The Italians Are Coming, the Italians Are Coming!

This past week, D.C. Wine Week introduced the city’s wine loving public to an array of wines and venues. The goal of D.C. Wine Week is to educate D.C.’s population and expose local wine businesses, restaurants, and chefs to the area’s wine enthusiasts. The stars of the week were the Italians (wines that is). From chef Christianne Ricci’s Italian Wine Fest at her restaurant i Ricchi, to the Italian wines served at the week’s closing Saturday brunch at Sonoma Wine Bar on the Hill, some delicious Italian wines were featured. Lucky for us, these beauties arrived just in time to inspire great food pairings with the rustic flavors of fall.

At i Ricchi’s Wednesday night patio Italian wine fest, chef Christianne beautifully paired over 15 wines with two simple Tuscan inspired dishes: cannellini beans in a rosemary tomato sauce with grilled pork sausage and fried polenta sticks and an herb chicken with bay leaf on crostini sandwiches. Ricchi’s fare paired perfectly with the wines from the various Italian wine regions poured that eve.

Sonoma Wine Bar hosted the closing event with an assortment of brunch items from a sausage breakfast sandwich to the ubiquitous melon wrapped prosciutto, but the fare was a good foil to the three Italian sparkling wines served. The best of the Italians are below and perfect for pairing with fall’s heartier meals. Many are available locally through Schneider’s, Paul’s, Rodman, MacArthur’s, Circle Liquors and Weygandt Wines and should retail under $30. Enjoy!

Ca’ del Pucino Prosecco

This wine is made from Glera Prosecco grapes. Prosecco is a sparkling wine normally made in the Veneto and Friuli regions of Italy. This Prosecco has a fine bubble display and is refreshingly balanced. It is soft but has some nice complexity with mineral and peach flavors as well.

Lovisolo Brut Nebbiolo Spumante Rose

100-percent Nebbiolo grapes along with its surprising pale onion skin color announces that this sparkling wine something different according to the tasting menu handed out. Indeed it was for a sparkling rosé. Upon tasting look for basil, mint, cherry and strawberry flavors.

Valpolicella Classico, Nicolis

Valpolicella is a wine region in Verona, Italy. Wines from this region are simple and range in quality. This Valpolicella is rich in ruby color and flavor but light enough to be drunk alone. Drink it with charcuterie, mortadella and tomato-based dishes.

Greco di Tufo, Loggia Della Serra

This wine hails from the Campania region of Italy and is made from 100-percent Greco grapes. This white wine has wonderful floral aromas. Its acidity will pair well with shellfish dishes.

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Fattoria Del Cerro

This vino is a blend of Sangiovese, Colorino, and Mammolo grapes. A clone of Sangiovese is the predominate varietal in the blend and it makes this wine very drinkable. It is smooth with black cherry and black plum flavors. Tannin is only slightly detectable. Pair with grilled meat, hard flavorful cheeses or enjoy alone.

Il Bruciato, Guado Al Tasso

A blend of 65-percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 20-percent Merlot and 15-percent Syrah inspires flavors that remind you of cinnamon and all spice. This intensely colored red wine is a great go-to everyday wine. Pair with grilled meats, rustic soups, chili and grilled sausage.

Cabernet Sauvignon, Antica Antinori

This wine is made from 100-percent Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from Napa Valley. However, the family that makes the wines uses its Tuscan roots to create a rich Italian style wine. Mild tannins make this cabernet drinkable alone. Coco, coffee and baked black fruit flavors abound. If you want to wait to have it with food, it will go wonderfully with osso buco, prime rib and brick oven pizza.

Col Solare, Antinori & Chateau Ste. Michelle

Here is another red, born from a collaboration between the U.S. and Italy. The Washington state winery Chateau Ste. Michelle and the Tuscan winery, Antinori partnered to produce this bottling. The Col Solare is a blend comprised of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec. This wine has rich smoky flavors. The Merlot adds cinnamon and pepper spice notes to the blend. While just a touch of Malbec in the blend rounds this wine out and gives it elegance. Try steak with sautéed mushrooms, rack of lamb or game with this wine. Saluté

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