Two from the boot - Epicuro Salice Salentino and Aglianico
Often, the easiest means of finding cheap and fun wines is to go for what the locals drink. If you decided to see Italy on a Vespa you would find tiny little enclaves in regions that produce hard-to-pronounce grapes you've never heard of. These simple wines stir the senses and leave you imagining you're sipping liquid happiness from a bistro glass while watching the sunset over the Adriatic Sea, even when you're peering out your kitchen window at a pile of snow. These are two great contenders that will transport you:
Epicuro Salice Salentino Riserva 2003
Normally I would steer clear of $4.99 wines if they have a vintage from 5 years ago (scary!) but I couldn't resist giving this one a shot. Epicuro wines are generally great value wines and this one is no exception. Crafted from 80% Negroamaro and 20% Malvasia Nera, this rich, ripe, lush wine gets its intensity from the hot and dry climate of Apuglia, the region that runs from the spur to the heel of the boot. Salice Salentino is always a great go-to wine if you are a red lover and just looking for a glass to unwind, but it will be a great match for rustic meat dishes like osso bucco, roast venison or any kind of stewed beef.
Epicuro Aglianico 2004
Aglianico is a fascinating and historical grape varietal found mostly in Basilicata, that area of the boot between the heel and the toe that, for lack of a better term, makes up the arch. Much like Apuglia, it is hot and dry and the resulting wine is intense and spicy with distinct notes of blackberry and a cracked black pepper finish. It also has a punch of acidity that makes it a natural complement to any Italian dish smothered in red sauce (including pizza) and most red meat dishes. It is a great buy for $5.99, but stay away from the 2004 vintage. It is past its prime . . . look for 2005 or later and you won't be disappointed.
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Posted by Noël Wallace at February 8, 2008 11:01 AM