Everyone always asks what my favorite wine is… Tough question to answer as someone who deeply appreciates so many wines, but I always pony up a few: Châteauneuf du Pape for one and Valpolicella Classico della Amarone for another… My love of both these wines borders on the unnatural, but if you know them at all, you understand. Each represents a magnificent, age-worthy wine with an interesting story and a bevy of unfamiliar grapes. They were, many years ago, value leaders that today, unfortunately have taken on more expensive habits. This last realization is why I patiently scan the horizon for opportunities. In CDP, the values are found in the lesser production of fabled CDP producers within the Côtes du Rhone appellation, or possibly in neighboring Gigondas or Vacqueyras. In VCdA, the values are found in Vino Ripasso, or better yet, the recently delimited Indicazioine Geografica Tipica Veneto wines.
Which brings me to my subject wine… Anyone who knows anything about VCdA knows that the principal grape in the blend is Corvina, which is the star of most red wines grown in the Veneto. Rondinella and Molinara are its usual companions, and for good reason. Corvina can be difficult, providing too much acid and not enough fruit, which can make for tart, anemic wines. This is a large reason why the Venetians have taken to allowing their largely Corvina-based Valpolicellas to age on the lees of their bigger, more impressive Amarone brothers… The intensity, complexity and depth imparted makes for a real game changer.
Producers in the Veneto tend to have diverse portfolios. This isn’t a detraction, but more an economic reality. The folks at Tenuta Sant’Antonio have a very diverse portfolio, ranging from award-winning Amarone to youthful Soave to soulful Grappa di Amarone. Of all their wines I have tried, and there are many, there isn’t a bad one in the lot. The nice thing about a diverse portfolio is that there are bound to be some real values. The Scaia Corvina may be the best wine value I have come across in the last 12 months.
The Scaia, produced from 100% Corvina harvested from vines with an average age of between 3 and 10 years, is a youthful powerhouse. The wine is fermented and aged in stainless steel, which preserves the freshness and lively spiciness of the grape. The naturally high acidity of the Corvina is tamed in this wine, instead being possessed of suppleness and smoothness. Closed under Stelvin, the wine should remain fresh and vibrant for many years, allowing for more complexity to evolve over time. And the best thing about this wine – the price… Sub $10 per bottle in most areas before the discount… That is an impressive feat given the quality, exuberance and potential of this wine!
My tasting note:
Bright lively nose with fresh cherry, black berry and black pepper hints. Medium-bodied with moderate acidity and supple, well-integrated tannin – well balanced. Dark fruit core with cherry, dark chocolate and spicy notes. Moderate length with a smooth, seductive finish and a spicy aftertaste. Drinking well now and should improve for the next 2 to 3 years in bottle. Superb value!