The Vesuvio wine company, its own name a nod to Tony and Carmela Soprano’s favorite restaurant, has created and continues to expand a line of Italian wines with the Sopranos name and iconic logo, thanks to a licensing partnership with HBO. A recent tasting of the pinot grigios, chiantis, and Sicilian blend showed these are serious wines, not gimmicks.
The 2008 pinot grigio ($13.50), from the Grave zone of the Friuli region in Italy’s northeastern corner, has delightful aromatics ranging from almond and floral to a hint of lemon, and it’s a step above the 2007 pinot grigio from the northern province of Pavia. The 2008 pinot grigio brings to the palate a lime flavor with clean, crisp acidity, making it a perfect wine for a summer day at the Shore. It is easy to imagine Tony and Carmela drinking this tasty Friuli pinot grigio on the porch of Whitecaps, their would-be vacation home, or around pool at Soprano Manor.
A regional 2007 Chianti ($13.50) is on the mark with its clear cherry color and bright mix of rhubarb, cherry, and rosehip aromas. Classic sangiovese cherry flavor and acidity make this an ideal wine for enjoying with pizza or grilled hamburgers. It’s just the kind of wine that Tony’s crew would have enjoyed while sitting around the construction site eating and joking the day away on their no-work jobs.
The 2005 Chianti Classico Riserva ($35) is an estate-bottled wine from the Castelli del Grevepesa, a large cooperative in the Chianti Classico zone near Florence. Aeration benefits this wine, revealing its black cherry and toasted oak aromas and elegant blackberry flavor only after a half hour or more in the decanter. It is a wine that Vesuvio’s chef and owner, Artie Bucco, would have proudly served to Tony and Carmela, and one that you can share with friends during the next five to ten years with grilled steaks, lamb chops or pasta with puttanesca or Bolognese sauce.
The 2007 Sicilian wine ($17) blends 45-percent cabernet sauvignon and merlot, respectively, with 10-percent sangiovese. It’s lighter than one would expect with 90 percent of the mix from two substantial grapes, but not disappointing. It pairs a robust cherry and herbal nose with lively black cherry and pomegranate flavors. Mild tannins and acidity keep the wine balanced and gentle in the finish. This is a wine to drink around casual food and conversation, or say, a chat in the back of the Bada Bing about a potential whacking.