- 2013 Poggio al Casone, Toscana, Italy ($9.99 @Trader Joe’s in California)
- N.V. Castello del Poggio Moscato, Veneto, Italy ($7.99 @Costco in California – Item #450887)
Both of our featured wines this week hail from Italy. Although, as the private jet flies, the two regions aren’t all that far apart, these two wines are a study in contrasts. To help you locate their respective wine regions on the map below, you will find Toscana on the knee of Italy’s famed boot shape, and you will find Veneto on the back of her thigh.
Our Featured Wine from Trader Joe’s:
I first reviewed the 2010 vintage of this wine, and it is rare that subsequent vintages have ever been out of stock at my local Trader Joe’s, making it a perfect go-to “house wine” when you just need to grab a quick wine to pair with a weeknight dinner of pizza, pasta or burgers. A blend of 80% Sangiovese (the workhorse grape of Chianti) and 20% Syrah, we always keep a couple of bottles of this wine handy for those nights when Italian fare is on our menu at home.
It is a solid, dependable value, year in and year out.
Legendary in Italy for its Renaissance art and striking landscape, Tuscany is also home to many of the country’s best red wines. Sangiovese reigns supreme here, as either the single varietal, or a dominant player, in almost all of Tuscany’s best. Earning global acclaim since the 1970s, Tuscan blends are composed solely of international grape varieties or a mix of international and Sangiovese.
The 2010 Casone Toscana begins with a very pleasant aroma of black cherry, strawberry, spice, some balsamic notes and a little mint. Taking a sip reveals a smooth and soft mouthfeel with well integrated spice and leather. Bright cherry, sweet berry notes, cola, pepper and a little vanilla combine seamlessly in this medium-bodied wine with good complexity and acidity. It ends dry with the balsamic notes from the nose returning and lingering in the mouth.
I opened this bottle on Sunday to taste, and then returned to it Tuesday night to pair with some pizza. Loved both.
BTW, we recently reviewed another red wine from Toscana, and Costco.
Our Featured Wine from Costco:
Let me say right off the bat that this wine may not be for everybody. It is sweeter than most white table wines. But that said, it is well balanced, seductively perfumed and flat-out delicious.
One of the ironies of the wine industry is that it does such a poor job of producing and marketing wines that are on the sweet side. In a world that consumes rivers of sweet and semi-sweet soft drinks – and hard drinks for that matter – wines like this should be more accessible.
As a bonus, table wines (as opposed to dessert wines, many of which have alcohol added) that are sweet are almost always lower in alcohol. That’s because the naturally occurring sugar in the grape juice is what is converted into alcohol by the yeast during fermentation. So it is axiomatic that lower sugar in the resulting wine means higher ABV (alcohol by volume) and vice versa.This Poggio Moscato musters only 7% ABV, where most table wines range from 13% to 15%. This wine is perfect for a “half-dry” January!
Straw yellow with golden hues and a nice nose of white peaches, honeysuckle, apricots and white flowers. Medium sweet with flavors of orange marmalade, dried apricots and hazelnut. Nice balance between sweetness and acidity, a slight effervescence makes for a nice palate cleaner and invites the next sip.
This wine would be a natural to serve at the beginning of a meal (as an aperitif) or with the dessert course. But it would also pair well with spicy cuisines and meats barbecued with sweet sauces.
Veneto, in Italy’s north east, is its most productive wine region thanks to the runaway popularity of Pinot Grigio and Prosecco. But that is not to imply that they don’t produce red wines as well, we reviewed one recently.
And as always, if you have comments on these wines, or have recommendations for wines you would like us to feature, please use the comments section here, on our Facebook or Instagram pages.