Exceptional Excellent Very Good
Some of the best wine finds are from small distributors and importers. They often represent small family wineries, or cooperatives of family farms that are upping their game and producing delicious bottles at great value prices. Here are five from two small companies specializing in Italian wines. We have two pinot grigios, an exciting value at $10, and a beautiful, mineral example that’s worth a splurge; a surprising fizzy red ideal for pizza; and a savory red that was popular in Roman times. And, to round things out, a bottle of prosecco.
Impero Collection Premium Pinot Grigio Trebbiano 2018
Terre di Chieti, Italy, $10
This wine greets you with a smile and prompts one at first sip. A lovely, inexpensive, everyday house white, it is great for sipping by itself or with lighter first courses and salads. There are also two reds under the Impero Collection label at the same price, bottled as a private label for the distributor. I hope they made a lot. Alcohol by volume: 12.5 percent.
Imported by Caput Mundi, distributed by Impero: Available in the District at Batch 13. Available in Maryland at Dawson’s Market in Rockville, Finewine.com and Gemelli’s Italian Market in Gaithersburg, Friendship Gourmet Market in Chevy Chase, Rodman’s in White Flint, the Wine Harvest in Potomac. Available in Virginia at Crystal Palate in Norfolk, Grapevine in Warrenton, the Italian Store (Lyon Village, Westover) in Arlington, Marchese Italian Market and Yianni’s in Virginia Beach, Vienna Vintner in Vienna, the Wine Attic in Clifton.
Petrucco Pinot Grigio 2018
Friuli Colli Orientali, Italy, $27
In northern Italy, pinot grigio gets serious. This wine from Friuli, in the mountains of northeastern Italy, is mineral and focused, with ripe apricot and pear flavors . A little time in your glass will enhance the fruit flavors; don’t drink this too cold. The price has probably made some retailers shy away from it, but it is worth the money. ABV: 13.5 percent.
Imported and distributed by Bravo Wine: Available in Virginia at Aldie Peddler in Aldie, the Italian Store (Lyon Village) in Alexandria, the Whole Ox in Marshall, Wine Mill in Winchester.
De'Notari Cesanese 2017
Lazio, Italy, $14
Italy has an amazing array of grape varieties, many of which are rarely, if ever, grown elsewhere. Cesanese hails primarily from Lazio, around Rome, and was popular in Roman times, according to Ian D’Agata in his encyclopedic work, “Native Wine Grapes of Italy.” It is rich and sophisticated, with plum and cherry, accented by sage and thyme. Delicious! ABV: 13 percent.
Imported and distributed by Bravo Wine: Available in the District at Radici. Available in Virginia at Classic Wines in Great Falls, the Italian Store (Lyon Village) in Alexandria, the Whole Ox in Marshall, Wine Mill in Winchester.
Cabert Extra Dry Prosecco NV
Most proseccos add a welcome sparkle to any occasion. This one adds bright red currant flavors and a long finish. Stock up for your everyday, or holiday, celebrations. ABV: 11 percent.
Imported and distributed by Bravo Wine: Available in the District at Radici. Available in Virginia at Aldie Peddler in Aldie, the Whole Ox in Marshall, Wine Mill in Winchester.
Cantine Federiciane Gragnano 2018
Penisola Sorrentina, Italy, $20
Be careful: This is a fizzy red wine, and the cork will come out with a pop. Gragnano wine is from the Sorrento Peninsula, near Naples, and popular with Neapolitan pizza. The closest comparison is lambrusco, from northern Italy. Chill and pair it with pizza, charcuterie, barbecue, pizza, and did I mention pizza? Anything involving cured or smoked pork will let this wine shine. ABV: 10.5 percent.
Imported by Caput Mundi, distributed by Impero: Available in the District at A. Litteri, Batch 13, Pearson’s, Via Umbria. Available in Virginia at Market 2 Market in Alexandria, Yiannis in Virginia Beach.
Availability information is based on distributor records. Wines might not be in stock at every listed store and might be sold at additional stores. Prices are approximate. Check Winesearcher.com to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.