Italian Value Wine

Italian Value Wine

There we were. Once again, several of us were just sitting around the general store in Central Florida waiting for the stagecoach to come in with the latest wine shipment. I had seen the April 2013 Food & Wine magazine with Ray Isle’s article about Italian wine values. (It came in on the last stagecoach). So naturally I was curious to see if any were available near my home. We don’t get much hard to find stuff here. But Zebulon Ledbetter, who runs the general store, has an internet connection, and he sells computer time. So I rented Zeb’s computer, and I found that two of the six winners are actually available to us here.

OK, so it is not as bad as Zeb’s general store and stagecoaches. But according to the Wine Searcher website, these Italian wine values seem to be littering the streets of the northeast, with the occasional bottle or two in Chicago, California and the Pacific northwest. But if  bustling, cosmopolitan cities like Dallas and Atlanta don’t show up nearly as often on WineSearcher.com, then what chance does Orlando have? I am aware that some of the best wine values are available online, but I happen to like noodling around in wine shops.

Enough of my rant about lack of availability in the hinterlands. Let’s take a look at these value wines. This was a blind tasting of Italian wines priced at less than $15. Food & Wine magazine’s Executive Wine Editor, Ray Isle, and Italian wine pro, Joe Bastianich, chose the wines and did the tasting. There were 12 wines, 6 pairs from various areas of Italy. Ray and Joe each chose 6 wines. 3 of Ray’s picks came out on top, and the same for Joe. If you can find them, here are the winners:

  1. 2009 Labrusca Lambrusco Rosso. A dry red sparkler, fruity and a good food match.
  2. 2011 Scarbolo Pinot Grigio.  Possibly the top wine of the tasting. More depth than most PG’s
  3. 2010 Terredora di Paolo Falanghina.  A floral and citrusy white. Another great food wine.
  4. Fontanafredda Briccotondo Barbera.  A rich red from a well-known Piedmonte estate.
  5. 2010 Di Majo Norante Ramitello.  This is a Montepulciano based red from central Italy.
  6. 2010 Tormaresca Neprica.  A blend of 3 red grapes from Puglia (heel of the boot), this wine was one of Ray Isle’s best deals of 2012.

In fact, I was able to find two of the six locally. Actually, one and a half of the six. The Norante Ramitello is a 2009, not a 2010. I was particularly interested in the Scarbolo Pinot Grigio, but no luck.

So there they are. Personally, I appreciate Mr. Isle’s willingness to point out wine value that is affordable for most wine drinkers. If you like to cook, and if you enjoy wine, I’d recommend Food & Wine. I don’t get anything from this, I just think it is a very good publication. As to the 2 wines that are available to me locally, I’m going to saddle up my horse and head out. The wine store is only 7 or 8 miles away. I’ll be back for lunch tomorrow no problem. We all like good cheap wine around here, so maybe I can get Zeb to stock some of this stuff.

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