Xyris… this week’s most unpronounceable (and delicious) Italian wine yet.

Yellow Australian Xyris Iris

Marotti Campi’s “Xyris” Lacrima di Morro d’Alba, is named after the Xyris Iris- and it smells just as fresh and floral as I assume does the flower for which it is named.  This semi-sweet, sparkling wine is made like Moscato d’Asti- partially fermented with a nice touch of
residual sweetness bracketed by soft, frothy bubbles.  This wine is a gorgeous deep lilac color- and the nose is pure violets, roses and blackberry pie.

I found this little gem at the Wine Club in Santa Ana, where Italian wine specialist Brian Holowka curates a comprehensive listing of Italian wines.  He found this wine, recognized how special it was, and quickly bought what he could.  For $11.99, he makes sure his customers are getting a great deal too!  From what he says, the Wine Club is also the only retailer carrying the wine in Southern California these days.

Lacrima di Morro d’Alba has a special place in my heart.  I remember I first encountered the wine during my first year attending Vinitaly, the big Italian wine trade show in Verona.  After tasting hundreeds of wines, one of our last stops was an appointment with a man named Stefano Mancinelli.  He makes beautiful Lacrima di Morro d’ Alba wines, as well as some fantastic Verdicchios.

As a novice wine taster,  Lacrima di Morro d’Alba was an epiphany of sorts.  As Daryl Corti puts it, there is a “characteristic scent and flavor of Lacrima, which, once tasted, is not easily forgotten”.  It was the first wine to teach me the most important lesson I ever learned about Italian wine.  Boiled down to its very essence, Italian wine is about a specific time and place.  It is this very visceral authenticity that makes all the indigenous wines and wine varietals of Italy so endlessly fascinating.

Lacrima di Morro d’Alba is truly like nothing else- it can only come from that grape, grown in that soil.  It is always violets for me- with an undertone of bubble gum and roses.  Since meeting Stefano Mancinelli that fateful day, just like Mr. Corti suggests, I’ve never forgotten it.