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Wines of the Month: Pipoli Aglianico del Vulture & Villadoria Gavi di Gavi

For August’s wine column, I’ve looked at two wines, both Italian but from different regions. Both are available from Brooksby Wines on West End Lane.

Aglianico2012 Pipoli Aglianico del Vulture
Dark purple on the pour, the nose of vanilla on this £11.99 Aglianico suggests new oak, balanced by dark fruits and violets and complemented by some spice. The dark fruits brighten a bit with some time in the glass, reminiscent of bing cherries. The mouth-feel is medium to heavy-bodied, and its sumptuous aftertaste lingers on the palette for almost a full minute, teasing with notes of licorice and stone fruits. Also noticeable are dried herbs and a soupçon of dust, not an unpleasant characteristic in a wine such as this one from Basilicata.

Aglianico del Vulture comes from volcanic soils in southern Italy that are rich in minerals. A red grape varietal, it possesses thick skins and a naturally high acidity, making for a perfect food wine. It requires an extended growing season, and is harvested in very late autumn, the timing of which accounts for its richness, full body, and deep flavor. Its tannins are firm, but not stringent. There is a decent complexity to the wine, bordering on it being almost a bit brooding. A proper question to ask is whether it is a proper vino di meditazione. Surely, it comes very close! Excellent on its own, this wine sings with food, and it certainly would be enjoyed with a ripe cheese and excellent company. At 13.5% alcohol, it is somewhat New World in style, especially with the vibrant oak, yet it is a wine that could be put aside for several years so that one might enjoy its coming complexities.

Our food match was homemade pizza with crusts of spelt flour, featuring various toppings from spinach and ricotta to roasted beets and goats cheese, all representing a good test for the versatility of the wine. Of particular interest is that it did not shy away from a Greek salad of lovely vegetables and a lemony vinaigrette, as the wine’s natural acidity allows for this kind of versatility. The Pipoli Aglianico is a very approachable and food-friendly offering that is sure to keep you coming back for more!

Gavi di Gavi2013 Villadoria Gavi di Gavi
The antithesis of Aglianico, the £12.99 Gavi di Gavi (this being the name of the commune in Piedmont from whence it originates), which is entirely from the white Cortese grape, is almost transparent on the pour, yet complemented by a gorgeous floral nose. Its palest-straw color and intense nose make for a sensorial episode.

Tastes of melon (honeydew?) and freshly-cut apple highlight its crispness and tartness, which somehow balance nicely in a 12% alcohol wine that is far too easy to imbibe! Thankfully, the wine spends no time on new oak, which would simply destroy its floral and fruity characteristics; instead, the experience is intense, yet satisfying and, at times, delicate. If this wine has a fault, it is that it is too easy to quaff!

It proved the perfect foil for a gorgeous bed of rocket toped with sautéed mushrooms; shrimp marinated in olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes; and the slightest touch of green chili. A pleasant surprise was a hint of candied fruits on the palette, after the bottle had breathed for awhile. All in all, a very nice example of Cortese di Gavi, and a pleasure to drink during the summer we’ve been having! The Villadoria Gavi is certain to convert die-hard red wine drinkers to the hedonistic pleasures of northern Italian whites!

If you’d like to recommend a wine shop or restaurant’s wine list for this WHL feature, please tweet me @kevinjruth.