November Wine Notes

November, 2022 – Wine & Sides

The weather has finally turned and we are firmly on our way into the depths of the holiday season. Time to remember how to dress when it’s not ninety seven degrees – remember pants? Time for family, for food and drink, good socks, cardigans  (and distracting your uncle while you switch Fox news to Fox sports). This month we’re offering a cornucopia of wines perfect for your Thanksgiving meal  –  be it turkey and stuffing (I’m a northerner, I’ll admit it here) or hot pockets and hand pies. You’ll find no judgment here, and plenty to be thankful for.

Cusumano  2020
Grape: 100% Nero d’Avola
Region: Sicily, IT

Nero d’Avola is one of the most widely grown (and drank) wine grapes in Sicily. It takes its  name from Avola, a town in the far south of Sicily known for almond orchards. 

Cusumano Winery is spearheaded by two brothers, Diego and Alberto, whose value of artistic excellence and passion for meticulous detail have driven them to create a bright explosion of modern, innovative and dynamic wines. The wines are all estate grown and the family owns and operates more than 1,000 acres of vineyards located in different areas around Sicily. 

As the brothers say, “Wine, just like people, shows a distinct personality when put in the right context” Mind your context, pair it with dark cuts of turkey, or Tofurky even. Finish the bottle while scrubbing the roasting pan and dishing on gramma’s new beau. 

La Monacesca 2015
Grape: 100% Verdicchio
Region: Marche, IT

Evidence of grape growing in this corner of Marche has been cited all the way back to the tomb of a 7th century BC warrior prince. And evidence of verdicchio in particular back as far as 1579. Grapes are part of the history and geology. La Monacesca’s vineyards sit at about 1,800 feet above sea level in what was an ancient salt lake. The marine soil is full of fossils and rich in minerals that add to the wines’ vibrancy and aging ability. The nights are cool and the days are warm all summer long, allowing the grapes to remain on the vines until harvest in the first week of October—there isn’t a worry about harvesting before the sugar gets too high, it’s about getting the grape physiologically ripe. The clay soil, a manual harvest and temperature-controlled fermentation in steel give representative characteristics for this great wine from central Italy: structure, depth and evolution. 

This delightfully aged verdicchio brings with it a sense of history and tradition. Its mineral structure and acid are a good pair to cut the richness in creamy mashed potatoes, or even green bean casserole. Drink it while telling that story you tell every year about when the turkey fell on the ground and the dog got his head almost stuck inside the cavity.  

Cleto Chiarli Rose Brut de Noir Rose  NV
Grape: 85% Lambrusco Grasparossa, 15% Pinot Nero
Region: Emilia Romagna, IT

In 1860 Cleto Chiarli founded Emilia Romagna’s first wine-producing company, the Cantina Cleto Chiarli – producing red sparkling wine from the lambrusco grape. Cleto is still a lambrusco maker of note – and this not-quite lambrusco offering is a treat. Giving a nod to the tradition of vineyard workers producing a light  pink effervescent wine from the runoff of grapes piled to go to the winery – The Chiari family pays homage with the Brut de Noir Rose. Light pressing and minimal skin contact keep the color light and airy, the fully sparkling wine is produced in a single fermentation under pressure

Rosé bubbles are like good shoes, they go with everything. This brut is a food flexible delight– pair it with cheese and crackers, hors d’ouevres, or the main course. Pour a toast around the table, everyone at once, yell a different cheers.

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Donnafugata Anthilia 2020
Grape: Lucido (Catarratto), with small amounts of other native and international varietals
Region: Sicily, IT

Giacomo Rallo is the fourth generation of a family with over 170 years of experience in producing quality wines. In 1983 he founded Donnafugata together with his wife Gabriella. Today their children José and Antonio lead the company along with a team of people dedicated to the tradition of  excellence.

The vineyards focus on elevating  combinations of terroir and grape: From the volcanic island of Pantelleria, up to the eastern side of Vittoria and Etna, to the Contessa Entellina estate in the western Sicily near the foothills of Mount Genuardo – where the grapes are grown for the Anthilia. 

The 2020 Anthilia is lush – Offering up  fresh and fragrant florals with ripe peach and a hint of waxier tropical fruits, and a pleasantly balancing mid-acidity. Pair this one with cornbread dressing or stepping out of the kitchen to catch the replay of the Thanksgiving parade. Would giant Garfield or Snoopy like this wine? I trust their discerning tastes.

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Angelo Negro 2020
Grape: 100% Brachetto
Region: Piedmont, IT

Angelo Negro is a historically significant winery whose origins date back to 1670. In this year, two of the estate’s most important vineyards—Perdaudin and Prachiosso—were first planted. With some of the most desired vineyard sites in Roero, Negro is a legend of the region. Giovanni Negro, the estate’s present owner, produced the first dry Roero Arneis on record in 1971. Similarly, brachetto is most often found as a semi-sparkling, semi-sweet presentation – Angelo Negro steps out in style here offering a dry, unfiltered beauty. 

Cherry red color with purple hue, and a touch of opacity due to its unfiltered nature. Bright and fresh, jumping out of the glass with notes of cranberry and  hints of violet and rose – pleasantly and salivating tart, with notes of candied red fruits. 

The cranberry-like notes of this wine make it a killer pairing for your T’giving leftover sandwiches. Pour a glass, take a seat, read a book or watch the game, brace for the next round of holiday.

Scaia Rosato 2020
Grape: 100% Rondinella
Region: Veneto, IT

In the 1980s, four brothers—Armando, Tiziano, Paolo, and Massimo Castagnedi—began making their first moves toward opening their own winery. They had inherited 50 acres of vineyards in the eastern section of Valpolicella from their father, and in 1989 they purchased 75 more acres in the same general area, releasing their first vintage under the Tenuta Sant’Antonio label in 1995.  In 2006 they began a new project under the label Scaia to further explore the possibilities in the traditional varietals they were growing. Rondinella, interestingly, is not as often seen as a single varietal, more often used as parts of traditional Valpolicella blends.  In Veneto dialect, the word “scaia” means a chip of stone, chalk, limestone: Scaia takes the name as  tribute to the stony, chalky soils where their line of unique young wines are produced. The wines of Scaia tend to be playful and bright, this rosato of rondinella grapes – with its pink cherry notes, underpinning, and mineral finish  reflecting the quality and uniqueness of the terrier.  

This rosé is nimble on its feet like a running back – zipping through the heart of the meal, and could take you all the way to the goal line. It’s a dream for butter and biscuits, or for turkey gravy and cuts of white or dark meat. Pour a glass at half time, route for the opposing team.