Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sexy Italian Wines That I Love

Cars, women, beaches. Italy is downright sexy. Whether you are 26 or 62, the sensuality of living the Italian life is invigorating. And the wines of Italy are part of that lifestyle.

Barolo? Waiting 25 years for something big isn’t sexy. Brunello? Some things that are hard aren’t that sexy. Amarone? Weight can sometimes be a turn-off, especially when it is on top of you. No, I’m thinking a whole different way.

Petra Alto comes from a flashy new winery on the Tuscan coastline. They make a range of wines, but their 2008 Alto, a Sangiovese in purezza, is a purring cat with nice claws. The wine reminds me of a Ferrari, in that it is full but tuned. The flavors of the wine are in harmony. The fruit is ripe but not cloying. The tannins are present but they’re tender. The body is ample but supple. This is sunshine and deliciousness. A wonderful wine. Petra Alto Sangiovese 2008 - suggested retail $50-60.

Binomio Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, is a joint effort between the La Valentina and Inama wineries. This is one of those wines that I would never expect to like. It’s big and high alcohol (15%) and ripe and slurpy- juicy. But, wow, what a wine! I tripped over my tongue after I tasted this wine this week. It’s full-throttle, no denying, but it’s like a ride to the moon. Have you ever been in a situation when you were with someone, flirting and acting a little naughty? And then all of a sudden the night goes into fast-track and you wake up in a hotel room with a new gorgeous naked lover? Binomio is kinda like that. Wow. Just, wow. Binomio Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2008 - suggested retail $40-50.

Pio Cesare “Piodilei” is a Langhe Chardonnay grown in the Barbaresco zone. As unlikely a candidate for sexy as they come. Add to that lees ageing in small French Oak barrels and one might think they just got served a glass of Napa Valley Chardonnay. But you’d be wrong. As I was. Straight back from his epiphanous trip to Napa in the late 1970’s, Pio Boffa planted this vineyard. Pio was (and is) smitten with the California style. But the vineyard is in Treiso. So, what will be will be. A curvy, juicy, slinky white wine. 13% in alcohol, so it is restrained. I had it with fresh white truffles and eggs. The end of the world, topped with a dollop of cream. Pio Cesare "Piodilei" 2010 Langhe Chardonnay - suggested retail $36-40.

Another white wine, the LiVeli “Askos” Verdeca, when we opened it the other night at a wine dinner, I thought some woman in the room was wearing perfume. And then I put my nose into the glass. It was the wine! God, was this an epiphany. I felt like I was 28 again, the wine “stirred” me. Again, this is not the style of wine I gravitate towards, but maybe in my present mood, this is the wine for the time. It’s dripping with sensuality, exotic flavors, but some recognizable, comforting ones too. Pretty, pretty, pretty. I’m smitten. LiVeli “Askos” 2011 Verdeca - suggested retail $ 15-20.

Back to the reds. The 2009 Regina di Renieri is a 100% Syrah grown on slopes in Montalcino country. Why on earth they decided to do that, I’ll never know. But all it took was just one sip, and I fell hard. All I can say is that when I was a young man there was a type of woman I absolutely loved. She was tall, had long hair, wore flowing dresses and had deep hazel-green eyes. I fell in love with women of that description all the time. And this wine is the vinous embodiment of that youthful passion. Regina di Renieri 2009 - suggested retail $35-40.

Some say sweet ain’t sexy. At a wine dinner this week, when the dessert wine arrived, people at my table pooh-poohed the wine. It was a Vin Santo, but one with a special pedigree. My tablemates, though, they didn’t think it was very sophisticated. They thought they should be dipping a biscotti in it. “This wine has nothing on D’Yquem,” a Francophile at the table muttered. He was right. D’Yquem is a grand old dame. But the Vin Santo, that’s the kind of wine I want to pour over a willing body and lick it off of them. Never tried that? Put it on your bucket list. The Vin Santo del Chianti 2006 “Red Label” from De Renzis Sonnino in Montespertoli would be the one I am talking about. Luscious, exotic fruit, man if this isn’t sexy I don’t know what is. And what a great end (or beginning) of something special. Please don’t chill the wine. It might discomfort the lady (or gentleman) you are pouring it over. Vin Santo del Chianti “Red Label” from De Renzis Sonnino - suggested retail (500ml. bottle) $35-40.

These aren’t my everyday wines. These aren’t my collect and put away for 20 year wines. These aren’t the wines I open with my wine geek friends. These are wines that make me excited. They make me feel young. They are the sexy Italian wines that I love.

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