Gran Passione Salice Salentino Riserva DOC 2013

Brand: Gran Passione is a label of the Botter family, who since 1928 have been producing wines under environmentally friendly practices. Today the company is managed by the family’s third generation, with a “multi-territorial approach that spans the whole of Italy”, focusing on native vines and organic viticulture. Gran Passione sets out to express the passion, devotion and tradition of vine growers.

Winemaking: Grapes are from vineyards with clay and limestone soils. Aged for at least 9-12 months in wooden casks, then in stainless steel tanks before bottling. [A total aging time of at least 24 months is required for Riserva status.]

Tasting notes: Red-violet in colour with inviting cherry, raspberry, cinnamon, pepper spice and floral aromas. Black cherry, red currant, black pepper, leather and a streak of sour cherry are framed by pleasantly bitter tannins and bright acidity. A wisp of smoky earth along with a returning shake of cinnamon compliment the dry, fruity finish. Friendly and rustic, an easy drinking Negroamaro that is comfortable on its own or with a wide variety of hearty dishes.

Pairing Suggestions from the Winery: Though it drinks well on its own, this full-bodied red wine pairs with heartier meals such as roasted and grilled red meat, stews and dried sausages.

100% Negroamaro
Salice Salentino DOC
Italy
Produced by Casa Vinicola Botter & C. S.P.A.
13% Alcohol
$13 [average price]
Enjoy now thru 2020

Sample submitted for editorial consideration

Franco Serra Barbera d’Asti DOCG 2015

Winery: Brother and sister Andrea and Francesca Sperone are the 4th generation of the winemaking Sperone family. With 75 acres of vineyards in Piedmont, the family has a built a reputation for crafting “affordable premium wines”. The Franco Serra brand is intended to provide “provides everyone with the opportunity to drink thoughtfully crafted, distinctive wines from Italy’s most renowned region”.

Winemaking: Vineyards are certified sustainable. Grapes are hand harvested, followed by 10 days of maceration and two weeks of fermentation in stainless steel at 75°F. Aged for 3 months in the bottle before release.

Tasting Notes: Dark garnet in colour with aromas of cherry and a hint of floral. Cherry, black pepper and anise are framed by bright acidity and smooth, soft tannins. Cherry and spice return on the dry finish. Straightforward, a lovely glugable sip with pizza and pastas. [It was fantastic with potato, smoked scamorza, brie and rosemary pizza.]

Pairing Suggestions from the Winery: Pairs well with hearty Italian fare and spicy dishes.

100% Barbera
Barbera d’Asti DOCG
Italy
Bottled by TE.NE. S.P.A.
13% Alcohol
$11
Enjoy now

 

Cantele Salice Salentino Riserva DOC 2013

Estate: Giovanni Batista Cantele founded the Cantele winery in 1979 along with his sons Augusto and Domenico. Prior to that, Giovanni was a successful wine broker, purchasing Puglian wines and selling them in northern Italy. Today under the direction of his grandson Gianni Cantele [Augosto’s son], the family estate consists of 50 hectares of vines and an additional 150 hectares owned by other growers that the family manages. The family grows many indigenous grapes such as Primitivo and Negroamaro, along with international varieties like Merlot and Syrah.

Philosophy: “We have always thought of our wines as food” in that they “offer drinkability and balanced aromas and flavors when paired with dishes at the dinner table”.

Winemaking: Herbicides and pesticides are kept to a minimum, [if they are even used at all]. After being destemmed and crushed, the must macerates with skin contact for approximately 10 days. Aged in 1-2 year old barriques for approximately 6 months.

Tasting Notes: Dark garnet in colour with aromas of wild berries, herbs and earth. Layers of dark fruit [think plum, blackberry and black cherry] over black pepper and a wisp of smoky earth. Silky tannins and good acidity fuse into more fruit and spice on the lengthy finish. Well balanced, easy drinking and easy to pair, a fantastic value.

Enjoy at 18° C [64° F].

100% Negroamaro
Salice Salentino DOC
Italy
Bottled by Cantele Azienda Vinicola
13% Alcohol
$10
Enjoy

Rated 90 points by Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate

Lammidia Rosato 2016

Winery: Lammidia [meaning an envy or bad eye in the Abruzzese dialect], was founded by childhood friends Marco Giuliani and David Dear. The winery is in Villa Celiera, a small village at 714 meters above sea level in the Abruzzo region of Italy. The 3 hectares of vines consist of Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, Pecorino and Pinot Noir. Dedicated to organic and biodynamic methods, the duo is constantly experimenting and learning. “Study, comparison with other winemakers, tests, experiments, errors (many), synthesized by self-criticism and common sense, have led us to current results and a path of continuous improvement.” They have designed and built specific concrete containers for use in different processes of winemaking. In the cellar, they work with terracotta amphorae, along with steel and fiberglass containers.

Philosophy: Their slogan is: Uva e basta [100% Grape]. “In all transformation processes, from the earth, to the plant, to the grape, to the wine, we try to intervene as little as possible, preserving the natural evolution of nature.”

Winemaking: Organic and biodynamic methods. Grapes were left in contact with the skin for 12 days. Fermented and refined in cement.

Tasting Notes: Red with amber highlights in colour, with mercurial aromas of candied orange, fried sage, strawberry and Brothers Johnson funk. Wild strawberry, pomegranate and sour cherry are framed by good acidity and accented by a dry, savoury finish. Not your traditional rosé, each engaging, unique sip keeps you reaching for more.

100% Montepulciano d’Abruzzo
Italy
Produced & Bottled by PE 5224 Villa Celiera
10.8% Alcohol
$26
Enjoy now

Lucchetti Lacrima di Morro d’Alba DOC 2015

Estate: Passionately revitalizing indigenous varietals, Mario Lucchetti was one of the original Lacrima winemakers in the Lacrima di Morro d’Alba DOC. He began with only a few hectares and now crafts 4 different wines all from the Lacrima grape. Today the estate has increased to a total of 18 hectares and Mario’s son Paolo works by his side “to carry the family tradition into the next decades”.

Winemaking: Grapes are from vines 15-30 years in ages, in clay soil at 180/220 meters [590/755 feet] in elevation. Aged for 3 months in stainless steel tanks, then an additional 3 months in the bottle.

Tasting Notes: Inky red-violet in colour with emphatic aromas of strawberry, cherry and warm summer earth. Jammy strawberry, raspberry, cherry and a floral streak are complimented by good acidity and dry tannins. Dark chocolate and tobacco linger between each sip. Packed with plush, rich flavour, however it’s light on its feet and easy drinking.

The label is a limited edition, “quarter century” design entitled #LucchettiPopWines.

100% Lacrima
Lacrima di Morro d’Alba DOC
Italy
Produced by Azienda Agricola Mario Lucchetti
13.5% Alcohol
$15 [average price]
Enjoy now thru 2018