Picking a wine involves so much now. Everything factors into the decision including the name of the vintner, appearance of the bottle, reputation and of course, the price. I think that for most, especially the novice wine drinker, read that as the normal person, unless you have a personal preference, the price of a bottle of wine is a major consideration and that is a consideration of this column. I’ve found that there are so many good wines at reasonable prices that unless you are a bona fide connoisseur, a sommelier or shopping for a once in a lifetime occasion, a good wine does not have to break the bank. It is to people like that, people like me, that I have dedicated this column.
Scaia Corvina Veneto is produced by the Castagnedi family winery. This wine is made up of 100% Corvina grapes which are a story all unto themselves. The entire crop of these grapes is grown in the Veneto region of Northeastern Italy except for a very small crop, about 47 acres, grown in Argentina. The grapes are used in conjunction with several other varieties to produce Bardolino and Valpolicella, which are lighter red regional wines, as well as in Amarone and Recioto. These blends are to be sure lighter than say a Chianti or a Sangiovese, but are flavorful and satisfying, and as such are very popular around the globe. Scaia, made solely of these grapes has a light to medium body but packs a load of flavor, simple because of the taste of the grape, but complex enough due to the fermentation and aging process. The naturally high acidity makes it a little on the tart side with a finish slightly tasting of dark, sour cherries.The grape itself ripens late and has been known to produce high yields, not all of which are suitable to wine-making. In fact the earlier fruits are sometimes discarded.
It was in the 1980’s that four Castagnedi brothers worked together to open their own winery with 50 acres they had inherited from their father.In 2006 they started a new project, giving it the name of Scaia which referenced the type of chalky, granular soil that broke apart easily. In the Veronese dialect, the name translates as crumbs, reminiscent of coarsely grated Parmesan cheese. An easy segue here too, because this wine pairs so well with cheeses making it a perfect component of a wine and cheese gathering.
The history of the winery does not go back very far as I said above. But the innovation, the motivation, the product and the conduct of this winery is a tribute to old time traditional family values. Again, four brothers getting together, forming a business in a very competitive field and coming up with products of which any would be proud. Scaia Corvina was a find for me. At just under $13, the plain, stark grey bottle drew me at first. Nothing ornate here. Just a bottle that said “wine” to me. In the glass the deep color is very impressive but it is the aroma that keeps the interest, and the flavor, light bodied with the taste of the grape being dominant. On the palate it is dry and a bit of a vanilla flavor tries to come through as does some leather, it is truly a feast for the senses.
I never really ascribed to the “white with fish…” theory and this wine is a perfect example of an exception to that rule. It is light enough, though you would not expect that from the color, to enjoy with poultry or strong fish, but also will stand up well to beef ribs or roast lamb. The alcohol content is 13% which is about average for a good sipping wine also. Try it with appetizers, scallops wrapped in bacon come to mind.
A product of which the Castagnedi brothers and their ancestors can be proud will become a fixture on my table. I have sampled many wines in this price range, and many which are more expensive, and Scaia can stand up very well to any of them. While it could stand about an hour decanting, it is excellent on its own. Just a thought here. This would be a perfect wine for someone starting on a wine journey. Not overly strong or heavy, very good on its own and at a good price point, this is an excellent wine as an introduction to good wine tasting. Enjoy it!