UNDER THE RADAR GRAPES FROM ITALY AND PORTUGAL
Cantine Astroni Greco di Tufo DOCG 2011
Country: ITALY / Region: CAMPANIA / Appellation: GRECO DI TUFO DOCG / Varietal(s): GRECO DI TUFO --- Cantine Astroni is located in the Campi Flegrei, on the western outskirts of Naples. The Campi Flegrei ("Fiery Fields") are home to over 70 ‘eruptive centers’, and the estate takes its name from the largest and most famous crater, Astroni, now a WWF protected park. Due to all the volcanic activity, the terroir is especially rich in minerals: ash, volcanic sand, lapillus, and pumice. Cantine Astroni has recently expanded beyond their holdings in the Campi Flegrei, with the goal of showcasing the various terroirs of Campania. Vitis Aminea is 100% greco, from a single vineyard in Altavilla Irpina, one of the 17 small towns that make up the appellation of Greco di Tufo. Described in 79 AD by Pliny the Elder: “The wine greco was so precious, that during banquets was poured only once…”, greco can be traced through history and legend back to ancient Aminea Gemina grapes imported from Thessaly by the pre-Christian Pelasgians. Today’s greco is the modern expression of those ancient vines planted in Irpinia centuries ago, where the distinct terroir adds extraordinary flavors and complexity to the resultant wines. Here the bunches of greco are whole-cluster pressed, with skin contact both before and during the initial part of fermentation, which takes place in stainless steel, before aging on the lees for 4 months. A waxy, savory nose of crushed dried herbs yields to a complex palate, allowing the age of this white to really come through without sacrificing freshness and structure. Marzipan texture and notes of almond and apricot pith meld beautifully with intense ripe white fruit and a long, mineral-laden finish. A winner with shrimp scampi or linguine with white clam sauce!
Luis Pato Vinho Regional Beira Atlântico 2013
Country: PORTUGAL / Region: BEIRAS / Appellation: VINHO REGIONAL BEIRA ATLANTICO / Varietal(s): BAGA+TOURIGA NACIONAL --- If you aren't thinking about Portuguese wines as a regular part of your routine, you're missing the boat. These wines continue to impress and still represent some of the best values in the wine world. While you may not recognize the grapes, you'll be rewarded for exploring them with the quality of the wines. Baga is an obscure grape, even by Portugal's standards. It was long abandoned, however, Luis Pato has been making strides with this grape since 1980. Only in the past few years have more of these wines begun to grace our shores. Combined with Portugal's leading red grape, touriga nacional, this cuvée is a wonderful fresh example: dry red fruit flavors with some mild tannin on the finish. This is a chill it down, plate some food and sip all night kind of wine! It is refreshing and perfect for a paella (not Portuguese, we know!) or a pasta with olives, mushrooms and tomatoes.