The Best Wines of Southern Italy

Red and White Italian Wines from the Best Grape Varietals

Cantine-Antonio-Caggiano-Taurasi
Antonio Caggiano vineyard in Campania, Italy.

Southern Italy is best known for its robust reds, a flavorful family of wines that accompany the region’s traditional pastas that seem inevitably steeped in heady tomato sauces laden with olive oil, garlic, and herbs.  Negromaro, Nero d’Avola and Primitivo are just a few of Southern Italy’s red grape varietals capable of producing big-boned reds to accompany the region’s specialties.

Unfortunately, few Americans have heard of Aglianico, Southern Italy’s most prized red varietal.  Brought by the Greeks to Italy more than 2,500 years ago, Aglianico thrives in the Campania on the hills and spine of mountains inland from Naples and the spectacular beauty of the nearby Amalfi Coast.

The finest Aglianico is known as Taurasi.  Not only is Taurasi the most robust and age-worthy of the wines of Southern Italy, it matures into a velvety potion with exceptional aromatics and deep down complex flavors.  Taurasi ranks with Barolo, Brunello di Montalcino, and the finest Super Tuscan reds as Italy’s greatest wines.

Superlative Taurasi emanates from a growing number of exceptional estates, including Antonio Caggiano, Colli di Lapio, Benito Ferrara, Molettieri, and Mastroberardino, the region’s oldest producer of Taurasi.  Although not Taurasi, some very good lighter Aglianico is produced in outlying areas of the Campania.  Cantina del Taburno and Vesevo make tasty medium-bodied Aglianico at an affordable price.

Lest one think red wines are the only prized wines of Southern Italy, the Campania also produces two of Italy’s greatest white wines in Fiano di Avellino and Greco di Tufo.  Both white varietals thrive in the hills and low mountains above the Amalfi Coast and are made by the great producers of Taurasi.  Caggiano, Colli di Lapio and Benito Ferrara consistently fashion exceptional Greco and Fiano.  To my taste, there are no better white wines to accompany the region’s seafood than these.

What to Look For in Southern Italian Wines

Colli di Lapio Taurasi Andrea 2010 and Colli di Lapio Fiano di Avellino 2013 are wines to look for in our red and white wine June Collector Series. This pair comprises two of the best wines we tasted on a recent trip to southern Italy and are not to be missed.  Both are highly allocated.

Querciola Barbera d’Alba 2012 and Errazuriz Max Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2013 make a formidable duo as our June Primary Premier Series offerings.  Past vintages of Querciola’s Barbera have been some of our most popular red wine offerings, while Errazuriz’s Max Reserva Sauvignon Blanc is making its International Wine of the Month Club™ debut in June.

Salud!
Don

Rainbow Sangria

This super colorful and simple sangria tastes as good as it looks!

Rainbow SangriaINGREDIENTS:

  • 1 refrigerated bottle dry white wine
  • 3 Tbsp. granulated sugar or honey
  • 2 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 8 cups diced rainbow fruit (*see note below*)
  • 2 oz. brandy (optional)
  • 1/2 cup club soda or ginger ale (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

In a pitcher (or in the wine bottle), combine wine, sugar/honey, lime juice, and stir until combined.

Add fruit to your serving glasses or (separate) pitcher in your desired color order. Then pour the wine over the fruit until the fruit is covered. Refrigerate the drinks for 15 minutes to let the flavors meld. Or serve immediately if you’re feeling impatient. ;)

Top with a splash of brandy and club soda if desired.

*To make a rainbow of fruit, you will need bite-sized fruit in the following colors. I used the first fruit listed in each color, specifically because I wanted them to be edible right out of the glass with a spoon. (Instead of a lime wedge, etc.)

Red: strawberries, raspberries, pomegranates
Orange: mandarin oranges, any other kind of orange/clementine wedge, cantaloupe
Yellow: fresh (not canned) pineapple
Green: kiwi, honeydew, green grapes
Blue: blueberries
Purple: red grapes, blackberries, dragonfruit

Recipe and photo from www.gimmesomeoven.com.

White Sangria Popsicles

With summer finally here, these boozy popsicles are the perfect way for all adults to cool off! You can also mix things up by adding different combinations of fruit!

Yields 24 popsicles

White Sangria PopsiclesIngredients

  • 1 bottle dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup simple syrup
  • 1/2 cup orange liqueur
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 cups chopped fruit (I used strawberries, green apples, peaches, and blackberries)

Instructions

  1. Combine wine, simple syrup, and orange liqueur in a large pitcher.
  2. Juice 1 lemon into the pitcher.
  3. Slice the other lemon thinly and then halve the slices. Add to the pitcher with the remaining fruit.
  4. Pour into 3-ounce paper cups and freeze for ~2 hours until it starts to ice over.
  5. Insert popsicle sticks and freeze for another 2-3 hours until solid.
  6. To serve, carefully peel the paper cut away from the sangria pop starting with the seam.
  7. Eat immediately.

Recipe and photo from Confections of a Foodie Bride

Grilled Filet Mignon with Herb Butter & Texas Toasts

“This dish is simply luxurious: grilled beef tenderloin smothered in a vibrant herb butter served on top of a garlicky slab of whole-grain toast. And yes, with only about 303 calories and 14 grams of fat total, this steakhouse-worthy entree can be part of a healthy diet. If you like, make extra herb butter to top chicken, fish or even a grilled pork chop.”

IGrilled Filet Mignon with Herb Butter & Texas ToastsNGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoon whipped or regular butter, slightly softened
  • 3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives, or shallot
  • 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and chopped
  • 3 teaspoons minced fresh marjoram, or oregano, divided
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest, divided
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 2 cloves garlic, (1 minced, 1 peeled and halved)
  • 1 pound filet mignon, about 1 1/2 inches thick, trimmed and cut into 4 portions
  • 4 slices whole-grain bread
  • 4 cups watercress, trimmed and chopped

PREPARATION

  1. Preheat grill to high.
  2. Mash butter in a small bowl with the back of a spoon until soft and creamy. Stir in 2 teaspoons oil until combined. Add chives (or shallot), capers, 1 teaspoon marjoram (or oregano), 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest, lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cover and place in the freezer to chill.
  3. Combine the remaining 1 teaspoon oil, 2 teaspoons marjoram (or oregano), 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest, 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper, rosemary and minced garlic in a small bowl. Rub on both sides of steak. Rub both sides of bread with the halved garlic clove; discard the garlic.
  4. Grill the steak 3 to 5 minutes per side for medium-rare. Grill the bread until toasted, 30 seconds to 1 minute per side. Divide watercress among 4 plates. Place 1 toast on each serving of watercress and top with steak. Spread the herb butter on top of the steaks and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Recipe and photo from www.EatingWell.com.

To Decant or Not to Decant Wine

When and How to Decant Wine

DecanterTo decant or not to decant wine is a hot topic and almost always a leading question.  Personal choice and impatience dictate whether or not you should decant your wine. In reality, decanting serves just two purposes: aeration and removal of sediment.

Young, tannic red wines benefit the most from aeration.  In order to begin releasing the esters that give a wine its aroma and flavor, oxygen needs to be introduced and work its way into the wine.  Decanting helps to speed up the oxygenation process, but it also tends to tame a bit of a wine’s youthful tannin.

For many wine drinkers, the most compelling reason to decant a wine is to remove all or most of the natural sediment from mature wines whose sediments precipitate out over time. Some younger unfined and unfiltered wines may also contain sediment or tartrate crystals.  Although sediment (grape skin, yeast, etc.) and tartrate crystals are harmless natural byproducts of wine, they are unsightly and can detract from the pleasure of drinking a wine.  Hence, decanting becomes a viable option.

How to decant a bottle of wine

  • Allow a bottle of wine to stand upright for at least several hours before opening until the sediment settles to the bottom of the bottle.
  • Upon opening the bottle, carefully pour the wine slowly into a clean carafe or decanter.
  • For best results, shine a light behind the bottle of wine so that you can see when the sediment begins to rise in the bottle.
  • If done carefully, one should only need to leave a couple of ounces of wine in the bottle for you and your guests to enjoy the rest.

Here at The International Wine of the Month Club™, we leave decanting up to our customers. You can fine more information about decanting throughout our website, and even learn how our online subscription wine club works to see that you aren’t just getting great wine – you’re getting the best value and quality, guaranteed.

So, whether you decant your wine or enjoy it straight from the bottle, The International Wine of the Month Club™ will raise a glass with you.

Salud!
Don