A Food-Friendly Red from Italy | The Jewish Week | Food & Wine

A Food-Friendly Red from Italy

A Food-Friendly Red from Italy

Montepulciano grapes growing in Abruzzi/ Wikimedia Commons 

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo reds are easy to pair

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One kosher Italian wine that really ought to be better known is the Uva Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOP 2013. Besides being an enjoyable, food-friendly, and deeply satisfying wine, it is also a fine example of one of the authentic tastes of Italy.

Montepulciano is the second most planted red wine grape in all of Italy (Sangiovese is still the top grape). This grape variety is frequently used to produce simple, budget-friendly, juicy, deep-colored, medium-to-full-bodied, red quaffers. Montepulciano is most heavily planted in the Abruzzo—a mountainous region in south central Italy between Lazio and the Adriatic Sea, to the south of Marche and north of Molise; it has a significant coastline that improves its viticultural growing conditions (as well as its culture, cuisine, and, of course, its tourism).

These Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wines tend to have a well-deserved reputation for offering excellent value. Though popularly used to wash down pizza, a good Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is tremendously food-friendly and is particularly good with rich or even fatty dishes and, obviously, the local cuisine. Besides red and white wine, staples of the Abruzzo table include bread, pasta, meat, fish/seafood, and cheese.

There are a handful of kosher Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wines on the market including a dependably enjoyable one from Borgo Reale and a likewise consistently enjoyable one from its chief competitor Cantina Gabriele. The Bartenura brand also produces a decent one under its comparatively more serious Ovadia label, and there is a simple yet enjoyable inexpensive option from Contessa Annalisa. While all of these have their charms, the 2013 Uva is a superior wine.

In some respects, though, Uva is more of a personal, commercial project than a fully-fledged wine brand, though a 2014 vintage was also produced, and another wine is planned. The Uva label is something of a dream investment opportunity for Dr. Israel Stein of Quincy, Massachusetts. “I did it as something to satisfy my own desires,” Stein told me not long ago, “and the opportunity to share it with somebody else.”

A lover of Italian wines who “hadn’t yet found anything kosher that really appealed,” Stein chanced upon Azienda Nicola Di Sipio, a small but modern winery in Ripa Teatina (province of Chieti, Abruzzo), at a wine tasting in Massachusetts. He liked what he tasted and seized the opportunity. “I struck up a conversation” with Giulia Di Sipio, the owner and chief vintner, he said. “I asked if she wanted to make kosher wine,” he says, “because I wanted a [kosher] wine that I can enjoy.”

Di Sipio was not familiar with kashrut, but was interested. Stein partnered with Robert Rimberg, his nephew by marriage. They produced 10,000 bottles of the 2013 vintage, and another 10,000 of the 2014 vintage (which I have sadly not tasted). The 2013 vintage is imported by the Royal Wine Corp., but the 2014 has not yet been imported. Uva is also distributed in Europe. Without further ado.

Uva, Montepulciano D'Abruzzo, Limited Edition, 2013 ($27.99): Still clean, fresh, tasty, and alluring, with tart cherries, freshly crushed blackberries, purple plums, tobacco leaf, a decent earthiness, a smidge of licorice, and hints of savory herbs. This offers some subtlety and delicacy to those seeking it, but enough simple, up-front pleasures to satisfy the thirsty masses. Enjoyable on its own, but really made to wash down good food despite it’s comparatively low-acidity. This is a very yummy and offers excellent value for the price. L’Chaim!

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