2014 Arianna Occhipinti, Sicilia SP68 Bianco
I absolutely love this wine. I found myself initially thinking I was up in the Alto Adige with some lively Kerner in my glass. Outrageously floral. The white twin to the red Ruché aromatically. The wine tricks the palate – don’t be fooled by the ripe notes of peach and apricot, as the wine is dry. The wine could use a touch more acidity but on balance this is a beautiful warm weather white. I would not age the wine. DB.
2014 Arianna Occhipinti, Sicilia SP68 Nero d’Avola e Frappato
A little rustic at the beginning. Red fruits – cherry and wild strawberries. Then earth and some funk. But in a good way. This blend works well. Medium length in the mouth. The last sip reminded me of a very young Northern Rhone Syrah with the flash of violets on the palate. Finished long. DB.
I have experienced maddening variation over the years with bottles from Cornelissen. I do not know whether this is exacerbated by no merchant storing it below the recommended 61 F or the warm car rides home. I certainly was prepared to return the bottle but after a quick sniff and taste, I knew I would not have to. This bottle developed fine over the course of an evening without showing any Pilsner flavors. It is best imagined as a rugged, approachable natural wine from Etna. Well stored examples may even develop some complexity over the next few years. I would recommend this for existing fans or those who want to experience what Frank Cornelissen is all about. This wine is available at MacArthur Beverages.
2014 Frank Cornelissen, Contadino 12th edition, Sicily – $26
Imported by Fruit of the Vines. This wine is a field blend of 85% Nerello Mascalese along with a small amount of Nerello Capuccio, Allicante Boushet, Minella nera, Uva Francesa, and Minella bianco. Alcohol 14%. This is a zippy, stone infused, red fruited wine. It mixed red fruit with citric pith flavors, plenty of baking spices, and extract in the way of texture. It sports some very fine, cloudy sediment. *** Now – 2021.
A few weeks ago we were joined by another family for a late afternoon gathering. The kids played while we tasted through a selection of Sicilian wines. It was a casual evening so I only jotted down brief impressions. To cut to the chase, the 2014 Tenuta Delle Terre Nere, Etna Rosso must be the most forward and generous vintage yet. It is a fruity, affordable wine from Etna to drink right now for our bottle seemed tired by the end of the evening. Still, it made for an enjoyable drink while we waited for the other bottles to come around. Whereas the 2013 COS, Pithos, Vittoria Rosso remained distractingly tannic and the 2013 Tenuta da Aglaea, Aglaea, Etna too simple, the 2013 Tenuta da Aglaea, Talia, Etna surprised us all. After 3-4 hours it became aromatic with an elegant style of complexity that had us all proclaiming it as our favorite as we then rapidly drained the bottle. These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.
2013 COS, Pithos, Vittoria Rosso – $34
Imported by Domaine Select Wines. This wine is a blend of 60% Nero d’Avola and 40% Frappato. It is fermented in terracotta amphora of 250 and 400 liter capacities. The fermentation is allowed to take its own course so there is no temperature control and it typically lasts for seven months. Alcohol 12%. The somewhat floral nose is followed by tart red fruit and a wall of very fine tannins. It remained distractingly tannic, even with extended air, leaving the impression the structure will outlast the fruit. *(*) 2020? – 2026?
2014 Tenuta Delle Terre Nere, Etna Rosso – $17
Imported by deGrazia Imports. This wine is a blend of 95% Nerello Mascalese and 5% Nerello Cappuccio sourced from 5-50 year old vines on volcanic soils. It was fermented then aged for 11 months in large French oak barrels then aged a further month in stainless steel. Alcohol 14%. Generous flavors of ripe red fruit tastes young in nature. Perhaps the most forward vintage yet it drinks well from the very first glass with supporting acidity and tannins. ** Now.
2013 Tenuta da Aglaea, Talia, Etna – $26
Imported by Simon N Cellars. This wine is 100% Nerello Mascalese sourced from 40-50 year old vines planted on volcanic ash soil located at 2250 feet in elevation. It was aged for 8 months in old oak barrels. Alcohol 13.5%. After several hours of air the nose became very aromatic with floral and herb aromas. In the mouth were fine, red and black fruit flavors with a vein of lively acidity. The complexity and depth for aging is there but requires hours to come out. *** 2018 – 2024.
2013 Tenuta da Aglaea, Aglaea, Etna – $18
Imported by Simon N Cellars. This wine is 100% Nerello Mascalese sourced from 10-30 year old vines planted on volcanic ash soil located at 2250 feet in elevation. Alcohol 13%. Brighter, more acidity, and simpler than the other bottling. *(*) Now – 2017.
The three Italian wines featured in today’s post all posses good personality at less than $20 per bottle. The current offering of the 2012 Hauner Carlo, Hiera, Sicily evokes the 2008 and 2009 vintages which I enjoyed very much. In fact, I enjoyed several bottles of this wine before I managed to write down a tasting note. It is a rich offering from Sicily with hard to describe flavors and very good tension. A must try! The 2012 Ippolito, I Mori, Calabria will certainly benefit from short-term aging to soften the strength of the Gaglioppo and to let the wine open up. Right now it offers a sense of its future so it is best left in the cellar. The 2013 La Piane, Maggiorina is the little brother of the excellent 2011 Le Paine, Piane, Colline Novaresi I previously tasted with Tim. The former contains a good proportion of Croatina as well as ten other varieties. It is a very light and not too tart wine, yet will remaining interesting to drink throughout the winter. These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.
2012 Hauner Carlo, Hiera, Sicily – $18
Imported by Empson USA. This wine is a blend of 60% Alicante, 30% Nocera, and 10% Nero d’Avola. Alcohol 13%. The nose reveals exotic berries. In the mouth the tart and puckering red fruit, tingles the sides of the tongue. The clean flavors persist but fine and ripe tannins creep up during the aftertaste. I find the flavors hard to describe but there is good complexity, a darker middle, and rather attractive tension. *** Now – 2018.
2012 Ippolito, I Mori, Calabria – $18
Imported by Cantiniere Imports. This wine is a blend of 70% Gaglioppo and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. Alcohol 13.5%. The nose sported low-lying, rich aromas. In the mouth were tight flavors of red and blue fruit moved along by watering acidity. The flavors became dry by the finish matching the very fine, dry structure , and dry baking spices. With air this took on a bit of a grapey start and round hint but overall this needs a year to open up. **(*) 2016-2020.
2013 La Piane, Maggiorina – $17
Imported by Free Run Wine Merchants. This wine is a blend of Croatina, Uvarara, Vespolina, Nebbiolo, and 9 other varieties sourced from vines 20-80 years of age. Alcohol 12.5%. The brighter aromas mix with greenhouse plants with a hint of earth. In the mouth the wine has very focused and gentle ripeness. It is not too tart with bright and firm, red fruit, watering acidity, and nice, fuzzy textured tannins. This lighter wine finishes with citric dryness. ** Now – 2016.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I was surprised by both of these wines. The 2009 Tolaini, Al Passo, Tuscany is a very effective blend of Sangiovese and Merlot that already shows bottle aged flavors. Its complicated upbringing surely contributed to the attractive wood box and spices. The wine has great vigor and tastes great, making it an excellent choice for your fall meals. It is also only $20! I pulled the 2011 Alice Bonaccorsi, Rivedibile, Rosso Relativo Rosato, Sicily out of the fridge expecting a full-on rosato. The wine was clearly too cold and once warmed up, acted like a light red wine. It tasted best on the second night when the odd flavors and good acidity made it an engaging wine for one glass. Unless you are incredibly curious save your money on this wine, your guests will get more enjoyment from the Tolaini. These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.
2009 Tolaini, Al Passo, Tuscany – $20
Imported by Banville & Jones. This wine is a blend of 85% Sangiovese and 15% Merlot. The fruit underwent alcoholic fermentation in a combination of stainless steel and oak, underwent malolactic fermentation in oak, then was aged on the lees for six months followed by 8 months of barrique aging. Alcohol 13.5%. The nose had aromas of wood box, dark blue fruit, and attractive aromas from maturity. In the mouth the wood box continued this time with spices and blue and black fruit. With air the wine shows great vigor and was really tasty. The fruit took on some weight and had herbs that carried through to the black fruited finish. The acidity was watering with black minerals in the finish. This is on the cusp, perhaps one year, from being fully mature. ***(*) 2015-2020.
2011 Alice Bonaccorsi, Rivedibile, Rosso Relativo Rosato, Sicily – $23
Imported by RWK Imports. This wine is 100% Nerello Mascalese. Alcohol 13%. The color was a medium garnet, black cherry. In the mouth were flavors of hard red fruit that filled the mouth like a light red wine. Clearly different tasting this sported fresh herbs, nice ripeness, and acidity in the back of the throat. ** Now-2016.
From white to red this post features an array of Italian wines so there is bound to be a wine for you. In focusing on two wines the 2012 Castelluccia Miano, Miano, Catarratto, Sicilia is made to good effect from the second most widely planted grape in Italy. The unique combination of acidity, creamy fruit, and chalk will last all week. I have heard it from several merchants that the warm 2009 Barolo vintage combined with contemporary winemaking techniques yields early drinking wines. One example of which is the 2009 Reverdito, Barolo. I never would have thought this true until I tried this contemporary wine that blends Nebbiolo traits with bottle aged notes. These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages and Weygandt Wines.
2012 Castelluccia Miano, Miano, Catarratto, Sicilia – $15
Imported by Grappoli Imports. This wine is 100% Catarratto sourced from vines grown at 2240-2880 feet in altitude. The wine was fermented and raised in stainless steel. Alcohol 12%. There was a light nose of white fruit. The crisp, textured entry made way to creamy, yellow and white fruit flavors. The acidity prickle on the tongue tip remained over night. It had a hint of toast, chalk infused finish, and fresh aftertaste. *** Now-2015.
2011 Cantina Sant’Isidoro, Montolmo, Marche Rosso – $19
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler. This wine is 70% Montepulciano and 30% Sangiovese raised in stainless steel. Alcohol 14%. There was an interesting combination of tuna roll and smoke to this round, inky wine. It was robust with ripe flavors of black fruit, dark flavors, glycerin, and a smoky aftertaste. **(*) Now-2018.
2010 Cantina Sociale Dorgali, Viniola, Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva – $19
Imported by Monsieur Touton. This wine is 100% Cannonau that was aged for 12 months in barriques. Alcohol 14.5%. There was a very subtle nose of raspberry. In the mouth were focused flavors of black and red fruit. The wine had some lift as well as ripe, textured spiced in the finish. The long, ripe tannin remained on the gums. There was a touch of roughness in the finish followed by fine, drying tannin the aftertaste. **(*) Now-2020.
2006 Falesco, Marciliano, Rosso Umbria – $22
Imported by The Rare Wine Co. This wine is a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Cabernet Franc . Alcohol 13.5%. The nose revealed some greenhouse aromas. In the mouth were nice, tight black fruit flavors. The wine had a close vein of fruit but was mouth filling with clean, greenhouse-free flavors. The wine was appropriately young with good structure as well as leather hints, saltiness, and cinnamon. *** Now-2024.
2009 Reverdito, Barolo – $35
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler. This wine is 100% Nebbiolo raised in 1000L oak barrels. Alcohol 14%. This wine was immediately approachable with floral red fruit, wood notes, and a focused ripe finish. The wine is taking on secondary flavors. The good, modern fruit became savory, taking on a hint of tea and sweet wood notes. Nice. *** Now-2024.