Italy is a country that has given names to over 600 different shapes of pasta, all of which taste exactly the same. Imagine then, the situation with respect to the vast array of Italian wines, which actually taste tremendously different from one another. Quite literally, the diversity of Italian wines boggles the mind. Italy has hundreds, if not thousands of distinctive regional wines, each making a delicious statement in its own right about the land it comes from, and about the regional cuisine it is typically paired with. One could easily spend a lifetime ferreting these wines out, and a second lifetime tasting them with the marvelous dishes and cheeses of their native regions. Not a bad idea, come to think of it. But where to start?
As an ideal point of embarkation, we humbly suggest Calvert Woodley's delectable 6-bottle "Tour of Italy" Sampler-Pack, on sale for just $74.99 (reg. price $87.94, if purchased separately). It even includes, at no extra charge, CW's highly portable (and reusable) six-bottle tote bag.
To put our Tour of Italy sampler together, I went North & South, East & West, red & white, and all over Italy, looking for wines that are not only delizioso, but that also struck me as representative, in their distinctive ways, of the vast expanse of Italian regional wines. In additional to regional variants, I have included wines made from Italy's many distinctive regional grapes, as well as those made from grapes that are more familiar. Italian winemakers are a remarkably resourceful lot, loyal to their traditional home field grapes, which express so much wonderful regional character, but also willing to experiment with non-indigenous grapes, such as Cabernet Sauvignon. Often, the grapes are blended, with excellent results.
Only one thing could make this week's six-bottle sampler even more bellisima: please stop by our deli counter and pick up a selection of cheeses, pâtés and cold cuts to complement these Italian delights. Our deli department staff, led by Carlos Estrada, our impresario of cheese, will be delighted to serve you.
--Ben Giliberti, CW Director of Wine Education