Meet a wine of Monferrato

Posted: November 13, 2011

Just as Zeppoli's menu highlights the flavors of an under-explored region, Sicily, I decided to bring wines to dinner there from another Italian region that few Americans know: Monferrato. Located in the Piedmont east of Turin, Monferrato is notable because its DOC (or appellation) allows for international grapes to be blended with native varieties, much like the "Super Tuscans." This excellent 2009 rendition from Renato Ratti's Villa Pattono uses cabernet and merlot with the region's classic barbera, and the result is an almost Californian take on Piedmont.

Plush and elegant and far more fruit-forward at a young age than the area's traditional wines, the inky dark fruit tastes of black currants and plums, with an undertow of smoky licorice, smooth cocoa, and black pepper on the finish. Like most good Piedmont wine, Monferrato can be pricey. This bottle, though, is on a steep discount in Pennsylvania at $25 (from $46) that should make discovering this region a bit more accessible.

- Craig LaBan

Renato Ratti Villa Pattono Monferrato Rosso 2009, $24.99 (code 32316) in Pennsylvania.

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