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Italy!

September 24, 2014 Leave a comment

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Sicilian Bargains

There are a lot of cool wines produced on Sicily but many of them can be maddeningly above my price range.  Tim recently snagged a bunch of close-outs which I was more than happy to purchase and taste.  The 2010 Vini Barraco, Nero d’Avola, Sicily is a big wine not for the feint of heart, it certainly grabs hold of ones mouth.  It is best left in the cellar.  The 2010 Vini Biondi, A Crush on Etna, Rosso Azzurro is a fine value down to $19 from the $30 it was when I wrote about it last year in Tasting Austrian and Italian Wines With Lou.  It has improved dramatically by showing attractive complexity and reduced structure.  It was best on the first night though unopened bottles will last for several years.  Why wait?  Don’t forget this wine is the project of Jean-Marc of Domaine Rouge-Bleu.  These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

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2010 Vini Barraco, Nero d’Avola, Sicily – $25
Imported by William’s Corner Wine.  This wine is 100% Nero d’Avola.  Alcohol 15%.  The nose is more pungent with black cherry, floral aromas, and tar.  In the mouth there was a ripe, textured core of floral fruit that has citric, drying tannins peaking through.  The flavors persisted in the defined structure.  With air the wine became more puckering with a subtle yeast hint in the aftertaste.  This pungent, puckering wine left flavors of black fruit and tannins on the gums.  *** 2016-2022.

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2010 Vini Biondi, A Crush on Etna, Rosso Azzurro – $19
Imported by Williams Corner Wine.  This wine is 100% Nerello Mascalese.  Alcohol 13.5%.  There was a complex nose of earthy red fruit and fresh, green herbs.  In the mouth were smooth and controlled flavors of earthy red fruit.  It was lighter in nature with grapey tannins.  It showed good complexity with a hint of licorice, and dried spices.  On the second night it was harder with more structure evident.  *** Now-2020.

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Ribolla Gialla and Catarratto Lucido From Italy

February 3, 2014 Leave a comment

As always I must balance my time between writing tasting notes and conducting research for and writing of historical pieces.  So just a quick post for today.  I must admit I am not aware of drinking Ribolla Gialla before so I had high hopes which were not quite met.  The 2011 Volpe Pasini, Ribolla Gialla was good but my experience with the 2012 Marco de Bartoli, Catarratto Lucido was even better.  I had never heard of the Sicilian variety Catarratto Lucido but now that I have drunk an example of it, I recommend you try this wine.  I think it a fair price for a different white.  These wines are available at MacArthur Beverages.

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2011 Volpe Pasini, Ribolla Gialla, delle Venezie – $15
Imported by Michael R. Downey Selections.  This wine is 100% Ribolla Gialla produced in stainless steel.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The color was a light golden straw.  There was good acidity on the tongue which kept the flavors lively.  There were white fruit and stones with a little tangy start in this enjoyable, fresh wine.  It had a gently ripe and textured aftertaste.  ** Now-2016.

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2012 Marco de Bartoli, Catarratto Lucido, Sicily – $17
Imported by Louis/Dressner.  Alcohol 12.5%.  There was a light nose of tropical flowers, mulling spices, and other spices.  In the mouth was slightly weighty white fruit which tasted as if there were some skin contact.  There was good acidity for the weighty flavors with minerals and spices in the finish.  It was chewy with a little tang in the aftertaste.  It had almost citric like acidity.  This needs both air and warmth.  *** Now-2017.

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Drinks With Frank at Range

December 6, 2013 Leave a comment

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Frank (Drink What YOU Like) was in town again.  I typically meet up with Frank at one of the innumerable wine events which take place in Washington, DC.  We decided to shake things up and actually pay for our wine.  Actually, I do not get invited to many events so I typically pay for my wine both at home and at restaurants.  Range is a great place to go for wine, the list is diverse and prices per bottle start in the $20 range.  Surprisingly, there are no half-bottles.

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Frank wanted to have a lighter red wine with dinner, perhaps not Beaujolais and not Loire Cabernet Franc due to his upcoming Cabernet Franc tasting on Sunday.  Going off of these restrictions we let sommelier Elli Benchimol pick a wine for us.  She suggested Sicily which worked for us so she returned with a bottle of the 2010 Tenuta Delle Terre Nere, Caldera Sottana, Etna Rosso.  This wine is a blend of Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio source from a single vineyard at 600-700 meters of elevations.  The vines here range from 50 to 100 years of age.  Though the wine was light in a sense, it packed some deceptive structure and really needs several more years in the cellar.  We even had Elli pick our main courses of Octopus and Pork.  The wine did start to open up during the course of our dinner so I would recommend dumping it into a decanter.

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As were deeply engaged in discussing the wine blog-o-sphere Frank was up for another drink.  Again, there were no half-bottles so I figured we could order a full bottle then take the leftovers. I suggested the well priced 2008 Finca Sandoval, Salia, Manchuela at $26 but when I mentioned the 2010 Jean-Paul Thevent, Vieilles Vignes, Morgon Frank lit up.  “That’s a Kermit Lynch wine,” he said.  That worked for me.  Unfortunately, the supply of the 2010 vintage was exhausted and the next case held only the 2011.  We decided to try it and idiotically, keep trying it.  It wasn’t the best.  Frank did not much care for it and Elli even made a face or two.  She decanted it and swirled it for quite some time.  It eventually opened up, just a little bit to reveal some delicate berries and citrus.  Too bad, this wine is made from fruit sourced from a parcel of vines 45 years old and a parcel which is 110 years old.

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To allay our feelings Elli returned with a bottle of 2010 Aurelien Verdet, Le Prieure, Hautes-Cotes de Nuits and two fresh glasses.  She gave us generous pours which she refreshed later on as we enjoyed the wine.  This was much more interesting, a little earthy, good concentration, and weight.  The fruit is apparently sourced from a 4 hectare vineyard planted in 1970.  I do not think we concluded anything that night but I had a good time talking a lot over a rather long period.

Drinks in Seattle with Lou

November 15, 2013 1 comment

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I received a text message from Lou three days before my flight to Seattle stating he would be in Seattle the same time I would be.  Not only were we on the same flight out but we were seated in the same row.  I typically spend my free time in Seattle researching or writing posts for this blog.  But with Lou around, I shifted my research from online archives to wine bars and restaurants.

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I returned to my hotel mid-afternoon on the first day.  Most places were not yet open so we walked from downtown, underneath the convention center to bar ferd’nand.  We weren’t quite sure what to drink so in entertaining discrete glasses of wine we sampled the 2011 Weingut Schellmann, Gumpoldskirchen.  This was an interesting blend of Zierfandler and Rotgipfler, certainly more weight and fruit than I expected, but perhaps from being near the end of the bottle it lacked verve from acidity.  I suspect it is worth trying from a complete bottle. We then tried a tasted from a fresh bottle of some French Chenin Blanc, but it was all apples and acidity.  Clearly if the wines by the glass selection was not satisfying, choosing from the Bottle Shop would be.  We walked in circles a few times, eventually focusing in on a bottle of Bordeaux.

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2006 Chateau La Confession, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru
Imported by Bordeaux Wine Locators.  This wine is a blend of 51% Cabernet Franc, 46% Merlot, and 3% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The first glass revealed not-quite rich weight of blue fruit, young in profile but softening.  After an hour of air there was black fruit flavors which were dense but not inky.  The dense mouthfeel continued into the really nice finish and aftertaste with flavors of stones.  The Cabernet Franc really shown through.  This bottle was entering its second phase with the acidity playing the lead over some ripe tannins.  This could be better with additional decanting or aging.  ***/***(*) Now-2025.

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We met up with Julia and Clark on our second night for dinner at The Whale Wins.  The wines of Kermit Lynch and Louis/Dressner are heavily featured here.  That is a good thing.  While we waited for our table we consumed a bottle of the 2011 Punta Crena, Vigneto Reine, Mataossu, Colline Savonesi which is imported by Kermit Lynch.  Apparently Mataossu was quite popular in the 19th century but today only three producers make wine from it.  It is claimed that only Punta Crena has true Mataossu with the other vines actually Lumassina.

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Our first red wine of the evening was the 2011 Louis Claude Desvignes, La Voute Saint-Vincent, Morgon imported by Louis/Dressner.   It was young but lovely with good young fruit, minerals, and nice structure for short-term aging.  This fruit for this wine is sourced from vines averaging 60 years of age.  It showed!

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We wrapped up the evening with the 2012 Occhipinti, SP68 Rosso, Sicily.  This Nero d’Avola and Frappato blend had a rocking nose from the start.  The nose was a little more generous than the mouth so perhaps half a year in the cellar will be a benefit.  Still, it was seamless and approachable.

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I have always found the architecture of Seattle interesting for its old decrepit houses, renovated historic buildings, and constant new construction.  I like the old moss spotted houses with their paint peeling off.  This result of weathering and neglect exhibits the age of the house beyond its design alone.  I remember how the houses pictured above were still occupied not too long ago.  The wine stores of Seattle do not have the depth of vintages found in Washington, DC, New York, or San Francisco.  However, a few restaurants do, so for our final night, we dined at The Wild Ginger where could drink from the reserve wine list.  I believe we tacitly agreed to start with a German Riesling though Alsace was a possibility.  Our first choice from Kerpen could not be located.  Apparently the previous two weekends had been spent shifting cases from the storage facility to the working cellar at the restaurant.  Our sommelier instead returned with a wine from Schlossgut Diel.  Implications must have been in the air for he proceeded to open the wine without discussing alternatives.  We could have sent it back but it was a really good wine.  For the red wine, in my mind, it was a toss up between drinking from the Rhone or the west coast.  The Rhone wines can be fabulously priced but there is a draw to drinking older, local vintages.  Our second sommelier had recently come from working at an Italian restaurant.  Being comfortable with the Italian portion of the list (and perhaps not wanting to leave it) he suggested 2001 Barolo.  Lou recently read an article in Decanter about the forward nature of the vintage.  These reasons led us to drink a Manzone Barolo, certainly one of the last regions we expected to explore that evening.

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1997 Schlossgut Diel, Dorsheimer Goldloch Riesling, Nahe
A Terry Theise Selection.  Alcohol 10%.  There was an aromatic nose from the start with dusty notes, underlying apple aromas with hints of petrol and complexity.  In the mouth there was ripe fruit at first, with richer flavors expanding with grippy, crisp acidity.  The finish was drier with a little ripe spices.  There was a core of youthful flavor and body but this was so easy to drink now.  A lovely wine.  **** Now-2023.

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2001 Manzone, Perno, Santo Stefano, Barolo
A Marc deGrazia Selection imported by Elliot Bay Distributors.  Alcohol 14.5%  The nose was almost minty fresh at first with roses and tobacco.  The flavors were firm but good with red and black fruit followed by lots of acidity towards the finish.  The finish had tangy, citric tannins followed by a little darker flavor where it became a touch rough.  A modern wine.  The attractive nose remained more advanced than in the mouth so I would cellar this further.   *** Now-2028.

My final taste of the week was the COR Cellars Malbec.  COR has some good wines but this Malbec from a warm vintage was outright intense! This is a one glass per night type of wine.

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2009 COR Cellars, Malbec, Columbia Valley – $23
Alcohol 15.1%.  This remained a dense, almost viscous wine with extract, black fruit, and a savory tilt.  There was a meaty finish followed by a little heat and roughness in the aftertaste.  This was an intense, concentrated wine with a wall of flavor persisting through the spicy finish.  ** Now-2018.

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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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