★★★Exceptional ★★Excellent ★Very Good
Prices are approximate. Check Winesearcher.com to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.
Italian wines are confusing in their labeling, even more so than French wines. Chianti and Brunello are labeled according to their region, lagrein and pinot grigio according to grape variety. Teroldego Rotaliano is both: a wine made from teroldego grapes grown in the Rotaliano valley of Trentino. Barolo and Valpolicella are neither, as they are the names of the wine. It takes a fair amount of study to get the hang of this, and there’s probably a political reference in there somewhere. Fortunately, Italian wines are worth the effort.
Trentino, Italy, $16
Dried sour cherries and herbs waft through the glass and across the palate along with an earthy, forest aspect that makes this medium-bodied wine delightful. Don’t look for a fruit bomb or a syrupy monster, and expect this one to unfurl its charms a few hours after opening.
Vias Imports; Country Vintner in the District and Maryland, Roanoke Valley in Virginia: Available in the District at MacArthur Beverages.
Sudtirol-Alto Adige, Italy, $19
Hints of bacon, cherries and sage give this wine a sense of the outdoors. There’s also a hint of leather and dried fruit, and at 12.5 percent alcohol, it is nicely balanced.
Winebow: Available in the District at Connecticut Avenue Wine & Liquor, D’Vines, Paul’s of Chevy Chase, Pearson’s Wine & Spirits.
Sudtirol-Alto Adige, Italy, $22
Subtly but distinctly different from the Tramin, it is riper, slightly higher in alcohol and more international and modern in style. Yet that delicious sour cherry flavor comes through to show its varietal character.
★1 / 2
Veneto, Italy $17
This is a fun wine, with cherry and woodsy spice flavors. Serve it slightly chilled with casual summer fare and pretend you’re dining in a Venetian trattoria.
Vias Imports/Country Vintner in the District and Maryland; Roanoke Valley in Virginia: Available in the District at MacArthur Beverages; on the list at Dino. Available in Maryland at Belby Discount Beer & Wine in Rockville. The 2010 is available in Virginia at Butcher’s Block in Alexandria, Twisted Vines Bottleshop in Arlington; on the list at A La Lucia in Alexandria, Il Fornaio in Reston, Northside Social in Arlington.
★1 / 2
Piemonte, Italy, $16
Bonarda now is more commonly seen from Argentina rather than its Italian homeland. It used to appear in California as charbono. This delightful example tastes of pomegranate and dark cherry, with the slight sourness that marks many Italian reds.
J.W. Sieg: Available in the District at Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits. Available in Virginia at Planet Wine & Gourmet in Alexandria, Vienna Vintner.