I have an unreasonable attachment to A16– one of my favorite restaurants because it was a game-changer for Italian food and wine on the West Coast.  Before A16, did we drink Carricante and Nerello Mascalese?  Did anyone truly understand how simple and perfect a slice of pizza could be?

If you’ve tasted A16’s pizza, my description will pale in comparison.  The tangiest, freshest tomato sauce ever, spotted with a fresh, milky mozzarella.  A few bright, peppery shards of basil scattered over top, and underneath, a thin sheet crispy, well-seasoned crust. This is the kind of classic Neapolitan perfection you only really find… in Napoli.

What better vehicle for a glass of wine (red, white or sparkling) than a Pizza Margherita?  This is the inherent brilliance in most Italian cuisine- simplicity and uncomplicated ingredients make for the perfect backdrop to most earthy, terroir-driven vino.  Shelly Lindgren’s iconic Italy-focused wine list gives you plenty of options at A16.

We ordered a lovely Perticaia Montefalco Rosso– one of my favorite expressions of Sangiovese- with the added bonus of that prickly-wonderful Umbrian grape, Sagrantino.  

Perticaia means “the plow” in an archaic Umbrian dialect, which is why the winery’s owner Guido Guardigli chose the word to represent his farm.  The focus with this winery is clearly on agriculture and the result is a wine that speaks volumes about the terroir of Montefalco.

Another clue to the quality of the wine- the importer is a local Bay Area company called Zig Zagando.  One of those importers whose name you should know, as every wine they import is guaranteed to be weird (in the best way), wacky (indigenous, small-production and under-represented) and wonderful.

Fresh, vibrant, with loads of berries and Italian plums, this Rosso di Montefalco from Perticiaia is exactly the kind of delicious, mouth-watering young wine you want to quaff with a hot slice of pizza.  Although there is no substitute for eating pizza in Italy, in my humble opinion, this is as close as it gets.

Thank you, A16, from Italian Wine (and food) Geeks everywhere.