Batasiolo Barbera D’Alba

Maker: Batasiolo, La Morra, Cueno, Piedmont, Italywpid-2015-03-01-19.37.06.jpg.jpeg

Place of origin: Alba, Cueno, Piedmont, Italy

Vintage: 2007

ABV: 14.5%

Purchased for $17

Appearance: Very dark purple, nearly black.

Nose: Cherry jam, hardwood smoke, blueberry juice, blackberry.

Palate: Slightly chewy but not overly tannic. Toasted oak and cherry again.

Finish: Big cherry in the finish.

wpid-20150304_111028.jpgParting words: Barbera is a long suffering grape. Given a bland or worse treatment in its Piedmontese homeland for many years, it was involved in a deadly contamination scandal in the 1980s when thirty people died from drinking Barbera containing a deadly amount of methyl alcohol. As one can imagine, when a wine kills a bunch of people consumers tend to shy away from it for a while.

Barbera can be delicious when done right and this is a great example. It’s bold and a little spicy but still very fruity and easy to enjoy with or without food. We had it with medium rare rump roast and roasted rutabagas (a.k.a. swedes) and it did well. It also threw a crazy amount of sediment into the glass, as you can see. ┬áBatasiolo Barbera D’Alba 2007 is recommended.

Epicuro Beneventano Aglianico

Maker: Unknown (Trader Joe’s exclusive)Epicuro Aglianico

Grape: Aglianico

Region: Beneventano IGT, Campania, Italy

Vintage: 2011

ABV: 13%

Appearance: Very deep purple, nearly black.

Nose: Blueberry, pomegranate juice.

Palate: Medium bodied and fruity but with a little chewiness to hold everything together. Light cherry juice, blueberries, white mulberry, plum, touch of leather.

Finish: Medium dry. Toasted oak, vanilla, clove.

Parting words: Epicuro is another Trader Joe’s line of <$10 wines but one of the few I have not explored as of yet. Epicuro’s wines are all marketed by the varietal and all from relatively lesser known (i.e. not Piedmont or Tuscan) regions.

Beneventano IGT (IGT is roughly equivalent to the French vin de pays; for a synopsis of the Italian regional wine system look here) is in Campania in southern Italy. Campania and neighboring Basilicata constitute the home turf of Aglianico. The latter is home to the best known DOC featuring the grape, Aglianico del Vulture and the former is home to the Taurasi DOCG.

When doing research for this review I discovered that f.o.t.b. Oliver has reviews on three vintages of Epicuro’s Salice Solentino here. It’s a personal favorite of his. He and other reviewers don’t typically hold the Aglianico in as a high regard, but as you can tell from my review above, I enjoyed it. I wouldn’t say it was a game-changer for me, but it was easy drinking and cheap without any real flaws. It paired moderately well with beef stew with peas (from an Italian cookbook) but it might work better with pork or chicken as a summer BBQ wine.