Our Italian aisle is usually the last place I’m headed if I’m looking for a wine to go with food on the grill. Until now. While many do not consider this blend to be traditional “Italian,” the Fruili region in the Northeastern part of the country is more known for its Bordeaux varietals (Merlot, Cab Sauv, Cab Franc) than the usual suspects, like Sangiovese, Barbera or Nebbiolo. This is a blend of 50% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Refosco and is now my go-to wine for barbecue season.
Owner and winemaker Max di Lenardo is intensely passionate about every step of the process and isn’t afraid to march to the beat of his own drum or show his sense of humor. The name “Ronco Nolé” is actually Fruilian slang meaning “There is no hillside”, perhaps indicating the valley floor where these grapes were sourced. All joking aside, this is a seriously delicious wine loaded with blackberry, blueberry, dusty cedar, licorice, and dried cherry. Full bodied and mouth filling, this has a pleasant tug on the finish that cuts through all of those bold flavors. Blindfolded, you’d never guess this is Italian. It’s more like a wine that was born in Bordeaux’s Left Bank, was raised in Rioja, before relocating to Napa Valley’s Rutherford district. Back to the grill… this is worthy of your best steak, but priced modestly enough for a midweek burger; diLenardo’s Ronco Nolé will love anything you put over a flame.
- Noelle Starr, Wine Consultant