Three off-the-radar Italian gems (and a challenge to you!)

This offer is available from Friday, 3 May 2024 to Monday, 5 May 2024, or as supplies last.
First come, first served on all wines. All wines are sold through Solo Vino Wine Shop in St. Paul, Minnesota.

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Hi everyone!

I love finding themes for the Friday offers. It’s one of my favorite things about what we do here at TCWE. Sometimes a grouping of wines really hits the mark, with everything aligned under a topic, where the sum is greater than just the parts.

This is one of those times.

What we have this week are three glorious gems from Italy, but they are challenging and off-the-radar. One white, one Romato (not rosé!), and one funky, fun, favorite aged red. I love all three of these wines, and together they form a group that is perfect if you want to get out of your current wine ruts and experience something different.

All are available at great pricing individually, but the discount is deeper with the 3pk and (best discount) 6pk.

Why challenging yourself is so important with wine

One of the big problems the wine world has in terms of marketing is that it’s way too easy for the consumer to fall into a rut. We’re all guilty of it (especially me!), for when you find something you like, you keep going back to it.

Take New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc for example. Or for some, buttery California Chardonnay. Or for others, the pleasure of a Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. All are great, especially in the right context (for those that turn their nose up on buttery Napa Chardonnay, try it with butter-dipped lobster tail and get ready for a revelation!).

But then, of course, you miss out on the rest of the world of wine.

This is on my mind right now, coming off two weeks in Europe and being reminded yet again of the diversity of grapes and styles that you find there. A little bit of hunting, a little sense of adventure, a little step into the unknown, and suddenly some magic happens.

What we have here

Three wines from Italy. Two from the same producer in the south-center of Italy, and one from the heel.

All are distinct. All are edgy. All are different from what you’ve had before. And all are delicious.

I’ve included recipe links below for pairing suggestions.

Let’s get to it!

Lunaria “Civitas” Pecorino 2023

Cantina Orsogna, created in 1964, is a cooperative company of 600+ partners. It is the largest producer of organic and biodynamic wines in Italy. It has more than 1100 hectares of vines, 70% of which are certified organic, and 30% certified biodynamic by Demeter. Cantina Orsogna has been certified biodynamic since 2005 and has been an organic producer for more than 30 years. Their “Lunaria” line is progressive and delicious.

From the winery: “We are biodynamic, strong, kind, and stubborn. We know it’s not easy, but our hands and our families are constantly committed to living biodynamics not only as an agricultural method, but as an ethical opportunity to live in harmony with nature, the environment, and man.”

If I say “Pecornio” your first thought may be cheese, but it’s also the name of a grape of ancient origins that fell out of favor in the early 20th century but is now seeing a renaissance thanks to producers like this.

This wine is dry and minerally, with a straw yellow color. Aromas of lime zest, lemon verbena, white fruits, seashell, peach, and orange blossom. Light to medium bodied. This is a wine that simply smells delicious and will have you swirling and swirling until you realize you forgot to taste it! So why have you not heard of this grape? The natural yields are super low, making it an unprofitable grape for most growers.

So what’s the ideal pairing? Pan-seared halibut with lemon butter sauce!

The photo below is from the website Wholesome Yum.
Here’s the recipe: https://www.wholesomeyum.com/pan-seared-halibut-recipe/

I like the variation with a bit of garlic in it. This is a clean, easy, straightforward recipe as I believe all seafood recipes should be. (Only two ingredients in the sauce! Three if you add garlic.)

Lunaria “Ramoro” Pinot Grigio 2022 (it’s not a rosé)

Pinot Grigio is the Italian name, and Pinot Gris is the French name. Both mean “Grey Pinot.” On the vine, the grapes indeed look more grey/purple than white.

Photo from GPA Photo Archive on Flickr. Believe it or not, these grapes are growing in New Jersey, which has a very interesting microclimate for fine wine. No, I’m not kidding! Here’s an article from Decanter.

So why is Pinot Grigio always sold as a white wine? Because they don’t involve the skins in the fermentation.

That is unless it’s a ROMATO.

Romato is the term used in Friuli Venezia-Guilla, in far northeastern Italy, when they make a skin-contact (“Amber” style”) wine from Pinot Grigio. Because the term Romato is used exclusively in that region, the producers of this wine twisted it a bit and called it “Ramoro.” (“Rame” means “copper” in Italian, referring to the copper hue.)

30 days of skin contact during the fermentation not only leads to this beautiful color and distinctive style but also results in a wine with incredible versatility.

(Rosé, on the other hand, is usually made with minimal skin contact from fully red/black/purple grapes. The skin contact in most rosé made today is in the range of 30-120 minutes.)

Aromas of intense yellow fruit abound peaches, pears, and nectarine but with a touch of blood orange. The wine is medium-bodied, with a blast of power on the mouthfeel right out of the gate, followed by a savoryness that will catch you off-guard. Did I mention this is not your ordinary wine? The finish is long and rich, but with a kick of acidity at the very end that brings you back to reality. THIS STUFF IS SO DAMN GOOD.

As I mentioned, it’s incredibly versatile. Put it to the test with this Indian Curry!

If you want to follow the recipe in this video (which is great, by the way) go for it! Or, if you’re new to the world of Indian Curry don’t hesitate to get some wonderful take-out from a local restaurant. This wine is a rarity in that it can handle flavors such as these.

Sidenote: One of my favorite hobbies of late has been challenging myself to cook out of my comfort zone, and Indian food has become a particular fascination for me. I’m an infant when it comes to knowledge of the topic, but it’s catching my interest big time right now. If you have any suggestions, send them my way in the comments below.

Cantina Sociale Cooperativa “Corpertino” DOC Riserva 2015

The heel of Italy is a wine-producing machine. There is no other way to put it.

Hot sun, dry vineyards, flat land, and easy shipping channels to the rest of Italy have made Puglia the producer of most of the bulk wine made in Italy. If you travel to Italy and see bottles (or more than likely boxes) of “Vino Rosso” or “Vino Bianco” for two euros piled high at the grocery store, it’s probably from this area.

However, in Puglia, there are some pockets of particular quality and old vineyards with indigenous grapes. One of the top regions is that of Corpertino DOC.

The main grape here is Negroamaro, which produces intense and concentrated wines with a notable measure of stylish spice. Another often-found grape is Malvasia Nera, which pairs beautifully with the Negroamaro (think of the same balance you find with Zinfandel plus Petite Sirah).

From the importer:

The Copertino Cooperative was established in 1935 when a group of visionary growers, from a tiny town in the heart of the Salento peninsula’s wine growing region, decided to produce higher quality wine from their traditional indigenous grapes.

By maintaining lower yields in the vineyards and with meticulous attention to detail in the cellar, the resulting wines emphasized the terroir of the region and the DOC Copertino was ultimately established in 1976. Today the cooperative numbers 300 proud members who each manage their own harvest.

The area under vine is made up of 300 hectares planted mostly to traditional varieties: Negroamaro, Malvasia Nera, and Primitivo. The DOC Copertino is located in Salento in the south of Puglia on a clay soil structure on top of hard limestone (tufa) that lies just above sea level. In the cellar, during vinification and aging, the goal is to emphasize the character of the region through distinctive wines of elegance and harmony.  

https://www.banvillewine.com/im/en/producer/22/copertino

THIS IS AWESOMELY DISTINCTIVE WINE, AND HERE’S WHY.

It’s a 2015 vintage. That’s the CURRENT RELEASE from the winery. Outside of Rioja and Portugal, it’s difficult to find wineries that age the wine for you, but here you have it (at a bargain price). The flavor development that only comes with age in the bottle is evident in the first aromas: dried leaves, tobacco, dried red fruits, earthiness, mellow spices, and seamless leathery goodness. I’m going to tell you right now, the aromas are not for everyone. If your jam is a wine that smells like jam, this isn’t for you.

This is a wine that smells more like wine used to smell. By that I mean (and I have to be careful here about how I say this) … it’s kinda dirty. It smells like walking into an old underground wine cellar in the remote corners of Europe while some old dude with overalls on who doesn’t speak any English tries to communicate the proud family history of their wines going back 300 years while pouring you a glass into a little tumbler from the kitchen. There is nothing “modern,” “clean,” or “jammy” about this wine, and that’s what I truly love about it.

Food pairings? Anything involving earthier flavors: mushrooms, venison, lamb, etc.

Slow cooker venison roast: https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/23825/slow-cooker-venison-roast

Roast leg of lamb with gravy: https://www.recipetineats.com/roast-lamb-leg-with-gravy/

Mushroom stroganoff: https://www.gimmesomeoven.com/mushroom-stroganoff/

Mushroom stroganoff photo from Gimme Some Oven

Buying advice

Here’s a chance to spread your wine wings, pick up three amazing gems at a great price, and cook some awesome food. We’ve set up the offer with a three-pack and six-pack (best pricing) deal, plus individual bottles.

Happy shopping, and thank you again for supporting what we do!

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


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