Tag Archives: italy

Another Italian Job.

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Another interesting wine from Richard’s Italian case. This time from Puglia – the ‘heel’ – a region that contributes most wine to Italy’s production (17%); the majority, over 80%, being red. Its largely flat landscape means that the cooling sea winds on three sides of the region are very important as are the techniques to help protect the grapes from the direct sunshine. The grape Nero di Troia, previously Uva di Troia, has no link to the legendary city but refers to a Puglian village of the same name. It makes an early maturing wine of high tannins and is often blended.

The wine was from the makers Rasciatano, from the 2011 vintage, and had the IGT Puglia designation. The colour indicated the early-maturing trait being distinctly brick red on the rim with an intense red core. The Italian giveaway to me was the sour cherry nose (I posed Sangiovese and Nebbiolo first) which was then confirmed on the palate. Tannins and acidity were nicely in balance, there was a slightly graphite initial taste but the wine ended long and dry. Definitely a wine to enjoy with strong flavoured foods, this was another good wine on our Italian trip.

[Richard: another good one from TWS (£21). Lots of fruit married with some complexity made for an enjoyable, if slightly overpriced, drink.]

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Ciada, Vigneti Valle Roncati 2010, Fara DOC

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This wine is another northern Italian red, part of a mixed case Richard bought a few months back. We blogged the impressive Valtellina recently and now we’ve moved further south, towards Milan, for a Fara DOC. I tried it blind and stabbed at both Pinot Noir and Syrah (its delicate aroma) before fixing on Nebbiola, the grape that dominates (70%) the blend. The other grapes are the waspish Vespolina and Uva Rare. It has spent nearly three years in French oak and a further nine months in bottle before release. This ageing will soften the tannins that can be obtrusive in young Nebbiola.

A distinctive brick colour edged the wine which was of medium intensity red. The nose was very perfumed, delicate, sweet and floral rather than fruity. The tannins were present but didn’t dominate rather giving it some structure, this would be a great food wine. Its lightness belied the 14% ABV. With a long finish that hinted of liquorice, it was a well-made, attractive wine and one worth its £23 price tag (Wine Society).

Two down out of this Italian case and both impressive.

[Richard: this case is turning out to be an interesting buy – although the first bottle tried (Taurasi, Feudi di San Gregorio 2011, not blogged) was ordinary. Still drinking well on day 2. A stylish wine, if a little pricey for what is a an obscure appellation, although production is small and it scored very highly in a Decanter tasting.]

 

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The wine from hell

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Inferno, the Italian word for hell, is a sub-region of the dramatic Valtellina region in the north of Piedmont, close by the Swiss border. A look on the Internet will reveal just how dramatic this small wine producing region is. Steep slopes (necessitating hand-harvesting), terracing and kilometres of stone walls are the oenological facts of life in this region. Inferno is the warmest part of the Valtellina (hence the name) but the south-facing slopes enjoy a huge diurnal temperature range, giving both ripeness of fruit and delicate acidity levels. The dominant grape (min. 90%) for this DOCG is the Chivanesca, AKA Nebbiolo.

Inferno DOCG, Valtellina Superiore 2013 (13.5%) is an impressive wine. Richard purchased it as part of a mixed Italian case and if the others are as good – and as interesting – as this he should be well-pleased with the WS. (Will he admit it, though?). Very light red in colour with a slight brick rim and a nose slow to develop, it rather underplayed itself at the start. However, the typical Italian cherry-tartness flavour was polished and stylish with very delicate floral notes. What was remarkable was the lack of obtrusive tannins that young Barolos (same grape) have; it was as if a 40 year old Barolo had aged in four years.

A new one for me, I’ve not tasted a Valtellina before. Really interesting, well worth trying – I’m looking forward to the others!

[Richard: I wasn’t quite so keen as Geoff. Certainly an interesting expression of the nebbiolo grape which developed over the evening but I felt the whole thing was rather too delicate, especially at £19.50.]

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Morellino di Scansano Riserva DOCG

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According to the very informative neck label, this wine’s home is the medieval village of Scansano in Maremma, south-west Tuscany. The blend is 90% Sangiovese (Morellino being its local name) and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. With its DOCG status, it sits on the top of the Italian quality ladder. The vintage is 2013 but it has had 24 months ageing, half of which has been in small barrels, presumably made of oak.

The ageing had certainly impressed upon the colour, the body of the wine being an intense ruby but it had a brick-coloured rim. The aromas were an attractive black cherry, at once both sweet and sour, with some deeper notes of spice and leather. This was an impressive wine, so far. The palate repeated all those primary and tertiary notes with the addition of some well-structured tannins adding to its pert, fresh quality. Our criticism was its lack of depth of flavour, immediately appealing but then rather losing it in the mid-palate to end rather short. Well made, it would be a good food wine, if a little simple.

All credit to Aldi for searching for something interesting, slightly off the well-beaten track to Chianti.

[Richard: another in the Aldi ‘Lot’ series, many of which have been reviewed here, still at £9.99. A peculiar foxy nose on opening but that soon went, indeed the wine was improved on day 2 being smoother and richer. One to decant and one of the better wines in this series, my only reservation being that it didn’t taste much like a classic sangiovese.]

 

 

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“The new [in 2007] greenhouses”

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An intriguing name for a wine this; it’s the translation of ‘La Serre Nuove’. To give its full title you must add ‘dell Ornellaia 2007. Presumably now, ten years later, they are now called La Serre Vecchie.

To the wine. The colour was an intense very deep red with a brown rim whilst the nose had what Richard described as a ‘spirity’ aroma. For me, it was an odd mixture of flowers and almost menthol aromatics and didn’t seem ‘together’. There wasn’t a satisfying depth to it.

The palate was better then the aromas. Just. The tannins were present, mixed with acidity and a leathery, earthy taste. It opened to a slight blackcurrant flavour. The disappointing aspects were its lack of length, refinement and any real complexity. It just seemed a big, red wine that was okay to drink but not much more.

Bolgheri DOC is the coastal region of Tuscany, brought to prominence in the late-1960s/early 1970s by the use of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes in Sassicaia  . Cellartracker tells us that this wine is a Bordeaux blend but doesn’t specify the proportions. Tasting notes made by various drinkers in the last 12 months also say that they expect this to improve, some up to 2021. The excellent vintage conditions of 07 Tuscany, the wine’s tannins and the high alcohol (14.5%) augur well but I’m not really convinced.

But wine has a way of proving its pundits wrong and it might develop well, depending on whether you like the end result, of course. It might be worth sitting on, Richard.

[Richard: Last bottle, I’m afraid – actually, I’m not. Third Italian red in succession, the most expensive (around £30 WS, out of stock) and, by some distance the worst. I’ve hung on to this since 2011 to the end of the WS drinking window but is was still hard and tannic, not an especially pleasant drink and thus a big disappointment. A rare unfinished bottle.]

CHILEAN COT

Just a few lines on a Cot wine (aka Malbec) given to me as a present about three years ago. It is from the Perez Cruz winery in the Maipo Valley, close to Santiago, Chile. The vineyards of this region are in the Andean foothills and benefit from their altitude which encourages acidity in the grapes. This helps balance the sugars developed in the warm climates of the whole region. However, they still produced a substantially alcoholic 14% ABV in the wine. This was a ‘Limited Edition’, whatever that means, from 2011.

Richard and I tried it after it had been open (but vacuum pumped) for 3 days. The lifted blackberry fruits were still present in both the aroma and taste but it had lost just a touch of the attractive freshness present on opening. Quite a simple wine but with dominant primary fruit flavours which, I have to admit, I prefer to a lot of the Malbecs on the market at the moment.

[Richard: Nice wine which had held up well. Around £14 I think which is perhaps a little ambitious but I still preferred it to the Tuscan.]

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Soave and sofisticato

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The wine regions of north-east Italy have earned a reputation for high-volume, modestly priced wines for easy drinking. However, when we do take the trouble to search, pay a bit more (and not much more) there are some really interesting, characterful offerings. These are usually confined to the ‘classico’ (original) areas of the DOCs. Sunday night’s wine was one of those. I tasted it blind and, helped by a little confusion over location, I was struggling to place it.

The Pieropan ‘La Rocca’ 2009 (13% ABV) was a well-made, well-developed and well-appreciated Soave. Pieropan have justifiably earned a reputation for top quality wines that remind us what good Soave can taste like. Its grape ratio was 85% Gargenaga with 15% Trebbiano di Soave.

Intense yellow/gold in colour with beautiful clarity, the wine indicated some age as did its aromas of developed stone fruits and muted acidity. The acidity showed more on the palate, which had a heavy mouth feel and a long finish. The flavours were again stone fruits, especially peach, but it also had a pleasant finish of almonds which again indicated its well-developed state. The wine was beautifully balanced, well-made and worth taking time over. It would match fuller flavoured white meats, fish and cheeses.

[Richard: from TWS, £19. We blogged the 2010 nearly two years ago. I can’t recall why I saved the earlier wine although it must have been received opinion on ageing potential. Last time I remarked on similarities with Alsace – mouthfeel and body especially – and they are apparent here. Lovely wine which Angie polished off with great relish. One bottle left]

 

 

 

 

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Able was I ere I saw Aldi

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Aldi, again. This time Lot 9 (and 08, see below) , a Toscano red wine of 13% from 2014. This originates in the east of Italy, opposite the isle of Elba and an able wine it was too.

Dense red with a ruby rim and the tell-tale tears of alcohol, it smelt of vanilla and brambles with a slight menthol aroma which faded after time. The vanilla smell is appealing and carried forward its sweetness into the taste, making it a very easy drinking, commercial but well-made wine. The low tannins also added to its attractiveness.

After having been disappointed more then a few times with Chianti, made not far inland from here, we were both pleasantly surprised by its style. Good value at £9.99.

[Richard: from the Maremma so not a classico. One of those rare wines it is impossible to find out anything about on the internet. Not even on Aldi’s website, as of a few days ago. The neck tag – which I’ve not kept – gave the grapes as petit verdot, merlot and sangiovese, so not permitted grapes either. I’m pretty sure the shelf label calls this a supertuscan. That’s not a recognised designation but is usually taken to mean wines of a much better quality (and cost) than this. We’ve tried several of the Lot series so this was a natural purchase, aided by that other rarity where Aldi are concerned – no queue. Lots of vanilla, possible a bit too much, which made me wonder if oak chipping had been used but, nevertheless, an easy drinking wine with a bit of class. Would buy again.

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Also tasted Lot 08, a week after the others. As before Aldi £9.99. A carmenère with 7.5% each of merlot and petit verdot. The last is becoming very common in the sort of wines I drink. An instantly appealing red, lots of fruit, some acidity. Not much structure (16 months in a mixture of new and old oak is claimed), but none the worse for that. Made by Vina Carmen the oldest winery in Chile, who ‘rediscovered’ carmenère in 1994. Very nice wine, worth looking for.]

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