Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Rich, Rustic and Very Italian - Malacari Rosso Conero 2008

I love Italian wines - red, white or rose. It matters not. There's a lot to love in so many wines from this country and the diversity is incredible. From the cool climate whites of the Alto Adige to the big, bold reds of Sicily and everything in between, there's no end to the choices available to consumers. And let's face it, everyone loves Italian food. There's more Italian cook books on my shelves than there are from any other country. The wonderful combinations of 5 or 6 ingredients will usually make something magical and there is always a perfect wine match for what your cooking up.

Montepulciano is the second most widely planted grape in Italy, grown just about everywhere, from Emilia-Romagna in the north all the way to the heel of the country in Puglia. But for me, it's the east coast of Italy that the best Montepulcianos come from, in Abruzzo and the Marche. It's a late ripening varietal that needs plenty of warmth and hang time to really show it's best. The rocky, sandy soils along the coast in this part of Italy lend the wines a distinct mineral component, adding complexity to the bold fruit that is typical of this grape. Rosso Conero is the DOC in this case, where Montepulciano must make up at least 85% of the bottling and Malacari is the producer of this 100% Montepulciano cuvee. Fermented in stainless steel but aged in oak for 12 months prior to an unfiltered bottling, this lovely wine strikes a wonderful balance between fruit and subtle wood flavors.

Dark purple in color, you're greeted with typical smokey cherry and plum aromas with complicating notes of oak spice, coffee and minerals. In the mouth it's rustic but hearty, with large scaled dark fruit flavors and a long spicy, moderately tannic finish. Try this everyday winner with a beef or lamb stew, or a bolognese pasta. Imported by one of my favorites, Polaner Selections, this quaffer set me back a middling $14.99. Cheers.

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