Italian wine equals romance in my world. Why? I don’t really know, they just do. Perhaps it’s the past life I’ve had in Venice? Maybe it’s dreaming in Italian, but in my waking life I don’t understand the language, but in a dream I understood every word… So much so that it woke me out of a dream state into total waking amazement.

Italy has a way of bringing out the romance. Maybe it was early years when Gina Lollobrigida was a hot sensation in films during the 1950s and 60s; and, remains a beauty for those of us who knew her films and those times. Or, perhaps it’s the white stucco architecture with orange tiled roofs and climbing bougainvillea… Maybe the outdoor markets, the Mediterranean climate and the seaside. Whatever it is, it’s for real, along with the wines – simple and uncomplicated, pairing well with foods – makes me dream of Italy and leaves me wanting to go there… to write about it all from more than imagination… real time, real experiences…

I’d hug that wall, too, sista!

My wine writing friend and colleague Dick Rosano has just finished his second book based in Italy. He just wrote to me:

My first novel (and second book), Tuscan Blood, was published in 2012. You may already know that, but the second novel in the series of that I’m writing, all set in Italy, has just been published. Hunting Truffles is set in Piedmont during the truffle season, where the truffle hunters are in a panic as they discover that their usual harvest has been stolen literally from under their feet. Inexplicably, the bodies of murdered hunters turn up, but no truffles. A young man from Tuscany, in tow with his aunt and her restaurant crew, pursue the theft and the thieves through the hills of Piedmont and the wine and food of Italy.

Italy just brings out the romance in born romantics…

When the wines of Italy arrive on my doorstep for tasting, it makes a celebration. Here are the wines that elicit such emotion in my heart.

Let’s start with a newly received Italian wine: the 2011 Capezzana Conte Contini Bonacossi, Barco Reale di Carmignano.

[The image of the Capezzana Conte Contini family is borrowed from their Website.]

Also from their Website, which reads, Wines since ‘804. (Yeah, that’s 804, not 1804, 1904, or 2004)

History of Capezzana

Wine jars and tasting cups found in Etruscan tombs dating to approximately 1000 BC show that vines have been cultivated in Carmignano since Pre Roman times. More specifically, a parchment rent contract conserved in the Florence State Archives, dated 804, reveals that vines and olives were cultivated at Capezzana for the production of oil and wine as early as 1200 years ago. In the early Renaissance, Monna Nera Bonaccorsi built the first ‘Nobleman’s house’ and nine farmhouses together with wine-making buildings at Capezzana. Numerous generations and families followed: the Cantucci, relations of the Medici, and the Marchesi Bourbon del Monte. In the Eighteenth century the wife of Marquis Bourbon, née Cantucci, enlarged the estate and increased the number of farms; her greatest achievement, however, was to introduce exemplary administrative practices, evidence of which can be found in the estate’s historic archive. After the Bourbons the property passed to the Adimari Morelli and then to the Franchetti. Sara de Rothschild, widow of Baroni Franchetti, sold it to the Contini Bonacossi.

So here we are, with an Italian wine of great history.

Label: This wine is made from traditional Carmignano grapes (Sangiovese, Cabernet, Canaiolo*) by the Conti Contini Bonacossi at Capezzana, in Carmignano. The vines grow in the ancient Medici estate, the “Barco Real or “Royal Property” mentioned in Cosimo de Medici’s “Decreto Muto Proprio” in 1716. With this decrete, which is the pride of Tuscany Grand Duke Cosimo I*II set Italy’s first laws establishing boundaries and production standards for quality wines.

Nose: Bright red fruit with a touch of ferment… that aroma that tells you this is wine, not berries on the vine. Minerality suggests some clay in the soil, but there’s no discussion of soils on the Website, so this is what my nose is picking up and may not be the case. I also picked up black olives; this property has 346 acres of olive trees on their estate. In fact, it has more acres of olive trees than it has grape vines (247 acres).

Palate: Lovely, medium bodies appearance, fruit, and flavors. with a 13.5 percent alcohol listing, the toasty cherry fruit is just light enough to be a fine wine with Italian dishes of fresh tomatoes, garlic, freshly made pasta, and fresh mozzarella cheese all melting together.

Finish: Medium lingering in a very pleasant way.

Recommendation: Deliciously recommended as a wine to share with friends, as you explore great Italian heritage and foods with a bit of substance to them, at $25.00 per bottle.

Our next Italian wine is the 2011 Monrosso Chianti, Estate bottled at the Castello di Monsanto Monrosso Chianti DOCG (Sangiovese, Canaiolo*, and Merlot): ruby red color, aromas and flavors of ripe cherries and raspberries, crisp, soft tannins; $14.

History of Castello di Monsanto

From Castello di Monsanto own story: Aldo Bianchi, a native of San Gimignano, left Tuscany before the Second World War to seek fortune in the North of Italy. In 1960, he came back to the area for a wedding and was enchanted by the view from the terrace of Castello di Monsanto: all the Val d’Elsa with the inimitable backdrop of the Towers of San Gimignano. It was love at first sight which made him buy the property within a few months. But if Aldo was bewitched by the landscape, Fabrizio, his son, immediately fell in love with the wines he found in the cellar. Thanks to a passion for wine handed down to him by his grandmother, who came from Piedmont, and to an innate entrepreneurial spirit, Fabrizio, together with the untiring help of his wife Giuliana, started to plant new vineyards and convert the numerous farmhouses….and an incredible story of love, passion and joy for wine and everything concerned with it, starts from here.

CONTINUING: Right since 1962, the property of Castello di Monsanto is about 25 hectares of vineyards, adjacent to the rest of the lands, which are found within the area of the Chianti Colli Senesi  production. Here is where the youngest and freshest wine of the company is produced : the Monrosso. Vinified in steel with 12/15 days of maceration, it ages in Slavonia oak barrels for 12 months before sale.

Nose: Ruby colored fruit with a touch of earthiness… an aroma that speaks to a damp climate season. Medium bodied in appearance, invitingly promising a food friendly wine. Another Italian wine that is 13.5 percent alcohol.

Palate: Soft like a Pinot Noir… Could it be delivering that, because it’s in a Pinot glass? I’ve had several wine tasting focusing on which glass to choose with what variety; and, I know that a Pinot glass delivers wine fruit to certain areas on our tongues, eliciting certain focused flavors. This one, being in the Pinot glass, delivered plum in just the right amounts with just the right flavors… I got rich, sweet plums… period, and couldn’t be more delighted, especially given the nose of earthiness.

Finish: Medium with a nice toastiness on the back end.

Recommendation: Deliciously recommended as a wine to have as your everyday value Italian wines for pizzas, lasagne, and Italian dishes of fresh tomatoes, garlic, freshly made pasta, and fresh mozzarella cheese all melting together.  At $14.00 a bottle, this is a great find.

* Wine Century Club addition in the red wine department