Tag Archives: Italy

Araldica La Luciana Gavi

Cost: Average price $14

Where buy now: The Wine Thief $13.99

Grapes: Cortese

Region: Piedmont, Italy

Vintage: 2010

Araldica La Luciana Gavi

I’m not a slacker. An imbiber, yes, but not a slacker. My day job event planning for a major non-profit in town kept me away from writing a red or white review last week. (Note: not drinking, just writing.) Please accept my heart-healthy apologies.

To make it up to you, let’s kick off the weekend with a white wine that is sure to tickle your fancy parts. This week’s white belongs to Cortese [kor TAY zay] di Gavi, aka “Gavi”. It’s a white wine produced in the Piedmont, North West region of Italy. Cortese grapes live along sloping vineyards close to Italy’s Ligurian region [Mediterranean Coastal area], where Genova resides (in 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Well, he didn’t set sail from Genova, but Cristoforo Colombo was from this area)

Why does any of this matter? Because the grapes are going to get hit with wafting, salty seaside breezes influencing their flavor with hints of tartness and a slight dryness.

Don’t get turned off by what I just said, this is a terrific Summer wine that’s just begging to be paired with grilled fish, or my favorite, pesto. Think about it: wine that is made near the seaside is probably best had with frutta di mare (literally translated, fruit of the sea, or seafood). Plus, “real” pesto hails from Genova, so it’s not coincidentally, a perfect marriage.

This white wine is pale straw in color with scents of citrus fruits (think lemons & limes). It isn’t an overly fruity wine, but has a hint of minerality and mild acidic tartness that snaps back. Not strongly-just enough to give the wine some character. It’s lively but in a laid back sort of way. If you are a Pinot Grigio fan, give this a try and I think you may have a new favorite. It’s aged in stainless steel tanks which lends itself to a refreshingly smooth lemony taste and dare I say it transports you to the Mediterranean shores of Italy.  I’m imagining laying out on one of those rented beach chaise lounges. Uninhibited, I take my top off and let the strong Mediterranean sun bake me golden. (Nevermind that I’m a shy, pale redhead; that sun would destroy me.)

So, let’s talk food pairing. I’d soooo dig this with sautéed calamari. Scusi in St. Paul has a nice dish of sautéed calamari that would pair well. This wine is so perfect for pasta with pesto, I cannot stand it. The lemony, refreshing dry-sweetness balances the smooth, herby, garlicy pesto sauce. Mmmmhmmmm.

If you don’t grow your own basil, SHAME ON YOU! But, perhaps I’ll forgive you if you pick some up this Spring and use it to make your own pesto. Throw it in ice cube trays and freeze it for a rainy day. It’s pretty easy and it tastes so much better than pesto from a jar. If you’re real short on time, though, I really like Pesto alla Genova carried at Lund’s & Byerly’s stores. It’s a teeny-tiny jar for a whole lot of money but often it’s on sale for $8.

Here’s the quick, down & dirty pesto method:

A couple BIG handfuls of fresh basil leaves

A handful of pine nuts, lightly toasted

A couple garlic cloves

A small hunk of Parmigiano cheese

Put it all in a blender and slowly drizzle in olive oil until you get a consistency you like.

Toss it over your favorite pasta and grate some fresh Parmigiano Reggiano on top. Pour yourself a glass of Gavi and you have a real meal. So simple, but the flavors will knock your socks off. No restaurant can give you that satisfaction, and we’ll just forget about last week.

Franco Serra Barbera d’Alba

Cost: Average price $11

Where buy now: Surdyk’s- $9.99

Grapes: Barbera

Region: Barbera d’Alba, Italy

Vintage: 2010

Franco Serra Barbera d’Alba

While seeking one of my favorites recently, Ruvei Barbera d’Alba, I come to find out Surdyk’s doesn’t carry it any more. Why, oh why? I was turned on to this wine years ago when a friend gave it to me, and it has been my go-to splurge (typically around $20/bottle) ever since.

So, I asked, “What Barbera would you suggest that’s comparable yet under $15?” I was directed to this: Franco Serra Barbera [bar-bear-ah].

Later that afternoon, we went out with an old college friend. It was two of the worst hours of my life. And I mean it. A visit to my “ladyparts” doctor would feel like a Disney ride compared to this. I was miserable. This friend (whom shall remain nameless) not only showed up over an hour late, he appeared stoned, drunk and everything in between. I spent two hours listening to his loud, lewd, and drunken drivel, while not letting anyone else speak. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

Now, I know you’re thinking, “What’s this? The Savvy Lush can’t stand her old pal’s inebriation?” No, friends, I follow the sentiment of the late, great imbiber extraordinaire, Hunter S. Thompson, who once said: “There is nothing worse than a sloppy drunk.”

I came home and I needed to find my happy place and FAST! I grabbed the Barbera, and tapped the juice so fast you’d have thought I was Houdini. I poured a big ol’ glass. I needed to erase my last two hours, so more ambiance was required. I ran to the stereo to add the sonic bliss of Andrea Boccelli. I sat down, dog at my feet, and began to sink into the sofa. With each gorgeous note the tenor sang and with each sip of delicious wine I swallowed, I could feel my soul being restored.

This Barbera smelled of dark red fruit and wafts of soothing Italian breezes (go with me, now). The taste was velvety smooth, with hints of strawberry, mild spice and chocolate. The tannins are mild and there is little acidity in this medium-bodied red. This is a food friendly wine, as any Italian wine should be, but what I love about Barbera is you can drink it alone. As you can see in the picture, I enjoyed the wine alongside a Capicolla & Asiago Trader Joe’s sampler pack and some yummy dark chocolate from Kowalski’s (wine + meat & cheese = $6!). It was all working, and I finally found my happy place.

This is a tasty little number. I’m still sad that the Ruvei was no longer in stock at Surdyk’s as that one will still remain a favorite. However, the Franco Serra will more than suffice, and for a few bucks less, may become my new go-to Barbera.