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A pair of Montefalco Sagrantino

September 13, 2018 Leave a comment

I love the dark flavors and intensity of Montefalco Sagrantino.  They are not for the faint of heart when young but the substantial structure is a bit thrilling.  Of the two featured in this post the 2010 Colpetrone, Montefalco Sagrantino is the better balanced with a touch more depth.  The 2013 Fattoria Colsanto, Montefalco Sagrantino is certainly the more intense of the pair.  This wine is living on the edge such that it requires a few more years in the cellar.  Both are of good value but if you must pick one then grab the Colpetrone at MacArthur Beverages.

2010 Colpetrone, Montefalco Sagrantino – $21
Imported by Vias Imports.  Alcohol 14.5%. Some age to the color. Dark fruit but there is brightness from the acidity which is actually quite good. Fine grained, firm and bitter tannins exist throughout. This is a flavorful wine with strong structure best left to age for several more years. *** 2019 – 2030.

2013 Fattoria Colsanto, Montefalco Sagrantino – $18
Imported by Siema Wines.  Alcohol 15.5%.  Ripe dark fruit on the nose. In the mouth black and dark blue flavors get surpassed by some intense tannic structure.  It wraps up with minerals that have a hint of bitterness.  There is good flavor but the wine is young.  The good acidity supports the ultra fine and drying structure which requires a few years of age but could be tamed by a fatty steak.  A bit salty in the aftertaste.  **(*) 2020 – 2030.

Tasty 2016 La Tunella, Rjgialla Ribolla Gialla

September 7, 2018 Leave a comment

I am admittedly lacking when it comes to my experience with Italian white wines.  For those like me, I recommend you try the 2016 La Tunella, Rjgialla Ribolla Gialla, Friuli Colli Orientali.  This is a good wine to drink right now with plenty of good body to the white flavors yet there is acidity and minerality to make it appropriate for our humid weather.  Thanks to Tim at MacArthur Beverages for the recommendation.

2016 La Tunella, Rjgialla Ribolla Gialla, Friuli Colli Orientali – $19
Imported by Cantiniere.  This wine is 100% Ribolla Gialla that was fermented for 30-40 days then aged sur lie in stainless steel  Alcohol 13%.  Flavors of white nuts and white fruit exist within plenty of body only to take on some toasty yeast in the finish.  The wine is textured with supportive acidity from the start.  It wraps up with a cut of minerality and an oily finish.  *** Now but will last.

A mixture of wines young and old

I met up with Lou and another friend for a casual after-work tasting of wines.  We started with a pair of bottles from the Finger Lakes of New York.  I have now enjoyed the 2016 Red Tail Ridge Winery, Sparkling Riesling Petillant Naturel, Finger Lakes on three different occasions.  This bottle was particularly frothy with a core of fruit and vein of bubbles that make it delicious to drink right now.  Also made from Riesling, but smelling like there is Sauvignon Blanc as well, is the 2016 Heart & Hands, Dry Riesling, Finger Lakes.  It is a solid wine of tart citrus and chalk flavor.

The pair of 2014 White Burgundy yielded a generous, rapidly maturing 2014 Gautier Thevenet, Domaine Emilian Gillet, Quintaine, Vire-Clesse.  Of good value I would say.  In comparison, the 2014 Jean-Marc Pillot, Chassagne-Montrachet is less fruity and the better wine.  With a core of lemon and ripe apple, there is an acidic spine, all of which lasts with good length.

Made from the youngest vines, 2017 Pierre-Marie Chermette, Griottes, Beaujolais is a well-made, enjoyable, grapey wine.  It is pure, fresh, and acted as our gateway to a trio of mystery wines.

I admit to being confused.  I had settled in on the wines being from the 1960s and 1970s, with origins in Italy or California, and at least one Cabernet Sauvignon.  Mystery #1 – 1974 Croce di Fralupaia, Chianti was younger than I thought but not worth drinking.  Mystery #2 – 1991 Tenuta Caparzo, Brunello di Montalcino was also younger than I thought but sound, which gives you an ideal of its maturity curve.  With air it took on body and flavor to become rather enjoyable.  The final bottle is the modest Mystery #3 – 1984 Steltzner Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.

2016 Red Tail Ridge Winery, Sparkling Riesling Petillant Naturel, Finger Lakes
Alcohol 13%.  Very frothy at first but the body soon develops.  There is a focused fruit core with the fine bubble vein.  With air and warmth the Riesling origins come out.  Easy to drink.  *** Now – 2020.

2016 Heart & Hands, Dry Riesling, Finger Lakes
Alcohol 11.5%.  A very light straw color.  A good nose, aromatic with both grassy and petrol aromas.  A soft frame exists for the whole fruit Riesling flavor.  There is some chalk and a slightly, tart citrus flavor in the end.  The acidity is balanced by the sugar such that it does not come across as lively.  Some engaging grip develops.  ** Now.

2014 Gautier Thevenet, Domaine Emilian Gillet, Quintaine, Vire-Clesse
Imported by Simon N Cellars. Alcohol 14%.  A very light yellow.  A rounded edge with with ripe lemon flavors, stones in the middle, and some fat in the finish.  It is easy to drink and will mature rapidly.  **(*) Now – 2020.

2014 Jean-Marc Pillot, Chassagne-Montrachet
Alcohol 13%.  A very light green yellow color.  There is a focused fruit impression at first but this wine is not all about the fruit.  It is dense and focused with a good, acidic spine.  There are hints of yeast and wood.  With air the flavors settle on lemon with a ripe, apple core.  Good length.  *** Now – 2023.

2017 Pierre-Marie Chermette, Griottes, Beaujolais
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler. Alcohol 12.5%.  A purple, red cranberry color.  Grapey and bright on the nose.  The flavors are evocative of young, grape juicy being light, very pure, and fresh.  Tart berries and grip are closed by a round, verve finish.  ** Now.

Mystery #1 – 1974 Croce di Fralupaia, Chianti
Imported by T. Elenteny. Alcohol 12%.  Past prime on the nose with a banana aroma.  In the mouth it is falling apart with some leather, animale, and a hint of freshness.  There is a touch of fat-edged flavor and body but it soon turns acidic with green apple flavors.  Past prime.  Not Rated.

Mystery #2 – 1991 Tenuta Caparzo, Brunello di Montalcino
Imported by Palace Brands. Alcohol 13%. A garnet, brick color.  It tasted quite mature at first with bottle aged flavors, citric acidity, and citric pithe on the gums.  But magically, with air, it develops both body and flavor.  It even takes on a luxurious, marshmallow mouth feel.  *** Now.

Mystery #3 – 1984 Steltzner Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Earthy fruit with red cranberry flavors, a grippy nature, and clearly the most acidic of all the wines tasted.  Vibrant but a bit thin in flavor with a slight green edge.  ** Now.

The must-try 2011 Nino Negri, Inferno Valtellina Superiore

Nino Negro has produced wine in Valtellina since the late 19th century.  Located in northern Italy, the vineyards for the 2011 Nino Negri, Inferno Valtellina Superiore are located on the Alps which form the border with Switzerland.  The rocky Inferno sub-region is regarded as the hottest in the area.  So steep and treacherous are the vineyards that Negri transports the grapes to the winery by helicopter.  This wine offers an aromatic showing right out of the bottle with improved flavor after double-decanting.  It is a compelling wine with a proper nose and dry, expansive flavors.  It has benefited from bottle age and while enjoyable now, should continue to improve over the next few years.  My thanks to Tim for recommending it at MacArthur Beverages.

2011 Nino Negri, Inferno Valtellina Superiore – $23
Imported by Frederick Wildman.  This wine is 100% Nebbiolo fermented in stainless steel then aged for 24 months in a mixture of Slavonian and French oak barrels.  Alcohol 13%.  A proper nose, already engaging due to some bottle age.  In the mouth are brighter flavors in this lighter weight wine.  Dry flavors of tart cherry and leather give sappy complexity, blending with spot-on acidity.  A compelling wine with expansive, ethereal flavors and a slightly, baking spiced finish.  ***(*) Now – 2028.

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.

Old Italian Wines 1996 – 1949 | Part 2 Barbera

This is the second post about the Old Italian Wine tasting.  This grouping focuses in on Barbera, in part due to an interesting tasting of Italian Barbera from 1964 to 2013 held last summer.

Barbera

These wines proved to be of rather miserable performance with only two out of six Italians Barbera wines being of any interest.  Of these two, the nose of the 1978 Alfredo Prunotto, Barbera d’Alba is deep and consistently attractive.  In fine shape it is a fresh bottle with more acidity than the aromas lead on to.  I only wish the flavors were as complex as the aromas.  Acidity is also present in the 1970 Scarpa, Barbera d’Asti Superiore.  It is, by far, the lightest in color of the 1970, 1964, and 1961 Scarpa trio.  The color difference is so remarkable that either some issue with the 1964 and 1961 bottles, perhaps some VA, fixed the color or winemaking changed in the late 1960s.  In the end, the 1970 takes on some sweetness which balances out some of the acidity.

1978 Franco-Fiorina, Barbera d’Alba
Founded in 1925, this wine was made from purchased fruit as they owned no vineyard at the time.  They did not make any single-vineyard wines so this would have been a blend from multiple areas.  Imported by T. Elenteny. Alcohol 12%. Strong aromas of volatile acidity. It is possible to find some core of fruit in the middle but the wine is undrinkable. Not Rated.

Mystery Wine – 1977 Sebastiani Vineyards, Prioprietor’s Reserve Barbera, Northern California
Alcohol 12.6%. A light to medium bricking color. Smells like redwood or some different wood with sweet fruit and just a touch of V.A. Similarly sweet flavors at the start, modest body, and modest acidity. Second time tasted and I believe it was never that complex to begin with. *(*) Now.

1978 Alfredo Prunotto, Barbera d’Alba
Prunotto was founded in 1904 and purchasing all of their grapes at the time of this vintage.  It is possible this wine was aged in chestnut and Slavonian oak.  Imported by T. Elenteny. Alcohol 12%. A deep nose of sweet old aromas, and mature red fruit. Good structure with fresh acidity. Actually, more acidity than I expected. The best so far. **(*) Now.

1964 Alfredo Prunotto, Barbera Riserva Cru Pian Romualdo
Prunotto only designated the cru of a wine when they felt the vintage warranted it.  Imported by T. Elenteny. Alcohol 12%. Smells of must and menthol. Undrinkable.  Not Rated.

1970 Scarpa, Barbera d’Asti Superiore
Scarpa was founded in 1870.  Imported by T. Elenteny. The lightest of the Scarpa trio by far. A little stinky on the nose but it cleans up. In the mouth, there is initially red fruit followed by a short finish with acidic kick at the end. With a bit of air some sweetness develops with a touch too much citric acidity. Good persistence of flavor. **(*) Now.

1964 Scarpa, Barbera d’Asti
Imported by T. Elenteny. Very dark, the darkest. Cheese aromas on the nose and some old-school flavors like the Sebastiani. But then it cracks up becoming undrinkable. Not Rated.

1961 Scarpa, Barbera d’Asti
Imported by T. Elenteny. Almost as dark as the 1964. The nose is clearly of grass and V.A. A good acidic crunch at first then the wine becomes too high-toned with red flavors. * Now.

Old Italian Wines 1996 – 1949 | Part 1 Dolcetto

 

Half a year ago a small group of us gathered for An exploratory tasting of mature Nebbiolo 1975-1954.  The wines from Alto Piemonte were largely good so we gathered again to try an even more diverse selection of Italian wines dating from 1996 back to 1949.  The selections were organized into three groups: Dolcetto, Barbera, and Largely Unknown.  The Italian wines were brought by a few and all but one of the bottles came from Chambers St Wines.  Given the expected low hit rate we went through a larger than normal set of wines.  In this post I cover the Champagne and Dolcetto wines.

Champagne

We started and finished the tasting with Champagne.  I brought the 1977 Moet & Chandon, Silver Jubilee Cuvee Champagne from Reid Wines of England.  Based on the 1971 vintage, this cuvee was released for the silver jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.  Despite the excellent fill, the cork came out readily, no doubt the cause for the dissipation of all bubbles.  It was still enjoyable as a still white wine and as one other person noted, there are some flavors reminiscent of Madeira!  Of the other three Champagnes I was particularly impressed by the NV Savart, Champagne Premier Cru Bulle de Rosé once it warmed up.

1977 Moet & Chandon, Silver Jubilee Cuvee Champagne
A honied amber color with sweet fruits on the nose. The cork came out readily so there are no bubbles at all, just a moderately silky body. Essentially a mature white wine but with chalk and hints of grip. The texture alone gives the faintest impression of a mousse. With air, quite attractive flavor develops which is evocative of Madeira in the finish. *** for flavor alone.

2011 Chartogne-Taillet, Chemin de Reims, Champagne Extra Brut
Imported by Envoyer. This wine is 100% Chardonnay that was fermented and aged in old oak from Anne Gros.  Alcohol 12%. Disgorged August 2017. Pale yellow in the glass. Ripe yellow fruit at first, very balanced with a gently sweet aftertaste. Hints of wood.  *** Now.

2008 Moet & Chandon, Grand Vintage Brut Chamapgne Brut
This wine is a blend of 46% Pinot Noir, 32% Chardonnay and 22% Meunier aged for seven years on the lees.  20% of the Pinot Noir is wine.  Alcohol 12.5%. A colorful wine of dried rose. Very fine in the mouth. Solid with plenty of ripe, red fruit and a tarter finish.  Flavorful but not that complex.  *** Now – 2023.

NV Savart, Champagne Premier Cru Bulle de Rosé
This wine is a blend of 70% Pinot Noir, 22% Chardonnay, and 8% wine of Pinot Noir. Alcohol 12.5%. A fabulous nose is followed by a unique flavor. Becomes stellar with air and warmth, revealing ripe berry and floral fruit. It builds both chalk and pastille flavors. Overall a racy and grippy wine once it has opened up. **** Now – 2028.

Dolcetto

The Dolcetto flight proved moderately good at best.  The 1996 Falleto di Bruno Giacosa, Dolcetto d’Alba is fully mature in flavor but still retains structure.  It lacked the verve to move up in quality.  I thought the 1978 Giuseppe Mascarello, Dolcetto d’Alba Bricco Gallo smelled good, it certainly engaged me but was tired in the mouth.  Sadly the 1978 Giuseppe Mascarello, Dolcetto d’Alba Ginestra was a bad bottle with its musty smell.  That left the 1968 Pio Cesare, Dolcetto d’Alba as the most interesting bottle.  Rather light in color with gentle flavors of strawberry and blood, this held up well and is evocative of the 1960s.

1996 Falleto di Bruno Giacosa, Dolcetto d’Alba
Founded in 1900, Bruno Giacosa purchased the 8.4 Ha Falletto vineyard in 1982.  At the time it was planted with just some Dolcetto.  Imported by Winebow. Alcohol 12%. At first a core of mature fruit that is astringent but interesting. There are just hints of very fine tannins. With air it is confirmed that this is fully mature yet still a bit firm by the middle. Notes of old leather add to the bitter flavors which extured over a textured and tannic finish. It wraps up with some eucalyptus freshness.  ** Now.

1978 Giuseppe Mascarello, Dolcetto d’Alba Bricco Gallo
Giuseppe Mascarello & Figlio was founded in 1881.  If am I correct, his great-grandson Mauro took over the winery in 1967.  According to the Wasserman’s he produced some 16,000 bottles of Dolcetto D’Alba annually.  They considered his approach to Barolo as traditional.  Imported by T. Elenteny. Alcohol 12%. Quite dark in color with grapey and cherry highlights. After an attractive nose, there are flavors of sweet fruits and oak. The wine is certainly tired or rather firm with black fruit marked by a bitter finish. *(*) Now.

1978 Giuseppe Mascarello, Dolcetto d’Alba Ginestra
Imported by T. Elenteny. Alcohol 12%. Quite dark with grapey color as well. Smells like musty wood. Nope! Not Rated.

1968 Pio Cesare, Dolcetto d’Alba
Pio Cesare was founded in 1881.  At one point the wines of Dolcetto d’Alba represented around 10% of their production or 24,000 bottles per year.  At the time of this vintages, the Wasserman’s considered them a very traditional producer.  Their Barolo was fermented in wooden vats where it was in contact with skins for two and a half months then kept outdoors during the winter.  Imported by T. Elenteny.  A light to medium bricking color. Delicate flavors greet with strawberry, bloody, and iron. This wine sports gentle weight, modest acidity, and a cola-like refreshing finish. A solid wine that held up for hours. ** Now.