Last night The Naked Grape Wine Bar in Wilton Manors hosted Italian Winemaker Antonio Sangueneti from Tuscany. Mr. Sangueneti poured six limited production vintages. I am not a fan of Italian wines per se they’re a bit to tannic for me. So I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to objectively write and get excited about all these Small Vineyards wines, let alone face the winemaker himself.
Never, never, never judge a wine by its label or varietal or name, every single bottle and winemaker is different. Period. Now I know this but it was a blatent wake up call last night for me. The first three wines we sampled were whites, Trevisol Prosecco ($18) loved it! This Prosecco is light, flirty and fun. At $18 it is affordable and definitely drinkable daily, (so says Antonio!) (I bought a bottle and of course it’s signed!)
The second sampling was Tre Donne Roero (3 sisters) Arneis ($20). This is referred to as a white Barolo. It is clean and refreshing with a short finish very much unlike it’s red counterpart that is definitely more bold. For those who like pinot grigio this is definitely a wonderful alternative.
The final and third ‘White’ is Antonio Sangueneti Vincero ($17). This wine is a blend of Vermentino, Malvasia and Chardonnay. A very easy and approachable wine, in my opinion similar to Tre Donne Roero Arneis. So I said to Antonio this wine is so easy and drinkable, not complex, I could drink this like water. And his reply: “so what’s the problem with that?” Well, yes. What is the problem with that? Mr. Sangueneti went on to explain to me that Italian’s drink wine with food and eat food with wine at every meal other than breakfast it is a complimenting respect that goes both ways. This wine, the Vincero in my opinion is definitely the weekend brunch wine to be ‘had’ beginning at 10:30am with a delicious Basil-Proscuitto Strata.
And now we move onto the Reds. The first up is the Antonio Sangueneti Nessun Dorma ($24). Nessun Dorma means “none shall sleep”, it is an aria from the final act of Puccini’s opera Turandot. It is sung by the unknown prince, who falls in love at first sight with the beautiful but cold Princess. Any man who wishes to wed Turandot must first answer her three riddles; if he fails, he will be beheaded, and like any magnificent opera this is where the tragedy begins….but not for this wine, it is anything but an operatic tragedy.
This lovely ‘Red’ is a blend of Sangiovese, Merlot and Syrah. This is what Super Tuscans are made of, a harmonious blend of some of Tuscany’s cherished varietals. This wine is elegant and bright with just enough boldness to command attention. The longer it sits, the more like velvet it becomes, one can actually sip and savor this Super Tuscan until the last drop and this is the only tragedy, an empty bottle of Antonio Sangueneti Nessun Dorma. I have my signed bottle and will cherish it and the wine for a long time to come.
The second Red is Antonio Sangueneti Rosso Montepulciano ($22). This is the classic ‘little brother’ of Vino Nobile. This Rosso is a dynamic blend of Sangiovese and Merlot and is all about plums and cherries very fruit forward and just like the Nessun Dorma the longer it breaths the more like silk it becomes. And my second bottle of silk sits patiently in my wine rack just waiting to be opened!
And finally, the Antonio Sangueneti Caruso, this wine simply is described as a “Super Italian”. It is a baby Amarone meets baby Super Tuscan meets Sicilian Nero d’Avola. Now take a sip of that and taste what happens!
All of these super-fabulous wines are small production wines which means there are only 400-700 cases made and distributed world wide. They are imported by Small Vineyards in Seattle, Washington. Small Vineyards seeks out outstanding Italian small vineyard wines. Most importers would never give these wines a second thought, regardless of quality, because there is not enough to make a brand but Small Vineyards sees it differently. As the importer, Small Vineyards understands that they are the bridge that brings the wine, the stories, and the passion of small family Italian winemakers to America.
The wonderful wines of Antonio Sangueneti, Trevisol and Tre Donne are available at the Naked Grape Wine Bar for retail purchase to take home or to enjoy at the wine bar. The prices range from $17-$24, a steal! for such high quality wines. To sample some of these wine there is an Italian Wine Flight this weekend at The Naked Grape Wine Bar $20/4 wines and a complimenting Italian cheese plate. I highly recommend you run and get your bottle or two or three and taste for yourself just how magnificent boutique, small production Italian wines can be and this is coming from a former non-Italian wine lover.