New Zealand is, understandably, known more for its grassy sauvignon blanc, its smoky pinot noir, than its pinot gris. But the Kono Nelson pinot gris ($15) is an interesting, unique expression of this hugely popular Italian grape variety. It has a bit of gentle spice, and fairly generous apple notes, making it overall a pretty lean, but balanced, white wine. Ideal with virtually any appetizer you can imagine.
Mastroberardino is one of Campania’s most illustrious wineries. The province, on the Italian Peninsula, defines Mediterranean living, which is perhaps why it is Italy’s most densely populated area. Because Aglianico fares well in hot climates, it is increasingly being planted in many other wine regions, but in Campania it dates back all the way to the Phoenicians. This Aglianico Campania ($27) is a virtual university seminar in what makes the grape great. It really leaps out of the glass, displaying dark blackberry and hints of ripe cherry. Mont and a bit of black licorice are revealed on a complex, deep palate. It is, simply put, delicious.