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Purveyor of uncommon wine, spirits & beer.

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Thanksgiving Picks, Part 2

scott

Arianna Occhipinti. Sicily, Italy.

I adore these wines. Their arrival each year is a sort of event, something to look forward to nearly as much as the holidays themselves. Arianna, if you aren't familiar, rose to fame as a prodigy winemaker in her mid-twenties, following in the tradition of her famous Uncle Giusto (of COS wines) and other natural winemakers like Elisabetta Foradori. Occhipinti grows only grapes that are part of the deep Sicilian tradition, Frappato taking the lead in this case. And from vine to bottle, she puts nothing into her wines, takes nothing away.

One vintage after the next seems to deepen in complexity. For this Thanksgiving, nothing could be finer. This is the first year we've gotten both the white and red offerings from her second label, SP68.

Occhipinti SP68 Rosso ($25) A blend of two of Sicily's most prized varietals, Nero D'Avola & Frappato. Nero brings the darkness while Frappato leans things out. A very aromatic wine, floral to the point it's almost perfume-y, with a lively acidity to make an incredibly fresh food wine. A really great pairing for dishes that combine meaty richness with high-toned acidic accompaniments like tomato, citrus, or vinegar. And all around a fantastic wine.

Occhipinti SP68 Bianci ($25) A blend of two of Sicily's least known varietals, Albanello & Zibibbo. As with the red, this wine is about balancing forces. Zibibbo lends a floral and aromatic complexity while the Albanello provides a bracing structure. Peach and pear mingle with herbal notes like dried coriander. Very fresh, very much alive, sure to take your bird soaring to the next level.

Thanksgiving Picks, Part 1

scott

Cantine Argiolas. Sardinia, Italy.

Argiolas sits in the hills above the port city of Cagliari, Sardinia, in the south of that Mediterranean island. Currently the cantine is run by the third generation of the Argiolas family. Still today, the Argiolases focus on making traditional wines from traditional Sardinian grape varietals. They've been a mainstay in this shop for years.

This fall we've decided more folks should join in the fun. And what better way to find them? They're delightful food wines, wines that show up quietly and mingle with a variety of guests. Engaging, unpretentious wines that each bring something special to the table.

'Costamolino" Vermentino di Sardegna ($14) Vermentino is one of my favorite versatile food wines. In general, it's sort of a go-to, please-everyone sort of choice when I'm pairing for a group. The good ones, like this lively offering from Argiolas, strike a balance between plump fruit and racy acidity. Tropical and citrus flavors combine here with a touch of herbal aromatics to form a delightful option for the melange of fall feast flavors.

"Perdera" Monica di Sardegna ($14) Monica isn't a grape you likely know or care much about. Well maybe you should. It's indigenous to Sardinia, another one of these fond little treasures we find in far flung corners of Europe. The varietal wine "Perdera" from Argiolas is intensely fresh, a lightheartedness belied only by the more brooding dark cherry, licorice and tobacco notes lurking beneath. It's a little spicey, a little fruity, a little rustic. Great choice for a variety of palates.

"Costera" Cannonau di Sardegna ($18) The grape has many names—Garnacha, Grenache, etc.—but is known only as Cannonau on the island of Sardinia. It's commonly accepted that this varietal originated in Spain, but lately there's some speculation that it actually comes from our little hero  island. Here it's expressed with a perfectly bright red-fruitiness and a fine silky texture. It's less rustic than the Monica and more sumptuous too. A touch of spice offsets the hint of sweetness, all finally bound together with a lingering, minty finish.