winery is located  in the area between the Gran Sasso mountains and the Adriatic Sea. Dino Illuminati is a long-standing icon and advocate for this unique piece of land and was the driving force behind the DOC recognition of this part of Abruzzo. The Colline Teramane is now the only DOCG in the region, Montepulciano is the star here!

Still a perfect pizza wine but also one that can stand up to wild game and stews!


Vignamaggio “Terre di Prenzano” Chianti Classico 2019

From the importer’s website:

Villa Vignamaggio is located just outside the town of Greve, in the heart of the Chianti Classico DOCG, and winemaking here dates back to the 14th century.

Mona Lisa, model in the famous portrait by Leonardo da Vinci, was born at Vignamaggio in 1479 and was the daughter of the owner of the estate at the time, Anton Maria Gherardini.

After belonging in succession to the Gherardi, Uguccioni and Alamanni families, the estate was bought in 1925 by Contessa Samminiatelli, whose family restored the gardens and the villa. In 1988, Avvocato Gianni Nunziante purchased Vignamaggio and initiated an extensive renovation of the buildings, gardens and vineyards.

The historic wine cellars, located below the villa, were equipped with modern temperature-controlled stainless steel vats. Nunziante also invested in replanting a lot of the vineyards, where a few old vines of Cabernet Franc were found, among the many rows of Sangiovese. These precious vines were preserved and are now used for the 100% Cabernet Franc. In 2011, a new cellar adjacent to the old historic one was completed and capacity expanded. Through the acquisition of small parcels, Nunziante also expanded into the Gaiole area of Chianti Classico where Sangiovese and Syrah are grown. In 2014, Patrice Taravella purchased the estate.

https://www.banvillewine.com/dc/en/producer/265/vignamaggio

Jason’s tasting note: Correct color and body. Dandy aromas, very Chianti Classico. Dried cherry, black olive, tapenade, and mellow forest floor. Taste is compact and focused, almost a bit awkward. Second pass (15 minutes later) the wine is resolved and on track – YUM. Finish is super dry and tannic, needing time to resolve. Would love to have this with any grilled meat heavy on oregano. Very good in the end, maybe could use a few more years to come together or an hour or two of decanting. Has all the stuffing of a very serious wine.

Katie’s note: Vignamaggio is located in Greve, the heart of Chianti Classico, half-way between Florence and Siena. Winemaking at Vignamaggio dates back over 600 years! At the core of the estate is the Renaissance Villa built in the 14th Century by the noble Gherardini family. It is surrounded by over 65 Ha of vineyards with 61 plots grouped into nine areas. This incredible variety of microclimates allows them to create truly expressive wines that speak of the area and allows them the added flexibility of opting for single-varietal or single-plot wines if the vintage allows. 

Today, this certified organic farm is overseen by viticulturist Francesco Naldi along with enologist/consulting winemaker Barbara Tamburini. In true Chianti style, The winery produces predominantly red wines based with Sangiovese; They have also begun an experimental planting program called “Noah’s ark Project”;  a vine/vineyards restoration project working towards recuperating and preserving valuable genetic heritage in the area.  How cool is that?

The Chianti Classico Terre de Prenzano is named for the old Vignamaggio homestead, Prenzano farm that is located only a few hundred meters from the villa. It is 100% sangiovese and aged for 1yr in large oak barrels before bottling. A true classic that can be enjoyed anytime anywhere. 

Sangiovese is a thin-skinned grape that shows a myriad of mixed red and black fruit flavors from cherries of all kinds and wild strawberry to plum and blackberry interwoven  with leather and spice. retains it’s acidity, so it’s a great pairing for long-simmered sauces and cured meats and richer cheeses.  So, as you’re waiting for your shepherd’s pie to finish cooking, you can sit outside and enjoy that charcuterie and cheese plate your friend brought along.

Buying advice

All three of these are hitting WAY above their weight class. You can expect to easily pay double for the quality you are getting here. There is HUGE bang for the buck at the prices we are offering. If you’re a fan of Italian wine in general, or Vermentino, Chianti Classico, or Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, a little stock-up will bring you joy for months to come in our wild Minnesota shoulder seasons.

Thank you, everyone! We couldn’t do this without you!

Jason Kallsen
Sommelier and founder/owner of Twin Cities Wine Education


Offer and special pricing are available through Monday, or as inventory lasts

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