Donato from Vias was in yesterday with some things that clearly showed he thought about what would go on the Frisky Oyster list. They were all affordable, with off-the-beaten path grapes and pretty delicious. Given Vias’s portfolio, five were from Italy and one from Mendoza.

The coolest one was the Marenco ‘Carialoso’ 2006 Caricalasino, wherein caricalasino is the grape variety. And it is not listed in the otherwise ultimate comprehensive source, the Oxford Companion to Wine.

The first link goes to Marenco’s website, the English version, where the wine is described as “aromatic, longevous and ductile in the combinations.” I had to look up ductile, and it meant what I thought it meant. I think they believe the wine goes with a variety of foods. The Vias website, which contains a lot of information but is a little hard to navigate, has a fact sheet on the wine.

One of the best things about this wine is that the winemaker is a woman, Patrizia. Her family owns the vineyard, which is in the Strevi hills in Piedmont, where moscato has long been grown. From the OCW:

Moscato di Strevi–fine, lightly fizzy Muscat made in the hills around Strevi in the east of the Asti zone. As it is usually riper in flavour than most Moscato d’Asti due to Strevi’s warmer mesoclimate and steep vineyards, it has been granted subzone status in the Asti DOCG zone.

The Marencos say caricalasino was a forgotten grape until Patrizia worked with a local vineyard owner to promulgate the variety. They now have 3,000 plants and produce around 300 cases.

So how does the wine taste? 2006 was a good year in Piedmont, so this bottle is an example of a ripe year. It smells of pear and grass with floral in the background. It’s aromatic but subtle. It has a great buttery finish but with bright fruit and a mouthfeel that’s almost tannic, but soft, powdery tannins. It should retail for around $20.

The other wine I found special was the Ronca 2007 ‘Corv’, an IGT from the Veneto that’s made from 100 percent corvina grapes.

the dominant and best grape variety of Valpolicella and Bardolino in north east Italy, producing fruity, red wines with a characteristic sour cherry twist on the finish. Wines from the better Valpolicella producers who reduced yields in the 1980s and 1990s demonstrated that lack of body was not an inherent characteristic of Corvina. Since then, it has enjoyed great success as the best variety for Amarone. Producers such as Allegrini have also illustrated that wines made solely or predominantly from Corvina can be serious, barrel-aged reds. Corvina, sometimes called Cruina, has traditionally been confused with Corvinone. DNA profiling at San Michele all’Adige in 2005 supported a parent–offspring relationship with rondinella. Italy’s total plantings of the Corvina Veronese vine variety were down to about 2,500 ha/6,250 acres by the early 1990s.

This wine, however, was made to be drunk young, and could be chilled. If you close your eyes and smell, you might think it was a rosé, but that might be because I’m tasting a lot of rosé lately. It smelled great: juicy, with red berries and light tannins, light body and peppery fruit, with a little of that sour cherry Jancis mentions above. It should retail for under $20 and it would go well with fish, especially with a meaty tuna from the grill. One more plus about this wine: It has a screw cap.


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