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Tasting notes for Italian wines opened these last few months

The buying of the new house followed by the sale of our old house was a massively time consuming effort.  We mostly drank from a rotation of a dozen different wines but there were new bottles opened as well.  Throughout that period I continued to post on what I felt were the most interesting wines.  I did manage to take other notes and transport many empty bottles to the new house.  In this post I feature a range of Italian wines tasted during our house transition.

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The Italian selection at MacArthur Beverages provides a steady cache of affordable wines with some age.  The 2004 Calabretta, Nerello Mascalese, Vigne Becchie, Sicilia Rosso is old-school both in style and price.  It is a wine that everyone should try but I would suggest you set aside your bottles for the next several years.   The 2009 Pino, Barbera d’Alba offers the most maturity right now out of all that were tasted.  Two selections that drink well now but are poised to open up within the next few years include the 2008 Firmino Miotti, Cabernet Sauvignon, Breganza and the 2009 Pelissero, Tulin, Barbera d’Alba.  For those looking for a good wine to drink tonight then grab the 2013 Azienda Agricola 499, Freisa, Langhe and 2012 Pico Maccario, Lavignone, Barbera d’Asti.

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2008 Batzella, Pean, Bolgheri Rosso – $26
Imported by Simon N Cellars.  This wine is a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Cabernet Franc which spent 15 months in barriques.  Alcohol 14%.  The nose revealed dark tobacco aromas.  In the mouth this dry wine had a leather note followed by fresh, black fruit and an earthy hint.  The finish was lively with drying structure.  With air the structure became harsh and the wine unevolved though it developed more leather, tobacco, and spices in the aftertaste.  ** Now-2025?

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2004 Calabretta, Nerello Mascalese, Vigne Becchie, Sicilia Rosso – $26
Imported by Williams Corner Wine.  Alcohol 14.5%.  This wine had more coiled power with upfront and lovely  integrated acidity, lots of texture, and verve.  Clearly a young wine it sported complexity from an earthy and foxy hint in the acidity driven finish.  It even took on a perfumed note.  It has a vibrancy that reminds me of a glass aged wine that will develop for years to come.  **(*) 2020-2030.

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2012 Calabretta, Gaio Gaio, Sicilia – $17
Imported by Williams Corner Wine.  Alcohol 13%.  The attractive nose bore subdued aromas of roses, tar, and cherries.  In the mouth were tart and focused flavors of red and black fruit that were somewhat rounded.  The wine had salivating acidity, grip from the tannins, and an old wood note.  It continued to show very focused fruit.  **(*) Now – 2022.

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2012 Paolo Cali, Mandragola, Vittoria Frappato – $17
Imported by RWK Imports.  This wine is 100% Frappato.  Alcohol 13%.  There were heavy, wafting Frappato aromas highlighted by fresh pepper.  This was a light to medium bodied wine with fruit that bore weight and fine texture with extract.  It had the expected, unusual flavor with a dry finish of ripe, orange-creamsicle and dry black fruit.  The flavors were clearly hard for me to describe.  With air it became riper and a touch softer.  ** Now – 2016.

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2007 Castelluccio, Ronco dei Ciliegi, Forli – $23
Imported by Winebow.  This wine is 100% Sangiovese that was fermented in stainless steel then aged for 12 months in French oak barrels.  Alcohol 13%.  There were dark, leaner aromas with some wood.  This firm wine, was stone-like with black fruit, watering acidity, and old polished wood.  The flavors were lighter in weight with a dry nature and a  hint of roast.  Even with only a bit of structure left this will live for quite some time.  **(*) Now -2025.

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2011 Cesari, Bosan, Valpolicello Superiore Ripasso – $31
Imported by Opici Wines.  This wine is a blend 80% Corvina and 20% Rondinella.  Alcohol 14%.  The fresh nose revealed ample tobacco aromas backed by cola with undertones of raisins.  The flavors began with a mineral thread before a brief spell of maturity.  There were drier raisin flavors and a developing tobacco note.  This gentle wine had a rather subtle structure that matched the compote of fruit and underlying black flavors.  Though forward drinking, I would give this another year or so to integrate the ripasso flavors.  *** Now – 2022.

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2011 Conterno Fantino, Vignota, Barbera d’Alba – $26
Imported by Neil Empson.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The linear, black fruit took on extract and strawberry flavor.  It had juicy acidity and a dark, rather ripe note.  *** 2016 – 2022.

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2009 Gagliasso, Vigna Ciabot Russ, Barbera d’Alba – $17
Imported by .  Alcohol 14.5%.  This rather dark wine had matching aromas of dark red, raisined fruit.  The flavors were similar in the mouth but the forward acidity kept things sharp.  The drying structure was a touch coarse but the sweet, spiced, old wood was attractive.  With air tart, black and red fruit flavors developed some weight and became puckering in the finish.  Unfortunately some heat was breaking out.  ** Now-2020.

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2012 Pico Maccario, Lavignone, Barbera d’Asti – $16
Imported by Massinois Imports.  Alcohol 13.5%.  I kid you not, but the nose smelled of cat fur.  In the mouth were bright, yet tart and ripe red fruit which tasted fresh.  This wine had clean fruit, water acidity, a tough of verve and grip, and even some density.  A wine for now.  ** Now-2017.

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2013 Massolino, Barbera d’Alba – $22
Imported by Vineyard Brands.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The firm fruit flavors were of tart black fruit that took on a subtle red grapefruit note.  The acidity was noticeable from the start and matched the fresh structure which was evident in the finish.  There was a lovely, ethereal flavor in the middle which, when combined with the suggest of strength from the tannins, indicate this wine should develop.  **(*) 2016-2022.

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2008 Firmino Miotti, Cabernet Sauvignon, Breganza – $21
Imported by Il Pioppo.  Alcohol 13.5%.  There was a complex nose of cherry fruit that made way to round flavors of red fruit in the mouth.  Accented by some greenhouse notes this wine tasted like a cooler climate Cab.  The flavors turned blacker with more focus, integrated acidity, and some drying structure on the gums.  There were minerals in the finish followed by a tart aftertaste.  With air the wine tastes even young and should continue to develop for several more years.  It maintained good tension that keeps one’s interest.    *** Now-2022.

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2009 Pino, Barbera d’Alba – $23
Imported by Potomac Selections.  Alcohol 14.5%.  This was reasonably aromatic with dark, plummy notes.  In the mouth was a mixture of cedar and red fruit before the mature flavors of the middle took on minerals.  There was some firmness in the finish with almost puckering acidity that left impressions of ripe fruit in the aftertaste.  *** Now – 2020.

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2009 Pelissero, Tulin, Barbera d’Alba – $26
Imported by Vinifera Imports.  Alcohol 14.5%.  There were low-lying aromas of fruit on the nose.  In the mouth were savory flavors of blue and black fruit that worked well with the integrated acidity.  The wine tightened up in the finish with both tannins and polished wood.  With air, it exhibited cleaner fruit, that was tart and lighter but had a strength in the middle.  There was a touch of a spicy finish before the racy hint in the aftertaste.  *** Now-2025.

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2013 Azienda Agricola 499, Freisa, Langhe – $18
Imported by Free Run Wine Merchants.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The red fruit bore a touch of greenhouse the morphed into fuzzy red and black fruit.  There were fine,dry, coating tannins that did not overwhelm the fruit.  ** Now.

Lou and I taste excellent bottles of Jean Noel Gagnard, Marisa Cuomo, and Torrione

February 2, 2015 1 comment

Lou and I gathered last week to taste more Italian red wine.  Before we started Lou generously opened a bottle of 2000 Domaine Jean Noel Gagnard, Chassagne-Montrachet Maltroie 1er Cru.  I have minimal experience with mature white Burgundy but this handful continues to surprise me with how they gracefully age and become satisfying to drink.  When we sat down to dinner this is what I drank.  Right now it offers up definitely lemon flavors that show weight and some structure.  Unbreached bottles should last for sometime but once opened, drink it in one evening.  Our bottle of 2007 Sella & Mosca, Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva  proved to be past its peak drinking.  Perhaps I am being a bit harsh, you could drink it, but there was no need in the company of the other wines and its price is not precious.  One sniff of the licorice based aromas focused my attention on the 2010 Marisa Cuomo, Furore Rosso, Costa d’Amalfi.  This wine had the most personality out of all the wines we tasted.  Whether it is the combination of Piedirosso and coastal vineyards will require further research.  This bottle remained firm until the third night so I strongly recommend you cellar at least one bottle for a few years.  While the Cuomo is unique the 2011 Torrione, Petrolo, Toscana is clearly a satisfying wine that will benefit from short-term aging.  I can see why it won Tre Bicchieri and suggest you rest a bottle next to the Cuomo.  Of the pair of 2009s, the 2009 Enrico Santini, Poggio Al Moro, Bolgheri was my favorite over the 2009 Elisabetta Geppetti, Pelofino, Maremma.  The Santini offered a core of dark red fruit delivered in a fresh wine whereas the Geppetti was a bit hollow with its jelly and dark roast flavors.  The Santini also conveyed the strength of the 2009 vintage.

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2000 Domaine Jean Noel Gagnard, Chassagne-Montrachet Maltroie 1er Cru –
Imported by Ex Cellars Wine Agencies.  This wine is 100% Chardonnay that was barrel fermented then aged up to 18 months in new and used oak.  Alcohol ?%.  It was a golden, mature color with a little toast and other hard to place aromas.  In the mouth were flavors of ripe and tart lemon fruit the showed some weight, mixed with sage, and still had structure wrapped up by a nice tang at the end.  With air it developed an old wood hint as well as a mineral finish.  Best on the first night.  **** Now-2020.

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2007 Sella & Mosca, Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva – $13
Imported by Palm Bay International.  This wine is 100% Cannonau that was fermented in stainless steel vats then aged for 2 years in large Slavonian oak barrels.  Alcohol 14%.  There were pruned fruit aromas on the nose.  In the mouth were black and red fruit that had a hint of freshness and firm tannins.  Though this wine was clearly alive it was also past its peak drinking. * Now.

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2010 Marisa Cuomo, Furore Rosso, Costa d’Amalfi – $30
Imported by Panebianco.  This wine is a blend of 50% Piedirosso and 50% Aglianico sourced from terraced coastal vineyards that underwent malolactic fermentation and 6 months aging in used French oak barriques.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The color was a medium black cherry.  The nose remained interesting with licorice-like aromas.  Tasted over three nights, this wine barely budged the first two nights.  It offered unique flavors of floral infused black fruit that were firm and young.  The wine was certainly interesting with a mineral, racy bit, and tart flavors on the tongue.  It developed a savory hint and watering acidity.  ***(*) 2017-2025.

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2011 Torrione, Petrolo, Toscana – $29
Imported by Vintus.  This wine is a blend of 80% Sangiovese, 15% Merlot, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from vines that reach back to the 1970s. The wine was fermented with indigenous yeasts in a mixture of French oak barriques, large oak barrels, and cement vats followed by 15 months of aging in French oak barriques and large oak barrels.  This period includes 6 months on the lees.  Alcohol 14%. The nose bore young, red and mixed fruit aromas that eventually showed raspberry candy and smoke.  In the mouth were plentiful flavors of tart, red fruit that had attractive grip and dried herb notes.  Over three nights the wine showed good presence in the mouth with a citric red fruit start, tang, grip, and a finish of black fruit, tannins, and acidity.  A good, young wine.  ***(*) 2016-2023.

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2009 Enrico Santini, Poggio Al Moro, Bolgheri – $22
Imported by Vintus.  This wine is a blend of 30% Sangiovese, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Syrah, and 10% Merlot that was fermented with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel followed by three months aging in French oak barrels.   Alcohol 13.8%.  The black cherry and garnet color was followed by a plum nose.  In the mouth were pleasing flavors of dark, red mixed fruit then a core of flavor with a strong, fresh structure.  With air the acidity showed perfect integration with the strong structure leaving ripe, drying tannins on the gums. *** Now-2020.

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2009 Elisabetta Geppetti, Pelofino, Maremma – $18
Imported by Nickolas Imports.  This wine is a blend of Sangiovese, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc.  Alcohol 13.5%.  As Lou noted, there were jelly aromas on the subtle nose.  In the mouth the flavors were a little soft and a touch hollow.  There was a strong structure, dark roast notes, and eventually the wine firmed up with texture to the jelly fruit.  ** Now-2017.

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I enjoy Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, and Petit Verdot in Italian wine

January 28, 2015 Leave a comment

This winter I have been interested in Italian wines that are made from non-native grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah.  Tim has walked me through his selections and there is quite a range of these wines available for under $30 with vintages going back to 2007.  Of the five wines featured in this post the two younger vintages could stand with further aging.  The 2012 Le Macchiole, Bolgheri Rosso and 2011 Tenuta Di Valgiano, Palistorti di Valgiano, Colline Lucchesi Rosso are completely different wines.  The former has no Sangiovese but that is not missed due to the lifted nose, minerally black fruit, and tension in the mouth. The later is mostly Sangiovese and while it comes across as young it has great cut and just the right amount of greenhouse notes.  I recommend you purchase both of these.  Of the older bottles the 2009 Arcanum, Il Fauno di Arcanum, Toscana is my clear favorite.  It only has a splash of Sangiovese so now that it is entering maturity, the cedar box infused darker fruit and structure clearly speak to a Bordeaux blend.  It is a great price and in a great state so you should drink many bottles of this while the younger wines age.  The 2010 Umberto Cesari, Liano, Rubicone was too hedonistic and showy for me but it is tasty and should have many fans.  Finally, the 2009 Guado al Melo, Bolgheri Rosso was almost too earthy for me on the nose.  It did clean up but it ultimately proved soft in flavor.  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2012 Le Macchiole, Bolgheri Rosso – $26
Imported by Vintus.  This wine is a blend of 50% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 20% Syrah.  Alcohol 14%.  There was a fresh nose of lifted aromas.  In the mouth were dense flavors of blue and black fruit with powdery tannins and good tension.  Minerally black flavors developed along with grippy cola, juicy acidity, and a good aftertaste.  With air more tart black fruit and salivating acidity came out.  Young.  **(*) 2017-2022.

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2011 Tenuta Di Valgiano, Palistorti di Valgiano, Colline Lucchesi Rosso- $28
Imported by Cantiniere Imports and Distributing.  This wine is a blend of 70% Sangiovese, 20% Merlot and 10% Syrah sourced from vines averaging 14 years of age.  The wine was aged for 12 months in 5% new French oak barrels followed by 6 months in cement vat.  Alcohol 14%.  This bore a young nose followed by rounded, powdery ripe black cherry flavors.  It showed an attractive hint of greenhouse flavors, almost juicy acidity, and a little woodsy tannins.  Though a bit forward and approachable this really is a short-term ager.  With extended air the flavors turned towards the blacker side with a hint of tar, good acidity, good cut, and a citric and mineral infused finish.  *** 2017-2023.

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2010 Umberto Cesari, Liano, Rubicone – $33
Imported by Opici Wines.  This wine is a blend of 70% Sangiovese and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from vines averaging 15 years of age.  It was fermented in stainless steel, aged for 18 months in a variety of oak sizes.  Alcohol 13.5%.  This had a light, attractive nose.  In the mouth were forward, hedonistic flavors of chocolate infused fruit.  The wine had some weight, ripe, chocolate tannins, and robustness before the drier finish.  This young, showy wine is lavish with its oak flavors.  The wine was quite filling and clearly needs time to integrate but remains completely drinkable. **(*) 2017-2023.

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2009 Arcanum, Il Fauno di Arcanum, Toscana – $26
Imported by Sovereign Wine Imports.  This wine is a blend of 61% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Cabernet Franc, 2% Sangiovese, and 1% Petit Verdot.  Alcohol 14.5%.  There were maturing, claret-like flavors of cedar box mixed with ripe, tight blue and black fruit,  that had a greenhouse hint.  The finish brought ripe and billowy flavors that filled the mouth and left tannins on the gums.  This tasty and flavorful wine became a little spicy and earthy with air.  **** Now – 2020.

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2009 Guado al Melo, Bolgheri Rosso – $26
Imported by Artisan Wines.  This wine is a blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot that was aged for 12 months in oak barrels.  Alcohol 13%.  The nose was quite earthy at first but it cleaned up to reveal mushrooms.  In the mouth was a black foundation of fruit that was soft at first.  Some acidity was there but the powdery roundness lacked definition.  The wine did tighten up in the finish to reveal some subtle tannins.  Not my style.  ** Now-2019.

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Italian Variety

Biodynamic vineyards in Liguria provide the source for the  2009 Tenuta Selvadolce, Rucantu’, Pigato, Riviera Ligure di Ponente.  This “orange” wine was evocative of the fall and a pleasure to smell.  From the region of the very famous Tenuta San Guido comes the Bordeaux blend of the 2008 Donna Olimpia 1898, Bolgheri.  The blend is apparent with the greenhouse infused aromas and flavors.  This wine tastes of cooler fruit but should develop nicely for another few years.  The 2005 Tenuta Alzatura, Sagrantino di Montefalco is from a region I really enjoy and want to explore further.  Sagrantino seems to stand up to oak quite well providing both strong flavors and wood box notes.  I find the combination irresistible though I have yet to drink a properly mature example.  These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

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2009 Tenuta Selvadolce, Rucantu’, Pigato, Riviera Ligure di Ponente – $19
Imported by Williams Corner Wine.  This wine is 100% Pigato sourced from vines planted in 1975.  It was fermented in barrique with indigenous yeasts then aged for eight months.  Alcohol 13%.  The color was a medium fall  yellow.  The nose was aromatic with finely scented  notes of fallen orchard fruit and skin contact.  In the mouth was a round start followed by some glycerin in the middle.  There was toast notes, some yeast then minerals.  The acidity built on the sides of the tongue and throat.  The wine had a firm underpinning.  ** Now-2016.

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2008 Donna Olimpia 1898, Bolgheri – $19
Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Franc.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The nose revealed greenhouse inflused aromas of black fruit.  There were cool, redder fruit flavors in the mouth which developed ripeness.  There was a modern middle with integrated acidity and greenhouse flavors followed by an expansive finish.  The wine became a bit creamy.  This is still young but on the cusp of developing maturity.  **(*) 2015-2022.

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2005 Tenuta Alzatura, Sagrantino di Montefalco – $28
Imported by Excelsior Wine & Spirits.  This wine is 100% Sagrantino which was aged for 16 months in barrique.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The attractive nose revealed wood box aromas, spices, and blacker fruit.  In the mouth there was a strong depth to the flavor but the wine remained clearly young.  There was some maturity to the flavors along with saltiness and dried herbs.  The flavors became brighter and dry in the finish where the thick, very fine tannins of the powerful structure came forth. Nice flavor but needs more time in the cellar. ***(*) 2017-2032.

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