Stephen’s Pick: Monte Degli Angeli 2016 Pinot Noir; $9.99

When most wine drinkers think of Pinot Noir, they find their minds wandering to Oregon, California’s Russian River Valley, possibly New Zealand, and of course – Burgundy; the origin of this classic, intriguing, and esthetic varietal. Monte Degli Angeli’s Pinot Noir is produced from grapes grown in Piedmont, Italy which is well-known for Barolo and Barbaresco – the two most majestic, and powerful red wines made in Italy. Asti is also produced in Piedmont; however, no one in the wine industry (let alone the average consumer) would ever ordinarily associate this region with Pinot Noir. Nevertheless, Monte Degli Angeli’s elegant contribution to Pinot Noir’s continuing fascination with winemakers and wine enthusiasts alike is a must-try and astonishingly inexpensive version of this classic varietal.

Piedmont means “foot of the mountain” which refers to rolling Alpine foothills that are mostly too steep and too cold for vines; however, more than 17% of all of the DOC and DOCG wines in Italy are made there. Nearly all of Piedmont’s best vineyards are located in warmer areas further south where we find Alba, Asti, and Alessandria – Barolo and Barbaresco villages lie on either side of Alba and finally, Mombaruzzo, which is a commune within Asti just Southeast of Turin.

Monte Degli Angeli also produces Barolo and interestingly enough, the winery itself is in the Lecce Province, which is in the eastern portion of Italy’s continental “boot;” however, their grapes are imported from Piedmont. Are you confused yet? This complicated presentation of information alone might be enough to intrigue the average wine drinker to spend ten dollars in order to drink this dry, elegant, rich, and fruit-fresh Pinot Noir, but my advice is to forget its complicated legacy and enjoy the fact that you are drinking your favorite varietal which is made from grapes grown in Italy’s (and possibly the entire wine world’s) most famous winemaking region. The color is ruby-red with medium intensity, velvety mouth-feel, and not unlike some of the more expensive Oregon Pinot Noirs.

I am not one to “name names”, but I poured this Pinot Noir during a routine Wednesday afternoon tasting and one of Boise’s most experienced and highly educated sommeliers was utterly awe-struck, captivated, and mesmerized by this wine’s complexity, elegance, and uniqueness – especially after realizing that it was only $9.99. Are you ready to take a few bottles home? I am enjoying a glass of it right now…….