I have always said that you don’t have to pay a lot of money for wine to drink well.
Here are 16 wines for summer drinking that are under $20, and a few are as low as $10. All the wines are made from native Italian grapes and they all go very well with food.
Pinot Grigio Sudtirol Alto Aduge DOC 2010 Lahnhof–Tenuta Costa (Sudtirol-Alto Adige)
From the South Tyrol comes this classic Pinot Grigio. The grapes are handpicked and hand-sorted so only the best grapes go into the wine. Vinification takes place in stainless steel. The wine works well with fish, pasta with cream sauces such as Fettuccine Alfredo, and white meats. $18
The name Lava evokes the volcanic soil of Campania that resulted from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius on August 24th 79AD. Falanghina has been produced since ancient times and today it is one of the favorite whites of the city of Rome. The grapes are grown in an estate vineyard near the city of Benevento at elevations of 200-300 meters. The grapes are hand harvested, then vinified and aged in stainless steel. It is a unique wine with very good acidity and minerality with subtle citrus aromas and flavors and a touch of toasted almond and smoke. Try it with fish soups, grilled and roasted fish and cold meats. In Campania they drink it with bufala mozzarella! $14
Malvasia Bianca IGT 2009 Rasciatano (Puglia) 100% Malvasia Bianca
There is a careful selection of the grapes in the vineyard. These select grapes are soft pressed and fermentation takes place partly in stainless steel tanks and partly in new French oak barrels. The wine is aged in stainless steel for 4 to 6 months and then bottled. There is pleasant floral bouquet with hints of apple and lime. It is full bodied and round with a nice minerality. Serve it with shellfish and grilled fish steaks or whole fish.
Production area is the countryside surrounding the town of Gravina. There are between 1,215 and 1,416 vines per acre and they are spur-pruned cordon. The harvest takes place in late September and the wine is fermented in stainless steel at controlled temperatures for 15 days. The wine does not undergo malolatic fermentation and is aged for four months in stainless steel tanks. It is a fruity fresh wine–almost like biting into a green apple with a slight touch of tropical fruit. Botromagno is the only producer of Gravina. It goes well with fish and pasta with vegetables. $12
The grapes for this food-friendly white wine are harvested in the middle of September. Fermentation, maceration and aging takes place in stainless steel tanks. The wine is well structured with varietal character, freshness, minerality and good acidity. It goes with grilled fish, shellfish, vegetable dishes and chicken. $14
This is an ancient indigenous grape variety of the province of Chieti mainly grown in the area around Rocco San Giovanni. The big grape bunches are irregular in shape and some are wing-tipped. It is a grape with good acidity and good yields. In the past it was only used for blending with other grapes. The harvest takes place towards the end of September. The grapes are soft pressed and fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks at controlled temperatures. Malolatic fermentation does not take place. The first time I had this unusual white wine was at Keste Pizza &Vino in NYC and I liked it right away. There is a slight herbal and mineral character to the wine, good body with aromas and flavors of apple and citrus fruit. Excellent with shell fish on the grill. $14
The grapes are crushed and have a short period of cryo-maceration of 6-7 hours and then soft pressed. Fermentation takes place at controlled temperatures in stainless steel tanks and the wine is refined on the lees with periodic remontage. Special yeast is used and the wine does not undergo malolatic fermentation. This is a medium-bodied wine with citrus aromas and flavors of lime, lemon and almond. The wine may have gotten its name because the sheep (pecora) coming down from the mountains were said to eat these grapes. Pairs well with shellfish and hard cheeses. $15
The grapes come from hillside vineyards in the DOC zone located in the province of Lazio, in the communes of Frascati, Monteporzio Cantone, Grottaferrata, Montecompatri and Rome. The grapes are harvested between September and October and immediately transported to the cellar. Vinification takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and are gently pressed. The wine is fermented and aged in stainless steel and then bottled under nitrogen to protect its freshness and fruit. The wine has aromas and flavors of white peaches and apples. It has good acidity and minerality with a long finish and a nice aftertaste. This wine would be perfect with a porchetta sandwich. $12
Torre di Giano, Bianco di Torgiano DOC 2009 Lungarotti. (Umbria) Made from 70% Trebbiano and 30% Grechetto. The soil is clay with good water retention and there are 4,000 vines per hectare. The Grechetto is harvested in the beginning of September and the Trebbiano in the middle of September. The wine is made from the free run juice, after a brief cryomaceration, and is vinified in stainless steel at low temperatures. It is kept on the lees at low temperatures until bottling. Serve it with appetizers, fish and vegetable dishes. $15
Soave Classico DOC 2008 Borgo Rocca Sveva 100% Garganega. Cantana di Soave (Veneto)The vines are planted in loose, medium-gravelly clay soil of volcanic origin. The wines are trained for the Pergola Veronese system. The grapes are soft pressed and fermented and aged in stainless steel. Great with seafood. $14.99
The vines are 10-15 years old with an East/South-East exposure. Fermentation talks place in stainless steel tanks at controlled temperatures. The skins are in contact with the juice for 12 hours. This is a rosé with a very deep color. It has flavors and aromas of strawberries and cherry. $14
Fichimori Salento 2009 IGT 100% Negroamaro Tormaresca After the grapes are crushed a pre-fermentative maceration takes place and lasts for six days at 5ºC and then the fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks. The wine is fresh and fruity with soft tannins and “only” 12% alcohol. It has flavors and aromas of cherries and other fresh red fruits and berries. The wine could be served chilled but I liked it at room temperature. Serve it with roast or grilled chicken. $12
The wine is mostly Sangiovese with a small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon. The grapes used for Remole come from vineyards in central Tuscany and they are from the estate vineyards. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks for 10 days and maceration for seven days. It is aged in stainless steel for five months and 2 months in bottle before release. This is a wine with fresh red fruit flavors and aromas that should be drunk young. It is a bargain at $10.
Chianti DOCG 2009 Ruffino (Tuscany)A minimum of 75% Sangiovese plus other varieties like Canaiolo and Colorino. Alcoholic fermentation takes place for two weeks aided by racking and punching down in stainless steel and concrete vats. The wine is aged for 4 four months in stainless steel vats and 1/2 months in bottle before it is released. Goes great with steak or lamb chops. This wine is a great buy at $10
Valpolicella Classical Lucchin DOC 2009 Tedeschi (Veneto) is made from 25% Corvina, 25% Corvione, 30% Rondinella, 10% Mollinara and 10% Rossignola, Oseleta, Negrara and Dindarella.
Lucchine is the name of the vineyard where the grapes are grown. It is located in the plains at the foot of the Piedmont hills in the historic heart of the Valpolicella area. The vines are over 25 years old. The grapes are hand harvested at the beginning of October. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks. The grapes are in contact with the skins briefly–only eight days. This is to insure that the wine would be fresh and fruity. After malolatic fermentation the wine spends the winter in stainless steel and is bottled in March and released one month later. This wine has fresh red fruit flavors and aromas with hints of cherries, and very good acidity. It is the type of Valpolicella that many producers do not make any more. I could see myself drinking it with fish on Lake Garda. $18
Dolcetto “D’OH” 2010 Piedmont Dolcetto DOC 100% Dolcetto Clavesana
Fermented is temperature controlled stainless steel tanks this is a fresh fruity wine with hints of cherry that is the be drunk young. It is traditional Dolcetto to be enjoyed and as it says on the label “You D’OH Something to Me”. Good with salumi and grilled sausages. $10
Moscato Piedmonte DOC 2010 Linda Donna This is a sparkling aromatic Moscato with aromas and flavors of white peach and apricot. It is the perfect desert wine for summer and the alcohol is only 6%. Try it with fruit or lemon ices. $10