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There are many famous great red wines from Italy, bottlings of Brunello di Montalcino or Barolo or Amarone that even the casual wine drinker knows. But there are so many more hidden gems out there that help you realize the diversity of the Italian wine industry.
Here's a wine that is about as undiscovered a jewel as there is from Italy. It's made from the Terrano grape, an indigenous variety from the small Carso zone, that little strip of land in the extreme southeastern tip of Friuli that runs alongside the Adriatic Sea. Friuli is, of course, known for its vibrant whites so red wines naturally take a back seat to the whites, but when a wine is as enticing as this, you need to learn about how wonderful Friulian reds can be.
This is from the great producer Edi Kante, who produces a mere 4500 cases per year of several varieties - mostly white - including Vitoska (another distinct local variety), Malvasia and Chardonnay. The Terrano is fermented entirely in old barriques, so there's barely any wood influence and then aged for 36 months in large Slavonian oak casks.
This is a charming red wine with deep crimson color and instantly appealing perfumes of cranberry, myrtle and plum - especially plum, as here is a red wine that just screams plum in the aromas! Medium-bodied, this has beautiful ripeness and freshness- this smells and tastes more like a two-year old red than one that is more than six years old. There is tart acidity that cleans the mouth and moderate tannins. It's a beautifully balanced, drinkable wine and perhaps most importantly, it's absolutely delicious!
I tried this wine recently with a friend at a BYOB Thai/ Japanese restaurant and it worked perfectly with varoius dishes, from scallop nuggets with a dipping sauce to chicken with vegetables as well as spring rolls and shumai (shrimp dumplings). I'd also love to pair it with duck with a plum or cherry sauce.
The 2005 Edi Kante Terrano has a suggested retail price of $40. The wine is imported by Domaine Select Wine Estates, New York City, NY.