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Nov 13, 2008 10:27 AM

Hunt - Can you give me a Rec?

I am an avid reader of the Southwest Board and occasional poster. From your posts I know that you are a wine lover! I live in the Phoenix area (Chandler) and would like to buy a bottle of an Italian wine as a thank you gift for a friend and was hoping I could tap into your wine knowledge and knowledge of wine retailers.

I know virtually nothing about Italian wines and am hesitant to rely on a shelf tag with a blurb from wine spectator to be my guide. Would appreciate it if you could offer a suggestion for a bottle in the $30 range. I think something that could be served as an aperitif without needing to pair with food would be the best choice as the intended recipient doesn’t really cook. I have a couple of AJ’s nearby and a BevMo but am around town (Central Phoenix) enough that I could stop in at Sportsman’s or AZ Wine Company too.



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  1. Bazel,

    You flatter me, more than I can describe. However, I am not qualified to come up with great Italian wines. There are many more on this board, who can do a better job.

    Italian wine is a weak spot for me. I have enjoyed many, but the majority have been everyday "pasta" wines, or higher-end Barlols and Barberescos.

    For Italinan varietals, in the price-range that you mentioned, I really like Pricchetti, Santa Cruz Mountains, CA and their Sangiovese wines. However, I do not think you will find them at retail in AZ.

    There are more here, who can come up with just what you want and need. I only hope that they are not turned off to see my name in the topic.

    Let's give the other, better qualified folk, the opportunity to get you what you need. If not, I'll do the research, but I'll be learning, as I'm going. Only thing that I have in my corner, is the knowledge of the PHX Area wine shops, and what is likely to make its way to this area.

    I'll watch closely, and we'll not let you down.


    1. I'll chime in here, though not with any ultimate answer.

      I've had a bunch of contact with AJs but unfortunately, their wine inventory is not online. Neither is the inventory for Sportsman or AZ Wine Company.

      Your first option is just to prance into one of those stores and ask for the most luscious Italian wine you can buy for $30.

      Since I couldn’t find any inventory lists, I checked what wines looked good at Total Wine and Bevmo.

      At Total Wine, I looked through their Italian wine inventory and picked some favorites, below. With few exceptions, no vintages are listed. Don’t buy 2002.

      I'd love for Whiner, Zin1953 and others to chime in. I'll post the link first to the search window for Total Wine so others can search and post an opinion:

      Search window:

      Il Poggione Rosso di Montalcino, $23 -- love this producer
      Antinora Chiant Classico Riserva, $26 -- famous Italian producer
      La Castellina Chianti Classico Riserva, $27 – also a good producer
      2003 Ruffino Chianti Classico Riserva Ducale Oro, $32 -- wonderful wine


      Has the Volpaia Chianti Classico Riserva for $30 which I like a lot.

      1. I really like the Ceretto Barolo 'Zonchera' and the Pio Cesare Barolo . Both are over $30, with the Pio topping $40, but are good bargains in Barolo. And like Maria said, avoid 2002 (though I don't think either produced a Barolo that year). I'm assuming the '03 and the '04 are the ones available.

        If you want an aperitif, go with the Jermann Pinot Grigio. I've never had the PG, but this is a great producer from the Friuli region.

        3 Replies
        1. re: mengathon

          The Zonchera is $40 and the Pio Cesare is $48.

          Did anything catch your eye in the lower price range, Meng?

          Here are a couple of Barberas:
          La Spinetta/Giorgio Rivetti Barbera d'Asti Ca' di Pian $27
          Bruno Giacosa Barbera d'Alba $35


          1. re: maria lorraine

            I've only tried the Barolos for La Spinetta and Giacosa, so can't really comment on the barberas. I'm assuming they're made in the same respective styles?

          2. re: mengathon

            Mengathon, I think your comment about "an aperitif" is important. I have enjoyed most all of the red wines mentioned, but never without food. Perhaps, a Brunello or a Super Tuscan would do, but they would be way over $30 in my experience.

          3. look for the Selvapiana Chianti Rufina, its a terrific wine and a terrific value. you'd probably have some money left over to throw in a bottle of prosecco...

            1. It looks like you are getting some good answers, just as I'd suspected. You came to the right place, just just asked the wrong guy. I'll also bet that more good recs. come in.