Tag Archives: Tuscany

Cannalichio di Sopra Brunello di Montalcino, 2008

Just when you thought I got lost in Jura or the Natural Wine Laser Beam, here’s one for the old school folks. Tradition, passion, family, olive oil, tomatoes, and Sangiovese Grosso. Do not underestimate the power of a classic like this, however the cliche may try to lead you astray. Sure, the label may be a little corny but what isn’t Italian about that? This is not just old man wine. This is living, breathing time, sweat, and heart in a glass. And it’s delicious with pizza.


Emidio Pepe, Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, 2012


The funny thing about Italian wine is that in a way it’s wonderfully predictable, clearly expressive, filled with straightforward intention (salt, bitter, sweet…). Unless it’s a biodynamic wine. So tasting Emidio Pepe’s definition of Trebbiano (the grape that’s often overripe in the glass or distilled to make cognac) caught me off guard. Referencing common styles in the nearby regions like Lazio, Tuscany or Calabria will not calibrate your senses for the mouthwateringly delicate experience you’re about to have. Unlike many wines in central and southern Italy, Pepe’s preference is clearly to make a subtle, complex masterwork of color, flavor and texture…in fact it really seemed as if I was drinking an oil painting by Caravaggio:


What I was tasting is not easily deciphered as one certain color or flavor, but rather their complete integration, to the point that each sip is like tasting another layer. They’re so harmonious I couldn’t actually pull them apart- they need each other in order to express their full potential.

Valdicava Brunello di Montalcino, 2003


It’s ok not to have tried many Brunellos, I tell myself. I don’t really drink them because I haven’t found a place for them in my brain or my wallet.
I’m pretty sure this is a lesser vintage than the producers would boast, but even so, it was the best Brunello yet. Shockingly, some producers seem to be redirecting their production towards more modern methods for this style of wine, which I argue is in dire need of sticking to tradition. The earthy barnyard quality and chalky texture was lost on a few others I tried recently, but not this guy!

Trebbiano (aka +++)




In France, Trebbiano is mainly referred to as Ugni Blanc. However, in the Cognac region (where it is 1 of 3 grapes used to produce Cognac & Armagnac) Ugni Blanc is referred to as “Saint Emilion”- like the subregion of Bordeaux. This is extremely confusing, as St. Emilion wines are typically a red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot  (ratios vary).


Trebbiano (Italy) =  Ugni Blanc (France) = “Saint Emilion” (Cognac)

“Saint Emilion” (white grape, Cognac) >=< St. Emilion (red grape blend, Bordeaux)


Grape Talk: Red “C” Grapes

Several lesser-known red grapes usually recognized as part of a blend, that all start with C. Thanks to a growing interest in natural wine, they’re getting more famous by the day. Sometimes you can even find a bottle that’s a 100% super solo show. That said, some are better off as blending grapes only, like Colorino for example.


Ciliegiolo – Tuscany & Umbria

Cannaiolo – Tuscany, Lazio, Marche & Sardegna

Colorino – Tuscany


Cinsault – Languedoc

Carignan – Languedoc, Sardegna, Catalonia