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The Weekly Dozen - Northern Reds

From Alpine valleys to the Tuscany hills, northern Italy always produces a great variety of red wines for fall drinking – the vinous equivalent of exploring an apple orchard in November for a variety of textures and flavors.

This week’s mostly red dozen (there is one double entry to make it an uneven 13) ranges from Sangiovese blends to Nebbiolo varietals to a solo Schiava. Glasses up!

2018 Susana Balbo Valle de Uco Torrontes ($15). Very fragrant and somewhat assertive with good balance, but there is a dull, woody finish that seems to characterize a lot of Torrontes wines.

2018 Wölffer Estate “Antonov” Long Island Sauvignon Blanc ($30). A little creamy, a little fat in the middle, a little spicy with a moderately crisp finish. Enjoyable, fuller Sauvignon.

2018 Susana Balbo Valle de Uco Rosé of Malbec ($15). Nice and tart cherries with a little gaminess – a good food wine.

2018 Alois Lageder Dolomite Vernatsch-Schiava ($18). A light, tangy, spicy blend, just slightly darker in color than a rosé, that is very refreshing. Best served a little chilled.

2016 Selvapiana Chianti Rufina ($19). I like this wine a lot, especially at the price. Not complex, but it delivers fresh fruitiness followed by a raspy finish – perfect for tomato-sauced pastas and red pizzas.

2014 Selvapiana “Villa de Petrognano” Pomino Rosso ($21). From a village inside the Chianti Rufina region, the DOC allows more latitude in grape choice. Not surprisingly, it’s somewhat like a Chianti, although with a little more rounded cherry fruitiness.

2017 Trivento “Golden Reserve” Lujàn de Cujo Malbec ($22). Rich and full-bodied, a little rustic, with blackberry/cranberry flavors and a touch of tartness.

2017 Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Pinot Noir ($25). Rounded cherry flavors with lots of classic Pinot gaminess – rich and long on the palate.

2017 Aperture Alexander Valley Red Wine ($55). It is fruit-forward and tastes a little sweet, but with a nice assertive, smooth structure.

2013 Ruffino Greppone Mazzi Brunello di Montalcino ($67). Lightish in structure for a Brunello, a little gamey with dusty tannins – more elegant than bold.

2017 Aperture Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($70). Concentrated dark flavors of carbon and chocolate, but with a tart, almost citric strand lending diversity and structure. A dark, murky wine that will develop well in the bottle.

2015 Pio Cesare Barbaresco ($75) and 2015 Pio Cesare “Il Bricco” Barbaresco ($130). Both of these wines are delicious and representative of the best of the assertive, solid style of Nebbiolo. The first is more savory, with tangy dried berries and leathery, lean notes, while the Bricco has more aroma and fruitiness, though still a big wine.  Just great.

Prices listed are generally SRP or from wine-searcher.com.
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