Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wine Wednesday: Two Great Inexpensive Reds for Your Pasta Pleasure

Posted By on Wed, Aug 17, 2011 at 7:58 AM

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After last week's Tomato Art Fest when the streets of the East Nashville ran red with the juice of a thousand tomatoes, a man naturally starts thinking about what the hell to do with all these rapidly ripening red fruits. Many of the most obvious solutions that come to mind involve making pasta or pizza sauces or bruschetta. Of course, these dishes beg for red wine to accompany them, and in particular Italian reds.

So who better to ask for advice than the man who whose Woodland Wine Merchant shop was right in the middle of the action during the Tomatocalypse? Will Motley is often my go-to guy when I'm seeking out affordable lesser known European wines. He keeps a great stock of affordable finds in the $12 to $18 range that you probably wouldn't know about unless you read deep into the back pages of The Wine Spectator. Since I don't have the time to do that, I usually just ask Will.

His latest recommendations to serve along with that tangy tomato-based Italian dish that you might be preparing to use the remains of the harvest that those little gray bastard squirrels haven't stolen from you — two wines from Castello La Farnetella.

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The first is their 2008 Chianti Colli Sensei. Wine drinkers frequently have the misconception that Chianti is a type of wine or a grape varietal. Actually, Chianti is a region of Italy that grew out of a defense league formed by many small towns to protect themselves from frequent invasions of neighboring city states.

Chianti is separated into eight subregions, the most famous and the viticulturally significant being the Classico region. So when you see a bottle that is labeled Chianti Classico, that doesn't mean it's a classic Chianti. The Colli Senesi region of Chianti is literally right next door to where the best Chianti Classicos come from. That means you can buy a great Chianti grown from vineyards where the terroir is almost identical without having to pay Classico prices.

Castello La Farnatella is owned by Felsina, one of the key wine houses of the Chainti region. In fact, both of these wines are bottled by the Felsina production facility just across the border in Classico.

The 2008 Chianti Colli Sensei is a blend of 92 percent San Giovese an 8 percent Merlot. This Chianti is a very modern interpretation of this ancient wine, with a fresh, light and fruity character that makes it a very food-friendly wine. The Merlot rounds out the palate nicely. It would also pair well with a steak or a ground lamb dish.

The second offering from Castello La Farnatella is their 2008 Lucilla IGT. The IGT stands for Indicazione Geografica Tipica, which means that although the wine is not subject to the stricter DOC and DOCG standards, it is a regulated product that is typical of the wines of a particular region. This classification usually covers so-called Super Tuscans and differentiates them from simpler table wines.

The 2008 Lucilla is a particularly affordable and approachable Super Tuscan. With its medium body and light tannins, Lucilla is a wonderful light table wine that would be great with any pasta dish with a red sauce. And at less than $15 apiece, these wines are a steal.

I suggest to buying mixed case of them to decide which one you like better on your own. I preferred the Chianti slightly over the Lucilla, but both will be regular every night pizza wines at our house until I move on to Will's next wine find.

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