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Wine Recommendations from a Thrillerchick

Filtering by Category: Italy

Vigneti Del Sole Pinot Grigio 2014

J.T. Ellison

by Amy

They say seasonal eating is best, and I believe them. What I love about the seasons is that they're tied so intricately with the foods we eat throughout the year. I'm certainly not tired of summer's bounty yet, are you? (I love you, tomatoes, even if I have to withstand inferno temps to get to you)

Today's selection, Vigneti Del Sole Pinot Grigio 2014, is summer in a bottle, and it'll go well with so many of your favorite seasonal dishes. Taste and see!


Tasting Notes

This one's super light, which you might guess from its palest-straw-gold color. Super bright on the nose, lemon and apple blossom abound, and it tastes about the same going down. Not too sweet but not too tart, this is a dry wine that's got a lovely crisp finish that's longer than you'd think. 

Price point

This one's a super bargain: only $7.97 from this merchant.


Serve this with a lighter fish, like mahi mahi, or some shellfish. The wine's crisp citrus will also play nicely with a delicate chicken salad or a German potato salad.

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Damilano Levinquevigne 2011 Barolo

J.T. Ellison

by J.T.

Y'all know I'm an Italian girl. I can get on board with all kinds of varietals and blends from my homeland.

But this Barolo?

Be still my heart.

Hubby and I had this phenomenal Damilano Levinquevigne 2011  Barolo at Bice in San Diego. Verdict: this combo platter of five different Nebbiolos is a blend well worth your attention. 

Tasting Notes

The nose was almost too easy: lush berries, orange, tobacco, rose and violet, but the finish was heady tannins and rough leather. 

Price Point

You can find it for a very reasonable $17.84.


We had this with a cheese pairing, 7 different kinds of Italian cheeses, including a smoked provolone that made the smoke in this Barolo stand up and howl. No doubt it'd be delicious accompanied with gamey meats.

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Melini Orvieto Classico DOC 2012

J.T. Ellison

by Amy

Last week we featured an Italian red.

Fact: if I'm going to go for a red, it's usually going to be an Italian. Like my men. That's how I roll.

Now let's talk about the other side of the coin: Italian whites.

Specifically, Orvieto.

Once upon a time, a little town called Orvieto was founded in the middle of Italy—in a place known today as Umbria—by Etruscans.

Etruscans = before Romans = a very long time ago

Italians have been making the Orvieto blend for a long time, and Umbria's hilly climate, along with cellars cut into stone hills, made a wonderful place to make wine. With a nice, long, cool fermentation, Orvieto was known as a sweet blend for many moons. But just like sock hops and poodle skirts, in the 1960s and 1970s sweet wines went from de rigueur to don't please don't, and dry whites became all the rage. Thus the Orvieto blend got a changeup of grapes, its majority makeup going from the sweet Grechetto grape of yore to Trebbiano Toscano, catapulting the blend onto the dry spectrum, where it has remained ever since.

Wines. Pop music. Hemlines. They all vary with time, don't they?

This week, I got to try the Melini vineyard's Orvieto Classico 2012. 

If you like Chardonnay, I think you're going to like this.

Tasting Notes

You can tell by its robust nose and golden straw color that this one's got a bit more body. This white's pretty dry, though gets sweeter the more you put away. Creamy with a touch of alcohol, the wine carries notes cantaloupe and apple blossom, along with a crisp, long finish.

Price Point

This one's super affordable, folks: you can find it here for $7.99.


This should go nicely with a rich, creamy pasta (alfredo! carbonara! tortellini!), shellfish, goat cheese, or even prosciutto with melon.

P.S. for the history nerds: this vineyard has been around since 1705. And its founder, Adolpho Laborel Melini, used pasteurization in his winemaking 33 years before Louis Pasteur wrote about the process. What!
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Produttori del Barbaresco Nebbiolo Langhe DOC 2010

J.T. Ellison

by J.T.

Let's talk about Italian reds, shall we?

There are many wine-producing regions in Italy, but one of the most prolific is in the northwest of the country, in an area called Piedmont (Piemonte, in Italian). Nestled at the base of the Alps, Piedmont produces some fine wines, particularly from one of my favorite grapes: Nebbiolo. Since Piedmont is has lots of hills, temperature and terroir vary wildly—and so does the grape. You've heard of Barbaresco and Barolo, right? This is where they come from. Grown in a lower elevation and warmer temperature than their Barolo brethren, Barbarescos tend to be a bit lighter and fruitier; Barolos usually pack a bit more punch.

Wasn't that a fun geography lesson? Context is important; you'll see why in a minute.

Operating in the town of Barbaresco, the Produttori co-op is one of the finest in Piedmont (trust me, I’ve been there), and this Langhe Nebbiolo is hands-down my favorite for the price.

What Chianti is to Tuscany, Nebbiolo is to Peimonte.

Tasting Notes

I’ve had several vintages, and the 2010 is a real standout, perfect for lunch or a light dinner of cheese and antipasti. It’s supposed to be lighter than its Barbaresco cousin, but I find it has more flavor and depth. It’s very leathery, with a touch of earth combined with fresh red fruits and a bit of menthol, which really makes it stand out. A bargain every day table red.

Price Point

You can find this particular vintage for $18.99.


A friend to meats and cheeses, this wine would pair beautifully with antipasti, roasted mushrooms, and entrées starring roasted beef or game.

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Cavicchioli Lambrusco Dolce

J.T. Ellison

by J.T.

Y'all. It's really, really hot outside.

Thankfully, I've been in Colorado this week visiting family, so I've been spared a bit. But I'm headed back to Tennessee today, and I know what's waiting for me:

Humidity to the nth degree. 

Oh, southern summertime . . .

When it's hot outside and I need a little something boozy, I know just the cold beverage to reach for: 

Cavicchioli Lambrusco Dolce

Tasting Notes

Served ice-cold, Lambrusco is the perfect drink to sip in the summer shade. Light-bodied  and bubbly, it's sweet and fruity, tasting of strawberries, raspberries, and cherries.

Price Point

You're going to love me for this: it's only $6.99.


Think antipasti and cured meats: salami, pepperoni, prosciutto, cheese. Lambrusco and nibbles—a great party combo!

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Sella & Mosca Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva 2010

J.T. Ellison

by Amy

I'm dating a health nut.

I find this to be a good thing for many reasons. Some are more selfish than others (oh hello, biceps), but I do appreciate Boyfriend's willingness to try any lean protein, veggie-heavy dish I make, no matter how outlandish, like Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai or Turkey Sweet Potato Chili. 

Boyfriend's also a very good money manager. But when it comes to his wine budget, he's more Ebenezer Scrooge-like than anything else. As in, spend-no-more-than-$4-on-a-bottle-of-battery-acid kind of budget. And since I love him, I'm willing to overlook that.

But on a recent trip to the local wine store, Boyfriend started toting around a $18 bottle of wine—and there was nearly a cleanup on aisle 3 because I had just about passed out.

Me (aghast): You . . . you know how much that bottle costs, right?
Him (beaming): YES! And I'd pay it again and again!
Me:  I don't know you anymore.

Turns out, Boyfriend hadn't been bitten by a radioactive vinter and turned into a wine snob—he'd been reading a book called The Blue Zone. In a nutshell, the book describes places on the planet called "Blue Zones," where people live longer, look younger, and feel better while doing it all. Off the western coast of Italy, the island of Sardinia happens to be one of those places. And one reason why, according to the book, was because of the very wine my boyfriend was proudly toting around. 

Sella & Mosca Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva 2010 is a Grenache blend that, according to The Blue Zones' author, supposedly carries more polyphenols in it than any other wine in the world. What are polyphenols, you ask? They're a chemical compound found in plants that, when consumed, protect human cells from oxidation and reduce the risks of diseases like cancer and heart disease. Polyphenols in grapes are found in skins, stems, and seeds; during fermentation, these parts of the grape give red wine its tannic structure. And the more tannins in the wine, the higher rate of polyphenols present, and thus more antioxidants that fight cancer and heart disease. 

So what's the world's most polyphenol-filled wine taste like?

Whoa, mama! These tannins will rip your face off, which some people might like (like Boyfriend). But if I had to do it over again, I think I'd have to decant it for an hour to tone it down a bit.* It's very earthy, with lots of leather and herby notes, highly acidic with a bit of cherry. I'd want to cook with this, just to see what it'd do to a tomato sauce. 

And you can find it for a reasonable $18.99.

*And methinks I'll be doing this over again very soon. Over the weekend, Boyfriend and I stopped by the wine store . . . and the only thing he purchased was two bottles of this wine. Giddily, I might add.

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Boroli Barolo

J.T. Ellison

by J.T.

Ahh, the classics. The pillars that have withstood the test of time. And in a cacophony of pitches like Try Our New ______ and Now Better Than Ever!, it's no small task to emerge as a beloved staple of . . . well, anything. Sometimes it's nice to revisit an ol' reliable. After all, they are our old reliables for a reason, aren't they?

I don't know if you can get any more classic than a beautiful Barolo wine. 

Barolo is one of Italy's most prized and beloved wines. In fact, the varietal itself has a Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) designation, which basically assures (a) its origin and (b) its quality. Grown in northern Italy's Piedmont region, the complex Barolo is comprised of nebbiolo grapes and ages just beautifully. 

And this particular Barolo I've got for you is a force to be reckoned with.

On the nose, the Boroli Barolo has ripe red fruits and the heady scents of leather and tobacco. The palate delivers notes of blackberries, oak, vanilla, and even a little espresso, with firm, long-lasting tannins on the finish. This would pair excellently with anything richly savory, like a beef bourguignon, perhaps.  

It's a well-worth-it splurge at $46.99. Maybe something for your Valentine's table?

Care to share? Here's ready-made tweet just waiting for you.

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Zardetto Prosecco

J.T. Ellison

by J.T.

P.S. I know I'm stealing Amy's thunder and posting a white. But. It's New Year's Eve, people. We wanted to be timely. This is for you!

Life is short. Take the opportunity to celebrate when you can.

Big or small, it shouldn't matter. Hubby completed a project. Family has come to town. The cat didn't throw up today. You got through another year successfully. It's all worth tipping your hat to.

And, of course, any good celebration requires a celebratory drink. If you celebrate the little things as much as I do (hey, why the hell not?), your wallet may cry out in horror if you slap down money for good champagne (or waste your money on a bad one) each time you party.

This is when I turn to Prosecco.

Hailing from the area just north of Venice, the Prosecco grape is an Italian white that lends itself to sweeter flavors. Unlike Champagne, Prosecco isn't fermented in the bottle; it's fermented in stainless steel tanks, which means you have to drink it pretty quickly — within three years of its vintage — to enjoy it at its peak. Prosecco's fermentation process also spells out a lower price for a delicious product: a good entry-level Champagne is usually around $40, whereas a good entry-level Prosecco will cost you about $14.

And Prosecco can also be consumed with breakfast — just add peach purée, and you've got a Bellini that'll turn any morning into a festive occasion. Who needs orange juice?

In particular, Zardetto's Prosecco is deliciously creamy, with peach and floral notes. And, of course, it's ever-so-slightly bubbly. A delicious way to toast your event, no matter the occasion.

And, like I said, it's cheap! Grab a bottle here for $13.99.


Tell your friends to save the cash and get Prosecco. Think of all the cheese you could buy with the cash you save . . .

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Straccali Chianti DOCG

J.T. Ellison


You know what?

I don't think we've brought y'all a Chianti selection yet.

Let me remedy that right now!

Grown in central Tuscany, from whence it derives its name, Chianti was once known as the wine that appeared in the classic, basket-weave bottle frequently found in Italian restaurants, though it now appears in sleek, modern bottles. Comprised mostly of Sangiovese grapes, Chianti is earthy and rustic, and its high acidity makes the wine a great accompaniment to food.

Today's selection, Straccali Chianti DOCG, is a dry, medium-bodied red that has flavors of cherry and strawberry, with dried herb notes, with well-balanced acidity and tannins on finish.

The MSRP for this bottle is $13.95 from the vineyard, but you can find it here (at the time of this posting) for $6.69.

Tell your friends about this sweet Chianti deal (while it lasts!).

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