With beer season in full swing – though of course it’s always beer season in Brew City – I admit I’ve fallen a bit behind on tasting new wines.
This, despite having committed to spending a little extra time with white wines this summer. Since I naturally reach for red wines, prioritizing whites once in a while is something I have to do.
But I have set my mind to the task – and I know you’re thinking, hard work there, Tanzilo – and uncorked a few that I’m sharing with you here. (Prices are suggested retail or approximate retail.)
Gaja Pieve Santa Restituta Brunello di Montacino 2012 – I know, I'm starting with the splurge wine, but trust me. Wine Spectator raved about this 100 percent sangiovese – which averages about $57 retail – calling it, "Rich and expressive, with cherry, strawberry and earth flavors and plenty of flesh to cover the solid structure. Spice and tobacco notes add depth as this plays out on the long finish." The legendary Gaja family blended the best of its grapes for a single 2012 wine, and the results are delicious. Pair it with a thick, medium rare grilled steak or just kick back and enjoy it by itself.
Beronia Rioja Reserva 2011 – This Spanish gem from the Rioja valley – one of the world's great wine regions – has an oaky, smoky vibe, ripe fruit and bright acidity (but with a good tannic balance), making it super-drinkable. At about $20, this wine feels a bit like a steal.
Ciu Ciu Oppidium Marche Rosso IGT – I love to taste wines from Italy's Le Marche region because of its ties to Milwaukee. A large contingent of Marchegiani settled in Bay View to work at the Rolling Mills and helped found the Italian community there. But their descendants aren't the only ones who will enjoy this full-bodied, purple-ish red made entirely from montepulciano grapes. It's got a dark color – Italians might call it vino nero – a bouquet packed with fruit, smooth tannins and a bit of oak. Around $20.
Ventisquero Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2015 – This Chilean blend is 85 percent cab and 15 percent syrah from the Maipo Valley. The result is a ruby red that's berry heavy – blueberries and strawberries – balanced with black pepper and tobacco notes to give it some depth. A budget-friendly, quaffable red that will pair well with any red meat you're grilling this weekend.
White & Sparkling
Vinas Del Vero La Miranda de Secastilla Garnacha Blanca 2013 – This is a distinctive one, with a color that verges on green, a beautiful bouquet on the nose and a hint of almond. 100% garnacha blanca, aged in French oak. Perfect for the patio. $19.99
Masottina Prosecco Treviso Extra Dry DOC – At $10-$12 this is a bargain. Extra dry with heavy citrus notes and with dashes of apricot and apple, it's a 100 percent glera bubbly that's a great complement to shrimp on the barby or a nice plank-grilled salmon.
Duval-Leroy Rose Prestige Premier Cru Brut NV – Speaking of salmon, that's the color of this sparkling splurge vinted from 90 percent pinor noir and 10 percent chardonnay using the Champagne region's Rose de Saignee method for creating sweet scented, nicely spiced rose sparkling wines that are aged a minimum of three years. This one is laced with cherry and ginger notes. Suggested retail is $80, but I've seen it online for at least $10 less. Not something you'll likely buy every week, but definitely worth the splurge for a special occasion or just because you're in the mood.
Piper-Heisdeck Brut NV – A little lower on the price spectrum ($45) is this Champagne that blends 60 percent pinor noir, 25 percent pinot meunier and 15 percent chardonnay to create a full-bodied, pear-forward wine that's balanced with a hint of citrus. This is a nice expression of classic fruity champagne. Though it packs 12 percent alcohol, it'll do quite nicely with dessert, thank you.
Purus Organic Vodka – Summer is the high season for the simple pleasures of the vodka tonic. I have never really had a favorite vodka, but I do now that I’ve discovered Purus, because I’m a Piemonte purist and this is the first vodka I’ve found from my ancestral homeland. Better still, it’s organic, using water from the Alps, organic Italian grain and zero pesticides or commercial fertilizers. It’s super smooth with a hint of sweetness that pairs nice with a generous slice of lime. $19.99
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.