The classic grapes of France have thoroughly dominated the emerging vineyards of the New World, but a planet can only drink so much chardonnay and cabernet. So it's no surprise that popular alternatives from other countries are starting to find their way into the American soil.
These two likable bottles - a bright pinot grigio from Estancia, and a seductive sangiovese "Siena" from Ferrari-Carano - make a case for the possibilities of two Italian favorites in the California style. Predictably, they have more of a fruit-forward, sunny disposition than their Euro cousins. Yet they are still true to their varietal souls.
The grigio is a refreshing and affordable quencher, with a squirt of peachy sweet to counter its limey brightness, and more body than most Italians at a similar price. The Siena is more of an upscale splurge (and in smaller supply until the '07 arrives this summer), but it's a decadently plush expression of Tuscany's main grape, with ripe black cherry framed by cocoa, tobacco, and cinnamon. It's ready to drink young, and hard to resist. Prego, Cal-Italia!
The 2008 pinot grigio from Estancia is $11.99 and the 2006 Siena from Ferrari-Carano is $24.99 in select Pennsylvania stores.
- Craig LaBan