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5218 Lawton Avenue
Oakland, CA 94114

510-654-9159

Oliver McCrum Wines has been importing small production Italian wine and distributing to fine retail and restaurant establishes throughout California since 1994. Over time, our portfolio of producers has steadily grown to over 45 producers from 15 different regions of Italy. We look for typical Italian wines with clarity and freshness, usually made from indigenous Italian grape varieties using clean, transparent winemaking techniques and no obvious use of oak. 

Le Fraghe

What is wine for? I think most wine exists to make food taste good; we've sort of forgotten this in the last few years, with the blockbuster era of dark, concentrated, 'collectible' red wines. Bardolino is the opposite, a wine for drinking with food, and Matilde Poggi at Le Fraghe makes a very good one.

The Bardolino growing area is between the base of Lake Garda and the hills where Valpolicella is grown, not far from Verona in North-East Italy. Matilde Poggi's winery is outside of the town of Affi; her Bardolino contains more Corvina than normal, 80%, the remaining 20% being Rondinella (both varieties are indigenous). The grapes are estate-grown organically and the two varieties are picked and fermented seperately; after being aged in stainless-steel tanks the wine is bottled in the spring. This wine would be overwhelmed by oak, and the transparent winemaking style here is very capably assisted by the dynamic consulting winemaker Federico Giotto, who also works with my Prosecco producer Sorelle Bronca.

Garganega 'Camporengo'

Garganega is the principal grape variety in Soave, which is grown east of Verona, less than an hour from Le Fraghe, and it is indigenous to the area. 'Camporengo' is the name of the place where the Garganega vineyard is located. This fresh, attractive white wine is fermented and aged entirely in stainless steel, and bottled early in the year following the vintage. (The only unusual aspect of the winemaking is that the must is slightly concentrated, when necessary, by freezing some of the grapes before pressing.) Aroma and flavor are of apple, almond and herbs, with a hint of white peach, making this a very good everyday bottle of white wine. Bottled under screwcap, which retains the varietal delicacy better than cork. 

Read more about screwcaps here.

Bardolino Chiaretto

There are very few traditional Italian rosés, despite being such useful wines when the weather's warm. We have been collecting them recently; one of our new finds is this charming rosato (called, traditionally, 'Chiaretto') from Matilde Poggi, our excellent producer of Bardolino. It's a saignée* of her red Bardolino, pale pink in color and redolent of wild strawberries with hints of bitter herbs; we drink it with salmon and other substantial fish dishes, and it's very good with grilled chicken or pork. It's made of Corvina (80%) and Rondinella, two of the traditional indigenous varieties from the area, fermented and aged in stainless steel, and it's bottled under screwcap, to retain freshness.

* a portion of the pink juice is bled off from the red wine fermentation, to give a pink wine as well as a more concentrated red wine (more concentrated because the remaining fermentation has a higher solid-to-liquid ratio).

Bardolino

Le Fraghe Bardolino tastes of cherries, blueberries, and herbs, with hints of orange peel, cinnamon and black pepper; it works with a range of dishes (pork, chicken, grilled salmon). The body of the wine is velvety (not unlike Pinot Noir), with balancing acidity, very drinkable; if the measure of a good wine is that you wish the bottle had another glass left in it, this wine is perfect.