We drink lots of wine – big surprise, I know – but don’t always have the notion to write about every bottle. With that in mind, here are some quick notes from the past month.


donna-paula-rossoDonna Irene Umbria Rosso 2012 ($12.99)
From the same producer and importer as the Cantine Rialto La Contessa Rosso, this blend of Sangiovese, Sagrantino and, surprisingly, Pinot Nero (Noir) is exclusive to PA (which isn’t always something to get excited about, but pans out here). A big, bold wine, this baby clocks in at 14.5% abv, but is not without nuance. On the nose, it’s herbal, with notes of earth, cocoa and a touch of smoke. On the palate, rich fruits combine with more chocolate and herbs. It is a little hot and boozy – the one knock. Tannins certainly play a role too, making it a wine to drink with food – anything from tomato pasta to roasted meats. (Note: a second bottle did not show as well, suggesting possible bottle variation.)

Rupe Nero Gold Rosso Piceno 2012 ($11.99)
A blend of Sangiovese and Montepulciano from Le Marche. Fresh and juicy, with green notes. Not particularly complex, but difficult to stop drinking. Great pizza wine.

Rocca dei Sanniti Taburno Falanghina Sannio 2012 ($12.99)
Solid stuff. Has that typical Falanghina characteristic of seeming overripe up front and then finishing crisply. Quaffable.

Argei Cannonau di Sardegna 2012 ($12.99)
Most people consider Cannonau to be the same grape as Grenache, but Sardinians insist it has its own unique characteristics. I’m a Grenache fan, but have yet to find a Cannonau that speaks to me, so perhaps there’s something to that. Big fruit here, easy drinking but not memorable.

Indigenous Selections Barbera Monferrato 2012 ($12.99)
A solid Barbera for $13. Nice mix of fruit and savory notes, good acidity. Would go well with pasta, pizza and Chicken Marsala. I was less inspired by Indigenous’ San/Gio, which is an ok buy at $9.99, but nothing special.

Kermit Lynch Monferrato Rosso 2012 ($11.99)
Probably not as good as the aforementioned Indigenous, but nonetheless a versatile Barbera that’s solid for the price.

Antica Hirpinia Taurasi Riserva 2006 ($12.99)
It was certainly tantalizing to see a Taurasi Riserva at this price, but this quite didn’t deliver. Nice nose, with tobacco and anise, and good acidity, but the mid-palate and finish offer very little.

Cantina Orazio Rosso Gastone Umbria 2010 ($11.99)
Thin, green, rough. Didn’t particularly care for this one.

Cantine Valpane Barbera del Monferrato Rosso Pietro 2011 ($11.99)
Yikes! Quite bad.

OVER $15

Tasca-D-Almerita-CygnusTasca D’Almerita Cygnus Nero d’Avola/Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 ($19.99)
A luxury Sicilian wine that features oak notes, smoke and anise. Good now, but better cellared for 5 years.

Achával-Ferrer Malbec 2011 ($29.99)
Aromatic, earthy and chock full of berry flavor. Good acidity and length on the finish. Just a solid, food-ready effort, though one that would feel better at $25 or less. (Review by Jeff)

Domaine La Brune Beaumes de Venise 2012 ($15.99)
Though exciting to try a rare (in the US) Cotes du Rhone red from this small region near Vacqueyras, this mix of Grenache (70%) and Syrah was disappointing. The fruit feels underripe, leading to a green sensation in both aroma and flavor. You can find better CdR for less.

Seigneur de Fontimple Vacqueyras 2011 ($15.99)
Rough and disjointed. Pass.

2009 Domaine Le Colombier Vacqueyras Vieilles Vignes ($29.99)
This Grenache blend is a great example of the quality and value of southern Rhone wines. At once light and resonant, there’s plenty going on here. Depth of flavor and aroma, complex flavors, earthiness, length and decent acidity. Another red blend from this producer, a Crozes-Hermitage from the northern Rhone, is available in-state as a special order for $29.99 – minimum order quantity of three. Code 63326. (Jeff)


Published by Mike Madaio

One of the co-founders of Pennsylvania Vine Company, Mike is a food & drink writer based in the western suburbs of Philadelphia. His work has appeared in publications such as Wine Enthusiast, Edible Philly and Philly Beer Scene, and he has achieved VIA Italian Wine Ambassador certification. Mike is obsessed with exploring Italian wines of all kinds, especially old-world-style bottles that feature savory, funky notes, achieve great balance and work well with food.

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