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A Trio of Italian Wines

September 13, 2012 Leave a comment

I first tasted the wines of Piaggia at the Bacchus Importers Portfolio Tasting.  I was impressed by the Riserva and Il Sasso so when I saw the Pietranera on the shelves I quickly purchased a bottle then opened it at home.  It too is an attractive wine which I strongly recommend. The current release of the 2006 Botromagno, Pier delle Vigne is much different from the 2003 which I tasted here.  This new vintage offers up plenty of easy drinking fruit but it seems to flirt with being overripe.  The 2010 Donnafugata, Sedara is from a cooler vintage which presents itself as a delicate, youthful, and modern wine which is certainly worth its price.  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

2009 Piaggia di Silvia Vannucci, Pietranera, Tuscany – $19
Imported by Bacchus Importers.  This wine is mostly Sangiovese with some Canaiolo which was fermented with indigenous yeasts.  It was aged for 10 months in French oak.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The light to medium nose revealed mixed berries, spice, then red berries.  In the mouth this beautiful young wine shows black and red fruit with gentle depth and weight, forest spices, and a little tang.  The flavors take on some darkness with air.  It was attractive with balanced acidity and darker spices in the aftertaste.  This was rather approachable.  *** Now-2017.

2006 Botromagno, Pier delle Vigne, Murgia, Apulia – $18
A Leonardo Locascio Selection imported by Winebow.  This wine is 60% Aglianico and 40% Montepulciano which was aged for 18 months in used French oak and stainless steel tanks.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The color was medium garnet.  The medium strength nose revealed wood box, very ripe figs, and jammy dark red fruits.  There was good acidity which brought forth the red fruit.  There was a lot of flavor along with fine, almost ripe tannins.  Things quickly tightened up in the finish but the aftertaste was quite long.  This was really easy to drink but a little overdone.  ** Now- 2017.

2010 Donnafugata, Sedara, Sicilia – $13
Imported by Folio Wines.  This wine is mostly Nero d’Avola along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, and a few other varietals sourced from several estates.  It was fermented in stainless steel, underwent malolactic fermentation then was aged for nine months in cement tank.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The color is a light+ ruby.  The pungent nose precedes the mouth.  In the mouth the youthful, clearly young fruit shows delicacy with watering acidity, ethereal dark flavors, a light earthy nose, lip, red fruit all delivered with moderate weight.  This modern wine has grapey, drying tannins.  ** Now-2015.

A Wee Bit of Bottle Age

For several dollars more than our daily wine-drinking budget I am able to purchase Italian wines with a wee bit of bottle age.  Of the trio featured in today’s post we both preferred the Pratesi.  This “Super-Tuscan” is actually a Bordeaux blend and one you should try if cedar box, stones, and tobacco sound attractive.  A bit more traditional is the Rivera which is made from Aglianico.  At this point it remained tight and in need of additional age.  I do not know if it will gain complexity with additional age but it should certainly become more approachable.  The Oliveto is interesting for it is made from Sangiovese fermented in Slavonian oak vats.  There are interesting flavors to this wine but I was distracted by the disappearing fruit and emerging warmth.  The Pratesi was purchased at Wide World of Wines.  The Rivera and Oliveto were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

2004 Azienda Agricola Pratesi, Carmione, Rosso Toscano – $20
Imported by Winebow.  This wine is a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, and 10% Cabernet Franc sourced from a six acre vineyard planted in 1995 at 600 feet.  It was fermented in stainless steel tanks, underwent malolactic fermentation, then was aged for 18 months in French barriques.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The color is medium+.  The nose is fresh with aromas of dark fruit.  In the mouth the wine eventually softens and fleshes out to reveal blue and black fruit, cedar box, and some stones.  There are fine+ ripe tannins which coat the tongue and the inside of the lips.  There are nice flavors of tobacco in the aftertaste.  There is moderate concentration to this wine which is still integrating.  A bit tannic a this point with spearmint and a spicy aftertaste.  Drinkable now but best after 2-3 years.  *** Now-2022.

2005 Azienda Vinicola Rivera, Cappellaccio Riserva, Aglianico, Castel del Monte – $22
Imported by Bedford International.  This wine is 100% Aglianico sourced from a vineyard at 220 meters.  It was fermented in stainless steel then was aged for 12 months in French barriques.  Alcohol 13.5%, TA 5.7 g/L, pH 3.45, RS 1.8 g/L.  The nose was similar to the mouth.  The flavors of blacker red fruit remained tight.  It was a touch salty with a dry profile and confident drying tannins.  There was a little salivating acidity.  At this point the structure overpowers the fruit leaving wood notes in the finish.  ** 2015-2022.

2006 Tenuta Oliveto, Il Leccio, Rosso di Toscana – $20
Imported by Ima Imports.  This wine is 100% Sangiovese sourced from vineyards planted in 1997 and 1998.  It was fermented in Slavonian oak vats followed by 14-15 months of aging in French oak tonneaux.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The color is a medium cherry-garnet.  The light nose reveals high-toned red fruit and wood box.  In the mouth there were robust flavors, menthol, hard minerals, and some spritz.  The fruit flavors dried up and shrank in the middle becoming a touch spicy in the aftertaste.  The menthol flavors exist throughout as some heat warms the aftertaste.  With air cinnamon flavors, red and black fruits, and mature notes come out.  There are fine tannins in the aftertaste.  I would drink this up before the fruit dries out.  ** Now.

The Fully Mature 2000 Taurino, Notarpanaro

Just a quick note for this evening. We have enjoyed several bottles of the 2004 Taurino, Notarpanaro throughout the last year. When I saw a bottle of the 2000 vintage in Virginia last week I could not resist giving it ago. Not knowing the vintage variations of Notarpanaro I decided to gamble since I feel the 2004 vintage has at least five more years of life left. Well, my recommendation is to save some money through purchasing the more interesting 2004. This bottle of 2000 was just past maturity and should be drunk up…ideally at a less expensive price. Available at Total Wine in Virginia.

2000 Cosimo Taurino, Notarpanaro, Salento, Apulia – $20
Imported by Winebow. This wine is a blend of 85% Negroamaro and 15% Malvasia. The nose was aromatic with leather and roast fruit. In the mouth the red fruit was tart and acidic with flavors of Tang. The fruit became leaner with air and mixed with a touch of balsam, still the wine was mouthfilling. The nose was more interesting than in the mouth but it still provided enough pleasure until empty. ** Now.

Two Vigorous Italian Wines

I have been having great fun drinking Italian wines this Spring and these selections are two reasons why.  The Antica Enotria was good fun because it has just enough bottle age to lose its edge while simultaneously show some mature notes.  It proved quite satisfying for both Jenn and I.  We have been consistently pleased with the wines from Sagrantino di Montefalco so I grab any affordable bottle I can find.  Tim has a good selection of slightly older more expensive wines that I cannot wait to try but he also looks out for the affordable bottles.  The Colsanto is one of his tasty, affordable selections.  Right now it is a vigorous drink with all of the components for aging.  I would buy a few bottles try to several years from now, though I imagine this will easily live for a decade.  These wines were purchased from MacArthur Beverages.

2006 Azienda Agrobiologica Antica Enotria, Aglianico, Puglia IGT – $19
Imported by Farello Wines.  This wine is 100% Aglianico which was harvested in mid-October.  The fruit is fermented in stainless steel, undergoes malolactic fermentation for six months followed by aging for eight months in oak barrels.  The Italian nose had aromas of red fruit and sweaty leather.  In the mouth the black fruit was quite linear, taking on some wood box flavors along with very juicy acidity.  The dry black fruit was matched by the drying tannins on the teeth, lips, and cheeks.  The flavors were tart in the finish with a long aftertaste of low-lying wood and mature notes.  Pleasing in a rustic manner.  *** Now-2017.

2008 Fattoria Colsanto, Sagrantino di Montefalco, Umbria – $18
Imported by Siema Wines.  This wine is 100% Sagrantino sourced from vineyards in Montarone on soils of clay and lime.  The fruit is harvested at the beginning of October, fermented in stainless steel, then undergoes malolactic fermentation in 70% wood casks and 30% stainless steel.  The wine is then aged for 15 months in wooden casks followed by a further 12 months of aging in stainless steel tanks.  The slightly heady nose reveals aromas of very subtle candied rose.  In the mouth the stoney red fruit immediately starts with integrated drying tannins.  Cool blue fruit comes out, which is lighter in weight, as the inside of the lips dry out and the tongue salivates from underneath.  There is some midpalate warmth, a bit of a racy personality, and some sweetness to this young wine.  *** 2015-2022.

Two Apulian Wines from Tormaresca

Tormaresca is an estate located in Apulia with vineyards located at the estates of Tenuta Bocca di Lupo and Masseria Maime. It was founded in 1998 when the Antinori family purchased the two estates in Apulia. At the time land prices were affordable and the estates were judged to be good locations for growing indigenous and international varietals. Tenuta Bocca di Lupa contains 130 hectares of vineyards located in the Castel del Monte DOC which is in the center of Apulia. The vineyards are located near Vulture at an altitude of 250 meters. Masseria Maime is a 500 hectare estate located in Salento which is in the south of Apulia. Half of this estate is planted with vines. For those curious about the importer, Antinoi has joint projects throughout the world including the Clos Solare winery in Washington State. Clos Solare is a joint venture between Antinori and Chateau Ste. Michelle so it is natural that Ste. Michelle imports these wines.

The Bocca di Lupo Estate, Tormaresca, Image by Sankta84 (flickr)

Jenn and I greatly enjoyed tasting these wines as a pair. Both are drinking quite well right now with the Masseria Maime drinking at its peak and the Bocca di Lupo still several years away. While it is informative to taste both wines, if you must pick one then grab the Bocca di Lupo. You may cellar it for a few more years so that it may reach its maximum potential or drink now after an hour in the decanter. These wines are currently available at MacArthur Beverages.

2004 Tormaresca, Bocca di Lupo, Aglianic0, Castel del Monte DOC – $36
Imported by Ste. Michelle Estates. This wine is 100% Aglianico which was harvested when slightly overripe. It was fermented in stainless steel, underwent malolactic fermentation in oak barriques, then was aged for 15 months in French and Hungarian oak barriques. The nose was a mixture of red fruit and apple cider with spices. In the mouth the black and red fruit was concentrated with chewy, ripe tannins which coat the inside of the lips. There were flavors of wood box, hints of salinity, iron minerality, and a dark chewy aftertaste. The tannins are a bit spicy. There is good balance between the ripe tannins, salivating acidity, and chewy aftertaste. I imagine this will develop for a few more years but is quite a pleasurable drink right now. ***(*) Now-2022.

2004 Tormaresca, Masseria Maime, Negroamaro, Salento IGT – $34
Imported by Ste. Michelle Estates. This wine is 100% Negroamaro which was harvested when slightly overripe. It was fermented in stainless steel, underwent malolactic fermentation in oak barriques, then was aged for 12 months in oak barriques. The nose revealed a touch of wood smoke and artichokes. In the mouth there was plenty of dusty, tangy, concentrated red fruit which was a little savory. The brighter and tarter fruit was supported by underlying mature flavors. Flavors of black tea developed with some roasted wood before a finish and aftertaste of fine, ripe, drying tannins and sweet, wood smoke. I thought the acidity was a bit disjointed at the end. *** Now-2017.

2003 Botromagno, Pier delle Vigne, Murgia, Apulia

May 13, 2011 1 comment

The D’Agostino family recreated the Cantina Sociale in 1991.  They have produced the Pier delle Vigne wine since the beginning.  It is named after the 12th century notary at the court of Emperor Frederick II of Swabia.  Emperor Frederick II was also king of Sicily and is credited with introducing red wine grapes to Murgia.  This wine is a blend of 60% Aglianico and 40% Montepulciano.  The vineyards are at an altitude of 550 meters.  The Aglianico is grown in volcanic soils and the Montepulciano is grown in fine, chalky soils.  The grapes are harvested in late October, fermented in stainless steel, then aged for 24 months in 50% new and 50% one-year old French Allier barrels.

2003 Botromagno, Pier delle Vigne, Murgia, Apulia
This wine has a light color of ruby and garnet.  There is a light+ nose of tart red berries, Kirsch then Italian herbs.  Jenn found a roasted nut/toasted chestnut aroma.  In the mouth there are red fruits, dusty spices, and lots of acidity.  The aftertaste is somewhat short.  A decent wine but not exciting.  ** Now.

Pictures From Masseria Li Veli

The Masseria Liveli Winery

This morning I received images from Alessia Nebuloni of Masseria Liveli.  I have permission to post these images on my blog.

Part of the Estate

The estate has been fully renovated.

Settonce Vineyard

The vines are planted in a settonce pattern.  The hexagonal pattern maximizes soil exposure for the roots, maximized exposure to the sun, and eases air circulation.

An Old Alberello Trained Vine

The Alberello or Little Tree method of pruning keeps vines close to the ground. This method is popular in Southern Italy where there is little rain and high heat. It helps the vine conserve water.

Younger Vines

The vines are pruned to have three, two-bud spurs.

Harvest

The grapes are harvested by hand and carried in small containers.

Barrique Cellar

The Barrique cellar has been updated and is fully air-conditioned. There is room for approximately 400 barrels.

2007 Masseria Li Veli, Pezzo Morgana, Salice Salentino DOC Riserva, Apulia

The weighing of the harvest, G Palumbo, 1909-1932, Museo Provinciale S. Castromediano

Phylloxera first impacted French vineyards in 1863 then went on to devastate the rest of Europe. Apulia was one of the last regions to be affected. Vineyards flourished in the region as massive quantities of wine were exported.  The phylloxera arrival was catastrophic and it was not a productive wine region until after WWII.  The last several decades have seen increased attention paid to quality wines made from Negroamaro.

The Docks of Gallipoli, 1923, Collezione Aduino Sabato

Masseria Li Veli was originally founded by Marquis Antonio de Viti de Marco (1858-1943) as a model wine cellar for the South of Italy.  In 1999 the Falvo family bought the farm and set about extensive renovations.  The cellar is air-conditioned and full of the latest stainless steel fermentation tanks and French barriques.  The 33 hectares of vineyard have been restored and planted with Apulian varietals using the arberello system.

19th Century Wine Cart, Museo Prov. F. Ribezzo di Brindisi

This wine is 100% Negroamaro from vineyards located in Cellino San Marco and Contrada Morgana.  The vineyards lie at 70 meters and are composed of clay with limestone rocks.  The vines average ten years of age.  The grapes undergo temperature controlled fermentation in stainless steel then are aged for 12 months in French barriques.  This is a good wine but too modern for my tastes.  I would save some money and buy the Taurino Notarpanaro instead.


2007 Li Veli, Pezzo Morgana, Salice Salentino DOC Riserva, Apulia
At first there is a light+ warm nose of plums.  On the second day the nose reveals tart, red fruits.  In the mouth there are soft flavors of dark red and blue fruit.  There are fine+ wood tannins that coat the mouth.  The enjoyable aftertaste has dark, gamey flavors.  This is an unabashedly modern wine.  ** Now-2015.

Two Wines from Cosimo Taurino and Carlo Hauner

April 22, 2011 1 comment

We occasionally go through periods of drinking southern Italian wine.  We like them but have paid little attention to the regions and producers.  This spring we will chronicle our exploration of these regions.  Of these two wines I would recommend spending the extra $3 to purchase the Carlo Hauner, Hiera.

Puglia Piana, Gerard Mercator, Duisberg 1595

Apulia (Puglia) is a long region in the south-eastern portion of Italy.  It produces a tremendous amount of wine but the majority is used for blending or distilling.  Only Sicily produces more wine.  The finest wines are produced in the Salento penninsulva which makes up the heel of the Italian boot.  Cool nighttime breezes from the Adriatic and Ionian seas contrast with the intense daytime heat.  Dr. Cosimo Taurino planted his first vineyards in 1972. The Notarpanaro name stems from a 19th century deed which titled the land “Notare Panaro.”  This wine  is a blend of 85% Negroamaro and 15% Malvasia  Nera from 20-year-old vineyards.  It is aged for 36 months.  It is  a good wine for $17 at MacArthur’s.

Sardenia and Sicily (with Aeolian islands), Girolamo Ruscelli, 1564

Sicily has an ancient vinous history with records of flourishing Greek vineyards in the 5th century BC.  The mountainous terrain, poor soil, intense heat, and low rain fall have long made it a productive wine region.  The Aeolian Islands are a volcanic archipelago off the north coast of Sicily.  Carlo Hauner was a successful artists who first visited the Aeolian islands in 1968.  He curiosity about the local winemaking techniques and the Malvasia grape led him to move to the island of Salina.  After renovating twenty acres of vineyard he opened a new winery in the 1980s. He blended traditional Aeolian techniques with modern technology. He passed away in 1996 leaving the winery to be run by his son, Carlo Junior.  The vineyards are located at 50-100 meters in altitude and have soils that are volcanic and pumice.  The Hiera is a blend of Calabrese (Nero D’Avola), Sangiovese, and Corinto Nero.  It is aged in barriques for one year.  The Hiera is $20 and well priced at that, available at MacArthur’s.


2004 Taurino, Notarpanaro, Rosso del Salento, Puglia (Apulia)
This wine is a light to medium ruby color with cherry highlights.  It has a lighter nose of darker, smooth fruits.  In the mouth there are dark blackberry  flavors.  It was a little more rustic on the second night.  *** Now-2017.


2008 Carlo Hauner, Hiera, Sicilia
This wine has a light to medium nose of scented, gritty red berried fruit.  In the mouth there are plenty of red fruits with good, ripe tannins in a supportive nature.  There are flavors of red currant, spices, and some blue fruits.  The flavors turn towards the tart in the finish.  The aftertaste has long flavors, minerals, and a little inkiness.  A lovely wine.  *** Now-2015.