Story and vineyard photo by Manos Angelakis
Bottle photos by the producers
I don’t think I have a personal prejudice against low calorie, no-alcohol wines. However through the years, I tasted a number of those bottles and I thought most had very little or no taste.
A new product line, Ventessa by Mezzacorona, just proved to me that I could be wrong about this opinion and should try more of these wines just to make sure I know what I’m talking about.
I recently received 2 sample bottles, a white and a light blush rosé. Perhaps they were the exception, but they tasted good in the glass and also were good in cooking. All things considered, I think they would make an excellent libation for warm weather, both spring and summer.
The wines are designated Vigneti delle Dolomiti IGT and they are made in Trentino, in Italy’s Adige Valley region. Both Ventessa expressions are hand-picked and estate-bottled, made with 100% Pinot Grigio without any chemical alterations. Both offer delicate floral notes, the white shows casaba melon and white peach with hints of white flowers and the rosé citrus fruits, especially red grapefruit, plus a hint of plum and comice pears. Both were very interesting!
They are well priced in the $10 to $15 range, depending on the retailer.
Another couple interesting samples I also received were two reds, one from Spain and the other from Argentina.
The 2013 Montecillo Reserva from Rioja Alta is a lovely blend of 90% Tempranillo, 8% Garnacha and 2% Mazuelo. I had had many bottles from that producer when I lived in Manhattan because a good friend, Reinhold W., loved this brand and he always opened a well-ages Montecillo bottle when we dined with him.
It is one of those Riojas that require some bottle aging, because they are quite bold and tannic in their youth. At the winery, the wine is aged for 18 months in American oak followed by 12 months of bottle age to allow the tannins to soften and the flavors to build. It is well priced for the quality offered at under $25 per bottle, with some retailers charging as low as $16.
Another interesting bottle was the Alavida Malbec 2021, from Domaine Bousquet. It is Argentina’s first USDA-certified organic and kosher wine and one of few estate wines to achieve this unusual double status. The SRP is $19. The vines are grown at high-altitude vineyards in the Uco Valley, an area producing some of Mendoza’s finest wines. As an organic wine, it is produced with no chemicals either in the vineyard or during production. This means that no pesticides or herbicides are used when farming and no sulfites, preservatives, stabilizers, or other additives are added during the winemaking process.
In this wine, black plums and blueberries, minerals and wild herb notes dominate the palate -- as it opens, you get violets, licorice and a hint of cigar box. In diapers now; it will only get better and smoother over the next few years.
Finally, two more bottles; a Chardonnay and a Pinot Noir from Cristom Vineyards, of Oregon’s Willamette Valley.
The smoky 2019 Chardonnay Eola-Amity Hills has broad, intense flavors and tangy acidity. It offers aromas of cooked apple, honeysuckle, white peach, toast and white blossoms and is ripe, lean and balanced. Surprising, because when I first tried it, it was herbal and showing yeasty aromas finishing with intense hints of Meyer lemon zest and a refreshing finish. It is well priced at a retail of $38 to $43 per 750ml bottle and most critics rate it between 90 and 94 points out of 100.
The 2019 Cristom Pinot Noir Mt. Jefferson is another Oregon wine, very seductive with ripe strawberry and cranberry, orange peel, licorice, black tea and hints of cloves and cinnamon. As tasted it was full-bodied but tight with chewy, pronounced tannins. Will be much better after 3 to 4 years in cellar, and will probably peek by 10. Currently priced between $30 and $43 for the 750ml bottle.
To your health!
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