Wine Odyssey


I’m doing research for my upcoming vacation to the Western Mediterranean.  So many things I want to see, so much I want to learn about, and yes, most of it revolves around wine.  In fact, if I am not careful this trip will turn into a wine odyssey. 
My trip begins in Rome, which is in Lazio Providence, and is home primarily to white wines.  So, let’s start the trip like a diner with an aperitif of Fontana Candida’s Frascati Superiote Terre dei Grifi for about $13 a bottle.  As you might have guessed, I love the name.
IMG_0550Next stop is Florence, where I’ll be following the plot of Dan Brown’s Inferno.  But it’s also Tuscany, home of Chianti, which I think is Italy’s best-known, least-understood, and most under-appreciated wines.  I just finished a bottle of $6 Chianti that I loved.  For the most part a $6 bottle of wine gives you a wet tongue and a bad hang over, but this wine was really enjoyable.  I plan to delve deeper into Chianti in a future blog, however if you want to take an early spin try Straccali 2011 for about $10, rated 89 by Wine Spectator.
IMG_0539Two other stops on the trip will be Provence, France and Valencia, Spain.  These just happen to be the home towns of the Mourvedre grapes for their respective countries.  I’m excited about taking on this grape on its home terroir.  If you want to try a great domestic Mourvedre try Cline Ancient Vines Mourvedre for around $18 from California.  I recently enjoyed this wine out by the fire pit with an Olivia G series cigar and it was fantastic.
This trip will mark my first time in Sardinia, Italy.  Sardinia is Italy’s Wild West; rugged and remote, it boasts of some of the highest longevity rates in Europe and the world.  The trend is linked, some say, to the local wine Cannonau.  While there, I will be visiting the Argiolas Vineyard.  Sardinia until the 1700’s was ruled by Spain, so many of the local wines are more at home in Spain than in Italy.  The Island’s main stay wine is Cannonau, also known as Garnacha.  If you want to try a bottle, I suggest Costera from Argiolas, a wonderful blend of Cannonau, Carignano and Bovale.
Onto my spiritual home of Sicily.  There are no vineyards for me here, so instead I’m going to see the Greek ruins.  But I do hope to acquire a bottle of Nero d’Avola, and I’d suggest you find a bottle of Cusumanos for about $12 and try this wine for yourself.  Other Sicilian stand outs are the vineyards of Planeta, COS, or anything from Mount Etna.  My personal favorite is Tenute delle Terre Nere’s Etna, rated a 90 by Wine Spectator for about $25.
Last stop on our Wine Odyssey is Campania, home of Italy’s second largest city, Naples.  It’s also the home of Aglianico, the red grape sometimes called the Barolo of the south.  It’s also where the winner of this year’s Great White Wine hunt, Donnachiara Fiano, is grown. 
The big news is that the Mastroberardino Family, the leading producer of Aglianico wine in Campania, has replanted the vineyards at Pompeii and is producing a wine called Villa dei Misteri from those grapes in the exact locations where those vineyards were located on that fateful day in 79 AD when Vesuvius buried the city alive.
I hope you can feel the excitement I’m feeling for this trip.  I also hope you try some of the wines I’ve suggested here.  They are not expensive or hard to fine and very similar wines should be available everywhere.  I can’t wait to write about these places.

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