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Wine Review: Italian varieties again grow in popularity

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There can be little doubt that Italian foods from pasta to pizza are among the most popular cuisine in the United States. Since that fact cannot be denied, why aren’t Italian wines more popular?

There was a time in the recent past when Italian Chianti was the favorite red wine, and when empty, the basket-swathed bottles were the candle holder of choice at almost every university dorm in the country. That was then and this is now and during the ensuing years, California wines exploded onto the scene and Italian wines, Chianti included, fell into the background.
Why then the renewed interest in Italian wines? Whether they want to admit it or not, wine enthusiasts are a fickle lot, always looking for new wine styles or varieties to try. Thus, a renewed interest in Italian wines, as well as wine styles from other parts of the world, was born.
Da Vinci 2015 Chianti ($13)
Although not swathed in a straw basket or in the bulb-shaped bottle of old, Da Vinci 2015 Chianti is as true to the old fashioned Tuscan recipe as you can get. The brilliant, deep garnet color heralds the fresh and pleasant aroma of violets and dried plums with a hint of wild berries in the background. The flavor is full and powerful, accenting blackberries, plums and an earthy flavor that has become synonymous with Chianti. As far as what this wine will accompany, as you may well imagine, this wine will go well with Italian foods, but it should not be relegated solely to that niche. It also will fit well wherever a red wine is called for.
Da Vinci 2014 Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie ($13)
This excellent Italian import displays a crystal clear, pale straw color and an aroma that is reminiscent of summer wild flowers and fresh Bosc pears. On the palate, the wine is almost totally dry, but the fruit flavors give the impression of sweetness. The Da Vinci 2014 Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie also displays a moderately long, flavorful finish. This wine that can accompany a wide variety of foods, but it is a standout with shrimp or mild cheese-based dishes.
Brancaia 2014 TRE Rosso di Toscana ($21)
As the name of the wine indicates, the grapes for this wine come from Tuscany, and as such, the main continuant is the sangiovese. Along with the sangiovese, the Brancaia vintners blended in 10 percent merlot and 10 percent cabernet sauvignon to craft a true super Tuscan. The aroma presents wild summer fruits, blackberry, sweet spices and a hint of leather. The flavor is soft with smooth tannins and ends in an exceptionally long finish. This is a wine that simply cries to be served with anything from barbecue up to and including heavier seafood.
Castello di Gabbiano 2016 Dark Knight Toscana Red Wine ($17)
If you ever have the pleasure of visiting Tuscany, you will find a host of local wines there from home-made to estate-grown. When I visited Tuscany, I never found a wine there below my expectations. One can experience some of the joys of Tuscany in this wine. A blend of 50 percent cabernet sauvignon, 30 percent merlot and 20 percent sangiovese, the wine presents an entire new spectrum. The wine is blessed with the aroma of summer wild flowers and hints of sweet spices, coffee and chocolate. In the flavor department, the wine displays a constantly changing kaleidoscope of light-colored summer fruits and ends with a burst of fruit in the finish.

Wine columnist Bennet Bodenstein can be reached at


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