Three of the four wines we’re pouring tonight are from producers that I was lucky enough to visit and spend some time with in September with the fine folks of Domenico Valentino. Monika, who navigated our road trip and even managed to successfully drive a car through a tiny alley way not made for modern automobiles, will be here pouring these wines tonight. Plus bread and cheese!


Alfonso Soranzo, pictured above, makes farmer wines on the top of a hill in picturesque Veneto. We went for a hike with him through his small yet perfectly situated vineyard to check out the views and then sat around the kitchen table in his father’s humble home and popped bottles while we tried to figure out why our van wouldn’t start. We weren’t too concerned because we had wine and homemade salami to nosh on. Alfonso’s ‘Sfuso’ Cabernet Franc is probably one of our best-selling wines here and now we carry his ‘Rif’ which is an unfiltered (aka ColFondo) sparkling wine made from a field blend of whites, but mostly Malvasia? It’s light and fresh and slightly bready with a price tag of $12! It’s a no-brainer to keep a couple of these in your fridge for impromptu guests, weekend brunches, or late-night movie watching with a bowl of popcorn. $12


Ronco dei Tassi is located in the province of Gorizia near the Slovenian border where the soils are sandy and perfect for the varieties they grow. Here they benefit from the unique microclimate of cool air of the Austrian Alps and the warm air of the Adriatic Sea. Fabio Coser, pictured here with Nicola (of Domenico Valentino) and his son Enrique, started Ronco dei Tassi in 1989 when he and his wife bought the 22 acre estate. Since then he made a name for himself and the wines he makes. After a tour of the winery and a hike to overlook the township of Cormons, Fabio’s son took us to lunch at LA SUBIDA where we drank the many different whites of Fabio’s collection. I took the most pictures of the Friulano, which generally means it was my favorite of the meal… and I remember it pairing beautifully with this green risotto pictured above. Monika mentioned the Friulano will pair well with ALL the vegetables in your life. Make a swiss chard tart, veggie-heavy minestrone, fennel salad, green anything and drink this with it. You’re welcome. $20


Brothers Stefano and Pier Paolo Antolini farm eight hectares near Negrar, in the heart of the Valpolicella Classico zone. We dropped in on them in the middle of harvest but that didn’t stop Pier Paolo from having a giant smile on his face… He and his wife Michela welcomed us with open arms and their warmth as people come through in the wines they make. This time of year is when we get the most requests for Amarone, a style of wine made from air drying the grapes to get a richer result in the wine; perfect for cooler temps and heartier fare. But one thing I was surprised by in my travels through Valpolicella and while dining out in Verona, where the wine lists were heavy with Amarones, was that the Amarones themselves weren’t very heavy. They showed more elegant and fresh than I was expecting and paired so well with the meaty dishes and heavily aromatic risottos that are served here. Antolini might surprise you too in how pretty and delicate is shows… come taste and find yourself a new friend. $56


Although we didn’t make it to Sardinia this time, I’m excited to share this bold red with you tonight. Cannonau is a robust red wine from the island of Sardinia. Elena Casadei makes hers in anfora which gives the grape a chance to express itself in a more delicate manner. After 35 days of skin maceration in terracotta, the wine comes out bright ruby red with cherry, blackberry and pepper notes. Juicy and lengthy and a perfect wine to drink when it snows. It will keep you warm like the Sardinian sun. It’s been said that Cannonau is the healthiest wine to drink because Cannonau – or Grenache, as it is known in France or Garnacha in Spain – develops thick skins on Sardinia, which provide anthocyanins and polyphenols in abundance. These compounds have been linked to heart health because of their antioxidant effects and, when taken in moderation, can help you live longer. So drink this wine and feel good about it! $34