Tuscany. Few place names in the world of wine evoke the same level of romance or the same feeling of warm anticipation as that of this ancient Italian region. Whether you've traveled there in person, read the many books that lavish loving attention on its scenery and lifestyle, or merely enjoyed a taste of Tuscany in your wine glass, it's hard to imagine anyone not being touched by the fantasy of life, well, under the Tuscan sun.
This month we're celebrating Tuscany and all of its wines in our Wine Tasting 101 Forum, where forum participant and Italian wine importer Oliver McCrum has kindly consented to serve this month as expert guest host.
To participate in Wine Tasting 101, you're invited to visit the forum at
Oliver has prepared a brief introduction to Tuscan wines on the entry page of the Wine Tasting 101 Forum,
If you prefer to comment privately, feel free to send me E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll respond personally to the extent that time and volume permit.
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Today's tasting isn't a Tuscan wine but comes from farther South, a simple, inexpensive Italian table wine with a warm, appealing and food-friendly character that reminds me of the role Chianti filled as a companion to pizza and tomato-sauced pasta back in those wicker-basket days. Designated "Vino da Tavola" or "table wine," it's a blend of Sangiovese with regional varieties including Aglianico, Piedirosso and other local grapes from Campania, around Naples. Its name, "VinGiocondo," means "The smiling wine," a moniker that seems to fit.
Ocone 2001 VinGiocondo Vino da Tavola Rosso ($6.99)
Very dark reddish-purple, almost black. Warm and plummy, aromas of black plums and juicy cherries with a distinct hint of raisins. Similar on the palate, warm and seemingly soft, but snappy acidity becomes more evident on the palate, and the wine finishes crisp and dry. A bit short in the finish, but hey ... What do you want for $7? U.S. importer: Vin DiVino Ltd., Chicago. (Oct. 2, 2005)
FOOD MATCH: As noted, it's a natural match with pizza or tomato-sauced pasta, but its soft, plummy yet appropriate acidity worked very well with a slightly more refined dish, roast pork loin studded with garlic and fresh sage.
VALUE: It's a simple wine, but at this price, what's not to like?
WHEN TO DRINK: Not really a keeper, but it's holding up perfectly well in its fourth year, and there's no reason it shouldn't last another year or two.
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This week on WineLoversPage.com
Here are links to some of our recently published articles that I think you'll enjoy:
Wine Lovers' Discussion Group: Thoughts on food with wine
Last Week's Wine Advisor Index
The Wine Advisor's daily edition is usually distributed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (and, for those who subscribe, the FoodLetter on Thursdays). Here's the index to last week's columns:
Corked what? (Sept. 30, 2005)
Corporate wine (Sept. 28, 2005)
What color is your Zin? (Sept. 26, 2005)
Complete 30 Second Wine Advisor archive:
Wine Advisor FoodLetter: Midwestern chili (Sept. 29, 2005)
Wine Advisor Foodletter archive:
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Monday, Oct. 3, 2005