Menade Verdejo ($14.99)
From the producer:
"It represents freshness, the wildest side of the Verdejo variety. The grapes come from different plots with clay-calcareous soils and pebbles from the Rueda area, which are made separately.
Fermentation with natural yeasts to achieve the maximum expression of our environment, aromas of fresh grass, minerality and liveliness. The personality of Bodegas Menade.
Aroma: Concentration of varietal and mineral aromas. Highlights of white fruit aromas interspersed with notes of laurel, fennel and aromatic plants of low mount like thyme.
Dry, tasty and balanced. Certain bitter touches typical of the verdejo, round with volume. The natural acidity sustains an elegant and long finish."
This fresh, lively white is a great alternative to Sauvignon Blanc, and an excellent introduction to Spanish whites. Verdejo is an indigenous grape, and Menade is run by young siblings who are determined to craft better quality wines that reflect the terroir of Rueda. Mild citrus, white flower, and mild herbal tones dominate this lovely, mineral wine.
La Salceta di Ettore Ciancico "La Nocetta" Toscana Rosso ($29.99)
From the producer:
"Tuscany is a land of history and traditions, with unique landscapes, hills and clay gullies, vast expanses of vineyards and olive groves alternate with small villages or typical stones farmhouses.
In this triangle, between Florence, Siena and Arezzo, surrounded by the mountain ranges of Pratomagno and the Chianti hills, we find the Vald’Arno, an area dominated by clay, recognized as an area of excellence already in 1716 with the Bando of Cosimo III de’ Medici.
Between the Agna river near the village of San Giustino and the ancient Etruscan and Roman road CassiaVetus, along the Setteponti road, La Salceta is totally embedded and integrated into the land. Since our foundation, the estate has been conducted in compliance with the rules of organic farming, using the latest knowledge and technology for the enrichment of the soil and the self-defense of the our grapes and olive trees.
We work with the utmost respect of the soil, with is always protected by a completely natural grass cover, a layer of herbs, both selected and spontaneous, which act as a filter protecting the desiccant power of the sun and from the compacting and erosion of the rain and wind and simultaneously enhance the activities organism naturally present in the ground.
65% Sangiovese, 35% Cabernet Franc
The name comes from a type of hunting, typical of this region, which used to take place in the woods facing our vineyards.
We wanted to produce a wine that expressed all of the complex characteristics of our Val d’Arno terroir. So we used a selected autochthonous Sangiovese and a Cabernet Franc; our vinification techniques ensured the utmost expression of the terroir, without using wood. Bright and luminous ruby colour; a rich, complex and mature bouquet with a persistent flavour of red berries, chocolate, mushrooms, currants, strawberry, wild rose, violet with the aromatic vegetal and bell pepper hints of Cabernet Franc; Flavourful and balanced, with silky and elegant tannins, enlivened by a pleasing freshness, La Nocetta is valued for its beautiful minerally quality and long finish."
I had the pleasure of meeting the owner and winemaker, Ettore Ciancico, when he visited my shop this month. He is a lovely, joyous man, who is eager to talk about his wonderful wines. La Nocetta is the top wine from his vineyard, and it's also the most compelling of the line; Ettore loves Cabernet Franc (a grape that is not so commonly used in Italy), and here he has very successfully created a wine that showcases it, while allowing the Sangiovese to complement without overwhelming. It is earthy and robust, with a nice balance of fruit in vegetal undetones.