When you see the word Winebow or Leonardo LoCascio on a back label – in particular wines of Italy, Argentina, Chile, Sicily and Spain – you can relax. Your palate is in good hands. LoCascio, a top American importer of premium Italian wines and importer and distributor of wines and spirits from around the world, is noted for his selections, which tend to favor small to midsize wineries, often family-owned.
With the holidays upon us, you may find it in your budget to chip in a few extra dollars for nice vino. These suggested wines cost $20 or less. They are unique and worthy of guests and celebrations, and are available in Metro Detroit.
Tilia Torrontes Salta Argentina 2011, $10: Tilia, produced by the Catena family of Argentina, is the Latin name for the linden tree, which grows throughout wine country in Argentina, and is featured on the label. This is a spunky, crisp white with lots of action on the nose and palate. It’s very aromatic with lime, floral and lichee nut notes followed by tart, dry, palate-cleansing flavors with a rose water twist — a slightly pungent taste that makes the wine more interesting, setting it apart. The finish vaguely reminds me of a Gewurztraminer from Alsace or a Traminette from America. It makes an upscale white wine aperitif at an affordable price. Available at Goodrich’s (East Lansing), Whole Foods, Ann Arbor; Nino Salvaggio.
FOR GREETING GUESTS
Zardetto Prosecco DOC Treviso Brut, $15: This Leonardo LoCascio Selection is a classic Prosecco from a topnotch producer in the Veneto region. It’s seductively off-dry with a storm of tiny bubbles and a noseful of white flowers, orange peel and herbs. On the palate it’s got distinct minerality, tart citrus and herbs in the long finish. Alcohol is a friendly 11.5 percent. It’s an ideal wine for the holidays — less alcohol and less costly at $15 than champagne or fancy sparklers from California. Find it at Market Square of Birmingham, Plum Market, Hills Fine Wine & Spirits (Bloomfield Hills), Discount Drinks, Merchant’s Fine Wine and Red Wagon.
Licia Albarino Rias Baixas Spain 2011, $15: This cocktail of lemon, green herbs, grapefruit and tart quince will wake up your senses. You pick up the zest off the lemon, the oil of crushed herbs, the white pith of the grapefruit. It’s tart and dry – the perfect pour with fresh seafood or roast turkey. It has a creaminess that sets it apart from Sauvignon Blanc. Albarino is the main white grape of the Rias Baixas area of northern Spain. Outside of Costco, the Licia is sold mainly in restaurants, though you can find it at ML Spirits in Birmingham and Plum Market.
Zenato Lugana di San Benedetto Bianco Italy 2011, $14: This delicate dry white from Northern Italy is made from Trebbiano di Lugana, a sub-variety of Trebbiano. It’s crisp, zesty and fresh. Aromas of lemon, grapefruit, pineapple and white floral tones are followed on the palate by nice fruit and acid balance, with a touch of honey — perfect for the holiday turkey. Fine it at Union Lake Liquor Shoppe, Commerce Township; Market Fresh; Holiday Market.
FOR BAKED HAM
Root: 1 Carmenere Colchagua Valley Chile 2010, $12: Bright, clean, fresh fruit flavors are spot-on: dark plums, blackberries, and tons of brown cooking spices — allspice, nutmeg. Creamy on the midpalate. Oak is perfectly integrated into the flavors to add more spiciness. Carmenere is Chile’s signature red grape –the darkest, most purple of all red grapes according to winesofchile.com. Though it is disappeared from French vineyards in the 19th century, it showed up mixed in with Merlot vines a hundred years later in Chile. And check out that Root: 1 packaging. The grower writes the story on the bottle about the original rootstocks in Chile that averted the deadly phylloxera disease. Find it locally at Discount Drinks, Cost Plus Wine, Whole Foods (Rochester Hills).
FOR VENISON, LAMB
Terranoble Gran Reserva Carmenere 2009, $17: This inky velvet hammer is packed with dark chocolate, dark berries, dark plum and spice. It has a leathery character with wood smoke and tobacco. It’s so bold, it reminds me more of Cabernet Franc from the American East than the Chilean red that usually is mistaken for Merlot. Save it for roasted meats, anything charred, robust red pasta sauces. Find it at Whole Foods, Ann Arbor; Nino Salvaggio; Cose di Lusso, Rochester.
FOR PRIME RIB
Tasca d’Almerita “Lamuri” Nero D’Avola Sicily 2009, $20: This wine is like a liquid exclamation point: It’s bold, ripe, intense, delicious. Grown by the historic Tasca D’Almerita winery on Sicily, Nero D’Avola is the most widely grown red grape on the island. This one showcases the personality of the grape: sweet tannins, dark plums and big spice. It’s soft on the palate, aromas entice the nose, it’s dense and complex. It really doesn’t equate to many other grape varieties than Syrah, and it’s still got more fruit and spice. I love wines from Sicily. This wine is mainly sold in restaurants; Tiffany’s Wine & Spirits Shoppe in Kalamazoo sells it, along with Cose di Lusso wine shop in Rochester.