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Wine Review: Italian wines arrive to fill need

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I believe there is a correlation between our California fire season and the arrival of Italian wines on our shores, besides the time of year.

I also believe it is some sort of munificence on the part of Italian vintners to make sure there will be no shortage of good, affordable wine in this country because of the fires. Munificent or not, the annual flood of Italian wines has begun, and I was privileged to sample some of the new arrivals.

Tenuta Di Arceno Chianti Classico Riserva 2017 ($30)
A classic Chianti is a popular red wine that has been made from grapes grown in a specific area and given a little extra oak barrel aging. Riserva indicates the wine was held in the bottle for more aging to allow for the melding with all of its components before being released to the public. This wine, a blend of the traditional sangiovese and 10% cabernet sauvignon, is bold and has spent almost a year in oak to allow for the perfect marriage of all the elements and to ensure an elegant smoothness. The aroma stresses violets, raspberries and cranberries, with oak and vanilla quietly lying in the background. As with all premium Chianti wines, this product has a long, smooth and elegant finish. This is a grand and regal wine that will prove what Chianti is capable of and also what made it famous.

Attems Pinot Grigio DOC 2019 ($15)
This wine could be considered the quintessential pinot grigio as it embodies all of the beauties that the grape can offer. If you are a fan of California pinot grigio, this wine from the home of the variety may be a different and enlightening experience. The Italian grown grape combined with the Italian style of winemaking results in a wine that makes a positive aroma and flavor statement. The aroma presents citrus, mostly lime, and the variety's signature aroma of grass. The flavor introduces peach and more citrus that then carries over to a rather long finish. This wine is a solid accompaniment for Asian food and seafood. This is not a soft and squishy California pinot grigio; it's Italian in every respect and as true to that personality as a wine can get.

Luce della Vite Lucente 2017 ($20)
Lucente translates from Italian as “shiny,” and this wine definitely befits its name. It shines, and to promote that, there is a sunburst on the label. The aroma is about as multifaceted as a red wine aroma can get, featuring plum, chocolate, leather and pepper. The flavor and finish are constantly changing in the glass and make for an enjoyable experience. While this is a wine that can accompany red meats or any strong-flavored meal, it also stands out as a sipping wine.

Tenuta L'Impostino Montecucco Rosso Riserva 2014 ($19)
This red wine is truly novel. It is a blend of two favorites: sangiovese and merlot with just a bit of syrah and petit verdot added in for extra depth. Just by the ingredients you know that this will be a full-flavored wine, and it is. The aroma reflects plum, eucalyptus and tobacco accentuated by an Italian earthy sensation. These follow through to the flavor and then on to the full finish. This wine just cries to be the accompaniment to strong-flavored and spiced foods. As a side note, the producer recommends the wine be served on the cool side, about 68 degrees Fahrenheit. I solved that problem by putting the unopened bottle in the fridge for about 15 minutes before opening it.

Wine columnist Bennet Bodenstein can be reached at


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