One kosher Italian wine that really ought to be better known is the delicious Uva Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOP 2013. It’s not only an enjoyable, food-friendly and deeply satisfying wine, it is also a fine example of one of the authentic tastes of Italy.
Montepulciano is the second most planted red wine grape in Italy. (Sangiovese is still the top.) It is frequently used to produce budget-friendly, medium-to-full bodied red wine.
Montepulciano is most heavily planted in the Abruzzo — a mountainous region in south-central Italy. It has a significant coastline that improves its growing conditions.
These Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wines have a well-deserved reputation for offering excellent value. Though popularly used to wash down pizza, a good Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is particularly good with rich or even fatty dishes.
There are a handful of kosher Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wines on the market, including a dependably enjoyable one from Borgo Reale and a likewise consistently enjoyable one from its chief competitor, Cantina Gabriele. The Bartenura brand also produces a decent one under its Ovadia label, and there is an inexpensive option from Contessa Annalisa. While all of these have their charms, the 2013 Uva is a superior wine.
In some respects, though, Uva (Italian for grapes) is more of a personal, commercial project than a fully fledged wine brand, though a 2014 vintage was also produced and another wine is planned. The Uva label is something of a dream investment opportunity for Israel Stein of Quincy, Mass. “I did it as something to satisfy my own desires,” Stein told me not long ago, “and the opportunity to share it with somebody else.”
A lover of Italian wines who “hadn’t yet found anything kosher that really appealed,” Stein chanced upon Azienda Nicola Di Sipio, a small but modern winery in Ripa Teatina at a wine tasting in Massachusetts. He liked what he tasted, and seized the opportunity.
“I struck up a conversation” with Giulia Di Sipio, the owner and chief vintner. “I asked if she wanted to make kosher wine,” he said, “because I wanted a [kosher] wine that I can enjoy.”
Di Sipio had never heard of kosher, but was interested. Stein partnered with his nephew Robert Rimberg. They produced 10,000 bottles of the 2013 vintage, and another 10,000 of the 2014 vintage. The 2013 vintage is imported to the United States by the Bayonne, N.J.-based Royal Wine Corp. The 2014 has not yet been imported.
Uva, Montepulciano D’Abruzzo, Limited Edition, 2013 ($27.99): Still clean, fresh, tasty and alluring, with tart cherries, freshly crushed blackberries, purple plums, tobacco leaf, a decent earthiness, a smidge of licorice and hints of savory herbs. This wine offers some subtlety and delicacy to those seeking it, but enough simple, up-front pleasures to satisfy the thirsty masses. Enjoyable on its own, but really made to wash down good food despite it’s comparatively low-acidity. An excellent value for the price. L’chaim!
Have a question about wine or spirits? Ask Joshua E. London at [email protected].