Snob Wine of the Month | Wine Reviews

Quit being such a damn cheapskate. Some wines are worth it. Great bottles for over $15.

Alois Family Wines, drinking like it’s the year 1700 A.D.

Cost: $14.99-$40.00

Where buy now: Thomas Liquors, Zipp’s Liquors, Solo Vino & France 44

Grapes: Casavecchia, Pallagrello, Falanghina, Aglianico

Region: Campania, Italy

Vintage: See below.

Alois Wines
Alois Wines


Any time an Italian man comes to town, you’ll know where to find me. I’ll be bellied up at the tasting bar trying my hand at broken Italian, slurring the few phrases I can still recite from my two years of University study. I always begin with my favorite, “Guarde le stelle, la luna e tu; tutte le cose belle delle notte.” Translation: “Look at the stars, the moon and you; all the beautiful things of the night.

Off the record, in my early 20s, this phrase garnered lots of Italian tail. (By the way, that’s not true. At all.)

Ahem, I digress, I’m here to tell you about an Italian winemaker, Massimo Alois (Ahl-oys), from Campania, Italy. He was recently in town pouring samples of his family’s wines at Zipp’s Liquors.

Here is  Fred (from Rootstock Wine Company, responsible for Massimo’s precious cargo) & Massimo.

Fred & Massimo
Fred & Massimo

Here is Massimo, Peter (from Thomas Liquors) and me. Psst – 25% off sale right now through Oct. 18!

Massimo, Peter & Me
Massimo, Peter & Me

Massimo is a lovely man who speaks terrific English. He’s ready and willing to answer any questions and explain about the wines, family history and vineyards.

Massimo, along with his father, Michele Alois, have a rich history. I’ll spare you the full-on nerdery in favor of the Cliff’s Notes version.  After all, there’s wine to drink, people.

The Alois name is synonymous around the world for it’s rich silks and tapestries. This is evident in places such as the White House, Italian Parliament and even the Louvre. The Alois factory, located in Caserta, began in 1885 and continues to this day. In 1992, Michele decided to begin foraging and planting native grapes. In concert with the Universities of Napoli and Firenza, he started cultivating a forgotten strain of indigenous ancient Roman  grapes. I think it’s incredible that grapes such as Casavecchia or Pallagrello (Ferdinando IV of the Bourbon family, King of Naples from 1751 to 1825, fave) survived the Phylloxera outbreak of the late 1800s! [Man, I LOVE that Brad Mitt movie!] Today, the Alois family still has ties to the silk factory; however, winemaking has become the main family passion.

The vineyards are situated about 15 miles from Mt. Vesuvius, which is still an active volcano. (Yikes!) Because of this proximity, much of the vines grow from volcanic soil, giving the wines an added layer of minerality. Some say “ashy”,  but I think that sounds gross, and frankly do not detect that in these wines.

I would have bought them all if I wasn’t saving for a NYC vacation. Alas, I came away with these three:

Caitî 2012 – 100% Pallagrello Bianco. Gold in color, rich in tropical fruit, and followed up with balanced acidity. This reminded me of a tart Chablis. Patio perfect to have alongside a nicoise salad, grass fed llama reduction foam, or tuna tartare. (Who am I kidding, I’ve never eaten any of that on my patio.) Drink it with any salad or a tuna fish sandwich. Very palate pleasing!

Settima 2010 – Blend of Pallagrello Nero and Casavecchia. Oh Madone! This gal is a-spicy little a-number. Hints of smoke swirl among the spices, red berries, toasted plum skins and strong tannins. Drink this Old World hottie up with fatty sausages or meatballs.

Murella 2008 – 100% Pallagrello Nero. This red wine is smooth, voluptuous, even. If Helen Mirren was a wine, she’d be Murella. This wine has such finesse and grace. She doesn’t need to slap you across the face; she, alone, draws you in with her charm, leaving you wanting more.

The real importance here is your bragging rights to say “I am drinking like a king.” Thanks King Ferdinando IV!

The tides are turning along with the leaves, get out your pot (cooking vessel) and make a big ‘ol vat of chili, Italian “gravy”, beef stew or some other classic stick-to-your-ribs dish. Ladle it up in a bowl, tear a hunk of bread and pop one of these wines.

Now, for a taste of full-on nerdery, including a regional map, list of varietals and wines, read below. Otherwise, as my husband might say: “BON APPETITO!” (He has literally never once said that.)

Read in detail here.

Domaine Reverdy Hippolyte Sancerre

Cost: Average price $25

Where buy now: Sorella Wines

Grapes: Sauvignon Blanc

Region: Loire Valley, France

Vintage: 2012

Domaine Reverdy Hippolyte Sancerre
Domaine Reverdy Hippolyte Sancerre

Yes, you can call me out on the fact that it’s been months since I’ve posted a “Snob” bottle of the month. Sheesh! I feel like you’re behind the confessional curtain while I list my drinking sins. Guilt, shame, embarrassment. I am a non-practicing Catholic and yet those emotions come flooding back so quickly. That said, if Communion was from this bottle, I’d definitely attend church more frequently.

This Sancerre is truly heavenly, made by angels. Well, not really, but if angels ran a vineyard, it might result in this Tupelo honey gold liquid. It’s sooo worth the $25+ price tag. How come? Because it’s heavenly and it’s made by angels?

Honestly, discovering this wine was a fluke. My husband was shopping the Muni LQ (yes, that’s a thing in MN) near us and he found it deeply discounted. Though it was still more than our typical $15 threshold, the deep discount had my bargain-minded husband scheming and inquiring.

Now, when my husband brings home wine, it’s pretty much a gamble.  What’s great is that if I don’t like it, he’ll drink it. He’s a bit like Mikey from the Life cereal commercials that way. (Although since the advent of this blog, he’s becoming more and more versed, I have to admit.) We uncorked, poured, swirled and took a sip. We looked at each other simultaneously, and paused. Then, on cue, as if scripted in a cheesy commercial, we exalted in joy!

Our spontaneous yet synchronized exaltation truly started with the rich pineapple & vanilla notes that enveloped our sniffers. It’s what a Bonne Bell Lipsmacker wished it could be, though I’m not trying to imply it’s sweet & synthetic. This wine’s light-to- medium body is balanced by a swirl of crisp, acidic tartness- plenty to wake up our taste buds. Lastly, the finish lingered long enough to take you to that heavenly place, as if pillowy clouds gently whisked us away to some utopian garden.

If I asked you “What would angel-made wine taste like?”, what would you say? Truthfully, I wouldn’t have known how to answer that question until this beautiful Sancerre came (or perhaps descended) into my life. And to think, this serendipitous encounter almost didn’t happen.

M. Lawrence Sex Dry Brut Rosé

Cost: Average price $16

Where buy now: Zipp’s Liquors

Grapes: Blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay & reserve wines

Region: Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan

Vintage: N/V

M. Lawrence Sex

The arousingly descriptive term “Pink sparkler” conjures up several images: a Pride Parade novelty item, a Georgia O’Keefe inspired [spread?], or perhaps the pyrotechnics found at a Celine Dion show. However, I’m talking about a dry brut Rosé outta Michigan, cleverly named “Sex”.

I’ve never bought into the whole Valentine’s Day myth, but don’t let my semi-cynical ideologies keep you from your fun. Ever. In spite of my annoyance, I’ve declared Sex the official wine of Valentine’s Day, 2013! It’s pink (duh), it’s tantalizing, it’s tart & fruity fun and it hails from right here in the Midwest. Need I say more?

Whether you’re hoping to get lucky or want to drown your single sorrows, the titillating Sex will “love you long time”, so to speak (if only for 750 ml. worth).