Vino File: Old vines

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Italy is one of the oldest wine-producing regions on the globe. Fitting, then, that one of the oldest grocers in the region is here to tell us about Italian wine.

Carfagna's has been family-operated since 1937, and wine department manager Luciano Carfagna is among the fourth generation to work there. He oversees the biggest selection of Italian wines in the state.

"When we built this wine department, it was like, how are we going to separate ourselves?" Carfagna explained. "People come in here looking for Italian food, we should give them Italian wine."

That's not at the expense of other regions. Although Italian wines take up the largest section of the department, wines from all over the globe are stacked in tight, tiered shelves. Decorative grapes hang from the pergola roof above.

"When people want high-end Italian wine, they come here," Carfagna said. "When they want value, they can also come here."

Carfagna offers the following three Italian bottles as his suggestions for summertime sipping: the Barolo, which he calls "the pinnacle in Italian wines," is aged and can be held onto for a few years; the others are deeply discounted, highly flavorful wines that can be enjoyed right away.

Cardeto Pierleone Orvieto Classico (2006)

Region: Umbria, Italy

Cost: $7, on sale

Flavors: Round, citrusy and creamy, with an herbal edge

Pairs well with: Pasta carbonara or a salmon dish

Who'll enjoy it: Chardonnay lovers

Luciano Carfagna's advice: "It's kind of like an alternative to chardonnay. It's a nice creamy, medium-bodied white wine if you're looking for something a little bit more substantial."

Villa Brondello Primitivo zinfandel (2007)

Region: Puglia, Italy

Cost: $10, on sale

Flavors: Jammy, inky and a bit spicy, with no big tannins

Pairs well with: Roasted meat like pork, lamb or veal, or with a cigar

Who'll enjoy it: Wine drinkers who like full-bodied tastes, but without the tannins

Luciano Carfagna's advice: "It's just like zinfandel. Some people don't like the harshness of a cabernet's big tannins, so zinfandel and primitivo are a good alternative."

Renato Corino Barolo (2003)

Region: Barolo, Italy

Cost: $40, on sale

Flavors: Dry, with dark fruits, leather, oak and velvety tannins

Pairs well with: Grilled steak, roast or wild game, or heavy red pasta

Who'll enjoy it: Adventurous drinkers

Luciano Carfagna's advice: "It's an old-school Italian vine that delivers on every note. My favorite wine, for sure."