Under the category “good problems to have” goes the moment of indecision that comes about when there are just too many delicious, well-priced wines available on a wine list. It most recently occurred for me when dining with friends at a brand new Italian joint in Brooklyn. After much discussion and debate (cru Beaujolais and natural Carignan were also high on the list), we settled on the G.B. Burlotto Verduno Pelaverga — and boy, was it a winner.
Pelaverga is a bit of an oddball grape, but it’s a charmer. Found almost exclusively in northern Italy’s Piedmont, it is known for producing light, lively, strawberry-scented wines. It competes for vineyard space with the lauded Nebbiolo and popular Barbera and Dolcetto grapes; as a result, Pelaverga is seen in minute quantities, confined to northern Barolo’s Verduno subregion and western Piedmont’s Colline Saluzzesi. A handful of producers have held onto their Pelaverga vines and produce easy-drinking wines with great value and character.
The historic producer Burlotto certainly made its mark on the Barolo region as one of the first to actually sell his Barolo in bottles, and has also traditionally carried the flag for the small Verduno area as well. It’s fitting, then, that Burlotto produces one of the most classic, characteristic Pelaverga wines available. Like a spring picnic, candied strawberry scents waft from the glass, accented by coarse pink peppercorn spice, green stems, and hints of earth. It bursts in the mouth, juicy, cheerful, and almost too drinkable. Pair this Pelaverga with light bites or put a light chill on the bottle and sip it happily any time of day.