Italian wines - Can you recommend?

May 10th, 2005, 02:17 PM
  #1  
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Italian wines - Can you recommend?

We are very familiar with French wines, but know next-to-nothing about Italian wines. Since drinking wine is critical to a great vacation, I was wondering if anybody can recommend wines we should be ordering in Italy? Our preferences range from not sweet whites (Chardoney, Pinot Grigio) to full-bodied reds (Bordeouxs, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sheraz - I probably have these spelled wrong). No whimpy wines. Prefer nothing real expensive (I never understand why people think that good wine has to cost a fortune). Also, don't worry about what foods they go with...THANKS!
wliwl is offline  
May 10th, 2005, 02:33 PM
  #2  
rex
 
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The answer you need/deserve is a lot more than 500 words... and I think there are some good websites to give you a better ovewview than this... but here are a few items to search for (both here on this forum, and on Google or Yahoo).

Pinot Grigio is, of course, a white wine, and it is concentrated in the Veneto. And many white wine drinkers like to at least become familiar with some of the many labels of Vernaccia di San Gimignano

I know three red wine producing areas somewhat, and I feel certain that this is only scratching the surface.

1. The Piemonte - - home of the much vaunted Barolo, and its somewhat less prestigious cousin, Barbaresco. Barolos are outrageously expensive in the US, and not cheap in Italy. But wonderful.

2. The Alto Adige and northern parts of the Veneto... one obscure wine that is much a favorite of mine is Teroldego Rotaliano (this is a grape, there are several labels) - - it's very dark and spicy, like a Shiraz. There are other reds around Lake Garda that are almost "specialty" wines... the potent Amarones, the fairly light/fruity/sweet Bardolinos, and the once-popular (showing my age) Valpolicellas

3. And Tuscany... Tuscany and the Piemonte are both "hearts" of Italian wine production. I do not claim to be an expert on the many ergional variations in Chiantis, Classico, Riserva, Gran Riserva and "Super-Tuscans" - - all start with Sangiovese grapes, and go in different directions, including blending(s) or different production/aging techniques. And some small regions are famous, such as Montepulciano - - and merit their own appellation.

But every region has some wines, including Sicily. This mini-overview really does not do the subject justice (and may contain some mistakes!)

Hopefully, no huge ones!

Best wishes,

Rex
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May 10th, 2005, 02:37 PM
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Brunello is fabulous. -Tuscany
TexasAggie is offline  
May 10th, 2005, 02:48 PM
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No wimpy wines. That calls to mind Brunellos, Barolo and Sangrantino di Montefalcos. They are costly, but if you are in the Montalcino area, you should be able to get some good deals on the Brunello and we've had phenomenal Sangrantinos for less than 30 Euro in and around Montefalco. If you are around Venice, you'll find good Pinot Grigios and Tocai Fruiliano (excellent wine, dry, medium bodied and goes well with just about anything) and also the sparkling white wine, Prosecco.
In Rome, I usually stick to the white house wines which are usually from Frascati or the other towns in the Colli Albani. The white wine from Orvieto is also good.
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May 10th, 2005, 03:41 PM
  #5  
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Thanks everybody. We will be in Rome. Do you know where the "house wines" are likely to be from?
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May 10th, 2005, 04:29 PM
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You will be surprised to see that you can buy a bottle of wine far more inexpensively with dinner than you can in the states. Our restaurants mark up wines 3 and 4 times their cost. So you don't have to order house wines to save bucks...especially if you want to try a Chianti Classico (a good bet) or a Montepulciano. Brunellos will be expensive, (But still about half what they are across the pond). You are right, good wine doesn't have to be expensive...but splurging on a great wine once or twice a year open up your whole outlook on wine and food.

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May 10th, 2005, 05:20 PM
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Hi wliwl, although I love wine I am certainly not an expert on wine. You have received some great info here IMO.

Wanted to share with you that I just recently read that wine from southern Italy is really coming into its own. The wine is suppose to be fantastic due to the volcanic ash in the soil. I don't remember if it was red wine, white wine or both. But in Italy you might want to see if you can get any. It sounded wonderful. Enjoy your trip!
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May 10th, 2005, 06:34 PM
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In Rome, if you order a "house wine" it's generally going to come in a liter or half liter carafe. Like I said above, in Rome, house whites usually are from Frascati or another nearby town. Because Lazio is better known for its white wines, white outsells red in Rome. If you prefer red, you can go ahead and order a carafe of house red and it will be fine, just don't expect it to equal a house red from Tuscany or Umbria.
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May 11th, 2005, 04:49 AM
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Sometimes table wines can be hit or miss but generally drinkable.

I really like the Tuscan wines. You can't go wrong ordering the Chianti Classico, and if you want to upgrade, get the Reserva.

The Brunellos are expensive and very good, but a nice wine from that region is the Rosso di Montepulciano. It's only aged about 8 months in the barrel, and the Nobile di Montepulciano Reserve (upgrade) is exceptional, but a tad more expensive. That aging process is about 3 years before release.

You definitely can't go wrong ordering any of the Banfi wines. Their blends are very good [Cab/Merlot (Excelsus), Sang/Cab/Syrah (Summus), and Cab/Merlot/Sang/Syrah (Cum Laude)]. Their Pinot is good, but I really liked their Sav Blanc.

This thread is making me thirsty. Happy drinking.

Budman is offline  
May 11th, 2005, 05:13 AM
  #10  
ira
 
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Hi wl,

>I never understand why people think that good wine has to cost a fortune<

The better the wine, the higher the demand/supply ratio, the higher the price.

Try a Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio, either red or white. Very interesting and not pricey.

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May 11th, 2005, 05:26 AM
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rex
 
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<<The better the wine, the higher the demand/supply ratio, the higher the price.>>

Normally, I would not argue against such a fundamental... and seemingly "spot-on" principle of economics...

... but it ignores some of the underlying agricultural science.

It can happen that a particular grape (or any other farm product) which is very, very good - - even if not "excellent" - - can be grown with an atypically high yield, or low failure rate, or low "fussiness" requirements.

Thus, its demand/supply curve may have drastically different elasticity than the "excellent" grape... which is two or three times more difficult to get to produce 100 cases of wine.

I think this is why it IS true that "very good" wine really does not have to be even a fraction the price of "excellent" wine.

And of course, if techniques lead to an "extraordinary" wine (better than the "excellent") that can be produced at a fraction of the cost - - then either one of two things happen... the "excellent" wine ceases to be produced - - or it becomes a "niche", or "rare" wine (even if not as good as others priced less) produced by a few, and enjoyed only a few. And in those case, its price might go even higher... out of all proportion to how good it is.
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May 11th, 2005, 05:51 AM
  #12  
DRJ
 
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Although you probably won't find it in Rome, the recently "discovered" wine from the south is Aglianico from Basilicata. I was in Matera a month ago and enjoyed it twice a day. Prices ranged from five euro in a store to sixty in a restaurant.

You may have more luck finding a Sagrantino di Montefalco, a lusty red from Umbria. Good labels are Paolo Bea and Arnaldo Caprai.

BTW, a great place with a large wine selection is 'Gusto, a few blocks southwest of Piazza Popolo. A hyperactive bar-restaurant that's great fun.
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