Italo Infinito
Nobody knows exactly how many different kinds of wine grapes there are in Italy. Estimates range from several hundred to a few thousand. The Ministry of Forestry and Agriculture’s official tally is 350 different specimens grown “at commercial scale”, which is clearly less than half the actual total, but an absurd # nonetheless. France, for comparison, sources 95% of its national tipple from just 40 grapes; Piemonte (or Piedmont), our destination this month, and just one Italian region of 20, is by itself responsible for 30 distinct varietals. And that’s the magic trick of Italian wine. This finite and labor intensive agricultural product of one small nation performs like an endlessly renewable resource, stock energy fronting as flow, a self-provisioning celebration too crowded to get an accurate headcount. No matter how many guests keep arriving or how long the party lasts, Italy just keeps pulling fresh bottles from the Boot. So, as you plan, prepare and stress over your annual feasts, take solace from the fact that there is a great Italian wine, several in fact, for pretty much anything you are serving - including every bottle we’ve selected this year thus far. Here are two more that are especially versatile with food - and from grapes making their debut in the club, of course. Happy Thanksgiving! 
To be fair, Piedmont is an exceptional place even by local standards. The second largest region by size in Italy (after Sicily), it is responsible for some of Italy most revered bottlings, specifically Barolo and Barbaresco, made from the Nebbiolo grape. The word itself, Piemonte, means “at the foot of the mountain”; surrounded on three sides by the Alps, it borders France and Switzerland, encompasses 8 provinces (Turin, Alessandria, Asti, Biella, Cuneo, Novara, Verbano-Cusio-Ossola, and Vercelli) and boasts 43 D.O.C. and 16 D.O.C.G. classifications of its wines. Our white comes from the Roero DOCG, where red wine represents 95-98% of total output, but the area is arguably most associated today with white wine made from the ancient and rare Arneis grape, which grows almost nowhere else. The name translates to “little rascal” in the local dialect, a reference to the grape’s trickiness in the vineyard (low-yielding and highly susceptible to mildew) and a possible explanation for its checkered past. Historically, Arneis was planted more to attract birds and bees away from the red grapes than for its potential drinking quality. When vinified it was often blended into Piedmont's reds to augment their aromatics and soften tannic edges. In the days before DOC laws, even Barolo would receive a dollop of Arneis. Its re-birth as prized, single white varietal started in the 1980s, and since then Arneis has distinguished itself as one of the few Piedmont whites as distinctive as its better known red brethren. Brovia, our producer this month, has long been legendary for their Barolos and Barbarescos; Arneis is their only white bottling and it is quite possibly the finest example you will find.
Sottimano, the producer of this month’s red, is also renowned for its renderings of the Nebbiolo grape – we have carried a few in the shop for years. But they are the only winery I know of that makes a dry red wine from the Brachetto grape, another native Piemonte varietal that you will otherwise encounter as a sem-sparkling sweet wine known as Brachetto D’Aqui. Sottimano’s version, called “Mate” and made in small quantities from a tiny plot of 40 year old vines, has been a mainstay of my Thanksgiving table for years: light and lithe, with vivid red fruit, herbal accents, cracked pepper and a surprisingly long tannic finish, it will enliven pretty much any challenge your holiday repast might present. I usually serve it with a slight chill. 
Alan Hicks- Wine Buyer
PlumpJack Wine & Spirits Noe Valley

Brovia Roero Arneis 2022 

Region: Castiglione Falletto, Barolo, Piedmont Italy. 

About the Winemaker: In 1863 Giacinto Brovia founded the Brovia estate in the village of Castiglione Falletto, in the heart of the Barolo district. The family has been continually engaged in the growing of grapes and the production of wine since that time. The phylloxera plague, economic upheaval and two wars interrupted production for almost 30 years but, in 1953, two brothers, Giacinto and Raffaele, grandchildren of the founder, resumed full-scale wine production. Giacinto, a trained enologist, was responsible for the production of the wine while Raffaele, a trained agronomist, supervised the vineyard work. Sadly, Raffaele passed away in 2011, and Giacinto in 2014, but Giacinto’s daughter Elena and her husband Alex Sanchez are now completely engaged as the fourth generation in the affairs of this family-run estate.

About the Winemaking: The sole white wine of the estate is produced in the Roero district from an 0.80 hectare plot in Vezza d’Alba. The soil is essentially sandy in composition and sits at 340 meters altitude on south-facing slopes. The vineyard was planted in 1980. Harvest (manual) normally occurs in mid-September. The grapes are briefly macerated and the fermentation occurs at controlled temperatures (around 15 degrees Celsius) for two to three weeks. The wine rests in stainless steel until the early spring months of the following year and is usually released to the market, after several months of bottle aging, in late summer/early fall. Approximately 4500 bottles are produced annually, 3,000 of which are shipped to the USA.

 Tasting Notes: Very aromatic, with notes of stone fruits and almonds. Mineral and clean, with ample fruit and a rich texture, balanced by excellent acidity.

Winemaker: Elena Brovia and Alex Sanchez 

Price per bottle / per case

$34.99 per btl

$377.89 per case

Suggested Food Pairing: Scallops with citrus-infused butter sauce, traditional stuffing, roasted carrots with thyme, Turkey with rosemary, anise and orange. 

Sottimano “Mate” Brachetto 2022

Region: Trieso, Cueno, Piedmont

About the Winemaker: Az. Agr. Sottimano was founded in 1975 by Maggiore Sottimano. The cellar and a small holding in the Cotta vineyard were purchased first, then over the next 30 years Maggiore expanded the estate's Nebbiolo holdings in some of Barbaresco's most revered vineyards - Cotta, Pajore, Fausoni, Curra and in 2001 Basarin. Today, Maggiore’s son Andrea is the winemaker and uses his father’s 30+ years of experience to make decisions in the vineyard. Andrea has a light hand in the cellar and may be Barbareco's most forward-thinking producer. Fermentation happens with natural, ambient yeasts and the wines are bottled unfined and unfiltered. The vineyards are farmed organically with cover crops promoting biodiversity. 


About the Winemaking: 100% Brachetto from the Maté vineyard’s 1.1 hectare plot of 40+ year old Brachetto vines planted to limestone and clay in the zone of Treiso. Fermentation and maceration for 20 days with indigenous yeasts. Malolactic fermentation in stainless steel for 8 months. 416 cases produced annually.


Tasting Notes: Aromas of licorice, lavender, sage, and strawberry lead to a fresh and bright palate of dried cranberry and raspberry with a surprisingly long and grippy tannic structure. 

Winemaker: Andrea and Rino Sottimano

Price per bottle / per case: 

$25.99 per btl

$280.69 per case

Suggested Food Pairing: 

Light enough to be your red-with- fish pairing, charcuterie, mashed potatoes, pizza, roast carrots, mac and cheese, turkey with cranberry sauce.

Risotto with Porcini Mushrooms 
Mushroom risotto is wonderful, especially in the fall when the porcini mushrooms are fresh, but this dish is delicious when made with dried mushrooms too. If you can’t find fresh or dried porcini, you can use other meaty, fragrant mushrooms (such as chanterelles/girolles or morels).
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, about 1/2 cup, packed
1 cup hot water, for soaking the mushrooms
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, or 3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 small onion, finely sliced
1 1/2 cups short-grain rice, such as Arborio or Vialone Nano
1/3 cup dry white wine, slightly warmed
4 cups water, beef broth, or thin bouillon, simmering
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/2 cup heavy cream, optional
1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, leaves only, minced
1/4 tsp fine sea salt & freshly ground pepper


1. Steep the dried porcini mushrooms in 1 cup of hot water for 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, saute the onion in 2 tablespoons of the butter (or 3 tablespoons olive oil) over medium-low heat. 3. When the onion is lightly browned, transfer it to a plate using a slotted spoon and stir the rice into the butter (or oil) in the pot.
4. Sauté the rice for several minutes, until it becomes translucent, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon to avoid sticking or burning.
5. Return the onions to the pot, stir in the wine, and continue stirring until the alcohol smell has evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Then stir in the first ladle of liquid (if you're using plain water, also add about 3/4 teaspoon of salt), and while it's absorbing, chop the mushrooms and strain the liquid they soaked in through a fine-mesh strainer, as it can contain sand.
6. Add the chopped mushrooms and their strained soaking liquid to the rice, then continue adding water or broth a ladle at a time, stirring occasionally. As soon as the rice is al dente, turn off the heat, stir in the remaining 1/4 cup of butter, 1/2 cup of the grated cheese, the cream (if you're using it), a little bit of ground pepper, the parsley, and fine salt, to taste. Cover and let sit for 2 minutes.
7. Serve hot, with the remaining grated cheese for sprinkling on top.

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