“Founded in 1848, and now making 800,000 bottles annually, Tiefenbrunner has become a big player. But it still meticulously farms some of Europe’s highest vineyards, and here’s an example of the winery at its best. There’s a wink at Kiwi-style pungency, but also remarkable quince fruit, rose petal and a supple, rich texture that shows savvy cellar work.”
“From one of the region’s oldest and most au courant co-ops (since 1889). If Walch’s Gewurz was the Clash, this is the Smiths. Subtle and perfumed, a bit sweet in its pear flesh, full of warm spice and a juicy quality.”
RECOMMENDED: “Mallorca is barely on the wine map, which is precisely why three friends launched this winery in 1994 to highlight the island’s bounty….A mix of indigenous Callet, Mantonegre and Fogoneu, plus Syrah, is a bit flashy, but also wonderfully spiced, like a Christmas wreath, with conifer and cinnamon. There’s engaging red fruit to match bacon and licorice highlights.”
Morgante - San Francisco Chronicle
Nero d'Avola Sicilia IGT
RECOMMENDED: “With winemaking from consultant Riccardo Cotarella, this sizable estate in southern Sicily has found a way to take the edges off the grape's gruff nature. Dark earth, toasted coriander and juniper add depth.”
Recommended - [A]n astoundingly affordable, young steel-fermented expression of ripe Tempranillo from the Ucles growing region. Slightly peppery and light but with pretty huckleberry and chile flavors.
The Chronicle Wine Selections Argentine Malbec - Opulent, exotic nose of Asian plum, spice and ripe blackberry that shows as nicely on the jammy blackberry, mocha palate with hints of star anise; good grip on the lengthy finish. Very good value.
Recommended - Founded in 1915 in the Almansa region of southern Spain, Bodegas Piqueras released its first bottled wine in 1961. It was the first area winery to use oak barrels after the 1975 creation of the Denominación de Origin Almansa, which regulates Almansa's wine production. Made from Garnacha Tintorera, also known as Alicante Bouschet, this grape is one the few that has colored flesh; its free-run juice is actually red. Aromas and flavors of juicy dense boysenberry, blackberry with plummy high notes and black pepper highlights segue to a round palate with soft silky edges and just enough tannin to provide focus. The wine becomes more textured with Majon cheese and mild chorizo; with just 13.5 percent alcohol, it is terrific with grilled meats and even moderately spicy barbecue.
Di Majo Norante - San Francisco Chronicle
Contado Aglianico del Molise DOC
The Chronicle Wine Selections: Aglianico - The Molise region is located along the Adriatic Sea between Puglia and Abruzzo. Consulting enologist Riccardo Cotarella helped the Di Majo Norante family - grapegrowers since the 1800s - produce this value-priced wine. Aromas of cherry cola, ripe plum, clove spice, sage and marjoram. Intense and well tailored, with ripe, sweet berry flavors and a firm structure.
Mastroberardino - San Francisco Chronicle
Aglianico Campania IGT
Winemaker Piero Mastroberardino uses grapes from a 10-year-old, 25-acre vineyard that is 1,375 feet above sea level, with southern exposure, for this wine. Attractive soft plum, herbal, floral nose with strawberry and red fruit. Bright plummy acidity, integrated tannins and leathery hints. A ripe, soft and rather supple finish.