Wine of the Month
Note: Create joy, one sip at a time.
Featured Wine: Ramitello
Appellation: Molise Rosso DOC
Grape Variety: 85% Motepulciano 15% Aglianico (the bottle says 85%/15% but the website says 80%/20%)
Production Zone: Campomarino, Italy
Vinification: maceration in contact with peels for about one month
Aging: malolactic fermentation complete, aged part in barrels and part in steel vats for 18 months and 6 months in the bottle.
Color: Deep Burgundy Red
Price: Under $20
I have two ways of approaching wine, depending on my familiarity with the grapes and the vineyard. I prefer not to base too much on reviews, as, you will find, many of them are cuts and pastes from other reviews. Sometimes, if I am somewhat familiar with the region or the grape, I like to dive in; but, other times, I want to read about the wine just to ground myself and create a plan of attack.
When it came to this month’s selection, Ramitello, I knew very little about the region, the grapes or the vineyard and wanted to find out more. I was pleasantly surprised. Di Majo Norante has been making wine since the 1800’s and better yet, uses ‘biorganic’ practices. It is always pleasing to me when such an age-old practice (winemaking) respects all aspects of the process and the Di Majo family does just that. The fact that they take everything, down to the micro-organisms into consideration makes me very happy. Allowing wildflowers and grasses to grow, attracting pollinators and keeping a healthy balance in the soil; using predator insects and parasites to help control pests; these are my kind of winemakers. Needless to say, my expectations were high.
Wine is like a nectar, sort of magical; just the ritual of choosing a glass, opening a bottle, pouring the wine, it uncoils my spine and helps me relax. And right when I was getting in to my groove with this wine, I was contacted by a long-lost friend. Man, oh man, what a way to start an evening. This was the girl I moved to L.A. with. This was the girl I began my journey into becoming a woman with. We packed up a U-Haul which included, my massive stereo system, my two dogs, one futon and well, that was about it. We headed for Los Angeles the day before I began my teaching job. Our place didn’t have a stove or a refrigerator. Our landlord loaned us a hot-plate and we would, more often than not, heat up Trader Joe’s bean dip, add cheese, and dip tortilla chips into the dense and gooey fare. We would sit on the floor, use a milk crate as our table, stuff our faces and more often than not, accompanied our meal with inexpensive wine. My job was tougher than I expected and coming home to Kim, my dogs, chips, dip and wine was just what I needed; it too uncoiled my spine, gave me pause, allowed me to decompress.
When I opened Ramitello, I was immediately encircled by the aromas of earth, must and acidity; despite hearing from my friend, my heart sank a little, my expectations dropped a little. But, as you know, I’m no quitter, and as I know, wine is full of surprises. I let it breathe for around thirty minutes. And guess what? It was still quite musty and earthy. I took a sip and was introduced to the complexity of this wine. Yes, the earthiness and mustiness were prevalent but then this lovely burst of black cherry, plum, licorice and the perfume of lilac were hidden inside; almost like being in a wine cellar, where the musty smells are so prominent, a glass of wine being poured directly from the barrel, so as you sample the wine, you are filled with the surrounding mustiness and then the gift of the wine itself. Although the perfume of lilac is there, the fruit is there, the licorice is there, they are just a quick glimpse of this full-bodied wine before the acid and tannins take over for a long dry finish.
Bean dip with melted cheese and tortilla chips would pair wonderfully with Ramitello, but after reading about the grapes, I chose to pair it with a beef stew. It was, not to give myself too much credit, the best stew I have ever made; the wine made it ten times better. Whether I took a sip before a bite or after, they complimented each other to a tee; it made me think of how my long-lost friend and I once did the same; we were thick as thieves. We were more like sisters. It was so easy, we were young, silly, adventurous, without a worry, life was just that, life, and we took advantage of every second. In my youth, Kim, my dogs and our home were my favorite way to unwind.
To make your experience even better, sprigs of Lemon Verbena in a vase would be perfect; if there is a soft breeze, hints of this aromatic plant will entertain you as you eat and drink. Hearing from an old friend, along with all of this new sunshine and warmth has made me crave a little Grateful Dead, their melodic jam sessions go so well with the joy of all the beauty that is around you.
Cin Cin! Beviamo alla nostra!