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Old Italian Wines 1996 – 1949 | Part 3 Largely Unknown

In this third and last post about the Old Italian Wines tasting, I cover the group of largely unknown wines.

Mostly Unknown

The goal of this grouping was to taste wines from unknown producers or wines of known producers without published tasting notes.  I thought it was the most interesting set.  The 1971 Lungarotti, Torgiano Rubesco is my favorite of this group for it is aromatic, fruity, and crisp.  I should very much like to try a Riserva.  From the same excellent vintage, it is not surprising that the 1971 Giovanni Scanavino, Barolo Riserva drinks well.  What is surprising is that the 1961 Molinelli Giuseppe, Valtidone Gutturnio will outlive all of the wines we tasted.  This is a zippy, red fruited wine given life by the acidity.  It is bottled in heavy, substantial glass.  From the same vintage I also enjoyed the more linear 1961 Cantine di Venosa, Aglianico del Vulture, Riserva Enoselezone.  It is a dry wine with sappy acidity and a foxy note.  While it will not develop further it is very much alive.  By far the oldest Sangiovese I have tasted is the 1949 Fattorie del Piceno, Cantine di Montefano, Montefano Sangiovese “Dry”, Rosso Piceno Extra.  This is a label created just one year prior to the vintage.  I thought the wine had faded off but then it came back to life and hung around for a few days.  It is a gentle old wine with interest from the menthol and old leather.

In the end, the average quality of the wines tasted, as well as the peak quality did not match those we tried at An exploratory tasting of mature Nebbiolo 1975-1954.  This is not surprising.  However, the oldest wines tasted, made from Raboso, Aglianico, Barbera, and Sangioviese (!) while simpler in flavor than Piemonte wines, certainly have longevity.  I can imagine these wines lending life-lengthening qualities to the Alto-Piemonte bottles we tasted before.

1979 Angelo Gaja, Nebbiolo del Piemonte
Imported by T. Elenteny. Alcohol 12%.  Not attractive on the nose, actually it stinks.  Robust tart red and cherry fruit, some animale notes then it becomes undrinkable.  Not Rated.

1971 Giovanni Scanavino, Barolo Riserva
Imported by T. Elenteny. Alcohol 13%.  Concentrated aromas of sweaty, sweet old fruit on the nose.  In the mouth spearmint greats.  This wine still has grip and structure with sweet mint, slightly racy in the middle, bits of minerals and lipsticky finish.  Watering acidity throughout.  Holds up well.  ** Now but will last.

1971 M. Mascarello, Nebbiolo d’Alba
Imported by T. Elenteny. Alcohol 12%.  Not right compared to other bottles of this wine.  Not rated.

1971 Ricasoli, Chianti
Imported by T. Elenteny. Alcohol 12%.  Tart, simple, and short with wood notes.  Not undrinkable, rather a survivor of very simple flavor. * Now.

1971 Lungarotti, Torgiano Rubesco
Imported by T. Elenteny. Alcohol 12%.  A light to medium color.  Sweet, concentrated aromas on the nose of old wine then it freshens up with air.  Still fruity in the start with a fresh personality, old-school flavors in the middle, and a crispy finish.  Satisfying.  *** Now.

1967 Giacomo Conterno, Freisa
Imported by T. Elenteny. Alcohol 12%.  A medium, brick color.  Roasted aromas on the nose.  In the mouth is tart, red fruit, strong acidity, then a finish of gentle red strawberry.  The roast returns indicating this is past prime.  *(*) Now.

1966 Cantina Sociale Ponte di Piave, Raboso Piave
Cantina Sociale Ponte di Piave was founded in 1948 by a small group of winemakers trying to survive during the tough postwar years.  A new facility was built in 1955 and by 1964, there were more than 360 members of the cooperative.  Imported by T. Elenteny. Alcohol 13%.  Nuts on the nose.  Plenty of tart, red fruit in the mouth, acidity, still structured, and acidic end.  A blood note develops.  This wine drank the same for days, it appears to be true to the grape.  *(*) Now but will last.

1966 Cantina Centrale Cooperativa, Cacc’e Mmitte, Riserva Enoselezone
Cacc’e Mmitte, located in Puglia, is named after an ancient vinification technique where the farmhouses equipped with tanks for the crush rented them out.  Tenants had to be finished by the end of their term for the next person.  Imported by T. Elenteny. Alcohol 12%.  A very light, browning color.  Delicate, sweet old fruit in the mouth.  A gentle wine with low acidity, sweet red fruit in the finish.  Appealing in a way but soft, simple, short, and solid.  *(*) Now.

1961 Cantine di Venosa, Aglianico del Vulture, Riserva Enoselezone
Cantine di Venosa was founded in 1957 by 25 members and today has more than 400.  Imported by T. Elenteny. Alcohol 12%.  Good nose with dry, linear flavors in the mouth.  Sappy acidity, a polished wood note, and dry extract.  This is a good, sharp with with an attractive foxy presence. ** Now but will last.

1961 Molinelli Giuseppe, Valtidone Gutturnio
Most likely a blend of Barbera with Croatina (Bonardo).  Guttornio is located in Emilio-Romagna.  Imported by T. Elenteny.  Powdery flavor with noticeable, zippy acidity, and red cranberry flavors.  There is a firm wood note.  In amazing shape, the red flavors match the zippy, crisp nature.  Drank well for hours.  ** Now – 2028.

1949 Fattorie del Piceno, Cantine di Montefano, Montefano Sangiovese “Dry”, Rosso Piceno Extra
The “Cantine di Montefano” brand was registered in 1948.  Montefano is located in the Marche.  Imported by T. Elenteny. Alcohol 12-13%.  Dry and linear but dimension comes from dry extract.  Solid and initially appears to not hold up but then it breathes back to life.  Hints of menthol mix with finely textured red fruit and leather.  Modest body.  ** Now.

Patent for “Cantine di Montefano” business mark granted in 1948.

Drinks from the holiday weekend

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There was no shortage of grilled food and wine this Memorial Day weekend.  Thanks to many generous people I got to try decades worth of wine.  An inexpensive bottle of NV L.A. Cetto Vino Espumoso from Baja California enlivened a lunchtime sangria.   The first serious wine is a magnum of 2006 Macarico, Aglianico del Vulture which smelled and tasted great from the very first pour.  It still has strength but the tannic edges are receding such that you notice the dark fruit and minerals.  I wish I could age more of these wines.  The 1998 Chapoutier, Hermitage Monier de La Sizeranne showed much better oak integration than when tasted last summer.  It is a substantial wine with a long future.  The 1971 M. Mascarello, Nebbiolo d’Alba held up for several hours after double-decanting.  It was sweaty on the nose, in an attractive old-school way to me, but better in the mouth with lively acidity and a core of flavor.

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The 1971 M. Mascarello helped show how a 1976 Chateau de Beaucastel, Chateauneuf du Pape was even fruitier with notes of old wood.  It made for a perfectly good drink.  I will follow this post with a real tasting note.  The magnum of 2007 Domaine Ponsot, Morey St. Denis 1er Cru Cuvee des Alouettes showed on the elegant side of the spectrum with very clean fruit.  Other drinks include a 2003 Le Vieux Donjon, Chateauneuf du Pape that is youthful and packs quite a lot of forward fruit.

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Roland opened a slew of bottles including 1990 Alain Graillot, La Guiraude, Crozes-Hermitage.  This wine is made from a selection of the best barrels and is certainly the oldest Crozes-Hermitage that I have tasted.  This was still clean and fresh with that sense of lightness a Crozes can offer.  It was almost suspended in time.

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The 2007 Henri Bonneau, Chateauneuf du Pape was quite tight right after double-decanting.  Nevertheless a few minutes of swirling coaxed an elegant wine.  It has quite a bit of focus and certainly more heft than the ethereal Marie Beurrier can have.  The 2001 Domaine Bois De Bourson, Chateauneuf du Pape showed great right out of the decanter.  It is drinking near peak with earthy flavors and garrigue delivered with grip.  A pour from the end of the 1990 Jamet, Cote Rotie provided a really good glass.  There was an aspect of elegance to the maturing and complex flavors.

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The 1994 Chateau de Fonsalette, Cotes du Rhone drank quite well.  This is a generous Rayas wine made from Syrah.  It is floral with dark blue fruit, wood notes, and good complexity.

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I also tried a surprisingly savory, dense, and fruity bottle of 1996 Chateau Ste Michelle, Merlot Reserve, Columbia Valley.  This came from a mediocre vintage and if this took a toll on the wine it was only that the finish was a bit short.  This wine was made under David Lake MW which probably explains why it is still balanced and lively.  There is not much Charbono around so you should try whatever you can.  The 2011 Calder Wine Company, Charbono, Meyer Vineyard, Napa Valley is still not up to the quality of the 2009 vintage but it reveals vintage perfume unique to the grape.

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As for dessert wines the half-bottle of 1983 Zilliken, Saarburger Rausch Riesling Eiswein contained only 7% alcohol.  The undoubtedly high levels of residual sugar were perfectly balanced by the acidity.   It is really easy to drink and is entering the middle of life.  Finally, a double-decanted 1977 Warre’s, Vintage Port needed just a little air before showing dense flavors of dark blue, racy fruit. Good stuff!  There were some other wines I tried but I did not get a look at the bottles.

Really Good Aglianico del Vulture

February 25, 2013 Leave a comment

Just a quick post as I recover from the massive array of notes taken during Mondovino 2013.  I grabbed this bottle of Basilisco because it was 15 years old and the wines I have tasted from Aglianico del Vulture have been capable of aging.  Though Basilisco was only founded in 1992 the winery dates back to the fifteenth century when the cellar was dug out of the volcanic tufa.  Two wines are produced from the 20 hectares of vines on the hillsides of Mount Vulture where the vines are located between 300 and 500 meters in elevation.  This wine is young, surprisingly so.  It was a bit robust at first but with several hours of air it became quite good and expressed its future potential.  I recommend you buy a few bottles for the cellar.  Many thanks  to John Fusciello and Julia Schwende for helping me out.  This wine was purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

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1998 Azienda Agricola Anna Nigro, Basilisco, Aglianico del Vulture – $26
Imported by Vinifera Imports.  This wine is 100% Aglianico which was fermented in stainless steel tanks then aged for 12-18 months in used French oak barriques.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The color was medium garnet.  The medium strength nose was pungent with roast earth and dusty, tart berries.  In the mouth there were robust flavors on the front of the tongue with tart red fruit, some wood box, and metallic minerals.  With air the flavors became blacker and seemed chiseled of stone.  Medium textured tannins came out in the drier finish, along with hints of tobacco, orange peel, and vanilla.  ***(*) 2018-2028.

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The Lovely Aromas of Aglianico del Vulture

December 6, 2012 Leave a comment

Just a quick post for today but do give heed to these wines.  Azienda Agricola Eubea is a new producer to me and I must admit I am now curious.  The nose was incredibly engaging, if you are a frequent reader of my notes you know I do not typically string descriptors together.  In comparison the flavors are tight.  You could buy a bottle simply to smell it but I would be tempted to give it some time in the cellar to loosen up.  The Paternoster is enjoyable as well with just a few hours of air.  It is a more refined example with an attractive wood box component.  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2007 Azienda Agricola Eubea, Eubearosso, Aglianico del Vulture – $15
Imported by David Vincent Selections.  This wine is 100% Aglianico sourced from 40-60 year old vines.  Alcohol 13%.  The light to medium strength nose is of scented red fruit, nutmeg, Thanksgiving spices, leather, and tobacco. Wow!  In the mouth there is red fruit and leather flavors with medium coarse tannins from the start.  There is tart black fruit and acidity, concentration in the finish, and drier flavors.  Despite the interesting nose this remained tight in the mouth.  Cellar a few years.  **(*) 2015-2022.

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2008 Paternoster, Synthesi, Aglianico del Vulture – $25
Imported by Banville & Jones Wine Merchants.  This wine is 100% Aglianico sourced from vines at 450-600 meters.  It was aged in 80% large Slavonian oak barrels and 20% French barriques.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The color is a medium cranberry ruby.  The light nose is of red fruit and wood box.  In the mouth there is focused black and red fruit with acidity on the sides of the tongue.  The focused fruit continues and is more refined than the Eubea.  This is a nice wine that is evocative of Bordeaux.  *** 2014-2022.

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2006 and 2007 Bisceglia, Gudarra

October 20, 2011 Leave a comment

When I found out that MacArthurs was out of the 2007 Bisceglia, Terre di Vulcano I promptly contacted Tim and found out that they had two vintage of the Gudarra in stock.  The Gudarra is 100% Aglianico sourced from the Foragine and Le Cortiglie vineyards located at 1200 feet of elevation.  The vineyard was planted in 2001 and the fruit is typically harvested in late October.  It is fermented in stainless steel then aged for 12 months in 100% new French barriques.

These two vintages of Bisceglia are imported by Winebow.  The 2006 costs $19 and the 2007 costs $22 at MacArthurs.  While these are not the stunning value of the Terre di Vulcano, they are excellent wines worthy of trying and certainly worth the price.  I would recommend drinking the Terre di Vulcano while these vintages of Gudarra age.

2006 Bisceglia, Gudarra, Aglianico del Vulture, Basilicata
This wine has dark red fruit flavors, while related to the prune notes of the 2007, lean more towards black tea and dried herbs.  This is less fruit driven, instead offering up a drier, complex blend of herbs that are interesting to ponder.  This is approachable now but the flavors are controlled so I would either decant it ahead of time or age it to allow more expansion. *** Now-2017.

2007 Bisceglia, Gudarra, Aglianico del Vulture, Basilicata
This wine is riper than the 2006 with Jenn finding strong flavors of good prune.  In the mouth the dark, ripe fruit is gritty and presents a lot of up-front texture.  I found interesting notes of mushrooms and stones.  This flavorful wine leaves the impression of perfect balance between fruit, tannins, and acidity.  While it is enjoyable now, I suspect this vintage will develop for a few more years before hitting its stride and lasting for some time. **(*) 2014-2019.

2007 Bisceglia, Terre di Vulcano, Aglianico del Vulture DOC

September 23, 2011 1 comment

Monte Vulture, Basilicata, Image by 0000007 (flickr)

Aglianico del Vulture is a DOC located around Monte Vulture which is located in the northern portion of Basilicata.  Basilicata is the southern region located between the heel of Puglia and the toe of Campania.  The vineyards lie on volcanic soils at high altitudes of 1500-2200 feet.  As a result of the cool temperature the Aglianico is often harvested in October and November.

Geologic Map of Monte Vulture, Image from La Volpe & Pricipe, 1991

The Bisceglia is imported by Winebow and was recently available at MacArthurs for $11.  There was a stack of this wine quietly sitting at the back of MacArthur’s but now it is gone.  It is currently available at Calvert Woodley for $14.  This is a wine that Jenn and I have been drinking throughout the summer.  It was an interesting wine that developed in the glass, so drinkable, and incredibly affordable that I only wrote down my tasting notes last week!  At $11 it was a mind-blowing deal but at $14 it is still a good value wine.  I really enjoy the volcanic wines of Italy and recommend that you give them a try. *** Now-2017.

2007 Bisceglia, Terre di Vulcano, Aglianico del Vulture DOC
This wine is 100% Aglianico sourced from the Toppo di Viola vineyard.  This vineyard is located at 1250 feet on volcanic, limestone, clay, and loam soils and was recently planted in 2001.  The grapes were fermented then aged in stainless steel.  There is a dark nose of cherries.  In the mouth this medium to full-bodied wine has textured fruit, minerals, and good power.  The tart red fruit is supported by salivating acidity and textured tannins that coat the inside of the mouth.  While this wine is quite open and easy to drink due to its forwardness, it will clearly last for years to come.

Three Wines From Italy, 25 July 2008

From time to time I ask my local wine merchant for Italian recommendations and I’m usually not disappointed. The Cavallotto was clearly a step up in quality (and price) from the Giochi and Venosa. I imagine this will smell great once it matures. For now you must inhale deeply. The Giochi delivered well straight from the bottle and wouldn’t get lost in a crowd of budget wines. The Venosa took some time to get going but maintained is pervasive smoked tea leaf aromas and flavors. It reminded me of tea smoked duck (the process not the duck), perhaps this is tobacco to others. Jenn and I preferred the Giochi over the Venosa but then Jenn took a liking to the Venosa.

2004 Antichi Giochi, Boci, Monferrato Rosso – $13
This wine is made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Barbera. It was made in steel and aged for 12 months in French oak barrels. It is a very dark, deep purple ruby. There is a light nose of dark fruit and perhaps fresh green veggies. In the mouth there are tart berries, that start off tight but slowly round out with air. There medium to full bodied wine has an inky aftertaste, with very fine but thorough tannins. A different type of wine than I am used to but enjoyable and well done at this price point.

2003 Cantina di Venosa, Terre di Orazio, Aglianico del Vulture – $13
This wine is 100% Aglianico that is 15-30 years of age. It is aged for 12-15 months in 5-10 year old Slovenian oak casks. A little light in color and more garnet than the Giochi. A light to medium nose of smoked tea leaf and tar. In the mouth there are some blue fruits with a pervasive smoked tea leaf flavor. The fruit sweetens after several hours of air. It is medium to light-bodied with fine, assertive tannins.

2005 Cavallotto, Nebbiolo, Bricco Boschis, Langhe – $26
The Cavallotto family has been growing Nebbiolo since 1929 and bottling their own wine since 1948. This 100% Nebbiolo wine is mature in oak casks. There is a very subtle nose of beautiful, dark red fruit. In the mouth there is dark fruit with immediately noticeable acidity, combined with tea/tobacco flavors and a good amount of ultrafine tannins. This is clearly a young wine but is drinking very well. The tannins are very nice considering it spent 18-24 months in oak.