Updated: Nov 18, 2021
The chill in the air and the distinct smell of gingerbread lattes on every corner can only mean one thing…winter is upon us. Although the wine professional in me thinks we should be drinking rosé all year, the consumer in me just can’t help but sip seasonally when it comes to my wine selections. Can you blame me? Let’s be honest, there is nothing cozier than being wrapped up in a mountain of blankets indulging in a glass of red.
After an incredible trip to Italy, I felt inspired to give you my complete list of Italian reds that are not to be missed this season.
1. Occhipinti II Frappato 2019 $48.99
If you’ve been obsessing over Stanley Tucci’s “Searching for Italy” like I have, the name, Arianna Occhipinti probably sounds familiar. In his episode featuring Sicily, Stanley visits Arianna’s vineyard to experience all that is amazing about this winemaking island. This wine is made from 100% organic Frappato grapes coming from 40-year-old vines. Expect to find juicy red fruits, floral notes, and silky tannins making this an easy sip with or without food.
2. Ar. Pe. Pe. Rosso di Valtellina 2018 $39.99
Nebbiolo from Lombardy? Yes, please! You’ll find the vineyards of this wine just south of the Italian-Swiss border. Granite soils, 50-year-old vines, and a large diurnal shift in temperatures contribute to the pronounced perfumed aromas billowing out of the glass. This is Nebbiolo at my favorite - elegant, refined (almost Pinot-like), and full of sweet cherries, roses, and subtle spice notes.
3. Pio Cesare Barbera d'Alba 2019 $26.99
Looking for the perfect pizza companion? Look no further than this Barbara. Ripe dark berry fruit with incredibly bright acidity will make your mouth water in-between each bite. This is a low tannin wine, so if you’d rather just drink this while binge-watching Netflix, that works too. Incredible producer with a wonderful portfolio.
Husband and wife team Maddalena Fucile and Matteo Vaccari farm 32 organic hectares of vines in the sub-region of Chianti Classico. Before coming back to reclaim this land in 2016, they worked with other estates around Tuscany and California, including the infamous Domaine de la Cote team, Rajat Parr and Sashi Moorman. The production of this wine is super limited, but if you can get your hands on it, you won't be disappointed. The fruits are juicy and bright, the tannin structure is refined, and you'll find the perfect balance of minerality and spice.
I absolutely could NOT create this list without adding a Brunello di Montalcino (or 2). This wine is 100% Sangiovese aged 24-30 months in Slavonian oak. On the swirl, you can pick up red and blue fruit berries, earth, warm baking spices, sage, and dried thyme. It’s full-bodied yet super elegant. You can drink it now, but this wine will be even better in a few more years.
6. Travaglini Gattinara 2018 $39.99
Beyond the unique-shaped bottle, Travaglini Gattinara shows us just how drinkable Nebbiolo can be. The family owns 44 hectares of vines in Alto Piemonte - a region in northern Italy that was almost forgotten. It’s fruit-driven, mineral, and complex with hints of licorice and sweet spice. Pair this wine with gamey meats or aged cheeses. This is one of my favorite wines to order at restaurants as I find the price for value is out of this world.
7. San Lorenzo Rosso di Montalcino 2018 $21.99
I absolutely could not create this list without throwing a Rosso di Montalcino on here. I had a bit of a “Rosso awakening” during my trip to Montalcino that made me wonder why I don’t have more of these bottles in my personal collection. These are what the locals call, “baby Brunello,” and I totally understand why. On the sip is 100% Sangiovese with less stringent aging rules. These wines lend incredible bright juicy red fruit, with subtle mineral and spice tones. Expect the tannin structure to be quite moderate which makes this wine great for casual sipping at home.
8. Coppi Senatore Primitivo 2017 $30.79
To be completely honest with you all, I have a hard time finding Primitivo (Zinfandel) that I absolutely love. I find them to be incredibly too high in alcohol with overly cooked fruits and raisins. Not this wine! This wine is incredibly elegant with an alcohol content of only 13.5%! It’s incredibly fresh on the nose with ripe red berries, stewed plums, orange peel, and baking spices. The body is luxurious on the palate - full and velvety. It’s like being wrapped up in a warm hug!
9. Donnachiara Taurasi 2015 $34.99
Let’s travel to Campagnia with this 100% Aliagnico wine. It’s incredibly aromatic on the swirl showcasing notes of ripe red fruits, blackberries, dried cranberries, ink, dried spice, coffee, and cocoa. The tannins are quite firm making this wine capable of aging for years to come. If you can’t wait to pop the cork, this wine should be paired with hearty dishes like savory stews and grilled meats. Perfect for a winter’s night.
10. Donnafugata Fragore Etna Rosso 2017 $89.99
All hail Nerello Mascalese from Mt. Etna. Those flinty notes from volcanic soils get me every time. Although a bit of a splurge, this wine is worth every penny. Highly aromatic with notes of rosebud and violets, sweet cherry, clove, nutmeg, balsamic, and crushed rocks. This wine is incredibly silky with refined tannins and a lingering finish. An excellent addition to Southeast Asian food cozy at home!