Monthly Archives: February 2010

Italian Wines Well Under $20

Best Buys

At one of the seminars at Vino 2010, the person next to me said, “It is impossible to get a good Italian wine for under $20.00.”  This got me thinking.  Often, maybe too often, I write about very expensive and very old wines, but I do not drink these wines every day. I like expensive older wines, but the price of a wine does not impress me. I would rather drink a $12 traditionally made wine than one that costs 20 times as much and tastes like every other wine. It is the style of the wine that is important to me — not the price.

Here is a list of wines all under $20 that I would drink instead of a number of more expensive wines.

Slivia Franco with the Nino Franco Rustico Prosecco

 Nino Franco Prosecco Valdobbiadene “Rustico”  NV  D.O.C. 100% Prosecco (After April 2010 the area is Prosecco and the grape which is Glera) Fresh citrus aromas and  flavors  with good bubbles. In the Veneto, Prosecco is always served in a white wine glass.  Veneto $16-20.

 di Lenardo Vineyards  Grave Del Friuli

1.TOH! Da Uva Friulano- Friulano Friuli D.O.C. Grave, 100% Friuliano (Tocai ).  It is a soft well balanced wine. Friuli, under $15

 2.Sauvignon.I.G.T Venezia Giulia, a vine blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Sancerre clones, aromatic  with aromas and flavors of sage and melon. Well balanced with good acidity. Friuli ,under $15

 3.Pass the Cookies I.G.T. (Great name for a dessert wine) Venezia Giulia 100% Verduzzo. Harvested late and dried three months on the racks. Dried fruit aromas and flavors with undertones of caramel. It is a 500ml but still a great deal for under. Friuli , under $15


 Cantina Lungarotti Rubesco  Rosso di Torgiano D.O.C. Made from 70% Savgiovese and 30% Canaiolo.   Red fruit aromas and flavors with a hint of violets, long finish and a red fruit aftertaste.  Umbria $14

Giovanni Busi and his Villa Travignoli

 Azienda Agricola Travignoli  Villa Travignoli Chianti Rufina D.O.C.G.   100% Sangiovese.  Aromas and flavors of red fruit, and real sangiovese character. Tuscany $15

Monte Antico  Toscana I.G.T.85% Sangiovese..% 10 Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Merlot. Red berry aromas and flavors and good acidity. Tuscany $14 


1. Trebbiano d’ Abruzzo  D.O.C. Citrus aromas and flavors with undertones of apple.  Abruzzo, $13

 2. Montepullciano d’Abruzzo D.O.C. Red berry aromas and flavors, a hint of cherry and a touch of tobacco,.Abruzza, $13

Diego Cusumano and his wine

Cusumano  Benuara  70%Nero d’Avola and 30% Syrah, Sicily I.G.T. Aromatic with red and black fruit . Usually I do not like Nero d’Avola blended with Syrah, but the wine is in stainless steel and 20hl barrels and it works very well. Sicily $15-18

 Sella and Mosca Cannonau Riserva  di Sardinia D.O.C. 100% Cannonau.  Red fruit with hints of spices and herbs and very earthly. Sardinia   $15 

 Agricole Vallone  Vigna Flamino  Riserva Brindisi Rosso D.O.C. Mostly Negroamaro with Malvasis Nrea and Moltipulicano.  Red fruit aromas and flavors with a under tones of prune. Puglia $15

Cantina Sociale Cooperativa Copertino  Copertino Riserva D.O.C. 95% Negroammaro and 5% Malvasia Nera  Black and red fruit aromas and flavors with hint  a of  tobacco. Puglia $15

Conti Zecca Nergroamaro Salento D.O.C. 100% Negroamaro, aromas and flavors of red fruit with a hint of prune, Puglia  $15


There are many more I could list, but these were the first that came to mind and will add more another time.

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My Adventures at Vino 2010- Italian Wine Week In New York

Vino 2010 Italian Wine Week

According to the press release, it was the biggest Italian Wine Event outside Italy.

Following are my adventures at Vino 2010 from Feb 3 to 5, 72 hours of non–stop Italian wine!

Getting Ready to Taste at Vino 2010

I began at 10:00 AM on Feb.3 with an interview with the charming, distinguished and very knowledgeable director of the Prosecco Superiore Consortium, Giancarlo Vettorello. We had a very interesting conversation about the new D.O.C.G designation for Prosecco and what this would mean for Italy’s most popular sparkling wine.  I had a number of very specific questions that I needed answered and Mr. Vettorello was kind enough to answer all of them. He also wanted to make it clear that the best Prosecco came from the Conegliano-Valdobbiadene area and I agreed. For more on Prosecco see:

Next was the Inaugural Press Conference – The Italian Trade Commission, Buon Italia and Vinitaly 2010 present Vino 2010 Italian Wine Week in NY. The moderator for this panel was Kevin Zraly. It was an introduction to what would be happening at the conference and information about Italian wine and its impact on the American market. Mr. Zraly did a great job as always.

Then there was a Vinitaly press conference and wine themed lunch.  The regional sponsors of Vino 2010 were Tuscany, Apulia, Calabria, and the Veneto.

Alfonso Cevola

It was now 2:00 PM and there were four seminars.  I went to a guided tasting of the wines of Calabria: “Gaglioppo the Great: The New Generation Of Southern Reds”. There were eleven wines, one from each of the producers on the panel.  Alfonso Cevola was the moderator and if a producer was not present Mr. Cevola spoke about that wine. Not all the grapes were Gaglioppo. There were wines made from Malvasia Nera, Greco Nero, Magliocco , Nerello Cappuccio, Nerello Calabrese and two grapes which to my knowledge I have never tasted, Arvino and Lacrima Nera.

 The following were my favorites: 

 Calabria I.G.T “Alfieri Rosso” 2008 100% Malvasia Nero fromFratelli Zagarella $15-20.

  Savuto D.O C.”Vigna Colle Barabba” 2008 Colacino Wines Made from Arvino, Greco Nero, Magliocco Canino and Nerello Capuccio.

   Ciro Rosso Classico Superiore D.O.C. Riserva “Piana Delle Fate “ 2005. 95% Gaglioppo and 5% Greco Nero  Cantina Enotria $ 25-30

 Ciro Rosso Classico D.O.C “Arcano” Riserva 2006. 100% Gaglioppo Senatore Vini  $25-30

 Ciro Rosso Classico Superiore D.O.C. Superiore Riserva “Ripe del Falcone” 1997 100% Gaglioppo Ippolito $50-60. I was very impressed with this wine and it shows that  wines made from this grape can age.

The Wine from Ippolito

From 5 PM to 7PM there was another tasting: Inaugural Wine Tasting Reception ”Prosecco and Oltrepo Pavese: Unique Expressions of Italian Sparkling Wine”.

 Then it was off the Friuliano Dinner at Le Cirque. Here I tasted the Ramandolo from Azienda Agricola Giovanni Dri.  It is made from the Verduzzo grape and is one of my favorite dessert wines.

 Thursday was going to be a long day. It started at 10:00 AM with 8 seminars, another press conference, a breakfast presentation and a tasting of Italian wines available in this country for the first time scheduled for the day. I was not able to do it all! But I tried!

Last year at Vino 2009 I was part of a panel on the media and Italian wine.  Someone in the audience said that next year the panel should be made up of more bloggers. The Italian Trade Commission took note. This year the seminar was all about blogging and its influence on Italian wine. The moderator of the panel was Anthony’ Dias Blue and he was the only one on the panel who was part of the “traditional media”. There was even an “official blogger” for Vino 2010.  The panel discussed topics such as wine blog content, how precise wording can affect traffic, conversations, and effectively reaching a target audience.  Susannah Gold discussed how the Public Relations industry has adapted social media in terms of identifying and catering to relevant blogs and how to get the biggest and most measurable impact from social media campaigns. Sussanna Crociani spoke about using the web to promote her winery Cantina Crociani.  Doug Cook spoke about Twitter and tips on how to get the most out of it. Steve Raye gave more direct business insight into the web. Alder Yarrow www.vinography  who has been very successful with both consumers and the wine trade on his blog gave very practical information.

. At noon there was a seminar hosted by David Rosengarten with the interesting title:

Italian –American Food… why DON’T it get NO Respect “   It is a subject on which everyone has an opinion and there were many comments and question from the audience.   Michele wrote an excellent article on the seminar for so I will not repeat the same information and opinions here.

Anthony Giglio and the Grapes for Prosecco

 At 2:00 PM I went to the next seminar which was part of The Italian Wine Masters Series.  The speaker was Anthony Giglio and the title of the seminar was “The Elevation of Prosecco Conegliano Valdobbiadene”. Mr Giglio is a very entertaining speaker and gave a very lively talk on Prosecco. I am a big fan of Prosecco and I liked all seven wines tasted, but my favorite was the Bisol, Conegliano Valdobbiadene Superiore di Cartizze, Dry.  Cartizze is the most expensive Prosecco but well worth the money.

 After this seminar, I went to the  The Italian Wine Makers Grand Tasting: “Tuscany and Prosecco”.  There were over 140 producers representing Brunello di Montalcino, Chianti Classico, Vino Nobile  di  Montepulciano and Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore. I made a point of tasting the Banfi Brunello 2004- -I tasted it last year and still think it is their best Brunello.

 I tasted many more wines and then it was back upstairs for The Italian Wine Master Series” Terroir: Diversity and Complexity of Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Noble di Montepulciano and Chianti Classico” again hosted by Mr Giglio. There were nine wines and my favorites were: Chianti Classico D.O.C.G Riserva 2006 Badia a Coltibuono.

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2006 Lodola Nuova.  Brunello di Montalcino D.O.C.G. 2004 Riserva Il Poggione and the Brunello di Montalcino D.O.C.G 2004 La Fiorita.

 Next stop was Cipriani on 42nd Street where there was another Italian wine tasting being presented by Luca Maroni, Sense of Wine New York., There were 70 Italian wines to taste and it was also sponsored by Buonitalia and Vinitaly 2010. Here I ran into a friend I had not seen in a few years, Giovanni Busi from Agienda Agricola Travignoli, the makers of Chianti Rufina.

Giovanni Busi with his Wine

Back to the Waldorf again for a dinner hosted by the Region of Apulia. Since I was the moderator of a panel with the Apulian producers, I went in hope of meeting some of them. They, however, were having dinner out–after all, they were in New York.  The speaker was Tom Maresca, a wine writer I know very well. We often travel to Italy together and Tom gave a very interesting talk and we had a great time.

The moderator of the Panel on "The Remarkable Wines of Apulia" Great photo of me by Tom Hyland

On Friday I was the moderator for the panel on “The Remarkable Wines of Apulia”.

There were 13 wines and 11 of the producers showed up. It was an interesting and informative panel and you can read all about it in my article on:

 I spent the rest of the day at the Grand Tasting where there were close to 300 producers.

Pasquale Petrera from The Apulia Panel at The Grand Tasting

 I cannot wait until VINO 2011.

   For full coverage of Vino 2010 go to  Italian Wine Week 2010


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Comments on an Article on Chianti and the Italian Wine Laws

 Tom Maresca: Wine writer, author, friend, traveling companion etc – sent the following e-mail to fellow members of the Wine Media Guild.

 Dear WMG members:  Tomorrow (Tuesday, 19 Jan) I’ll be posting a piece about Italian wine law in general and Chianti Classico in particular on my blog (see signature), and I’m really interested in hearing your reactions to it, whether you choose do so on site or privately by email.  Thanks for any thoughts you care to pass on.

 Best, Tom


 My response was very long, so I decided to post it on my blog because I think Tom discusses important issues.

The article is in two parts. There are some comments by other Wine Media Guild members at the end of Tom’s article.

 Interesting article.

 I agree with you that there is great confusion when it comes to the Italian wine laws in general and Chianti in particular. It was the producers of Chianti that asked for changes in the law hoping to make their wines more international in style and therefore easier to sell. Producers that were not in the Chianti zone want to be included because if the word Chianti is on the label they could sell the wine for more money. I believe there are eight Chianti zones plus one to cover the producers in the “spaces” between the zones and a special one for Chianti superiore. The laws for Chianti have changed so many times over the last few years it is very difficult to know what grapes are in the Chianti you are drinking.

 Adding to the confusion is the love affair that the Chianti producers have with internationalgrapes. Is there really any difference between a Chianti riserva and a Super Tuscan, when a producer can put 20% of a foreign grape like Cabernet Sauvigion or Merlot in his Chiant? Then, they use whatever modern methods they can to get as much concentration and extraction from the grapes and then age it in new barriques. Many of these producers insist that they are traditionalists but make international style wine. In private many will also say that they do not drink these modern style wines but make them for the market. They do not drink these wines because they do not work with food. It seems to me that they are not making the best wine they know how but making the wine that will sell.

 Yes, I understand that they are in business to make money. What is a modern day producer going to say, my grandfather made better wine then me? The wine press gives these modern style wines very high points. By doing this they have let the consumer down and encouraged wine makers to make this style of wine. Why is it now unacceptable to drink simple Chianti? What could be more enjoyable! I long for the days when I would go to a restaurant in Tuscany and the waiter would say “vino bianco o vino rosso”. He would bring a wine that went better with my food then anything I could have ordered off any wine list.  I do love the taste of Sangiovese.

I believe that the old Baron had the right idea. There were many great Chanitis made going back to the 1920’s.  The 1925 Carmignano, for example, called simply Chianti, which I had with Conte Bonacossi in 1985 (I know there is a tradition of Cabernet Sauvignon in the area but none was used in this wine).  Also, the 1947 Ruffino gold label we drank together.  57 years old and everyone knows that wine made with white grapes and the governo method cannot age! The governo method is not good for the wine, the producers will say, it is not good because it is an expensive process. I drank and am still drinking-not often enough- Chianti Classico from the 1970’s. In fact I had a 1978 Badia a Coltiburno riserva at Keste last month.

There is more than a handful of producers that made great wine in the past:  Castell’ In Villa, Giovanni Cappelli “Fattoria Montagliari”, Monsanto ‘Il Poggio”, Ruffino Gold Label, Villa Antinori,  Villa Antinori Marchese, Villa Cafaggio, Brolio, Carobbio, Castello di Fonterutoli. Nozzole, Castello di Volpaia, Fontodi. Isole and Olena and Chianti Ruffina Villa Di Vetrice to name a few.  In fact most of them made better wine 35 years age than they do today.

Chianti Rufina Riserva 1995 Villa Vetrice-Old Style Chianti

 The changes over the years have led to confusion, not better wines. Better wines only if you think that the use of barriques, concentrated grape flavors, no feeling for the grape or for terroir improves the wine. Do most people want all wine to taste the same? Is the international style the only one the producer and wine writers want the consumer to buy? Give me a wine that tastes like wine!

 As for the scandals, I will quote a very learned friend. Every time something goes wrong when we are in Italy together he will turn to me and say “Siamo in Italia”.

  Recently a friend gave me a cartoon from a newspaper and said it reminded him of my attitude toward wine. The customer, me, after tasting the wine, says to the waiter “… this has hints of blackberry, chocolate, etc….. Could I have one that is just wine flavored?”

  End all the confusion, give me wine that tastes like wine.

Charles Scicolone
Wine and Food Consultant
Cell 212-731-9243

Wine and Food Editor
Co-Chair Wine Media Guild


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