Amanda Schuster

Wine and spirits writer/consultant/marketer. Spirits expert w in depth knowledge of Spanish, Portuguese and Loire/Languedoc wines (you might say "bi-spiritual.") NYC born and bred food lover. Sometime jewelry designer. Overall broad about town.

Favorite Italian (That's My Amore)

Rank Wine Rating Price
1 Carpineta Fontalpino Chianti Classico (2009)
Comments: This is a solid Chianti. Needs a little air to get going, but once this happens, the flavors soften and keep giving. Dark cherry, plum and violets with just enough of that Chianti-esque rusticity. Fantastic everyday wine for meals in.
Previously available for $25.99
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2 Arianna Occhipinti Frappato Sicilia IGT Il Frappato (2009)
Previously available for $33.99
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3 Sp68 IGT Sicilia Rosso Arianna Occhipinti (2009)
Comments: Ordered this at Franny's on Flatbush to go with difficult mix of summer veggies, meats and seafood. Matched almost everything perfectly. Served with a slight chill, cherry, raspberry, a little chocolate and smoked meaty flavors. Just the right amount of toasty oak to round it out. Flavors really pop!
Previously available for $30.49
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4 Motta Giove Ciliegiolo
Comments: My 1st Ciliegiolo! Very smooth and rounded, dark fruits, violet candies, warm earthy tones. Was sad to see the bottle emptied, knowing that was the last bottle in the shop!
Previously available for $21.99
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5 Melini Sangiovese Blend Chianti Borghi d'Elsa (2010)
Comments: Always a solid choice, often seen on wine lists. Rich, dark fruit, not too acidic, with a minerally cocoa taste reminiscent of Ovaltine, or is that Tootsie Roll?
Average price: $8.99 from 1 store
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6 Falesco Sangiovese Umbria IGT (2010)
Comments: Blackberry and plum notes with some herbal flavors (sage, thyme) and damp meadow. Fresh and springy, would be good with gamey dishes or an herby, tomato-based pasta sauce.
Average price: $13.99 from 5 stores
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7 Selvapiana Chianti Bucerchiale (2007)
Comments: Aromas of honeysuckle and blackberry giving way to dark fruits, espresso and cocoa nibs on the palate. Very expressive and flavorful.
Previously available for $31.99
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8 Corte Sant' Alda Amarone Della Valpolicella (2000)
Comments: This was just beautiful. The instant I opened the bottle, I got a whiff of purple flowers and just knew I was in for a big treat. Still a good amount of fruit left, with a leathery, bitter earthiness. Full bodied and well rounded. Was a decadent treat with a great pizza.
Previously available for $87.68
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9 Paolo Bea Montefalco Rosso Vigna San Valentino (2006)
Comments: Whenever I see this on a wine list (any vintage) I go for it. A highly versatile wine that never disappoints. So well structured that each layer seems to match whatever flavor profile is needed to go with food, or just to sip alone. Wish I owned more bottles!
Previously available for $51.78
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10 Chateau St. Jean Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma County Cinq Cepages (2009)
Comments: Bright, tart fruit with a balanced acidity, woodsy flavors (pinecone, cedar), good weight and smoothness. Very well balanced.
Average price: $99.99 from 1 store
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11 Selvapiana Chianti Rufina (2009)
Comments: Looks are deceiving! Light-bodied in appearance, but much more weighty on the palate, with dark fruit flavors and even a little smoke on the nose. Keeps evolving in the glass.
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12 Castello di Querceto la Corte the Old & Rare Wine Company (1990)
Comments: This wine was surprisingly giving and alive, despite its advanced age (these things can go either way, as we know). Thankfully, this bottle aged with grace, and kept getting better in the glass. Excellent perfume and structure, with lip-smacking cherry, bark and almost hamlike, meaty flavors with some good residual acidity. If you're lucky enough to have a bottle of this, drink it soon.
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13 Pinot Bianco Terlan (2008)
Comments: Rounded and rich style, with warm golden fruit flavors and a honeyed finish. A whiff of honeysuckle aromatics seal the deal. Goes surprisingly well with black olives!
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14 Casale Della Ioria Campo Novo (2007)
Comments: My first Cesanese! Very jammy and approachable, with just enough mushroominess to balance it out. Medium bodied, would probably stand up to a little chill for summertime. Would be fantastic with some grilled chicken and veggies or a light pasta.
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