Italian Wine Advent Calendar, Week 4

It’s the home stretch; it’s the last leg of the marathon. A week of merriment…and still more preparation. It’s a never-ending circle, this holiday process! Remember, there’s always a bottom to the bottle, so don’t be caught short on stock.

December 18, Sunday: Quaquarini Francesco 2010 Sangue di Giuda– this low alcohol (7.0%), lightly sweet and gently bubbly wine is the perfect, festive accompaniment to an array of savory afternoon snacks like salumi and formaggi. It is composed of black varieties, Croatina, Barbera and Ughetta di Canneto, native to the Lombardy region surrounding Milan.

December 19, Monday: Inama 2009 Soave Classico– Inama is one of the few elite names of Soave. Crisp and light on the palate, the wine shows flavors of lemon curd and walnut. If you’re in the mood for a full-bodied white, try their single vineyard Vigneto du Lotinstead. This bottling is a good Chardonnay substitute with its broad mid-palate and pronounced vanilla and half-and-half notes.

December 20, Tuesday: Macarico 2006 Aglianico del Vulture– this is a BIG wine, full of color, tannin, acidity and flavor. Black forest fruits dominate, and amongst the other aromas, I find one that distinctly reminds me of pencil shavings. This specific mineral quality is not surprising because the grapes are grown in volcanic soils. Not so much a sipping wine, this should be served with hearty meat dishes.

December 21, Wednesday: Il Carpino 2006 Rubrum– Merlot has been grown in Friuli for over a century, so Italians consider it indigenous there. They do, however, pronounce it differently, insisting on enunciating the “t”. This wine is generous in plum and baking spice character; its tannins are silky and it’s plump on the palate with very moderate acidity. Advance warning: this is another mid-week splurge, but isn’t it time to start rewarding yourself for the long list of faits accomplis during this holiday season?

December 22, Thursday: Villa di Corlo NV Lambrusco Sorbara Primevo– Lambrusco has grown up. Here is a deeply colored, savory and dry style that becomes food and is inherently desirious of victuals.

December 23, Friday: Ciacci Piccolomini 2009 Rosso di Montalcino– this full-bodied red is deeply colored and rich in texture. Red and black cherries, dusty earth and leather dominate the nose. Though this house tends to be modern in style, meaning they often use generous amounts of new barrels, this wine sees no new oak. Rosso di Montalcino is often called “Baby Brunello” and this is a fine example.

December 24, Saturday: Arianna Occhipinti 2010 Sicilia Bianco– a complex and unusual white wine with which to begin to wind down. This Albanello/Zibbibo blend is dry, floral and slightly orange in color (which is THE trend in Italian wine now). It is befitting of many a holiday dish, especially the more substantial and delightfully savory courses of a traditional “Feast of Seven Fishes.”

Merry Christmas and a warm and joyous holiday season to all!