2013 Querceto Di Castellina Podalirio

Winemaker Jacopo Di Battista and his 2013 merlot sent me on a $25.99 trip to Tuscany. Not sure if it was Jacopo’s Italian accent, the sausage/mushroom bites or the aged provolone, but I couldn’t get enough of the Podalirio. It’s single vineyard, 100 percent merlot at its finest, from the family’s 200-acre estate. Hints of blackberry with a wink of blueberry come through with earthy notes on the finish.

Re-tasting the wine a week later from a huge tulip glass transformed it into a plush $80 bottle. I paired it with grilled chicken thighs. Yahtzee! Jacopo’s wife, Mary, suggests lamb. A perfect fit for Easter or Passover. Buy this wine at DeVitis Italian Market, West Point Market, Crave, BLU Jazz+ and H2 Wines Medina. (See Page 19 for more sips of merlot.)

— Phil Masturzo