By Robert Parker On a cold winter's night there's nothing more satisfying than simple fare such as a steaming bowl of spaghetti and meatballs or a lasagna, its pockets of sauce still bubbling as the dish comes out of the oven. Whether you're enjoying these comfort foods at a trattoria or at home, here are a few Italian wines that make these dishes even more special. They will please the palate and the purse.
Di Majo Norante 2005 Sangiovese IGT
90 points. It offers an amazing display of strawberry and black cherry intermixed with floral, new saddle leather, and earth notes. Aged in foudres (extra large barrels), it is a stunning example of sangiovese that should drink well for two to three years. $11
La Carraia 2005 Sangiovese IGT
89 points. This wine is aged three months in French oak and bottled early to preserve its fruit. Its dense ruby/purple-hued color is accompanied by sweet black cherry and berry fruit, forest floor, and spring flower characteristics. Good density, medium body, and a dry, fresh, lively, tangy finish suggest it will be enjoyable for two to three years. $11
Zardetto Non-Vintage Prosecco Brut Conegliano
88 points. One of the finest widely available proseccos in the marketplace, this fresh, lively sparkler, a blend of 95% prosecco and 5% chardonnay, exhibits notions of orange rind, brioche, and honeyed grapefruit. Light-bodied, effervescent, and packing plenty of flavor in its delicate personality, it should be enjoyed within a year of purchasing. $12
Argiolas 2005 Costamolino Vermentino di Sardegna
91 points. The delicate straw color of this cuvée is followed by beautiful aromas of almond, orange, lemon, honey, apple skin, and a hint of tropical fruits. This crisp, elegant, medium-bodied, intense white should be enjoyed over the next year. $14
Argiolas 2005 Costera
91 points. This powerhouse red represents Sardinia's version of Châteauneuf du Pape. It is composed of 90% cannonau (a local grape believed to be a derivative of grenache) and 5% each of carignano and bovale sardo. It boasts sweet black cherry interwoven with notes of pepper, Provençal herbs, spice box, and licorice as well as superb texture and depth. Drink it over the next two to three years. $15
Tiefenbrunner 2005 Pinot Bianco dell'Alto Adige
89 points. This white wine displays lovely aromas of flowers, tropical fruits, especially mandarin oranges, buttered lemons, and a hint of pineapple. Delicious, fresh, and medium-bodied, with loads of fruit, crisp acidity, and pronounced aromatics, this is a gorgeous white to enjoy over the next year. $15
Monti 2005 Montepulciano d'Abruzzo
90 points. Winemaking consultant Riccardo Cotarella has changed this once-burly, almost uncivilized wine to a more sophisticated, pure, polished offering. Monti's dense purple-colored wine (it includes 5% sangiovese) was aged in oak foudres. It offers vivid blackberry, melted licorice, pepper, and herb characteristics along with a full-bodied, powerful, yet pure, supple-textured style. Drink it over the next two to three years. $18
Wines rated from 96-100 are extraordinary; 90-95, excellent; 80-89, above average to very good.
Robert Parker is the world's most influential wine critic. Visit www.eRobertParker.com to see tens of thousands of tasting notes, buy his books, or subscribe to his newsletter, The Wine Advocate.