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Drinking from the Boot

BY Kelly J. Hayes | December 31, 2018 | Feature Features

Impeccable wine lists transport drinkers to Italy.
Campo de Fiori manager Dave Ellsweig and bartender Adam Malmgren.

Aspen is 5,300 miles from Milan, but any wine-loving Milanese would feel at home perusing the wine lists of Aspen’s Italian restaurants.

When Tiziano Gortan, from Italy’s Friuli–Venezia Giulia wine region, opened L’Hostaria (620 E. Hyman Ave.,, wine was as critical to the concept as cuisine. He and his team, including wine experts Carlos Valenzuela and Fabrizio Brovelli, assembled a collection that celebrates the best of Italy, but especially the best of Barolo. “I think the strength of our list is its depth,” says Valenzuela. “We have the great vintages of Barolo going back, even into the 1960s.” Scoping the wine refrigerators reveals treasures from revered producers like Beppe Rinaldi, Conterno and Sandrone. “Barolo. It is the king,” says Brovelli.

At Campo de Fiori (205 S. Mill St.,, the cuisine of Neapolitan chef Giuseppe Garofalo has been paired with an affordable and accessible wine list from Italy’s top regions for more than 20 years. General Manager Dave Ellsweig says the focus is on finding great wines from great vintages with great value. “It is hard to go wrong with wines from 2013 or 2015,” he says of two recent notable years. “But we also find some great wines from 2014 that provide exceptional value, like the Rosso di Montalcino Antinori Pian delle Vigne 2014.” It’s a wine that drinks far above its $68 price.

Acquolina (415 E. Main St., founder Luigi Giordani hails from Rome and is passionate about the wines of his homeland. “I always do my best to represent Italy regionally, with diversity inclusive of well-known grapes, along with those less common,” he says. Indeed. Though his exceptional list includes heavy hitters from the key regions, when asked for a wine that speaks to him he selected Core (KOR-ay), a little known aglianico from an artisan producer in Campania that he pours by the glass.

And, at Casa Tua (403 S. Galena St.,, wine director Adam Etchegoyen oversees a cellar spanning the boot. “We always have a wine to represent every region of Italy,” he says. “Right now, we are loving the wines coming out of Sicilia and the area of Mount Etna.” He cites a single vineyard, Tiberio Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Colle Vota, as a current favorite from the cellar.

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