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A Pair of Italian Wines Imported by Banville & Jones Wine Merchants

This week we tasted an interesting pair of Italian wines imported by Banville & Jones Wine Merchants.  When it comes to Italian white wines I often have absolutely no idea on what to expect.  While this might demonstrate ignorance to some I find it drives my curiosity.  The 2012 San Salvatore, Pian di Stio, Paestum Fiano  is packaged in an attractively proportioned squat half-liter bottle.  Everyone commented on the bottle shape instead of the graphic of the water buffalo.  The San Salvatore winery is located near the Cilento National Park towards the bottom third of Italy.  To respect the land it is farmed biodynamically and biologically.  This includes the use of horndung, other homemade fertilizers, copper, and sulphur.  This particular bottle is named after a plateau, presumably where the fruit is sourced from, in one of the vineyards.  With just a brief amount of air this becomes an attractive wine, offering up ample aromas of flint and flavors of white citrus.  I have never drunk Fiano before but both Jenn and I liked it.  I did not detect any copper notes.

The second wine we tasted was produced by Kellerei Cantina Andrian which is located in the top north-east portion of Italy.  Cantina Andrian was founded in 1893 as the first cooperative in the Alto Adige but absorbed into Cantina Terlano in 2008.  Despite this combination the wines are produced separately and to good effect.  The 2012 Kellerei Cantina Andrian, Rubeno, Lagrein, Alto Adige is an outright tasty wine to drink.   I would stock up on this wine for warm summer nights.  Your palate will not get fatigued and when you find the bottom of the bottle you will be pleased to find it has a lower alcohol content. Drink it on a warm summer night. These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2012 San Salvatore, Pian di Stio, Paestum Fiano, Campania – $23 (500 mL)
Imported by Banville & Jones Wine Merchants.  This wine is 100% Fiano sourced from six year old vines located on calcareous clay soils at 1300-1480 feet.  The wine is raised and aged for 10 months in stainless steel.  Alcohol 13%.  There was a pure nose of minerals and flint with very white fruit.  In the mouth were clean flavors of white citrus fruit that had a creamy surrounding.  The fruit mixed with stone notes and left a light texture in the aftertaste.  *** Now-2015.

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2012 Kellerei Cantina Andrian, Rubeno, Lagrein, Alto Adige – $17
Imported by Banville & Jones Wine Merchants.  This wine is 100% Lagrein sourced from red clay soils with gravel and stones located at 250 meters.  It was fermented in stainless steel the underwent malolactic fermentation and aging in large oak casks.  Alcohol 13%.  The red fruit was not quite bright and though lighter in flavor it had density to it.  The tart acidity was plentiful and mixed with black fruit flavors on the sides of the tongue.  Quite enjoyable and very easy to drink.  ** Now-2015.

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Oddities from Italy IncludingBarrel-Aged Rosato, Muller-Thurgau, and Sulphur-free Wines

A recent selection of Italian wines has once again proved interesting.  My favorite of the group is the 2012 Radoar, Etza, Vigneti delle Dolomiti Bianco.  This wine was produced by Norbert Blasbichler on his farm in the Dolomite mountains.  His family has been farming the land for centuries and currently tends cows, grows cereals, walnuts, apples, and of course grapevines.  While there have been vines on the farm for two centuries it had only been since 1999 that the wines were bottled and sold.  His white Etza is a lovely wine that changed with air.  While it is full of white fruit and citrus flavors it is the ample component of stones that elevates the wine.  Definitely worth checking out.  I have had a few aged rosé wines both from forgotten bottles and robust regions like Bandol.  However, the 2007 Fondo Antica, Vina Memorie Rosato, Sicily is certainly unique.  The 2007 vintage is the current release for a wine fermented and raised in oak barrels!   With its autumnal aromas and vintage perfume infused flavors this is more of a wine to contemplate one glass at a time.

Reading about the 2010 Cantina Giardino, La fole, Campania Aglianico entices curiosity for each vintage is produced differently employing an array of oak and cherry barrels, stainless steel, fiberglass, and home-made amphoras.  The wines are typically bottled as-is but sulphur is sometimes added.  The nose was somewhat interesting with its strong funk that morphed into earthy aromas.  But then there was that piercing natural-wine aroma, flavor, and powerful tannins that I just do not like nor understand.  There was a sense of that naturalness in the 2009 Masseria Guttarol, Lamie Delle Vigne, Puglia.  This wine was also bottled without sulphur and though the piercing natural aroma came through on the nose it sported finely scented spices and berries.  The flavors in the mouth were good with a pleasing mineral note.  This is certainly worth trying as an unique take on Primitivo.  These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

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2012 Radoar, Etza, Vigneti delle Dolomiti Bianco – $29
Imported by Louis/Dressner.  This wine is 100% Muller-Thurgau which was fermented and aged in stainless steel. Alcohol 12.5%. The wine was initially round but with air white fruit and ample stone flavors came out.  There was a puckering start followed by drying, citrus flavors, lovely stone notes, and citric pith and tannins on the gums.  It became slightly floral with salivating acidity.  Nice wine.  *** Now-2016.

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2007 Fondo Antica, Vina Memorie Rosato, Sicily – $22
Imported by.  This wine is 100% Nero d’Avola which was fermented and aged in barrels.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The wine had a dried rose color.  The aromas of Nero d’Avola mixed with autumnal notes and yeast.  The wine smooth out with air to reveal tart flavors, vintage perfume notes, acidity, and almost fine, drying tannins.  ** Now-2017.

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2010 Cantina Giardino, La fole, Campania Aglianico – $23
Imported by Louis/Dressner.  Alcohol 12.5%.  On the first evening the nose was overtly funky with some tobacco notes.  On the second evening it revealed earthy aromas in a sea of piercing natural aromas.  In the mouth were bitter fruit flavors that became black with drying spices.  There were notes of new leather, red-black fruit, along with strong tannins and citric-pith that coated the gums.  Not my style but perhaps better with a little age.  * 2015-2018.

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2009 Masseria Guttarol, Lamie Delle Vigne, Puglia – $23
Imported by Louis/Dressner/  This wine is 100% Primitivo sourced from 25+ year old vines on soils of limestone and clay.  It was fermented with indigenous yeasts then aged for 20 months in stainless steel.  It was bottled without sulphur.  Alcohol 14%.  The nose was more aromatic on the second night with natural wine aromas, finely scented spices, and tart berries.  In the mouth were tarty, grapey red fruit flavors then blacker fruit as the acidity became more noticeable.  The light flavors were tart on the tongue tip.  The wine finished with mineral notes in the dry finish.  **(*) 2015-2019.

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Recently Tasted Italian Wines

November 13, 2013 Leave a comment

I am nearing completion of my post for the Wine and the Sea Symposium so my attention must be diverted there.  Do not be surprised by some very simple posts focused on my tasting notes.  My favorite wine of this group was the 2008 Duca Di Salaparuta, Passo Delle Mule, Nero D’Avola, Sicily.  It has a bit of everything, tasted Sicilian, and is attractively priced.  The 2012 Fatalone, Teres, Primitivo, Puglia was much lighter and less complex than the 2008 vintage.  Still it is a perfect wine to drink right now.  The 2011 Cantina Nals Margreid, Galea, Schiava, Alto Adige is another wine to drink right now, quite nice for the price.  The 2007 Cappellano, Gabutti, Dolcetto D’Alba and 2011 Roagna, Dolcetto D’Alba were definitely enjoyable on the first night.  They both showed a rather promising future, enough so that we tasted them again on the second night.  They both completely fell apart.  I would cellar these for another year or two before trying and when you do, drink them up in one sitting.  These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

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1999 Rocca di Montegrossi, Geremia, Tuscany – $30
Imported by Bacchus Importers.  This wine is a blend of 93% Sangiovese and 7% Merlot which was matured for 13-15 months in medium toast barriques.  Alcohol 14%.  Blue and black fruits, which still play it somewhat close.  It held up well with air, showing integration from bottle age but just a hint of complexity from maturity.  No rush to drink but I cannot image it will get any more complex. ** Now-2018.

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2012 Fatalone, Teres, Primitivo, Puglia – $16
Imported by Williams Corner Wines.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The color was a very light orange-red.  There were lighter weight but flavorful ripe red fruit and citrus flavors on the sides of the tongue.  It was a gentle wine.  The flavors turn even lighter towards the finish, where they also become less complex.  There was a certain, smooth feel, a hint of yeast, and soft finish.  This was very much a drink now wine with a hint of stones.  ** Now-2014.

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2011 Cantina Nals Margreid, Galea, Schiava, Alto Adige – $13
Imported by the County Vintner.  Alcohol 13%.  There was minerally red fruit with a hint of black fruit which was completely integrated with the acidity and very moderate tannins.  It was slightly tangy.  A satisfying wine.  ** Now-2016.

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2009 Santa Lucia, Vigna del Melograno, Nero di Troia, Castel del Monte – $14
Imported by de Grazia Imports.  This wine is 100% Nero di Troia which was aged for 12 months in large oak casks.  Alcohol 14%.  There was a light nose of tar.  In the mouth were compact black fruits, powdery stones, more black fruit, and chalky drying tannins which stuck to the gums and inside of cheeks.  There was tangy and salivating acidity at the end and some smoke.  It remained compact but pleasing in its delivery.  ** Now-2018.

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2007 Cappellano, Gabutti, Dolcetto D’Alba – $23
Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections.  Alcohol 13%.  There was an earthy start with a touch of wood box.  There were firm, drying tannins with a more significant Pilsner aftertaste on the second night.  It was tart and acidic but seemed to have a core of good flavor.  Much better on first night.  ** 2014-2019.

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2011 Roagna, Dolcetto D’Alba – $17
Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The nose bore a mixture of herbs, bitters, and blacker fruit.  The wine was young on the first night with interesting potential.  But on the second night it had tart fruit, simple flavors, lots of acidity, and woodsy tannins.  It was stemmy and bitters-like in the finish.  ** 2014-2019.

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2008 Duca Di Salaparuta, Passo Delle Mule, Nero D’Avola, Sicily – $17
Imported by Wine Cellars Limited.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The flavors were a little darker, with riper fruit leaning towards red and black flavors.  The acidity was on the tongue tip, less obvious and certainly not on the sides.  It had good body, orange citrus notes, grapey density, and was good and lively.  There was a fine polished wood note.  **(*) Now-2019.

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2007 Duca Di Salaparuta, Lavico, Nerello Mascalese, Sicily – $17
Imported by Wine Cellars Limited.  Alcohol 13%.  There was a familiar nose followed by tangy red fruit and acidity on the sides of the tongue.  The tannins were mostly resolved into the grapey, red berry fruit.  With air the flavors took on more pungent, black fruit, and they also became saltier.  It also took on more power and structure in the finish.  ** Now-2018.

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We Try a Pair of Wines Imported by Small Vineyards

The two selections featured in this post were imported by Small Vineyards of Seattle.  They focus on importing Mediterranean wine from family owned wineries that hand-harvest their fruit and are “earth friendly.”  They place the added restriction that the estates must be one of the smallest 10% in the region.  Both of these wines produce 6,000 to 6,500 cases per year.  Azienda Agricola de Tarczal is an old winery located in the northern Trentino Alto-Adige.  Though it came into the family just over one century ago the records for the estate document a history of vineyards and wine production back into the 17th century.  This particular wine is dedicated to Mozart for in Don Giovanni, Act 2, Scene 15 we find:

DON GIOVANNI (a Leporello) Piatto!
LEPORELLO Servo.
DON GIOVANNI Versa il vino.
(Leporello versa il vino nel bicchiere)
Eccellente marzimino!
LEPORELLO (Questo pezzo di fagiano piano piano vo’ inghiottir.)
DON GIOVANNI (Sta mangiando quel marrano; fingerò di non capir.)

The reference to the Marzemino grape may not be surprising for Mozart’s librettist, Lorenzo da Ponte, grew up near Venice where one also finds the Marzemino.  This was my first introduction to this varietal and if you are curious, it is worth the price.

Azienda Agricola Perazzeta is located in Montenero from which one may view Montalcino to the north.  Here the vineyards are a bit lower and warmer.  This wine is still young at this point but I think it should develop nicely over the next few years.  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

2009 Azienda Agricola de Tarczal, Marzemino D’Isera, Trentino Superiore – $16
Imported by Small Vineyards.  This wine is 100% Marzemino sourced from the Castello, Brugnara, and Dossi vineyards on soils of basalt.  It was fermented in stainless steel followed by 12 months aging in large Slavonian barrels.  RS 1.1 g/l, TA 5.0 g/l,  Alcohol 12.5%.  The color is light to medium grapey ruby.  The light nose reveals yeasty fruit. Int he mouth this fresh, fruity wine has a cooler aspect and a yeasty aspect.  This wine remained brighter with young red fruit, fresh acidity, and a grapey aspect.  The aftertaste bears more red grapefruit flavors.  ** Now-2015.

2010 Azienda Agricola Perazzeta, Erio Supertuscan, Tuscany – $16
Imported by Small Vineyards.  This wine is a blend of 50% Sangiovese, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Syrah and 10% Merlot sourced from a 7 hectare vineyards located at 300-340 meters on soils of river stones, chunks of quartz, and ancient shells.  The fruit was fermented in stainless steel, underwent malolactic fermentation in barrel then was aged 18 months in one-use French  barriques.  RS 1.4 g/l, TA 5.7 g/l, Alcohol 14%.  This starts with harder fruit flavors of dry cherry supported by underlying blue fruit.  After a few hours the red and blue fruit flavors flesh out.  The concentrated red fruit is matched by a balanced structure.  The aftertaste sports a lifted flavors and a little incense.  This should develop nicely over the short-term.  **(*) 2014-2019.

A Top Tip: Try the 2010 Cantina Nalles Margre, Galea

Here is my tip for the morning, if you want to try a unique wine then taste this cuvee from Cantina Nalles Margre. This cantina was created in 1985 from the union of Cellars Nalles, founded in 1932, and Magre-Niclara, founded in 1954. The winery is a thoroughly modern structure which uses gravity to transport both grapes and juice. They produce wine using fruit sourced from 140 growers who cultivate some 150 hectares of vines. These vineyards are located over a 40 km stretch between Nalles in the north and Magre in the south. The altitudes vary between 200-900 meters. From these diverse sites they produce three different levels of wine: Classic Wines, Crus, and Baron Salvadori. The Galea is a Cru meaning the fruit is sourced from a single vineyard, this one being over 100 years old. Note, the Cantina is located in Alto-Adige which means it is bordered by Austria to the north and Switzerland to the west. As such the majority of the people speak German followed by Italian. This results in the front label carrying the German varietal name Vernatsch and the back carrying the Italian name Schiava.

Vineyard in South Tyrol, Image from Sonia Belviso, Under Creative Commons (flickr)

Both Jenn and I really enjoyed this wine. We do not drink much wine made from Schiava. Not only does this wine offer both a refreshing change in aromas and flavors but they are delivered with good personality. For $11 one really should try this wine. I had difficulty describing the nose so perhaps subsequent bottles must be opened to help form a description. Until then, enjoy my tip for today. This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.

2010 Cantina Nalles Margre, Galea, Alto Adige Schiava – $11
Imported by the Country Vintner. This wine is 100% Schiava which was aged in big wooden barrels. Alcohol 13%. The color was light to medium garnet. Jenn best described the high-toned nose as “dried mushroom and dried tobacco, but not sweet.” In the mouth there were good fruit flavors which followed the nose. There is both good body and mouthfeel with a balanced amount of acidity. The unique flavors return in the aftertaste. I found a Pilsner note to the slightly tart fruit. With air this wine reveals a large personality along with a gentle, sweet ripeness. *** Now-2014.