was established in 1961, and continues to be a family run estate with its third generation at the helm. We took the leap last year to begin importing their wines after an introduction by Tiziana Settimo of Barolo's Aurelio Settimo, whose wines we also import. People often ask how we source our wines from abroad, and in this instance, it was a respected winemaker (Tiziana) that connected us to Torre Zambra.Our relationships with the producers we import are vital to the strength of our business. We are in this together. So when someone like Tiziana suggests checking out another winery, we listen. So many of you have delighted in Torre Zambra's vibrant rosato, Cerasuolo d'Abruzzo, their classic, zippy Pecorino and their many styles of Montepulciano. Well, we have one more wine from Torre Zambra that arrived last month during the frenzy of the holiday rush, the 2015 Villamagna DOC. A recent DOC, created in 2011, Villamagna is considered the finest terroir of the Abruzzo, limited to a total of 85 hectares among three municipal districts, Vacri, Bucchianico, and Villamagna. Torre Zambra's hillside estate vines are grown at 500-1000 feet in elevation with an ideal south-east facing aspect within the village of Villamagna.
The 2015 Villamagna is lush and supple. It highlights the best of the Montepulciano grape, showcasing plenty of fruit, a dark robe and gentle tannins. Too often when making their "best" wines, producers in Abruzzo throw too much oak on Montepulciano, masking its inherent approachability. TZ's Villamagna is fermented in stainless steel tank, aged in large cement vats for a year and then rests in bottle for another 6 months. The resulting wine is pure, unadulterated fruit. There are flavors of red cherry and plum, notes of cocoa powder and an underpinning of leather. Its gorgeous, plush mouthfeel reminds me of some Châteauneuf-du-Pâpes. The 2015 Villamagna is constructed for maximum tasting pleasure.
I drank the 2015 Villamagna on two occasions; once on Christmas day with ricotta-stuffed, baked shell pasta and on New Year's Eve with grilled steaks. In both instances the wine delivered on my expectations for a generous, high-impact fruit wine without any pretensions. Sometimes the mood strikes for more yummy, and less contemplative. The last couple weeks held many life lessons for me on facing down doing what is right even if it is hard or uncomfortable. These moments don't always present themselves in a way you can reflect on after the fact. But this time they did and left me feeling better than I felt before dealing with them. It's nice to be able to pat yourself on the back sometimes. And in this spirit, I think I'll buy another bottle of 2015 Villamagna to enjoy with dinner as another winter's storm passes overhead. - Anya Balistreri
While walking the streets of our neighborhood this afternoon, I couldn't help noticing the general good vibe of throngs of folks out enjoying the warm weather, sitting in parklets and outdoor tables, sharing the weekend with those of us who work and live here. We had more than a couple of first timers poke their heads in our shop today, asking what we're all about. As many of you know, we are always happy to share our stories, answer questions, and put quality juice in your hands. Now that we're moving deeper into autumn, days like today will be fewer, but the vibe this afternoon has me longing for something chilled and delicious. What's this week's Saturday night wine and how did it come to us? It's the 2017 Torre Zambra Colle Maggio Pecorino and to answer the second part, good connections. 41 years is a long time to be in business, and we will turn 41 in less than two weeks! (Pssst - Yes, there will be an Anniversary Sale - stay tuned!) And when you're in business that long, you're bound to make connections. It hadn't been that long after we signed up Tiziana Settimo and her line of wines from Aurelio Settimo: Dolcetto, Langhe Nebbiolo, and those amazing Baroli, that a package arrived with a range of samples from a producer in d'Abruzzo. Tiziana highly recommended that we try them and let her know what we thought. Shortly thereafter, we found ourselves in the tasting room with the samples. There were the usual suspects one finds in d'Abruzzo, Trebbiano and Montepulciano, but there were a couple of other wines including a Pecorino. Pecorino was not named from the sheep's cheese, its name actually was derived from sheepherders who ate these grapes while tending to their flocks in search of food. Italian wine grape maven, Ian d'Agata wrote in his tome Native Wine Grapes of Italy, "Pecorino is not just a grape variety; it is also one of Italy's biggest wine success stories of the twenty-first century."
I have been on a Pecorino kick ever since Anya brought one in for The Dirty Dozen back in 2010. It's gotten to a point where I just have to have it when I see it on a wine list in a restaurant. So when we were tasting the Torre Zambra wines, my inner wine enthusiast was giddy for a taste of the Pecorino. It did not disappoint. That's an understatement. It was remarkably delicious! The aromas are of stone fruit, orchard fruit, and citrus blossoms. Its aromas alone are captivating. On the palate, it has a medium body and bright acidity which sweeps the aromatic complexity into harmony. I still can't get enough of this wine. Another reason I can't lay off in a restaurant, is its ability to pair with food. Often times, when one chooses the wine before the food, your dining options diminish if looking to dial in a perfect pairing. Not so much with Pecorino. This wine works with most seafood entrees and appetizers, and lighter land meats such as porchetta or turkey breast. I was over the moon for the Colle Maggio Pecorino! Heck, I didn't even have to taste any of the other wines to know we would be bringing them in, but for the record, all of the wines were outstanding, and they all represented excellent value at their respective price points. David and our staff were all in agreement. Any guesses who now imports Torre Zambra into California? TWH, of course. Things are getting interesting, we've got Halloween coming right up, and our 41st Anniversary the very next day! The rest of 2018 is looking like a rip-roaring good time. Oh yeah, Dungeness Crab season begins November 3. Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Pecorino for the win. - Peter Zavialoff