Wine grapes with a laugh

Godforsaken Grapes

I thought I was a wine-grape nerd beyond redemption, but I’ve more than met my match in the wine and spirits writer Jason Wilson. I’m chuckling and snorting my way through his delightful new book, Godforsaken Grapes: A Slightly Tipsy Journey through the World of Strange, Obscure, and Underappreciated Wine.

Archives | Subscribe (free!) | Previous article: Wild weather threatens wine Read article.

Kings Ridge Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

Kings Ridge

Clear dark ruby, with reddish-violet glints against the light. Fresh cherry-berry aromas are joined by an attractive scent of roses after a little time in the glass. Mouth-filling and ripe, cherry-berry fruit flavors follow the nose, well structured with bright acidity and just a whiff of soft tannins. Evolves in the glass into good Pinot Noir varietal character, a good value example of the Oregon style. Full but not overly alcoholic at 13.9 percent.

Check prices and find vendors for Union Wine Co. Kings Ridge Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir on

You can also buy direct from the winery, where the law permits, by using this shopping cart link. Read article.

Gran Conti Montepulciano d’Abruzzo

Gran Conti

Dark purple, almost black, shading to a thin garnet rim. high-tone cherries and blackberries on the nose with a hint of spice in the background. Tart plums and berries on the palate, shaped by zippy acidity, with a buzz of tannins becoming more evident in the finish. Alcohol not disclosed, but it’s clearly in the normal 12-13 percent range.

Only a few U.S. vendors currently offer Gran Conti 2016 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo on, but keep checking.

You can also browse for dozens of other good wines of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Read article.

Cleto Chiarli Lambrusco Grasparossa


This fine, artisanal Lambrusco is made from Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro grapes. Dark purple, it pours with a frothy mousse that falls back fast. Fruity aromas of plums and prunes on the nose carry over intact on the palate with a fizzy mouthfeel. It’s bone-dry, in pleasing contrast with sweet mass-market Lambruscos, and a distinct but not unpleasant tannic bitterness lingers with notes of dried plums. Light 11% alcohol makes for easy quaffing.

Find vendors and compare prices for Cleto Chiarli Vigneto Enrico Cialdini on

You can also find distributors in most states of the U.S. via this page from Dalla Terra Winery Direct.

Finally, learn more about Lambrusco Grasparossa, and browse dozens of links to vendors for this dry, fizzy Lambrusco from Emilia-Romagna. Read article.

Marchese di Barolo “Maraia” Barbera del Monferrato


Clear dark purple, this 100 percent Barbera shos garnet glints against the light. Scents of fresh red cherries, blackberries and dried cherries plus a light whiff of smoke carry over on the palate with bright, tart fruit shaped by crisp acidity and soft, fuzzy tannins, with a moderate 13% alcohol. Cherry-berry notes and zippy acidity linger in a very long finish.

Find vendors and compare prices for Marchese di Barolo “Maraia” Barbera del Monferrato on

Here’s a long list of links to vendors for other wines from Barbera del Monferrato, as well as information about the region. Read article.

Returning to the rest of Italy

An excellent cheese pizza from Louisville's MozzaPi.

Who doesn’t love Italian wine? I got my start in wine with the lovable wines of Italy, enjoying them at the homes of Italian-American friends before I was old enough to drink legally.
But a funny thing happened as I grew up and my interests in wine evolved: I got so busy exploring the rest of the world’s wine regions and grapes …

Archives | Subscribe (free!) | Previous article: Not April Fool: Coffee in your wine Read article.

Cantine Montagna 2017 Sangue di Giuda

Sangue di Giuda

Dark reddish-purple. The narrow natural cork comes out with a pop, but only a few bubbles line the rim. Light, simple but pleasant scent of plums and mixed berries leads into a bright, appealing flavor that’s more forward with plum-berry fruit. It’s on the sweet side but not at all cloying; crisp acidity and a light prickly effervescence helps hold the sugar in balance, as does a light but perceptible bitter almond note in the finish. A soft drink for grown-ups, best served on the warm side of refrigerator temperature, its light 7.5% makes it an easy quaff. From Oltrepò Pavese, it’s a blend of 45% each Croatina and Barbera plus small amounts of the local Ughetta and Uva Rara.

FIND THIS WINE ONLINE: returns only limited vendors for Cantine Francesco Montagna Oltrepò Pavese Sangue di Giuda on You might check in with the importer via its online contact form for information on retailers accessible to you.

Try this Wine-Searcher info page on Sangue di Giuda, though, for a list of about two dozen bottlings from other producers. Read article.