Screw cap attitude
While I was shopping for Italian white wines to highlight in this month's Wine Focus in our WineLovers Discussion Group, a funny thought crossed my mind: Nowadays, I generally prefer to see a screw cap on most bottles of wine.
The simple reality is that a screw cap all but guarantees that the wine in the bottle - barring great age or a freak accident - will be fresh and clean as the wine maker intended.
A natural cork, for all its tradition and heritage, can't make that guarantee. And the likelihood that the bottle-neck capsule conceals a synthetic stopper may be even worse; without a formal tally, I'm beginning to suspect that the percentage of wines spoiled by premature aging under synthetic exceeds even the loss of wood-bark corked wines to fungal "taint."
The older, cheaply constructed screw cap was long maligned as evidence of rotgut wine in the bottle, to the extent that it took considerable cheek for the industry to introduce the upgraded Stelvin-brand screw cap on finer wines. The wine industry is a conservative business, and there's enough nostalgic affection for the tree-bark cork to ensure its survival for decades to come.
But increasingly, I think, I join many other wine enthusiasts in a significant attitude shift: All other things being equal, show me two similar wines - one with screw cap and the other bearing a capsule that doesn't reveal whether a natural or synthetic cork awaits within - and I'll take the screw-capped bottle up to the cash register.
Today's tasting, Umani Ronchi 2008 "Exclamation Point" Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico from Le Marche ("The Marches") on the Adriatic in Eastern Italy, stood out on the shelf with its sturdy, bright chartreuse metal screw cap. It stood out on the dinner table with fresh, crisp floral fruit and a clean, natural flavor.
We're featuring white wines from the top to the toe of Italy's boot in this month's Wine Focus on our WineLovers Discussion Group.
For a good overview of all Italy's whites, from the Terlaner of Alto Adige in the Alps to Grillo of Sicily in the South and all the intriguing regions and varieties in-between, visit the Appellations Page on the Italian Wine Commission's ItalianMade.com Website, choose "White" from the pulldown menu, and enjoy hours of exploring maps, wine and cultural information and even recipes from all of Italy's wine regions.
You're warmly invited to participate in Wine Focus. Simply click over to the WineLovers Discussion Group this month with your questions, tasting notes and what have you. Click here to read and take part in this month's Wine Focus discussion on Italian whites.
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Today's Tasting Report
Umani Ronchi 2008 "Exclamation Point" Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico ($13)
Clear straw color with glints of white; just a hint of a greenish brassy hue. Aromatic melon and floral scents, something on the heady side like gardenias. Textured and rich on the palate, with mouth-watering acidity to perk up the palate for food. White fruit and a touch of almond carries into a long, clean finish. A rational 12% alcohol enhances its drinkability, and lemon-squirt acidity makes it a natural with seafood and fish. U.S. importer: Bedford International, Larchmont, N.Y. (July 2, 2010)
FOOD MATCH: Fine with all manner of shellfish and white, firm-fleshed ocean fish, servicable with poultry, veal or pork. It was a natural match with (and ingredient in) linguine with white clam sauce.
VALUE: A fine value in the lower teens, .
"Verdicchio de Castelli dei Jesi" = "Vehr-DEEK-k'yo deh Cahs-TELL-lee day-ee Yehs-ee"
WEB LINKS: Here's the importer's fact sheet on Umani Ronchi and its wines. To view the Italian Trade Center's info page on Verdicchio Castelli dei Jesi, click here.
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