If you were to go by the flagship wine magazines like Wine Spectator, you might think that nobody ever drinks a bottle of wine under $95 and that most people in the world have in their cellars case after case of Bordeaux first growths and a flagship Pinot Noirs.
If you follow those journals (and I do) things tend to be rather pricey, and you actually have to go hunting a bit to find stuff that’s actually affordable.
The fact of the matter is, the overwhelming majority of the world’s wine is everyday drinking wine, and that’s a very important fact to remember when you approach those media outlets. The other thing to keep in mind is that most of the wines in the world will not pole vault above Robert Parker’s 90-point mark. On Parker’s scale you get 50 points just for showing up, and then go upward from there.
No, most of us are looking for good everyday table wines with the occasional special bottle for those very special occasions. In Europe, where this is commonplace and ancient, many people make their own wines and that’s what they drink daily. If you go into most villages in Italy, for instance, you might find some wines on sale in the local shops, but you won’t see them in people’s homes, because at home they drink what they make.
As for some of the higher-end wines like Barolo, which I mentioned recently, people will buy it in bulk, and then take it home and bottle it themselves.
The last time I was in the northwest of Italy, I stopped in a winery, one of the ones owned by people who source grapes from local growers and make the wine. The wine barrels were 2 stories tall, and people routinely showed up with 5 or 10-gallon plastic containers (not unlike the ones we pour gasoline into right before an ice storm knowing that our generator is about to go on 24/7 duty), fill it with Barolo, and take it home with them.
Much of Europe is tradition-bound, and in the European Union, there are innumerable rules and regulations about what a wine can be called, and how it is made. Not wanting to be left behind by progress, Italy, for example, created the IGT designation, which stands for Indicatione Geografica Typica, created in 1992 to allow for some measure of experimentation. Prior to that, if the maker in Tuscany, for instance, wanted to try adding a little Cabernet Sauvignon to her Sangiovese, to see how it would come out, she would have been breaking the law. So, since 1992, a winemaker can put a dash of Cabernet Sauvignon in the Sangiovese and not have to worry about being arrested.
Which brings me back to everyday drinking lines. Dogajolo, made by Carpineto, is a good example of this. It is an IGT wine, 80 percent Sangiovese and 20 percent Cabernet Sauvignon grown on hillside vineyards in central Tuscany. This combination was traditionally known as a “Super Tuscan” The original Super Tuscans were very high-end wines; now they run across the spectrum making it affordable for people like you and me.
Dogajolo 2012 Toscano IGT; $13-$15, depending on location; 13.5% alcohol by volume. This is a red that is widely available in grocery stores and at the state stores. The wine is a deep purple with an inky, opaque core. The nose is black fruit, berries and a bit of red fruit, with a little bit of alcohol on the first pour. The palate is well balanced with the alcohol falling into place, with black currant and blackberry notes, herbal flavors and medium intensity. The herbal notes are on the rise while the fruit is just beginning to decline, though both are present at the moment in a good balance. Like all table and everyday drinking wines, this is not one that is meant for la-- ying down. It will be good for one to two years after its release, which places it toward the end of its life now. It’s still very good, but it’s a buy now/drink now wine. 84 points.
Contact local beer and wine writer Jim Beauregard at email@example.com.