Italian Grapes Worth Exploring

Recently I attended a wine tasting featuring little-known grapes of Italy. Led by Jan D’Amore of Jan D’Amore Wines, a Brooklyn, NY based importer and distributor, the wines were a mixture of whites and reds from various regions of Italy, personally selected by Jan himself.

A native of Rome, Italy, Jan came to the United States over 30 years ago to pursue a heavy metal music career with his bandmates. Settling in Los Angeles, he lasted six months with them, but refused to return to Rome. After some soul-searching, he headed east to New York to explore the art scene and display his talents as an artist. It was here Jan also waited tables and was exposed to the world of wine; growing up in Rome, he only knew the white table wines of Frascati. At the suggestion of an acquaintance, Jan’s next path took him into wine sales. Working as a sales rep for Viniferia Imports, he learned the ins and outs of the business before finally setting out on his own.  

Traveling around Italy and doing a lot of research is what led to his securing the first five producers in his collection. Now, following recommendations is a big part of how Jan finds his winemakers; currently he has over 30 producers in his portfolio. His website highlights each winemaker, the winery and the wines he distributes.

At the tasting, Jan opened seven wines from his portfolio; two whites and five reds. These were two of my favorites:

Ancarani Famoso ‘Signore’ 2016

Made from 100% Famoso grapes, this white wine was the first wine of the evening we tasted and I was immediately in love. Indigenous to the Emiliia-Romagna region of Italy, this grape was long considered extinct, but has been recently revitalized by some small vineyards, one of which is Ancarani. Fragrant and unique, this dry white has fresh floral aromas, ripe exotic-fruit notes, and is light and crisp on the palate.


Bussoletti Ciliegiolo di Narni “0535″

This Umbrian red is made from 100% Ciliegiolo grapes by vintner Leonardo Bussoletti. The name Ciliegiolo means “little cherry” so it is not surprising that the nose is crazy with fresh red cherries. There are also some floral notes with tones of black pepper. Luscious on the palate with mild acidity and very little tannin, strawberry and raspberry fruit stand out.


If Italian wines are your thing, then take some time and explore Jan’s site; you might discover something new and exciting. If you cannot find his wines in a store near you, then look for the grape from another producer. Or let me know and I would be happy to help!

Cin Cin!

Author: wineauxliving

Kim K. spent many years in the trade show and special event industry before following her passion by taking some wine classes. She took two with the American Sommelier Association in New York City, receiving certificates of completion - one in 2010 for their Foundation Course and one in 2011 for Viticulture and Vinification. In December 2015, she left the event industry behind and completed the Certified Specialist of Wine course with The Westchester Wine School. She has been working in the wine industry since 2016. Blogging on and off since 2009 on various topics, Kim is happy to return to the blogosphere with her wine blog. She is a resident of the lower Hudson Valley in New York.

2 thoughts on “Italian Grapes Worth Exploring”

  1. Thanks, Kim. Exploring is definitely my thing so these two are something to check out. Good food to have with them?

    1. Thanks, Eva, for your reply. The Famoso stands well on its own, but also pairs well with simple seafood dishes, a nice pasta primavera or white pizza. The Cilieglio would pair well with a grilled steak, cured meats, or a nice bolognese sauce. Enjoy!

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