September, 2022 – The Feast of San Gennaro
The Feast of San Gennaro started in Naples on the Amalfi Coast in Italy – and now for almost a hundred years, thrives in New York’s Little Italy (and for the last several years, here at L’Oca d’Oro too!). The festival honors San Gennaro (Saint Januarius) and the miracle of the fact that the vials of his (very old, dry dust) blood are said to liquify every September in the Church of San Gennaro at Solfatara in Pozzuoli, where he was killed and martyred (kind of gruesome/goth/intense vibe, any reason to party, we dig it). The Festival in Little Italy is a more than week-long fest of food and community in the form of a lively street fair. Locals and visitors celebrating the Saint and each other taking over the street in games, drink, and eats. We’ve taken the opportunity here to feature some favorites and familiars– wines that are easy to love, bouncing around Italian regions – and bringing forth a sense of something to be shared, of kinship, of levity.
Ercole Barbara del Montefalco DOC, ’20
Grape: 100% Barbera
Region: Piedmont, IT
Ercole translates to Hercules – winemaker Weston Hoard and his British Labrador, Ercole, spent years working together in the vineyards and cellars of Piedmont. Ercole wines are the result of a multigenerational local co-op. The place, Monferrato, ranks among the most historic grape-growing areas of Piedmont, known for some of the highest quality Barbera around. Many folks know the grape for its bright acidity, and this wine will offer no exception – the Ercole Barbera is medium-bodied and juicy, scents of cherry, blackberry, and flirts of rose, clay, green spices, and bramble. Coming in at a friendly liter, this wine is grand to enjoy on its own merits, or jar up half a bottle in the fridge with sliced peaches – a San Gennaro classic. Drink it out of a plastic cup while almost not losing at bocce ball to that middle schooler from down the street.
La Gioiosa ‘La Villa’ Pinot Grigio delle Venezie, 2020
Grape: 100% Pinot Grigi0
Region: Veneto, IT
This pinot grigio hails from Treviso in the eastern vineyards of the Veneto. It has a crisp, delicate & pleasantly fruity palate, finishing light & dry. It has a straw yellow color and nose of mellow melons and distant orchard peach. It offers little texture which separates itfrom the rest of those sometimes bland styles of the variety. Keep it cold, drink it in the park, pretend you like the live band. Think about dancing.
Bella Vita Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2020
Grape: 100% Montepulciano
Region: Abruzzo, IT
Bella Vita is the Italian good life. It’s also the result of Natural Wine Company’s collaboration with the great brother-sister winemaking team of Carlo and Annalisa Botter. Together they created the Bella Vita: a rich, old-vine Montepulciano from Abruzzo.
Pleasantly juicy with black cherry, hints of dark chocolate, and a stroll through the woods – medium-bodied, dry, balanced, and friendly. Drink it talking about the discrete politics of permit approval with your or somebody’s uncle– when you take a break from that garage remodel.
Casa di Malia Prosecco DOC, NV
Grape: 100% Glera
Region: Veneto, IT
With a name inspired by the old Italian expression meaning “House of Charm,” Casa di Malia pays tribute to the magic of Treviso, one of the storied towns in the Province of Venice in the heart of the Prosecco appellation. The grapes for Casa di Malia all come from Tenuta Divici, a collection of family-owned vineyards, all of which are certified organic. The estate’s commitment to true Italian Prosecco and honest, unfettered viticulture shines through in their wines: elegant, expressive, and, above all, charming. Crisp lemon zest and citrus flavors with satiny, textured bubbles.
It has a flip top! Carry it with you into your (mild mannered) mischief as you roam the block party streets! This just barely off dry frizzante will provide some non judgemental company – no matter what you’re up to.
Ercole Monferrato DOC Bianco 2021
Grape: 90% Cortese, 8% Chardonnay, 2 % Sauv Blanc
Region: Piedmont, IT
A touch of chardonnay and Sauvignon blanc sharpen and elevate this classic presentation of cortese. The grape was first documented in 1614, when the Castle of Casale Monferrato documented it in its ledger. Vegan, organic, swiggable, and packed in a liter – this crisp white offers refreshing acidity in green apple, citrus and gooseberry and nudges at the chalky soils of its origin.
The Ercole wines are a tribute to the winemakers dear and long departed labrador. Drink it catching up with a good friend while walking your dogs.
Poggio San Polo ‘Rubio’ Tuscana IGT 2020
Grape: 85% Sangiovese, 10% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc
Region: Tuscany, IT
The area of Montalcino in the south of Tuscany is renowned for the quality of its Sangiovese. The San Polo Rubio Toscana IGT has a brilliant ruby red color, with purplish glints. and delightful aromas of black current, red cherry, and violets, leading into warm spice, dried green herbs, and earth. Aged in stainless steel for ten months, and four months in bottle– the wine is balanced, with fine tannins, and a lovely long finish.
Drink it as a reward when you’ve done something you’ve been meaning to, but have put off. Taking the trash cans back in from the street, calling back that one uncle, defrosting the freezer, writing a strongly but firmly worded letter to a local or national politician. You deserve a treat.