Thursday, February 7, 2013

Tasting Report: VinItaly-Slow Wine


On January 28th, I had the pleasure of attending the 2013 Vin-Italy Slow Wine, US trade tasting in lower Manhattan.  The event was very well orchestrated and included hundreds of excellent producers.
  
My approach to such an event was two fold.  Naturally, I wanted to taste as many wines as I could and be able to record a few general impressions of each wine so as to make any subsequent review useful.

Secondly, I often re-visited several of the wineries that were represented by family members as opposed to those that were simply represented by distributors or importers.  In this way, I gained a deeper appreciation for the passion, the goals, and the knowledge that these family wineries have for their products.  It will be obvious to which producers I'm referring to by my comments.

Finally, since tastings like these only provide a small tasting of each wine and many of the tastings take place without food, I've decided to provide wider score ranges and rely more on my comments.

Tasting Notes - VinItaly-Slow Wine 2013 

I arrived earlier than expected and was fortunate enough that the producers who were already set up were willing to pour samples and chat before much of the crowd assembled.  Here's a shot of the venue before the tasting began.

The Slow Wine Section of the Tasting at 360.
 
Boscarelli

My first stop was a good one, at the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano producer, Boscarelli.  A small estate, only 14 ha (about 34 acres) their main focus is on their Vino Nobile and their Riserva. Maurizio Castelli, also of Mastrojanni & Badia a Coltibuono among others,  is the winemaker.

2009 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano:  A blend of the classic varietals; prugnolo gentile, colorino, canaiolo and mammolo, this is honest and traditional.  Botte aged, the wine is very balanced with only moderate tannins that make it very approachable right now.  Imported by Empson.  Recommended.  87-90 points.

2009 Boscarelli Vino Nobile di Montepulciano

2007 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva:  Only made in the best of vintages, says family member Nicolo Corradi, the Riserva spends a bit of time in barrique. The Riserva is 90% Prugnolo Gentile, with the remaining 10% Cabernet and Merlot, though Nicolo stated that the 2007 is mostly Merlot. The wine is very floral, very aromatic with a noticeable difference in the intensity of fruit flavors. It's also more complex. Highly Recommended.  90-93 points.

2007 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva

Frescobaldi

These wines were represented by Folio Wine Partners so there was limited information to go along with the presentation of the wines themselves. 

2008 Castelgiocondo Brunello di Montalcino:  I've had many vintages of this wine, and this is the least inspiring that I've tasted in a long while. It may be a hallmark of the vintage. Admittedly, I don't plan on buying much 2008 Brunello, but this was straightforward with a medium bodied core of fruit that was shortened with stemmy, drying tannins. 87-89 points. 

2007 Castelgiocondo Brunello Ripe al Convento Riserva:  Somewhat backwards, given the ripeness and flamboyance of the vintage. Not nearly as structured as I expected. Again, seems a solid core of fruit is somehow shortened by the stemminess of drying tannins. Slightly more aromatic than the 2008.  88-91 points.

2009 Luce della Vite Luce:  45% Sangiovese and 55% Merlot.  This dark purple wine is soft, lush and approachable right now with a velvety texture - fully integrated tannins. It doesn't retain much typicity, but it's very alluring. It's not something I would cellar.  88-90 points

As an interesting side note, I learned that Luce also produces a Brunello which was not offered for tasting; though it has one of the craziest labels I've ever seen.  

Frescobaldi Brunelli.  Luce was not pictured.

Badia a Coltibuono

This tasting started off with a pleasant discussion with proprietor Emanuela Stucchi Prinetti.  Coltibuono is now organically farmed, sustainable and committed to traditional winemaking.  Maurizio Castelli is the consulting enologist. Large cask are used for aging and the wines are made primarily with Sangiovese and small percentages of Colorino and Canaiolo.  As I was reminded, white grapes are no longer allowed in the blending of Chianti.

2009 Chianti Classico:  Such a pretty wine.  This estate was among the first Chianti Classico I ever began to purchase and the quality has continued to improve. This has pretty berry, floral and earth tones and is a wonderful representation of the vintage.  For the money, Highly Recommended.  88-91 points



2010 Chianti Classico:  This was a barrel sample put in bottle for this tasting and not yet subjected to the final blending before release. It is difficult to review, though the wine lacked some of the forward floral notes of the 2009. Slightly higher in acidity, it was good, but nothing more.  86-88 points.

Note the Temporary Vintage Sticker on the Label

2008 Chianti Classico Riserva:  This is the wine where Coltibuono excels.  This is wonderful for the vintage. Loads of flowers, cherries, and spice on the nose and palate. Feminine, elegant and fresh. Producer over vintage.  Highly Recommended. 90-93 points.

The Highly Recommended Riserva

Fattoria Corzano e Paterno

I was able to spend some nice time with family proprietor Aljoscha Goldschmidt whose Swiss family now owns this estate. The overall quality here is very nice, though there is something I sense missing from these wines.  It's hard to put my finger on it, but I summarize it like this: If a friend brought these to dinner, I would happily drink them and enjoy them. However, I would not seek them out myself.

2009 Il Corzano:  Aljoscha told me this was a barrique aged Super Tuscan of equal parts Sangiovese, Cabernet, and Merlot.  It's a polished red, of deep purple color.  The barrique is noticeable as the wine is very spicy.  A well made but fairly generic red.  87-89 points.

2009 Chianti Tre Borri Riserva:  A much more enticing effort here.  Tre Borri means "Three Streams" as Aljoscha explained in the Tuscan dialect and is named for the area where the vineyards are located.  This is very elegant, floral, with raspberry notes and is "almost" 100% Sangiovese.  I like this wine much more than the previous. Recommended.  88-91 points.

Tre Borri - A Chianti Riserva not from the Classico Zone
Fontodi

I have long loved Fontodi's wines, so coming upon their table, it was a no brainer for me to stop.  For years, this Panzano estate has been in the capable hands of winemaker Franco Bernabei who has consistently created amazing wines.  The problem I've seen over the last 5-6 years, is that the prices have risen to ridiculous levels. I was looking forward to broaching this discussion with the representative, but the only person their was a cordial gentlemen from their distributor who was clearly more of a "describe the wines" guy.  Vinifera Imports.

2009 Chianti Classico:  This is very good Chianti with a bit of a more modern twist. It's polished and refined with nice red berry notes, slight vanilla accents and good length.  Not the best Chianti I tasted on the day, but very good nonetheless.  The contention is that the wine doesn't represent good value at around $40 retail.  88-90 points.

2009 Flaccianello della Pieve:  The first comment I wrote down was "wow!"  This is dark, black red with effusive aromas of fruit, leather, earth and herbs.  Has masses of fruit on the palate with juicy round flavors and wonderful perfumed aromatics.  I've enjoyed Flaccianello for decades and this reminded me of the amazing 1985.  I used to buy it regularly, when it averaged $50-$75.  Now it's a staggering $120-$140 according to Vinifera's Rep.  That's a shame because at that price, I'm forced to pass.  But if you've got the means, buy as much of this as you can find.  It's a stunning Sangiovese.  Very Highly Recommended.  94-98 points.

Fontodi Chianti Classico w/ Flaccianello barely visible behind, and otherwise not pictured.

Tenuta di Capezzana

Along with Piaggia, Capezzana is probably the pre-eminent producer of Carmignano. While I have enjoyed their Carmigano Riserva many times in the past, I've not encountered their normal bottling until now.  The Rep. from MW Imports was very pleasant, though by her own admission, brand new to the line and not too familiar with the specifics of the products.

2007 Carmignano:  A blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet, per the DOCG regulations, this Carmignano is not as structured as the Piaggia I've reported on here several times.  This is deep purple, with pretty aromatics and a soft, lush, mouthfeel to the berry and herb scented fruit. It's very tasty and fairly priced. It may not be as soulfully Tuscan as other wines I've tried, but it's well made.  86-88 points.



2006 Vin Santo Riserva:  An adjective fails me. Let me start by saying that this is only slightly "worse" than the Avignonesi Vin Santo and that says volumes.  It's a deep brown sugar color, with an alluring caramelized sugar, orange rind aroma.  It's nutty, sweet, lively, with juicy acidity.  It's not the least bit cloying. It's an ethereal nectar and it's reasonably priced for the genre.  Stunning.  94-98 points. Very Highly Recommended.

As I Tweeted live during the event:  "Find it" 

 Azienda L'Olivella

I hadn't planned to stop at this producer, but as I was walking through and saw his little companion on the table, there was no way I wasn't stopping.  Maybe that was the point?  Nevertheless, I was pleased I did.  Proprietor Danilo Notarnicola was a young gentlemen - perhaps in his late 30's with a witty sense of humor, a totally charming and disarming manner about him and very knowledgeable about the wine.

2011 Racemo Frascati Superiore:  From the hills just north of Rome, in the province of Lazio, comes Frascati. This example was special.  A dark yellow gold, with bright aromas of lemon zest, white stone fruits, and flowers.  Flavors are persistent and full bodied, but very lively and refreshing.  Excellent value too.  88-91 Recommended.

Wonderful Frascati - Nice apperitif or accompaniment to lighter fare

Here's the little companion that caught my eye and made me stop.  I was laughing so hard, and said to the proprietor, "She must be a Piccaso!"   Danilo responded,  "2 for the milk and 1 for the wine!"

Miss Frascati:  Due per il latte, uno per il vino

Fattoria Felsina 

This was an interesting stop.  There stood the bottles on the table, many of them, opened.  Not a soul in sight.  I don't think there was anyone there all day as people just helped themselves to the wine.  Someone was opening the bottles, but I've no idea who.  Nevertheless, Felsina's wines are top rate, and it's a shame there was no one to speak to.  The winemaker remains Franco Bernabei and like at Fontodi, crafts wonderful Sangiovese.

2009 Chianti Classico Rancia Riserva:  This has always been a special wine, with great aging potential and the 2009 vintage doesn't seem to be any exception.  Dark garnet, lovely aromatics and a delicious seamless display of herbs, tobacco and red fruit.  Mostly Sangiovese but with a small percentage of Canaiolo.  Fairly priced.  89-91  Recommended.

2009 Fontalloro:  Backward. 100% Sangiovese. Dark garnet red, with a large core of fruit supported by monstrous, ripe tannins.  Elegantly perfumed.  Dark ripe cherry flavors are persistent. Needs time to resolve the tannins. This will be a wonderful Sangiovese in 10 years time.  90-93 Highly Recommended

Two wonderful wines from Felsina

Castello Banfi

Represented by a knowledgeable, energetic young man named Dino, this winery was pouring several wines from their estate.  However, I have reviewed many of them here - so this article contains the one wine I have not previously reviewed.

2010 Belnero:  This was the bottled wine, but not yet  released on the market.  Belnero is almost exclusively Sangiovese, but is an "IGT" because of the small portion of Merlot blended in.  The wine is a dark vibrant reddish-purple. It's got a pretty aroma of wild herbs, red berries and earth.  The flavors marry well on the palate and the wine is refined, stylish. Almost sleek. Very well done for the vintage, but not quite up to the amazing 2009.   88-90 points  Price can vary widely on this wine.  I've seen it for as low as $19 and as high as $30, so shop wisely.  Recommended on the lower range.

Soon to be released - Castello Banfi Belnero

Isole e Olena

Isole e Olena was represented by owner and winemaker Paolo di Marchi.  Affable, unassuming and very friendly, Paolo spoke at length about his wines. I shared with him, some of my previous reviews published here and expressed my affection for his wines.  He has graciously agreed to be the subject of a future interview here at Tuscan Vines.

2010 Chianti Classico:  Maybe the best 2010 Classico I've tasted thus far.  This wine is scheduled to be part of my Chianti Classico report coming next month.  80% Sangiovese, 15% Canaiolo and 5% Syrah, the color is a deep ruby.  Fermented in stainless steel, the floral aromatics of the wine are abundant and fresh. Later aged in large casks, the wine gains notes of sweet tobacco, cherries and spices. Excellent effort for the vintage and fairly priced.  88-90 points.  Recommended.

2009 Cepparello:  100% Sangiovese hand selected from the best and oldest plots on the estate. Cepparello is named for a small stream that originates on the estate and was first created by Paolo di Marchi during the 1980 vintage.  I've tasted every vintage since 1993.  The 2009 is among the best I've tried and may eclipse the amazing 1997.  Deep ruby in the glass, the wine is concentrated and loaded with red fruits. Complex flavors and aromas of pipe tobacco, earth, herbs and flowers are intense and persistent. Great structure to the ripe tannins. The wine ages in barriques for 18 months, but only 1/3 of the barrels are new, while the balance are seeing their 1st and 2nd passage.  As a result, the wine is not dominated by oak.  94-98 points.  Very Highly Recommended.

Isole e Olena is a consistently excellent producer

Borgogno

Since the 18th Century, Borgogno & Figli have been crafting classic, traditional old school wines in the best Piedmont fashion.  The 1964 Barolo Riserva is legendary.  The young, friendly, Andrea Farinetti represented the winery as the Farinetti family took over the estate in 2008.  Andrea is clearly the next generation, but speaks with the knowledge and passion of someone twice his age.  He was a pleasure to taste with.

Andrea Farinetti of Borgogno

2010 Barbera d'Alba Superiore:  The first wine we tried was the recently released Barbera d'Alba.  Lovely aromatics with violets and berries.  Beautiful in the mouth and balanced. Delicious Barbera that will provide wonderful near term drinking.  88-90 points. Recommended.


2010 Barbera d'Alba Superiore: Gorgeous label!


2005 Barolo Riserva:  The Borgogno Barolo sources fruit from 4 different vineyards in Barolo:  Cannubi, Liste, Fossati & San Pietro. The result is a beautiful blended Barolo.  Borgogno ages their Barolo exclusively in large oak casks that have seen prior vintages. The resulting wines are pure and speak to the land. The 2005 is an amazing wine, with wonderful floral, perfumed and anise aromatics. The palate is juicy and full bodied, with caressing tannins. Much more approachable than I would have expected.  Wonderful balance. 91-94 points.  Highly Recommended.

Delicious Blended Multi-Vineyard Barolo Riserva

Many of the Presenters had iPad Tablets they used to illustrate their winery or vineyard locations and Borgogno was one of them.  A look here at the Borgogno table.

Conterno Fantino

Another of the presenters using a tablet to provided in depth insight into their estate and wines was Conterno Fantino, represented by the charming, attentive Alda Fantino.  Alda spoke at length about the wines and the vineyards that produce them. Their altitude, their exposure, their proximity to famous neighbors like Clerico, Scavino etc.  Alda presented two 2008 Barolo in two completely different styles.

2008 Barolo Vigna del Gris:   This is the estates most approachable Barolo.  Vigna del Gris has Southeast exposure so the grapes retain slightly more floral qualities than other Barolo from Monforte. The Gris vineyard is young, on average, the vines are only about 12 years old.  The wine is classic ruby red, with a wonderful aroma of flowers, cherries and spices. It's very elegant, and as Alda agreed, feminine.  It's charming to drink already with moderate tannins and pleasing acidity.  Reminds of Barbaresco.

2008 Barolo Mosconi:  Serious wine here.  This is everything Monforte Barolo is about. Muscular, powerful, and slightly less aromatic than the Gris, at the expense of a vastly richer, more powerful core of fruit.  Aged for 2 years in new French Barrique, it is hardly noticeable on the palate. Mosconi also faces Southeast, however the vineyard age is much older than Gris at almost 60 years. There is massive fruit here with tannins to match.  It's put together so well, that with proper food, you could enjoy it now, but this wine will evolve gloriously for 20-25 years.  Expensive, but I'm a buyer.  94-97 points. Highly Recommended.

Alda Fantino

Left: The Powerful Mosconi  Right: Elegant Vigna del Gris



Arnaldo Caprai

Arnaldo Caprai was recently proclaimed as Wine Enthusiast magazines Winery of the year for 2012.  Between the affable nature of proprietor Marco Caprai and his stellar line up of wines, it's very easy to see why.  Caprai was represented by both his importer and himself, so there was ample wine and information to discuss. Marco is funny, passionate, and shares the conviction of Montefalco the same as other Sagrantino producers I've met.  He was a pleasure to share a glass with.  

2011 Grecante:  This white is from the DOC area Colli Martani and is 100% Grechetto. It's pale golden color is bright and clear.  On the nose, the wine has lovely delicate aromas of lemon rind, and white peach. 100% stainless steel produced, the wine is crisp and vibrant and the perfect aperitif.  88-90 points.  Recommended.

2009 Montefalco Rosso:  Blended 70% Sangiovese, 15% Sagrantino and 15% Merlot, this is floral and spicy on the nose with a velvety palate that is generous with fruit, earth and flowers. Very plush, and with moderate tannins, the wine drinks so well right now.  Wonderful value at around $20.  88-91 points. Recommended.

2007 Collepiano Sagrantino:  100% barrique aged Sagrantino from the "Little hills".  This is a full bodied Sagrantino that is powerful and balanced. Despite the chewy substantial tannic structure, the fruit is velvety and soft on the palate - very polished.  Deep fruit flavors framed by vanilla and spice.  90-92 points. Recommended.

2007 "25 Anni" Sagrantino:  The name is a nod to the 25th anniversary of the winery on which this wine was first created. This is nearly black.  Everything about this wine is massive. Pure power. The fruit, acids, tannins, are all in balance, but the wine is simply not approachable right now. It's gargantuan and grips your mouth with the force that only Sagrantino can seem to muster. The winemaking here is extraordinary and this is a Rosso that will live for decades.  Try in 2017.  94-97 points.  Highly Recommended.

The Affable Gentleman, Marco Caprai

The Caprai Wines:  Note Grecante standing at right.

 Col D'Orcia

Owned by the Cinzano conglomerate, Col D'Orcia is a stalwart of Brunello, producing wine since the 1700's.  Represented by Palm Bay Imports.

2010 Rosso di Montalcino:  Nice solid ruby color. Pleasing aromas of berries and earth with a slight funky barnyard or animal note.  The fruit on the palate already feels somewhat tired - there's a flatness to the mouthfeel that I can't quite explain.  Traditionally aged in used old casks.  82-84  Not Recommended.

2007 Brunello di Montalcino: A far superior vintage than the above wine, my hopes of finding, as their label proclaims "a feted Brunello" - were quickly dashed.  What went wrong here? There is certainly nothing to celebrate. The wine is brick red, and the woman tasting next to me muttered quietly in my ear: "This is already browning."  Indeed. There is no charm to this wine that the vintage is known for. It tastes 15 years older than it is.  The same notes of animal and funk present in the Rosso are noted here.  I just shook my head and walked away.  The Rep. for Palm Bay never even asked my opinion. I wonder what he was thinking.  80-83  Not Recommended.

Information Cards with my hand scribbled vintage notes.  I left so quickly, I didn't even shoot the bottles.

Damilano

Defintely not a new player in Barolo - the estate has been around since the 18th century, however, the wines have taken a major leap in quality over the last 10 years.  Represented by two lovely young Italian women from Vias who, though not directly associated with the winery, were eager to speak about the wines and show the vineyard locations on their tablets. Damilano sources their fruit from some of the most famous Barolo Crus in Piemonte: Cannubi, Cerequio, Brunate and Liste.

2008 Barolo LeCinqueVigne:   As the name implies, a blended Barolo from five vineyards. This is bright, vibrant ruby red.  The nose has faint asian spices to it, with pretty cherry aromas and slight menthol/anise. The palate is full bodied, and elegantly feminine. This is delicious and drinking so well right now.  A value too at under $35.  90-92 points.  Highly Recommended.

2008 Barolo Cannubi:  Wow, a massive wine.  Deep aromas of roses, earth, and fruit lead to a full bodied, chewy palate of powerful, muscular Barolo fruit.  An absolutely wonderful wine for Cannubi and given what other bottlings from this vineyard can cost, this one is a steal.  92-95 points.  Very Highly Recommended.

Two high quality bottlings from Damilano
Fattoria Selvapiana

Selvapiana has long been on my radar as a unique quality producer of Tuscan wine. In fact, were it not for the fact that they lie slightly outside the Chianti Classico zone of production, I think they would be one of the most sought after Chianti's in the world. Selvapiana lies in the Rufina region, just to the northeast of the Classico zone. This minor geography likely makes the wines more affordable - and to our great benefit.

Represented by winemaker Federico Giuntini Masseti, we had a long enjoyable discussion about the Selvapiana terroir, and the fact that he personally thinks the 1985 Bucerchiale is the greatest wine Bucerchiale ever made, until recently.  Federico was humble, and very reserved. He looks as unassuming as your best friend, but his passion, especially about Bucerchiale comes through as he opens up slightly in speaking about his wines.  Imported by Martin Scott.

2010 Chianti Rufina

Made the traditional way.  Large cask, no barrique.  A blend of Sangiovese, Canaiolo, Colorino and Malvasia Nero in varying proportions given the vintage.  As Rufina lies slightly further north, the wines generally have slightly higher acids, but are also very floral and perfumed.  This is no exception.  This is a solid Chianti with berries, earth, flowers and tobacco on the nose and palate. Amazing for the vintage. What more could you ask for? Simply delicious.  89-91 points  Recommended.


Chianti Rufina from Selvapiana

2009 Chianti Rufina Riserva Vigneto Bucerchiale:  This is a 100% Sangiovese wine from a single vineyard, and from the best selections of fruit that the vineyard produces.  It is always true to its terroir and as my note above implies, Federico feels that this wine is the best wine he has ever made. He didn't volunteer this freely.  As I was tasting it, I remarked how much I loved it and that's when he offered his opinion. It's deeply colored, with rich berry and cherry aromas and flavors. There is warm, mushroomey earth, and a slight hint of "animal".  Only slightly, it enhances without detracting.  "Animale" as Federico agreed.  This wine, is nothing short of stunning in both quality and value.  94-96 points  Very Highly Recommended.

I  Tweeted about this wine too - and with good reason

 Monteraponi

There seems to be a growing trend as more and more wineries become organic and bio-dynamic and Monteraponi is one such case. Located in Radda, the vineyards are meticulously cared for, with use of cement vats, large Slavonian casks only, indigenous yeasts, organically farmed grapes, no fining or filtering....you get the idea.   Winemaker Michele Braganti speaks quietly but confidently about his wine. His lovely wife presents with more exuberance - it is obvious they are both proud of their traditional methods as well as being certified bio-dynamic. This was a new winery for me and I am glad I got to know them.  Michele Braganti has graciously agreed to be interviewed by me for Tuscan Vines.  Imported by A.I. Selections.

The Braganti's proudly pouring their Chianti.  At right, winemaker Michele Braganti

2010 Chianti Classico:  Made predominantly from Sangiovese, with a slight proportion of Canaiolo, this wine is medium ruby with hints of flowers and red fruits on both the nose and palate. It's fresh and lively and very good for the vintage.  86-88 points. 

2009 Chianti Classico Riserva "Il Campitello":  A single vineyard Riserva from one of the oldest vineyards on the property. Completely traditional winemaking here and the soul of the earth comes through in this wine.  Flowers, mushroom, berries. Pure and focused are the flavors.  My summary note says: "really delicious".  91-93 points.  Highly Recommended.

Black label Riserva, Tan label Classico.  Monteraponi also produces a third wine, an additional Riserva that was not being poured at Slow Wine.

Biondi Santi

No one disputes the effect that the Biondi Santi family has had on Brunello di Montalcino. While still retaining bottles of the 1888 vintage in their cellars, the Tenuta Greppo estate has become a piece of living history. Franco Biondi Santi is a staunch traditionalist who hasn't changed the way his wine is produced in over 50 years. Extended macerations, elongated aging prior to release - these are all ultra traditional processes that have been hallmarks of Biondi Santi.  Biondi Santi is widely credited with creating Brunello.  All that history is just that I'm afraid.

2007 Brunello di Montalcino:  I've had past vintages of Biondi Santi many years ago and they were never to my liking. They always seemed dried out, too tannic, and tired by the time they were released and they always seemed "dirty" to me. I was curious to see if things had changed, but they haven't.  Where is the ripe fruit and charm of this vintage?  The wine is slight brick red with brown hues.  It's got some dried herb notes to the nose, with dirt and autumn leaves. The palate seems dried out, shortened by tannin.  Maybe I just don't understand these wines.  I don't wish to keep trying. What's worse, the price charged is for a premium product.   82-84  Not Recommended.

Meet the New Brunello.  Same as the Old Brunello.

Tabarrini

Despite speaking with, and coordinating the interview I did with him,  I had never met Giampaolo Tabarrini face to face.  When I introduced myself, I got a death defying hug as though I were a long lost brother. The man brims with energy, passion and friendliness and that comes through in his wines and the way he speaks about them.  

Here Giampaolo is describing the altitude of his Colle alla Macchie vineyard and the differences between that and the Campo Alla Cerqua vineyard, that was presented at the Tasting


Giampaolo was pouring two wines at this event; his estate white and one of his Sagrantino.  

2010 Adarmando:  This is the estate white wine comprised entirely of Trebbiano Spoletino.  I had never had the wine and was eager to try it.  The nose is very intriguing on this pale golden bianco.  It reminds of an Alsatian with it's mineral and petrol aromas that frame the slightly spicy fruit flavors.  Very nicely done indeed. 88-90 points.  Recommended. 

2008 Campo alla Cerqua Sagrantino di Montefalco:  I've tried all three of Giampaolo's Cru Sagrantino in the 2006 or 2007 vintage.  The differences between the three vineyards are very noticeable.  The Sagrantino that Campo alla Cerqua produces is elegant and covered in ripe, powdery tannins. Although the 2008 is not yet released, this wine is exactly like the 2007. Such a distinctive terroir!  Giampaolo smiled heartily when I told him this - and that this was my favorite Cru of the three.  It's a full bodied wine, but the tannin structure is so sublime and elegant that you can approach this wine now. With appropriate food, it will shine. If you prefer to cellar it - the complexity will only increase. Special stuff.  92-95 points. Very Highly Recommended. 

The soon to be released: 2008 Campo Alla Cerqua Sagrantino

Toward the end of the tasting, I was able to re-visit Giampaolo and chat further about his estate.  He, Francesco Baricci and I had an interesting discussion ranging from Monforte wines to Soldera's mishap. He later introduced me further to Paolo di Marchi with whom we had an extended tasting of the 2009 Cepparello. Giampaolo is friendly and generous.  If his wine's sucked, I think I'd still buy them! Fortunately for all of us, they are stellar. Grazie tanto amico.

Campo Alla Cerqua makes everyone happy! Giampaolo Tabarrini with yours truly.

Elvio Cogno

For years Elvio Cogno was the driving force behind the famous La Morra producer, Marcarini.  He is now crafting wonderful Barolo under his own label.  Along with Vietti, he shares the Cru Ravella.  Cogno's  Barolo is fermented in stainless steel and is then aged in French barrique for one year before being transferred to Slavonian oak for a further year.  30-40% of the barrique are new.  In the classic debate in Piedmont between Old School (botte) and new wave (barrique) this style is somewhat of a hybrid.

2008 Elvio Cogno Barolo Ravella:  Not yet released.  The wine has a deep, classic ruby/brick color so common to Nebbiolo.  This is a more elegant approach to Barolo - it doesn't quite have the brawn or heft that I recall tasting from the Vietti Ravella in the past.  More approachable, with a serious core of fruit, flowers, tannins and acids that provide amazing structure. This is delicious and while decanting can allow you to enjoy it sooner, I have no doubt it will age well.  91-94 points.  Recommended. 

Although I missed taking a picture, the label is unchanged and this is a stock image of the 2007.


Tenuta Terraviva

This was one of the first wines I tasted on the day and I was excited at how delicious it was.  Terraviva is a new venture in Abruzzo.  This Montepulciano is unfined, unfiltered, organic, wine derived  from 100% Montepulciano grapes. Martino, the proprietor, was cordial and passionate about his Montepulciano.  He is currently seeking an importer for representation in the United States.  

2010 Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Lui:  Dark purple in the glass with an enticing nose of smoke, plums and herbs. Slightly peppery, the fruit is round and full on the palate.  This is a great value for the money. If it's imported soon, seek it out.  Average retail is only 8 euro, so about $10 here in the US.  87-89 points.  Recommended

Here is a stock image from their website: 


Lui Montepulciano from Terraviva - Good Value.

Jacopo Biondi Santi

1991 was Jacopo Biondi Santi's first vintage, produced at his fathers estate in Montalcino.  In 1996, Jacopo founded his own winery in Maremma at the Castle Montepo.  I have tasted Jacopo's wines in the past and have found them to be lacking.  I was more impressed with these recent efforts.  The wines were represented by Vision Wine & Spirits. 

2010 Braccale Rosso IGT:  Medium ruby color.  This blend of 80% Sangiovese grosso and 20% Merlot from Scansano has a nice floral element, but also an odd aquarium essence. Too much wood. Medium bodied, it is inoffensive but yet uninspriring.  Maybe a bit overpriced at about $22.  85-87 points.  

80% Sangiovese -  20% Merlot

2008 Sassoalloro:  100% Sangiovese Grosso sourced from the Biondi Santi estate, now grown in Scansano.  Darker purple.  Lots of new wood, but despite that, the wine appears balanced.  Spicy black fruits dominate the nose and palate.  Not my cup of tea, but well made. I do not notice any particular sense of terroir - from Montalcino or otherwise.  88-90 points.

100% Sangiovese Grosso from Maremma
Baricci
After tasting wines for over 25 years, it's not often that I see a Brunello I'm not familiar with.  Such was the case with Baricci.  My interest was piqued initially because their table was adjacent to Tabarrini. What sealed the deal for me was when I realized they shared the Montosoli Vineyard with the famed Altesino.  That's all I needed to see - I was going to taste this.   Represented by both the importer and Francesco Baricci himself, the pride he feels for his wine comes through.  Francesco is the 3rd generation winemaker and speaks with exalted eloquence for his grandfather Nello; who started the family estate in 1964.  His stated goal is to continue to treasure and maintain his grandfather's legacy.  We spoke casually about their production, the Soldera sabotage and the humble opinion he has of his "farm wine".  Francesco  and Baricci will be the subject of a future interview at Tuscan Vines.  

2010 Rosso di Montalcino:  The rosso is aged in large botte and then refined in bottle for 6 months before release.  Nice medium ruby color.  Medium weight, with berry and tobacco flavors and aromas. Straightforward and solid - likely a reflection of the weaker vintage.  87-89 points. 

2007 Brunello di Montalcino:  The label proudly proclaims "Colombaio di Montosoli".  In the glass the wine is a medium to deep ruby color.  The aromas are ethereal. I was struck by the combination of fruit, flowers and perfume. Intense.  In the mouth, those aromas are somehow transformed into tactile sensations. Where has this estate been all my life?  The wood aging is completely neutral in this wine.  The soul of Montalcino - and in particular - Montosoli comes through. Pure, focused and delicious. 93-96 points. Perhaps the best 2007 I've yet had.  Very Highly Recommended. 

Baricci Brunello 2007 - Rosso di Montalcino not pictured.

Random Musings in Conclusion

This was an outstanding event. I was on site for over 5 hours and probably tasted only 50% of the wines presented.  I tried to learn as much as I could about the producers I visited so as to publish a more thorough article instead of simply a listing of tasting notes.  

Only a handful of wines above I've denoted with "Very Highly Recommended".  (7 if I counted right)  I've acquired 3 of them for my cellar already and have made the contacts required to secure at least two more.  The remaining two are the Flaccianello ($$$$) and the Damilano Cannubi which is not yet released. 

The Fontodi pricing continues to baffle me. This makes Cepparello all the more impressive.

I was greatly impressed by the 2008 vintage in Barolo.  The wines are fresh, concentrated, aromatic and balanced.  Barolo is typically so expensive, but these will be 25 year wines that also drink well young. The "normale" bottlings were also very delicious, indicating further the quality of the vintage.

Equally as impressive was the increased and widespread dedication many vintners have toward becoming organic and/or bio-dynamic. At least a dozen winemakers mentioned this to me over the course of the day. Natural, natural, natural seems to be the trend.  

I was disappointed that I continue to BE disappointed with estates like Col d'Orcia and Biondi Santi.  Maybe they just don't work for my palate.  

Sagrantino is a serious varietal which is gaining a well deserved increased following. The producers are young and energetic.  Tabarrini is a rising star with a bright future and the wines of Arnaldo Caprai are solid up and down the entire line up. 

Gambero Rosso next month... 


























9 comments:

  1. This my favorite part of this amazing post (two years of work for me) Campo Alla Cerqua makes everyone happy! Giampaolo Tabarrini with yours truly.

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  2. Dennis, I think you have that wine, either in '06 or '07? It's so good. Can't wait for the 2008. You know where to get it and Daniele says that it's on the boat as we speak!

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  3. Just wondering if you have sampled, and what your thoughts are on the Fattoria Selvapiana Chianti Rufina Riserva Vigneto Bucerchiale 2007?
    A local retailer in Michigan currently has the 07 in stock, and I plan to ask if he will be ordering the 09.

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  4. Hi,

    Thanks for reading and commenting. I have not had the 2007 but based on this and other vintages of this wine that I have tried, I certainly wouldn't hesitate to buy it if the price were reasonable. FYI, here in NJ the 2009 is $29.99 retail before tax. If you go for it, let me know how it is!

    Thanks,
    J

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  5. Interesting reading your notes and experiences John. I'm also a huge follower of Tuscan wines (and food) so always great to read other's perspectives. I find it slightly curious that while you are so fond of Baricci (as am I), you really dislike Biondi Santi. I would say they are fairly similar in style. B-S are all about elegance, subtlety and nuance, stark contrast to the crude oaky bombshells like Banfi, Castiglion del Bosco etc. But I do concede they are over priced, I've only had the pleasure at tasting events, never purchased any. Incidentally, I was in Montalcino last month and visited Baricci and tasted the new vintages, great people to deal with and top class wines, the Rosso 2011 was superb. I haven't managed to track down their 07 Brunello unfortunately, but I've read many good reports, the 08 is really good.
    Regarding Col d'Orcia, I agree that the 2007 was not great, but if you get the chance to try their Poggio al Vento, I'm sure you will find it a different matter- the 2004 is outstanding. They came to London last year for a big Decanter tasting and brought some old vintages of their regular Brunello and the '95 was absolutely singing.
    Nice to read your notes on Boscarelli, it looks like you didn't get the chance to try their Nocio Vino Nobile single vineyard 100% Sangiovese, which is exceptional. Also good to read your impressions of Monteraponi, another excellent producer.

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  6. Adam,

    Thanks for the thoughtful comments. I'll be the first to agree with you that tasting is very subjective. I have the (somewhat unique) ability to enjoy many styles of wines whether traditional or modern. Many people don't and while I loved the Baricci wines, I also enjoy Castello Banfi's wines. They are modern, but I don't find the oak in their Brunello to be overdone. Then again, I'm less sensitive to it than many people I know and more forgiving of it with Sangiovese than I am with something more delicate like Nebbiolo. Regarding Biondi Santi, I think tasting those wines young do them a disservice and I accept that. His wines seem well made, but I think they NEED 10 years in bottle to show what they have to offer. I didn't get that sense with Baricci. Francesco Baricci told me that Soldera called Baricci's "modern and overoaked" so there's that subjectivity again! I think I tasted the Nocio from Boscarelli at Gambero Rosso, you can check my report on this site for that. I recall enjoying it, but thinking it was probably too pricey here in the US. As for Col d'Orcia, they are sending samples to me for a future article, so they'll have ample opportunity to redeem.

    Thanks for reading and I truly appreciate the comments. Salute!
    J

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  7. Thanks John, I agree that Baricci's wines are more approachable in style for tasting young, although I'm sure would age well too, but Soldera's comments are a bit wide of the mark I think! From other producer's comments Soldera does seem to have a reputation for stirring things up! Baricci are 'traditional but approachable' imo. Other favourites of mine are Il Marroneto, Paradiso di Manfredi and Fuligni.
    Fair enough in your appreciation of both modern and traditional, when it comes to Sangiovese I don't like new oak/barriques, the only ones I enjoy in that style are, at times, Fontodi (though the 09 CC I find very oaky) and Poliziano. Funnily enough, I'm the other way to you, I can enjoy a more modern Barolo, not necessarily with big oak, but Luciano Sandrone and Michele Chiarlo are among my favourites.
    Oh and forgot to mention, I totally agree with you about Capezzana, their Vin Santo is the best I've tasted.
    Good to discuss these things with another Italian wine nut. Salute!

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  8. And a Nocio I am indeed! Adam, I just posted a fairly extensive report on 2008 Barolo. I hope you'll read it and let me know what you think. I love Poliziano too and have just had their 2009 Vino Nobile a few times. Great wine for the money. Sandrone is great. It's all about balance in the end for me, whether Sangiovese or Nebbiolo. Botte or Barrique. I have been surprised on many occasions when told how wines were aged. I tend to agree with you re:Fontodi. Flaccianello is special, but they're getting a heavy hand on the CC and in the US, their prices are getting silly. I can't wait for that Capezzana Vin Santo to be released. I keep bugging the Rep here.

    J

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  9. I think the Capezzana VS I tasted was 2005, gorgeous stuff.
    I'll read that Barolo 2008 report now...

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