Posts Tagged ‘Valpolicella’

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.


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.

A wine for now: 2012 Monte Dall ‘Ora, Saseti, Valpolicella Classico

December 5, 2014 Leave a comment

I was charmed again by the current release of 2012 Monte Dall ‘Ora, Saseti, Valpolicella Classico.  This wine offers a bit of everything with even more presence and a bit less alcohol than the previous vintage.  You may read about that vintage in my post Two Different Wines from Valpolicella.  Simply put, this is a wine that you’ll want to drink several glasses of.  I would even suggest that a glass at a holiday lunch will do no harm.  This wine was purchased at MacArthur Beverages.


2012 Monte Dall ‘Ora, Saseti, Valpolicella Classico – $17
Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections.  This wine is a blend of Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella, and Molinara sourced from biodynamic vineyards which were fermented with indigenous yeasts.  Alcohol 11.5%.  The subtle nose bore gentle aromas of fruit.  In the mouth were gentle flavors of ripe cherry and black fruit along with integrated acidity and a bit of structure.  The wine took on dried herbs towards the aftertaste.  This already has good flavor and is best drunk young for it will not be long-lived. ** Now-2016.


A Slew of Italian Wines


Apparently we tasted a lot of Italian wines lately.  Priced between $9 and $19 there is something here for everyone.  My favorite of the lot are the 2009 Piaggia di Silvia Bannucci, Pietranera and the 2006 Poedere il Palazzino, Argenina.  Quite frankly I like most of the Piaggia wines I have tasted and this entry-level wine is no exception.  The Palazzino is quite nice too, in speaking with Tim, he prefers this 2006 vintage over the 2007.  The 2007 Tenuta Cocevola, Rosso Cocevola will alter your normal drinking habits because it is pure Nero di Troia.  It is worth a try but best to cellar for a year or so.  The 2010 Brigaldara, Valpolicella offers good pleasure for a low price along with the more expensive 2008 Fuedi di San Gregorio, Ognissole and the 2010 Argiolas, Costera.  Amazingly the least expensive wine, the  2011 Giribaldi, Winemaker’s Selection Red Blend at $9 per bottle, had my favorite nose.  My glass provided continuous aromas of floral perfume and fresh berries.  The flavors in the mouth did not live up to the nose but it is still worth the price to simply smell.  Please find my tasting notes in general order of preference.  These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.


2009 Piaggia di Silvia Bannucci, Pietranera- Tuscany – $19
Imported by Bacchus Importers. This wine is mostly Sangiovese with a little Canaiolo which was fermented with indigenous yeast then aged for 10 months in French oak.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The light nose was slightly pungent with red and black fruit.  In the mouth there was lovely fruit, red, black, and cherry which had depth.  There was a good vein of fruit caressed by a wood box note.  The acidity is supportive as focused, cool flavors of blue and black fruit come out in the finish.  Tasty.  *** Now – 2020.


2006 Poedere il Palazzino, Argenina, Chianti Classico – $17
Imported by De Grazia Imports. This wine is mostly Sangiovese sourced from the Argenina Vineyard which was aged in small oak casks.  Alcohol 14%.  The color is a light to medium garnet.  The light nose is tight but some cherry aromas escape.  There is richer fruit in the mouth with powdery blue flavors then focused blue and black fruit which is drier.  There are also drying tannins and minerals.  With air there is a controlled, mouthfilling nature but it is not expansive.  There are smooth tannins, seemingly redder fruit in the finish, and a minerally aftertaste.  Tasty.  *** Now – 2018.


2007 Tenuta Cocevola, Rosso Cocevola, Castel del Monte – $17
Imported byIl Pioppo.  This wine is 100% Nero di Troia which was aged 6-9 months in French oak barriques.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The color is a medium garnet with a cherry core.  the light nose is of low-lying darker, red fruit.  The dark red and blue flavors have some compactness before black minerals mix with nice fruit.  The acidiyt is on the front of the tongue. Fine, strong tannins build from the beginning resulting in a firm finish but salivating aftertaste from the acidity.   I could use several months in the cellar. **(*) 2014-2018.


2010 Brigaldara, Valpolicella – $12
Imported by Vinifera Imports.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The color is a light ruby with a touch of garnet at the edge.  The light nose is raspberry candy.  In the mouth there is pretty, little black and red fruit along with some dried herbs and acidity.  It has some weight and a little ripeness in the finish.  Flavors of cranberry mixes with acidity that hits the back of the throat.  The finish has a dark hint, some structure, and a  hint of grapefruit.  ** Now.


2008 Fuedi di San Gregorio, Ognissole, Primitivo di Manduria – $16
Imported by Palm Bay Imports.  This wine is 100% Primitivo sourced from 25-year-old vines which were destemmed and aged for 14 months in new French oak.  Alcohol 14.5%. The nose was light with lots of mixed berries.  The mouth brought blackberry and blueberry fruit which became a little round and ripe in the middle.  There was acidity before the very fine tannins lurked in the aftertaste.  With air the flavors turned towards macerated red berries up front and blacker fruit in the finish.  Well done.  ** Now-2018.


2010 Argiolas, Costera, Cannonau di Sardegna – $14
Imported by Winebow.  This wine is a blend of 90% Cannonau, 5% Carignano, and 5% Bovale Sardo which was aged for six to eight months in used barriques.  Alcohol 14%.  The nose was light with strawberries and cherry.  The cherry and strawberry flavors continue in the mouth with juicy acidity and even more strawberry fruit.  The acidity is balanced by ripe texture, some weight, and a hint of minerals.  This youthful, grapey wine becomes athletic in the end.  It maintains good flavor but not great depth.  ** Now-2018.


2012 Giribaldi, Winemaker’s Selection Red Blend, – $9
Imported by William-Harrison.  This wine is a blend of 70% Dolcetto, 25% Barbera, and 5% Nebbiolo.  Alcohol 12%.  The color is a light to medium grapey ruby.  The medium strength nose is attractive with floral perfume and fresh berries.  It is a beautiful nose that takes on spices.  In the mouth there is tart red and black fruit with an initial hint of salt before black minerals come out.  The wine is tart on the sides of the tongue with citric tannins on the lips.  The flavors do fade by the finish.  It is a more forward wine that takes on a wee bit of weight.  ** Now-2014.


2009 Villa Santera, Leon de Castris, Primitivo di Manduria – $15
Imported by Winebow.  This wine is 100% Primitivo sourced from 40-year-old vines.  It was fermented in stainless steel tanks then aged six months in used French oak barrels.Alcohol 15%. The light nose was ripe, pungent, and plummy.  There were fresh, almost eucalyptus, flavors in the mouth, spiced herbs, and ripe red fruit.  This was a supple wine with integrated acidity but it was a little too sweet for me.  There were grainy, ripe tannins.  ** Now-2016.


We Taste Three Ripasso

February 12, 2013 Leave a comment

I first drank a Ripasso wine during my Bristol University days in the early 1990s.  Our group was gathering for a casual dinner where we wanted to drink some different wines.  When I went to my local Oddbins in Clifton it was recommended that I try a Masi Ripasso.  Later on I tried another bottle from Masi, the 1988 Masi, Campo Fiorin of which I noted “tannic” and “Hides alcohol well.”   Perhaps not the most useful tasting note but I still remember trying the wines some 20 years later.

Amarone grew in popularity starting in the 1950s with Ripasso wines making their first appearance in the 1980s.  I did not realize there is some variation in Ripasso production.  Many producers take a Valpolicella wine then mixing it with the leftover Amarone skins which causes a secondary fermentation.  This adds complexity, power, and alcohol.  Some styles of Ripasso involve a percentage of Appassimento wine which makes it more Amarone in style.  The Romans are credited with creating the Appassimento style of wine which is produced from fruit that was air-dried on mats   All three wines featured in this post are produced in a Ripasso style but the Nicolis, Testal is a blend, being 90% Corvina, not recognized by the Ripasso DOC.

My favorite of the three was by Tommaso Bussola for you get the enjoyable Ripasso flavors but the wine maintains freshness and acidity despite the higher alcohol level.  The Nicolis is simply young at this point and best left in the cellar.  It also illustrates the benefits of tasting a wine over two nights.  I am not sure what was up with the Briagaldara.  The initial flavors lightened then thinned up and never revealed anything interesting.  Perhaps an under performing bottle?  These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.


2007 Nicolis, Testal, Rosso del Veronese – $17
Imported by Grappoli Imports.  This wine is a blend of 90% Corvina and 10% Indigenous grapes sourced from vineyards in the Valpolicella Classico zone.  The fruit is dried for three weeks after the branches have been cut.  It was aged for 16 months in tonneaux.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The light now was muted with ripe fruit, dried stems, and vintage perfume.  In the mouth the red fruit showed some weight along with black fruit and acidity which hits the back of the throat.  After a few hours of air it becomes attractive and perfumed in the finish.  I would cellar for the short-term.  **(*) 2015-2023.


2007 Tommaso Bussola, Ca’ del Laito, Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore – $22
A Rare Wines Selection imported by  Vieux Vins.  This wine is a blend of 40% Corvina and Corvinone, 40% Rondinella, 10% Molinara, and 10% Others.  The Ca’ del Laito vineyard was planted in 2002 on soils of clay at 380-400 meters.  After the initial fermentation 90% of the wine was refermented on Amarone skins for one week.  All of the wine was assembled and aged in used Styrian oak for 17 months.  Alcohol 15%.  The color was a medium garnet. The light nose bore ripe fruit and a hint of raisins and dried fruit but maintained a fresh aspect.  In the mouth this medium bodied wine was well-balanced with flavors that follow the nose.  There was plenty of acidity, fine, ripe textured tannins, and a little tang in the finish.  The flavors were drier in the finish.  With air black fruit developed and a little residual sugar was noticeable on the lips.  There were lifted, cherry notes.  *** Now-2020.


2009 Azienda Agricola Briagaldara, il Vegro, Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripasso – $26
Imported by Vinifera Imports.  This wine is a blend of 40% Corvina, 30% Corvinone, 20% Rondinella, and 10% Others.   The wine is added to the Amarone grape skins for five days then aged in stainless steel vats followed by Slavonian oak vats.  Alcohol 14%.  There was dried fruit flavor and chocolate which was generally dry but in a somewhat rounded delivery.  The flavors lightened up in the middle.  There was acidity and tang on the side of the tongue.  The mouthfeel continues through the finish but the flavors thin out.  ** Now-?


Two Different Wines from Valpolicella

The wines of Valpolicella are produced from vineyards in Veneto which is located in north-east Italy.  The climate is moderated by Lake Garda to the west and the Adriatic Sea to the east.  With cooler temperatures many wines are lower in alcohol.  Indeed the tasty Monte Dall ‘Ora is light and fresh.  It is quite nice but a little too expensive to recommend as a daily drinker.  The Le Ragase is a Ripasso wine meaning it undergoes extended maceration using the must from a recioto or Amarone wine.  The fermentation with this second must increases the alcohol level and other components producing a longer-lived more complex wine.  In tasting the Le Ragase you will notice more dried fruit flavors and assertive structure.  Both of these wines are appropriately priced to allow an interesting comparison.   These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

2011 Monte Dall ‘Ora, Saseti, Valpolicella Classico – $17
Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections.  This wine is a blend of Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella, and Molinara sourced from biodynamic vineyards which were fermented with indigenous yeasts.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The color is a light, grapey red.  The nose is fresh, reaching the nose like a fresh glass of soda.  In the mouth the flavors are tart red with a little graphite.  It is a lighter wine showing a little concentration.  With gentle fruit and some notes of stone this is a tasty wine which leaves the impression of purity.  ** Now-2013.

2007 Le Ragose, Ripasso, Valpolicella Classico Superiore – $16
Imported by Frederick Wildman and Sons.  This wine is a blend of 50% Corvina, 20% Molinara, 20% Rondinella, and 10% other varietals which were fermented with indigenous yeasts then fermented again on the lees of Amarone.  The wine was then aged for one year in stainless steel followed by two years in Slavonian oak casks.  Alcohol 14.5%, RS 6.5 g/L.  The flavors are a little prickly on the tongue with a touch of greenhouse flavors mixed with dried cherry fruit, dried florals, and tart red fruit.  There is  lots of acidity to drive this wine.  It is softening up a bit with almost figgy flavors, a little lipstick, and tart red fruit in the finish.  It could benefit from additional time for integration.  ** Now-2017.