The Cellar: French Whites + Italian Reds

Friday, March 08, 2013


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Two incredibly popular varietals--one white, one red--one French, one Italian--are great buys for your cellar right now.

There are many good wine events happening these days including tastings, special events, wine dinners, special appearances, etc. Keep up on what’s happening on our local wine scene by following GoLocalProv’s Wine Cellar on Facebook. If you want to try something a little bit more educational sign up for an ‘Evening with Wine’ event through the Providence Wine Academy. Tickets for April and May’s events featuring the powerhouse varietals Riesling, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon have just gone on sale. Now to the wines:

2009 Hugel Pinot Blanc ‘Cuvee Les Amours’, Alsace, France

Winegrowing in Alsace dates back more than 1100 years. In fact, records show that in the year 1000 more than 160 Alsatian villages were cultivating vines. Today, Alsace has a reputation for making some of the best

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wines in the world. Compared to almost every other wine regions in France, Alsatian winemakers write the varietal on the front label – making purchasing wines from this region easy and straightforward. If you’re a white wine drinker, Alsace is the place for you with 9 out of 10 bottles produced here being white. Most of the wines are made from well-known varietals including Riesling and Gewurztraminer, which usually made in a dry style.

One of my favorite Alsatian varietals is Pinot Blanc, which is often blended with the similar but not synonymous Auxerrois. Pinot Blanc represents the largest volume in terms of production so there is a lot out there to try. This week’s first wine is an absolutely stunning example – not to mention a great value at under $20. If you can find the 2009 “Cuvee Les Amours” Pinot Blanc from Hugel I suggest you snatch it up, as this is a textbook Alsatian Pinot Blanc made from one of the best and oldest producers in the region. This medium-bodied gem has great texture. It is super refreshing, filled to the brim with apricots, ripe peaches, honeysuckle, all perfectly balanced with lemon juice. This wine shows structure and length worthy of a wine 3 times its price. Get it!

2009 Barba, Vignafranca, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, Italy

This week’s second wine is a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo made by the Barba family. Their winery, completed in 1991 and surrounded by 75 acres of vineyard, is located in Scerne di Pineto in the northern part of Abruzzo,

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Central-Eastern Italy. The Barba family specializes in three varietals; the two white varietals Trebbiano and Passerina, along with the world famous red varietal Montepulciano.

I’ve said it before and I'll say it again; Montepulciano-based wines are among my favorite Italian everyday red wines. The combination of ripe fruit, earthiness, soft tannins and moderate acidity (not to mention often reasonable price points) makes them great pizza/pasta companions. The 2009 Vignafranca is no exception, displaying ripe red cherries, liquorish and spice on the nose. Unfortunately, the flavors don’t exactly stand up to the aromas. It’s a little lighter in flavor than your average Montepulciano – a little too straightforward, lacking serious depth and complexity. Still, subtle earthiness and a nice mix of ripe and sour cherries make this wine very serviceable – especially at only $15.


Steffen Rasch CSW is ready to answer any wine-related questions, comments or concerns you may have. Feel free to email him at [email protected] 


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