Ciao Bello! Il Topo di Vino Ritorno con Vino di Nuovo

fit for a Mouse King

fit for a Mouse King

[ed. Our prized least coast correspondent has returned with Italian discoveries. Why does it often seem whatever he has been drinking… we just started? The more mice the more bella il vino.

It’s been hectic, irrational and nonsensical, therefore the appropriate choice here targets Italian wine. More and more, when we approach the cellar for the habitual nightly offering, we land in the peninsula whose offerings present a host of personalities.

eternal dilemma

dilemma eterna

Schizophrenic comes to mind. We love dozens. The Nebbiolos of Piedmont, while less reliable than Cotes de Nuits, either beguile, intrigue, astonish, or all three. I’m flat in love with Sangiovese, either alone, or better yet, with a dash of Cabernet or Merlot. Cab Franc (sorry Milo) from the northeast, makes increasingly more sense. Nero d’Avola from that big island near Tunisia continually represents tremendous value. Love Dolcetto, Barbera, Arneis, Moscato, and Umbria’s Sagrantinos and Grechettos. Love them all. And, without being too freaking trite, great chow wine. So, here goes…

castellLuzzanoWEB2011 Castello di Luzzano Malvasia Tasto di Seta Colli $23 (online Mad Wine Merchant). Malavasia, like Verdicchio, grows everywhere. Unlike Verdek, it’s vinified many ways, with radically varying success. Oz Clark (god bless him) says the best Verdeks offer “the aroma and taste of ripe, fresh apricots that charm you rather than attack you with power.” Well, this Malvasia blew me away. My mistake was having it with seafood; it was too fruity and forward. It would pair wonderfully with some Taleggio before or after a meal. It is wine that anyone living in West LA can find and buy for $16 at Lincoln Fine Wines on the boulevard with the same name in Venice. A wonderful little outlet with boxes of current, none-too-common releases everywhere. Ask for Matt, a non-pretentious fellow stacked with info. I just wish he, and everyone else, would stop using honeydew and fig to describe wine. But in this case, he’s right. Two mice.

nascettaWEB2011 Elvio Cogno “Anas-Cëtta” Nascetta di Novello Langhe Bianco $18. A New York Times article once debated the better food region: Piedmont or Emilia-Romagna. It gave Piedmont the slight edge. For wine, of course, there is no discussion. Wine nerds would know that the obscure grape here is Nascetta, an indigenous Piedmont varietal rescued from obscurity from some winemaker sitting on acreage that could fetch him a lot more. I think there’s about 52 vines left in the world. No matter, this is tasty slurpage. Like most Italian wines, it’s quite acidic. Think of a Qba Riesling infused with a dash of grilled pineapple. This should age pretty well. Worth finding for the perpetual new taste we crave. Would I buy more for $17.99 (Astor Wines, NYC)? Dunno, but it’s more than decent. One solid mouse.

loackermorellinoriserva07WE2007 Loacker Morellino di Scansano Valdifalco Riserva $13 (lastcallwines) A freaking steal. [ed. online price costs another $10! Mouse and Kris B are C-level scourers.] Kept on emailing for more. This swampy Tuscan region is now trendy, and it should be. Loacker’s flagship Brunello di Montalcino costs 4x the price, but I’ve never tasted a chalky Brunello much better than this. That’s why Brunello makers sometimes cheat and add more Merlot than allowed. God, Italian wine gets weird. Nevermind. This is beefy. Tastes a bit like a Washington blend, but again, at a fraction the price. All Sangiovese. The perfect burger wine. One and a half mice.

2007 Monte Del Fra Amarone della Valpolicella Lena di Mezzo $27 [ed. another Mouse grab and run! Online for $60]. My beloved blogmeister hath yet to lavish praise upon this most noble wine. Don’t waste thy time on Ripasso from Valpolicella. Amarone is special, unlike anything else. When the raisins peel off the straw, they provide an intensity yet subtlety unknown in my wine world. Indeed, my LifeWine to date is Quintarelli’s 1997, which was sided with a 1999 Chateu D’Ampuis from Guigal (Thank you, Jon Caplan). Honestly, bottle for bottle, Amarone intrigues and excites supreme. This is quite good. If one could drink a 1935 Dusenberg roadster, one would say ‘Amarone.’ winestilsoldout Two mice!

verduno_basadoneWEB2011 Castello di Verduno “Basadone” Pelaverga $17. Another gem from Matt at Lincoln Wines. And, another obscure Piedmont, made from Pelaverga Piccolo. This singular native vine has been grown in the Verduno area since the 1600s, and these guys began planting during Watergate. Basadone means poppy, but to locals, it also translates to “kissing women”. The winery’s website says this red aphrodisiac reawakens desires with its spicy overtones and delicate, lingering taste. Like many Italian wines, this is full of flavor but not heavy. Do we sense Asian spices? No, because no wine tastes like Asian spices [ed. TOUCHE mon Topo!]. But I do get some lovely pomegranate. Another tBoW U20 bargain. 1.5 mice.


[ed. That was FUN! Slurpage, LifeWine – new wine words! The impact was immediate. Soon as we stopped writing for din-din we ran to the cellar for an Ital wine. In fact, next week features All Ital tasting notes. Yo! The only thing missing is Sly Stallone. We find it reassuring to learn there are winemakers in Italy preserving oddball and ancient grapes without claiming they descended from ancient aliens. Wait. They? Grapes or the winemakers? Mouse’s thoughts recall for us the venerable Hunter Thompson quote: “When the going gets weird, the weird turn professional.”]


  1. Wavatar
    Adri says:

    OK, so i am of an age to remember Topo Gigio, and thus mousy ratings are rather meaningful to me. So you’ve finally gotten around to an entire post devoted to i vini Italiani! Grazie! These sound delightful, esp. the Morellino di Scansano. It is completely new to me.

    I’m thinking Italian wines for an American Thanksgiving might be particularly welcome about now… hint. Also, thanks for the intro to Lincoln Fine Wines. It is new to me.

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      Bacchus says:

      Dearest Adri – The Maus (whom you know) is a Crestwood “grad” who moved to CT many decades ago. He is an Ital wine fiend! This is not the end of the Ital Bingeneri. Next week we shall feature even more from the greatest wine nation on the planet for overall variety, quality, value and vinous pleasure.

  2. Loove Morellino di Scansano! And Amarone is just … special!

  3. Wavatar
    Laney says:

    Adri sent me:) and I LOVE Italian wines!

  4. Wavatar
    Bill Sansone says:

    Adri Barr Crocetti sent me…and thanks for the wonderful article. My wife and I spent 3 months living in Torino earlier tasting our way around the region. we focused on small production winemakers that may never appear in the USA. Our favorite was their Barolo DOCG Bricco delle Viole…but I’m was big Barolo fan to begin with.

  5. Adri sent me. Wow, I love discovering new varietals, especially when the notes provide new ways to get ahold of a bottle or two. And at a discount yet! GREG

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    Bacchus says:

    FYI – My preferred wine merchant right now is Eno Fine Wine Steve Goldun is located in LA. He has a very specific selection of wines from the best regions in Europe including Piemonte, Tuscany and more. Just in case! Thanks to ALL Adri referrals and others for your comments.

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