Corvina, Rondinella, Molinara and Croatina. Valpolicella, Amarone, and Appassimento. The grapes, the wines and the methods of the Veneto look strange to Americans. It's little wonder that people in a culture saturated by talk of Merlots and Cabs feel intimidated when they read these exotic terms. It's even no surprise that some the best sommeliers shy away from Italian wine: it's a vast world with thousands of indigenous varietals, and nobody wants to feel like a novice, especially not a professional.
Like many endeavors that begin with difficulty, educating yourself about Italian wine quickly becomes a pleasure. The possibilities generated by wildly different grapes, regions, techniques and wines are endless. There's no place whose wines will move you so swiftly from ignorant confusion to pleasurable confusion like the Veneto. Today, I'm proud to present three wines from Nicolis, a small family producer who makes traditional, deeply tasty and altogether affordable bottlings of the Veneto's most famous wines: Valpolicella and Amarone. Though it's rare that we feature Amarone from producers other than the icons, Nicolis makes exceptional, drinkable, delicious bottles.
I'm also delighted to offer two other great fall weather wines. You'll want to cellar the Meo Camuzet Corton Perrieres Grand Cru 2010 for a while to give it time to settle down and become the great adult it's meant to be, but in the meantime, drink the 1954 Antonio Ferrari. It's already perfectly mature and dizzying in its layers. It's like drinking a magic carpet.
I hope you enjoy your Columbus Day--IWM's offices will be closed on Monday, but our Union Square store will be open. In honor of this long weekend that celebrates Christopher Columbus, please allow me to make a suggestion: instead of freezing in confusion as you try to pronounce "Valpolicella" in your head, take a more Italian approach. Relax, pop open a bizarrely named bottle, pour yourself a glass, and enjoy every sip.