As much as Italy and France have a rivalry, I'd be wrong if I didn't acknowledge how much Italian winemakers have learned from their colleagues in France. France's AOC, the system it uses to standardize, organize and quality control its wine was the basis for Italy's DOC and DOCG designations that Italian winemakers use, however differently, for the same purposes. Bordeaux was the inspiration for the great Italian wine Sassicaia, and, in fact, the region and its grapes provided the fuel that fed the Super-Tuscan revolution. Likewise, the Merlot wines of France's Right Bank served as the touchstone for some great Italian wines--Masseto, Messorio, Redigaffi, and others.
This week's eLetters have shown the debt that Italian winemakers owe to French traditions and French grapes. You've already seen Tua Rita's Merlot Redigaffi and the two Bordeaux-inflected blends that are Sassicaia's siblings, Guidalberto and Le Difese; today, I'm very proud to bring you a new allocation of Le Macchiole's cult Merlot Messorio from the classic 2012 vintage. All of these wines show how much Italian winemakers have learned, borrowed or taken from French winemaking, yet each wine could come from nowhere but Italy. The soils of Italy imbue these wines with a special magic, a sense of place, a wildness of spirit--try this Messorio bottling if you don't believe me.
Along with this classic, silky '12 Messorio, I'm delighted to introduce you to a wine that may be your new "house" red, Mille Una 2013 Majara Primitivo. Winemakers used to hide Primitivo in blends, but they've learned better. This rustic, food-friendly wine almost roars from the glass and pulls you by the ears. You're going to love it (and its $22 price tag). Finally, 1988 was a benchmark year for Barolo, and I've snagged a few magnum bottles of Aldo Conterno's '88 Barolo Colonnello. Aldo passed away a few years ago, and this gorgeous wine is a testament to all that he did for wine-lovers like me--and you!