Being a lover of Italian wine, I have been really intrigued by the somewhat modern approach several California wine makers are employing by cultivating Italian grape varietals in California soil. Although I should really give credit other regions, particularly Columbia Valley, Washington, for producing some truly amazing wines made from 100% Sangiovese.
It seems like a nice marriage – nice, vibrant acidity, and a touch of the rustic, earthy style that we get from Italian wines – but punched up a few notches, we tend to like here in the US. Here are two of my favorite examples of a little bit of Italy – California style.
2009 Uvaggio Vermentino (Lodi, California) ($10)
Vermentino is typically seen coming from the warm weather region of Sardinia and known for its bright acidity and vibrant floral aromas. Uvaggio focuses on Italian varietals, not by trying to out do what Italy has to offer, but by creating their own interpretation of Italy meets California. The 2009 Vermentino is 100% Lodi appellation fruit and their flagship wine. Bright and crisp on the palate with floral notes on the nose – lime, cirtus and pear on the palate with lots of backbone. We love this wine as an all-purpose summer white – pairs with just about anything from seafood to salads and the price at $10 is pretty much a steal.
This husband and wife team seem to have brought the grace and balance of Italian wine making to sunny CA, giving their own twist to California grown fruit by employing some time-honored Italian traditions. The style has a bit more Italian influence – good acidity and subtlety making them amazing food partners.
This wine is made from 100% Aglianico grapes – typically found growing in Campagna in Southern Italy. Typically the resulting wine can be earthy and tannic with aromas of coffee and leather. The 2009 Giornata Aglianico has a very alluring bouquet – think crushed blackberries muddled with fresh herbs. A bold wine showing lots of dark fruit and hints of spice but it still shows great balance and acidity and a bit more finesse. We think this would be a stunning partner to grilled lamb, beef or a hearty pasta with a Bolognese sauce.