You may or may not have noticed, but I’ve been making my way through some inexpensive Sangiovese wines of late. The goal is to learn a little more about the wine as well as what is available to the budget-minded consumer in this varietal. I realize that to learn more, I’ll have to splurge a bit. And I will, I will. Of course, there is also the whole Chianti thing. Since many of the Chianti selections are blends, however, I’m sticking to the single varietal Sangiovese right now to help me understand this grape and the kind of wine it becomes. My exploration of this varietal is precisely why I couldn’t pass up this selection.
Winemaker: Grifone by Roccadoro (Castellani)
Appellation: Puglia IGT, Italy
Price: $4.99 at Trader Joe’s
Notes: This cheap Italian was dark red in the glass. I’d compare it to a velvet curtain in a traditional opera house. That shade of red. On the nose I found violets, plum and pepper. The body was very light but with a gentle plushness on the tongue. Acidity was good. Alcohol was at 12.5%. Tannins were moderate but distinctly present. As far as flavors I detected, there was an overarching woodiness (think dried twigs) to the wine, some pleasant plum, and a touch of pepper. The finish was a mix of tart and bitter much like pomegranate. This is definitely a good value. Amazing? No. Decent? You bet!
And speaking of exploration and experimentation …. This is the last of my tastings from the inexpensive Moscatos available in my area. There are more, of course. Many more, in fact. But I had to cut myself off somewhere or I’d have permanent high blood sugar. I saw some pink Moscatos and some sparkling Moscatos on the shelves that looked very interesting. After awhile, perhaps I’ll pull a few of those for sampling. For now, though, I’ll call this Moscato “tour” at an end with this interesting non-vintage offering imported from Italy by Whole Foods.
Notes: In the glass, the color of this somewhat drier Moscato (11% alcohol) was a light yellow. The bouquet on this Italian was surprisingly faint with only light suggestions of citrus and peach. The body was light and acidity was fine. On the tongue, I found mostly floral notes with honey and herbs . I did taste an underlying apricot, but it was definitely second (or third) fiddle. I’d say that makes this Moscato quite different from the main.
Since I’m winding down my “tour” of cheap Moscatos available in my area, I had to include some offerings from Italy. Although I have seen it asserted that the Moscato grape originated in Greece, the Italians have been cultivating and fermenting these grapes since as far back as the early 1300’s. That’s a lot of time to practice the art of making wine from Moscato!
Winemaker: Sara Bee by Santero F.lli & C. I.V.A.S.S. S.p.A.
Appellation: Puglia, Italy IGT
Price: $5.99 at Trader Joe’s
Notes: In the glass, the color of this sweet white wine – says so on the label – is a vibrant yellow. On first opening, there was quite a bit of effervescence. It almost seemed like a sparkling wine right down to the satisfying (and unexpected) “pop” when the cork was removed. But the effervescence quickly dissipated. On the nose of this kosher Moscato I caught lots of floral scent and honey. I suppose that might be why they call it Sara Bee and have a honeybee on the label! It was medium-light in body, the acidity was bright, and the alcohol was at 5.5%. Given the low alcohol content, I was concerned that this would be sickly sweet. And it was quite sweet. However, the higher acidity managed to help (but not completely) counterbalance the heavy sweetness. On the palate, I tasted apple cider and peach.
Important: I am not a professional sommelier or wine connoisseur. See “About” for the full disclaimer.