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Wine of the week: Cantina di Casteggio Barbera 2014

Cantina di Casteggio The Cantina di Casteggio barbera is a cheap, funky, rustic Italian red – for which the Wine Curmudgeon is grateful

The Cantina di Casteggio ($9, purchased, 12.5%) is so terroir-driven and varietally correct that I could hardly wait to write about it. So what’s the only comment for this Italian red, made with the barbera grape, on Cellar Tracker, the blog’s unofficial wine inventory app? “Nose is very funky. … Sour and funky on the palate.”

Which, of course, it’s supposed to be. But the modern wine business, with its cheerleaders in the Winestream Media, has taught us that all wines are supposed to be smooth and fruity. Otherwise, we’re not supposed to like them.

So yes, the Cantina di Casteggio is funky. It’s supposed to be funky. And, dare I say, rustic and earthy, which it also is. And yes, sour, as in sour cherries. It’s an Italian wine from Lombardy, not a merlot from the Central Coast of California. My point here? No, you don’t have to like this wine. But please try and understand that all wine does not taste alike, and that it’s OK for a wine to taste funky.

Pair this with sausages and red sauce and uses lots of grated cheese when you do. And take a deep whiff before you taste it. Because funky isn’t all that common any more.

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