Charles Scicolone, wine director of the New York City shop Vino, has devoted his past 35 years to Italian wine. "It was a revelation," he says of his first contact with Chianti during a trip to Italy in 1970. Here, a few of Scicolone's more recent eureka moments (one might surprise you). At 121 E. 27th St.; 212-725-6516.
ONE FOR THE CELLAR Trebbiano isn't a very distinguished grape—that is, except in the hands of Eduardo Valentini. He plants only 2,000 vines per hectare, which means he sees extremely low yields. In addition, Valentini sells 90 percent of the grapes he grows, so his own wine production is quite small. The Trebbiano d'Abruzzo 1998 will last longer than ten years and improve with age. $68
THE DARK HORSE Faro Palari 2000 is made from five grapes, all indigenous to the area around Etna. The wine possesses an elegance far beyond anything that's coming out of Sicily right now—ripe berries with a bit of spice and a touch of vanilla. Because it's not very well known to most Americans, Faro is often overlooked. $58
THE BIG DEAL Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Emidio Pepe 1998 is a truly artisanal wine. The organically grown grapes are harvested, pressed, and bottled by hand. Vino still carries the 1975 vintage, which could keep for many more years. The '98 holds powerful notes of coffee, dried plum, and ripe dark fruit. $83
BEYOND ITALY Whenever I'm not drinking Italian wine, I look for Paul Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle, from the Rhône Valley in France. I recently tried the 1982 vintage. It was powerful and rich, with flavors of dark fruit, leather, and spice. The current vintage on offer is the 2001, which is also excellent. $130