Mike Madaio

Location: Paoli, PA

Mike is a food & drink writer based in the western suburbs of Philadelphia. His work has appeared in publications such as Wine Enthusiast, Palate Press and Philly Beer Scene. On Snooth, join Mike in his love and passion for Italian wine discoveries.

We Want the Funk

Tear the roof off the sucker, because here comes the funk!

I should explain. I like to refer to the savory notes that are common in old world wines generally as funk. This can include mushrooms, dirt, barnyard, tar, "scorched earth" (my favorite wine snob descriptor), forest floor, herbs, earth, smoke, meat, bacon, stinky cheese, and other things that you probably wouldn't think tasted good before you got into wine.

Though this funk can be found in many regions, I'm focusing on Italy, because, well, I focus on Italy. Here are some examples of wines and grapes with good funk.

Also, here's a handy guide to common funky aromas & grapes:

Nebbiolo & Barbera: Mushrooms
Sangiovese: Leather
Aglianico: Tar, Scorched Earth

Of course, these are just generalizations.

So, put on some funk and smell some funk!



Rank Wine Rating Price
1 Mocali di Ciacci Tiziano Morellino di Scansano (2010)
Comments: Killer aroma right now - earthy dirt, forest floor, and leather. Palate is bursting with vibrant red cherries. Quite tannic. Tasty now but feels like it needs a few years on its side to reach its peak.
Previously available for $14.99
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2 Damilano Nebbiolo d'Alba (2008)
Comments: Classic neb nose of mushrooms, along with some earth and stinky cheese. Not the most complex palate, but a good, well-priced entry level Nebbiolo.
Average price: $12.99 from 1 store
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3 Monleale Vigneti Massa (2006)
Comments: Mushrooms (especially right away), tar, and a bit of smoke. Palate features some great ripe red fruits, strawberry, cherry and raspberry. Notes of vanilla and spice on the finish. Oak is wonderfully integrated - plays a role but but does not overwhelm. Lots of acidity makes this a wonderful food wine (paired amazingly with a tomato-based pork ragu).
Previously available for $16.99
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4 Rocca Dei Sanniti Taburno (2006)
Comments: Aroma is great – aged cheese, tar, smoke, meat, soap, leather and sour cherry all play a part. Palate features more sour cherry, herbs, firm acidity and moderately dry tannins. Versatile with food, but needs it. Good QPR.
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5 Celli Sangiovese di Romagna Superior le Grillaie Riserva (2008)
Comments: Assaults the nose with funky, earthy, leathery bliss, which is great (if that's your thing). Nice red berry notes as well, and smooth, with enough acidity to pair well with food. Solid stuff.
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6 Coppadoro Radicosa Red (2003)
Comments: This is a great example of how great Montepulciano can be - for a long time I thought it only made cheap, pizza wine. This, on the other hand, is on another level. Rich, dark fruit, big body. Moderate acidity. Tannin is certainly there, but is balanced. A great sense of old world dirt. Silky smooth finish. I love this wine!
Previously available for $46.13
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7 Sella & Mosca Terre Rare Carignano del Sulcis Riserva DOC Sardegna (2005)
Comments: Earthy, funky nose. Great stuff. Juicy red fruits on the palate, plus ample, strong tannins on the finish.
Previously available for $25.85
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