New Year’s Resolution: Drink More Good Wine with Jeff Osborne

With the new year just around the corner, folks are beginning to think about their resolutions. Often, they fall under three categories: health, happiness, and prosperity. For us, we’re looking to drink more good wine, so we sat down with Sommelier Jeff Osborne (who has a self professed affinity for Italian wine specifically) to make sure we start off the new year with the right glass of vino in hand.


Jeff Osborne’s career in the beverage space began while he was working in hotel and restaurant management. Soon after, it became all wine, all the time, thanks to his wine school teacher and mentor, Dr. Clinton Lee. “History, geography, culture, food and wine — pairing all these pieces that spoke to me led me to want to keep learning,” says Osborne. “I’m passionate primarily about Italian wine. I’ve travelled Italy for wine significantly more than anywhere else.”

Jeff Osborne in Greve in Chianti


Osborne predicts a revival of classic wines with a twist. “The natural wine trend is going out and classics are coming back,” he says. “It’s going to be in a lighter, fresher and more vibrant way,” he adds. He points to the world class wine region of Brunello di Montalcino in Tuscany: “I recently hosted a tasting where we began with the Riserva, next stepping down to the DOCG Brunello and then down to the DOC, which is a Rosso di Montalcino. Though many tasters immediately said they liked the most expensive wine, I personally prefer the Rosso di Montalcino.” Think of the Rosso di Montalcino as the Brunello di Montalcino’s younger sibling. It’s a medium bodied wine made using grapes from the youngest sangiovese vines. The fruit-forward characteristics combine with the emblematic acidity found in most Italian wines, making it easy to pair with almost anything — expect notes of cherry, violet and licorice with a hint of leather and tobacco.


Catania, Italy, near Mount Etna

Few wine terroirs are as fascinating as Mount Etna. Made from grapes grown in volcanic soil in Sicily, wines from this region are known for their minerality. “I was already naturally intrigued and in love with this region. You can get a nice wine in the $20 to $30 range that is probably the same quality you would pay three times the price for if it were from Burgundy. They’ve been very trendy for a lot of years and are on the verge of relaxing into a classic position,” says Osborne. These are typically medium bodied wines, with the reds being similar to a pinot noir and the whites reflecting a leaner take on chardonnay. “I think it’s endlessly disappointing that Italian winemakers need to relate themselves to famous French regions, though it’s a good comparison I suppose,” he laments.

The Etna Bianco DOC is made from the carricante grape, which is an ancient white wine grape that is required in all of the denomination’s wine.  For the standard Etna Bianco, a minimum of 60 per cent carricante must be used; Etna Bianco Superior requires at least 80 per cent. Etna Bianco wines are known for their surprisingly vibrant acidity, which is uncommon for southern varieties of wine. Alongside their signature slatey, mineral-forward character, you’ll find notes of citrus with cooling herbal elements like mint and aniseed.


Looking for the perfect gift? Look no further! Prosecco — typically made from glera grapes — is a quintessential aperitif known for its crisp and bright flavour. Notes of green apple, fresh flowers and stone fruit shine through. Often viewed as Italy’s answer to Champagne, Prosecco is a touch riper. “This is like one of the rare instances where the Italian wine [is] richer than its French counterpart.” He recommends keeping an eye out for vintages or small scale producers. Most Proseccos are non-vinted, denoted as NV on restaurant menus serving bubbly by the glass. “In order to be a vintage Prosecco, it has to reach a certain quality level. The winemakers have to feel like the ripeness is perfect and that it’s a great year for the grapes, and the Consorzio has to sign off,” Osborne explains. “For a gift, I would seek out something that’s special like that.”

With these Sommelier-approved wines, you’ll be well on your way to becoming an Italian wine aficionado. Make it your resolution to add these exciting wines to your list and to enjoy them with family and friends. Buon anno!


  • No comments yet.
  • Add a comment