A sturdy, aromatic red from one of Italy’s most lauded producers that’s just begging for food.
Producer: Fratelli Alessandria
Region: Verduno, Piedmont, Italy
Grapes: 100% Pelaverga Piccolo
Medium Body, Structured
Flavors: Red Berries, Pepper, Spice
Pairing: Grilled steak, pork chops
“You want this with dinner,” Sommelier Carl York said. This deceptively light-colored wine packs a tannic punch, and the structure doesn’t stop there; sharp acidity and tart red berry fruit lend even more austerity to this underdog’s expression. Distinctive cedar and pepper spice notes are abundant on the nose and the palate, making this an ideal companion to all things smoky and grilled. From eggplant to steak tips, this bottle is your go-to backyard barbecue wine.
Though the Nebbiolo grape reigns supreme in the storied hills of Barolo and Barbaresco, the humble Pelaverga grape is the unsung Piemontese darling of sommeliers everywhere. The rare variety, which is local to the Verduno subzone of the Piedmont, was nearing extinction in the 1970s, when a few lauded Barolo houses decided to try to sell their Pelaverga wines—rather than just give them away to friends and family. Alessandria was one of those wineries, and they remain one of the few to cultivate Pelaverga vines today.
“[Alessandria] makes arguably the most important Barolo cuvée, and then he makes this Pelaverga,” Carl York said. “He doesn’t have to, but he does, because it’s important to his history and culture.”
The characteristics that wine professionals prize about the varietal are also what nearly led to its demise: light color, spicy aromatics, and surprisingly structured tannin for a relatively light-bodied wine.