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Wine Focus for April: Italians, white or light

by Robin Garr » Wed Apr 01, 2015 8:50 am

When many of us think of Italian wines, the first that spring to mind are hearty, food-friendly reds: Chianti and its Tuscan neighbors; Barolo and Barbaresco from the Northwest, and from down south, Primitivo from Puglia and the dark, intense Nero d'Avolas of Sicily.

But Italy is rich with wine variety, perhaps more so than any other nation. This month, let's enjoy the rest of Italy's vast wine cellar, including all its great diversity of white wines, not to mention pink (rosato) and even the lighter-style reds, from the Pinot Nero of the North to Dolcetto, Barbera and Freisa of Piemonte, simple Valpolicella, Bardolino, even the artisanal bottlings that remind us there is more to Lambrusco than "chill a Cella."

Bring 'em on! Let's compare, contrast and talk about the best of the rest, "light and white" Italian wines.
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Re: Wine Focus for April: Italians, white or light

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Wed Apr 01, 2015 9:02 am

Sounds good to me, guess Tim will be happy this month :lol: .
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Re: Wine Focus for April: Italians, white or light

by Tim York » Fri Apr 03, 2015 2:09 pm

I'm working on an order from an Italian source but meanwhile I will recycle two TNs of wines from Alpine regions of Italy. I would defy anyone without these wines in their cellars to identify them as Italian.

Pinot Nero Barthenau Vigna S. Urbano Alto Adige DOC 1995 – J. Hofstätter - Alc. 13% - is just about the best Pinot Noir which I have had from outside Burgundy and also one of my best buys (bin-ends picked up for €10/bottle). I thought that my previous bottle showed signs of fading but this one was in fine form showing medium body, elegant and pure but complex and tangy red and dark fruit with a lot of "griotte" cherry, still lively acidity, touches of minerals, good length and classical shape on the palate;excellent. (May 29, 2011)

2012 Chateau Feuillet Valle d'Aosta - Italy, Valle d'Aosta (6/13/2014)
I am a big fan of Petite Arvine from Valais (CH) and was keen to try one from Valle d’Aosta, not very far away from Valais as the crow flies. I was not disappointed. The nose was fresh and lively with a green fruit, especially lime, fragrance. The unwelcome, for me, hint of ointment which I noted a year ago has disappeared. The palate was bone dry, medium bodied and exhilarating with the same fragrant fruit as on the nose, hints of spice, bracingly crisp acidity and a backbone of saline minerals. My Valais examples have been more refined, spicy and complex, but that could be partly a function of their having been 2-3 years older when I drank them. Delicious and perfect with an al fresco meal of seafood. Very good.
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Re: Wine Focus for April: Italians, white or light

by Robin Garr » Fri Apr 03, 2015 2:16 pm

Okay, I'll start ...

This is a light, snappy and aromatic white from Northern Italy, Ca'Rossa 2013 "Merica" Roero Arneis. To break that down a bit, it's made from white Arneis grapes grown in the Roero region of Northwestern Italy's Piemonte region. Although Piemonte is best known for big red wines made from Nebbiolo, Roero in particular has made the Arneis grape its own, bringing this ancient local variety back from the brink of extinction in recent years.

Ca'Rossa 2013 "Merica" Roero Arneis ($15.99)

This is a clear, bright straw color wine, with golden glints against the light. Fresh citrus aromas, lemons and limes, lead into a full, bright flavor with peachy aromatics joining the chorus. It seems just a little sweet at first, but crisp, zingy acidity keeps the overall impression dry, with a pleasant peach-pit bitterness creeping in on the finish. Good food wine at a gentle 12.5% alcohol. As we move on into spring and summer, it could also make a fine wine for alfresco dining or sipping on the patio. It should go well with just about any standard white-wine match, from poultry and pork to creamy cheeses. It was fine for us with a dinner salad featuring mild goat cheese, and a seeded baguette alongside.
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Re: Wine Focus for April: Italians, white or light

by Tim York » Mon Apr 06, 2015 12:00 pm

I've placed an order with a Milanese web merchant for a dozen Italians from off the beaten track. Etna and Friuli reds and whites, Verdicchio Matelica and Grignolino. However, they are unlikely to arrive before next week. Meanwhile I look forward to lots of interesting TNs from others, may open a Campanian Aglianico from my cellar, hardly light but not really mainstream, and search in my archives to see if I can find anything worth reviving.
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Re: Wine Focus for April: Italians, white or light

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Mon Apr 06, 2015 1:01 pm

Tim, how will you smuggle past in-house PO :lol:
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Re: Wine Focus for April: Italians, white or light

by Tim York » Mon Apr 06, 2015 2:01 pm

Bob Parsons Alberta wrote:Tim, how will you smuggle past in-house PO :lol:


Good question :? .
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Re: Wine Focus for April: Italians, white or light

by Robin Garr » Mon Apr 06, 2015 2:38 pm

We had a La Spinetta della Casanova 2014 "Rosé de Casanova" yesterday with an Easter buffet, and it was pricey for a pink ($20) but excellent. Sangiovese and Prugnolo Gentile (isn't that the same thing), closer to pale gold than pink, it probably qualifies as a rosato only on the basis of vinification, but it was truly excellent, full, aromatic, with notes of blackberry unusual in a white/pink wine. I'll report in more detail at the week's end, but this is an early "buy up" advisory if you see it.
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Re: Wine Focus for April: Italians, white or light

by Carl Eppig » Mon Apr 06, 2015 6:40 pm

2010 Rosa dell Olmo, Barbaresco DOCG ($9.99 Trader Joe's, Alcohol level 13.5%). Not the best Barbaresco in the world, but well worth the price. It gives a nice ruby red to garnet color to the eye, violets and vanilla to the nose and up front, a pleasant balance with smooth tannin in the middle, and a lingering finish. If you don't think this is a light Italian red, go buy one!

Matched it with Easter leftovers: Ham in cream sauce, sweet potatoes, and green beans almandine.
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Re: Wine Focus for April: Italians, white or light

by michael dietrich » Tue Apr 07, 2015 11:50 am

I have been a fan of Grechetto for a while since tasting one from Antonelli. I had worked for a grocery chain here in Oregon for 24 years. It was getting way too corporate. When I went to work for a smaller family owned group I found this wine in my set. It is Roccafiore Bianco Fiordaliso 2012. It is 75% Grechetto di Todi and 25% trebbiano Spoletino. The nose offers up more stone fruits and has that mineral quality on the palate. The color is golden. This would certainly go with chicken or seafood pasta. It is also delightful on its own. Cost was $10. This is not for the people who want oak on their whites.
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Re: Wine Focus for April: Italians, white or light

by Tim York » Thu Apr 09, 2015 2:40 pm

michael dietrich wrote:I have been a fan of Grechetto for a while since tasting one from Antonelli.


I too have been a fan of Grechetto since a couple of visits to the Adanti winery near Montefalco. The half dozen which I bought in 2009 disappeared so quickly that I never wrote a proper TN. Grechetto also plays a part in Orvieto, another wine where my stocks purchased at estates have disappeared inordinately fast. Adanti also produces an excellent Rosso di Montalcino (Sangiovese/Sagrantino) which, though not exactly light, deserves mention in this WF for its personality and also for QPR (€8 at the estate in 2009).

My assorted dozen ordered in Milan already arrived today so after a weekend's rest (for the wines), I hope to start some TNs.
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Re: Wine Focus for April: Italians, white or light

by Rahsaan » Fri Apr 10, 2015 7:37 am

Last night I had a lovely glass of the 'Tavijn Grignolino, didn't list vintage but I'm sure it was the most recent one. I don't buy these wines often at home but they are so fragrant and lovely, and it was absolutely perfect with the high-level vegan food at http://vedgerestaurant.com/, someplace Robin (and everyone else) should definitely eat if in Philadelphia.
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Re: Wine Focus for April: Italians, white or light

by Tim York » Sat Apr 11, 2015 4:22 pm

The Verdicchio grape is, I believe, the same as Trebbiano di Lugana so this TN is something of a link to the recent thread on Trebbiano. V. di Matelica comes from a higher altitude and further from the Adriatic than the better known V.dei Castelli di Jesi whose wines tend to be less tense and more tender. My previous experience of V.Matelica was from the winery La Monacesca, including a more mature and complex cuvée, Mirum; very fine IMO. The following Matelica winery, Colle Stefano, was recommended by Oliver McCrum in the discussion following my TNs a few years ago :D .

2014 Collestefano Verdicchio di Matelica - Italy, Marche, Verdicchio di Matelica (4/11/2015)
Lovely pale yellow with green tints. Nose showing somewhat shy (recent bottling?) juicy citrus and struck match (sulphur?) mineral notes. Medium/light bodied and invigorating palate with perhaps the most markedly lime inclined citrus flavours I have met in a wine, a lot of fragrance and a touch of tenderness from a little RS (I guess c.5g/l) together with grainy minerals (less sulphurous than on the nose), crisp moreish acidity and a gentle saline backbone on the finish. I guess hardly any development potential but good+ right now and a great pairing for super fresh barbue.

Posted from CellarTracker

PS: Wine made from organically grown grapes.
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Re: Wine Focus for April: Italians, white or light

by Tim York » Tue Apr 14, 2015 2:33 am

When making up my dozen for delivery from Milan, I hesitated which of the "lesser" grapes varieties from Piedmont to include. I love some Dolcetto in a serious quaffing vein when the producer is not trying to make it "important". I have fond memories of Barbera from the 70s and 80s when most examples where somewhat rustic food friendly and rather acidic wines but in the last two decades many examples have put on a lot of weight and sophistication with sometimes energetic oak treatment; I have had some good ones in a big style though, from Elio Grasso for example. Two other Piedmontese grapes which I remember from the 70s and 80s are Grignolino and Freisa, both easy drinking and the latter with a slight prickle, IIRC. I have seen neither recently. I chose Grignolino.

2013 Braida (Giacomo Bologna) Grignolino d'Asti - Italy, Piedmont, Asti, Grignolino d'Asti (4/13/2015)
This was my first Grignolino for many years, if not decades, and I had forgotten how light in both colour and body it could be; indeed more like a dark salmon tinted and slightly weighty rosé than a red. Nose was initially quite shy with soft red fruit and struck match aromas. The lightish palate was very easy drinking with herbal and more soft red fruit notes, fresh acidity and an agreeable gentle bitterness on the finish. A nice quaff for a bright spring day but I won't be rushing out to buy more.

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Re: Wine Focus for April: Italians, white or light

by JC (NC) » Wed Apr 15, 2015 11:33 pm

Two Italian reds on the lighter side:

Azienda Agricola da Morazzano, Montescudaio, Tuscany, Italy. 12.5% abv. Red table wine. No vintage anywhere on the bottle. Normally this Tuscan red might not fit the description of a light red, but CellarTracker notes described it as food-friendly and easy going. I concur. A white wine would have been better with the Chinese-American cuisine I was having--sweet and sour chicken over rice and another evening, chicken egg rolls. However, I had opened several white wines recently and wanted to switch to a red wine. In the glass it is darkly colored and opaque. It shows viscosity. Pleasant cherry/berry character in a light- to medium-bodied wine. It's also enjoyable as a stand-alone sipper on the second evening.

2009 Fontanafredda Briccotondo Barbera D.O.C. Piedmont, Italy. 13.5% abv. Brighter, lighter wine than the Morazzano. It has some particulates of sediment. The flavor suggests red berries and the nose is quite attractive. This is one I would be willing to purchase again.
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Re: Wine Focus for April: Italians, white or light

by Tim York » Fri Apr 17, 2015 5:33 am

I am enjoying this thread because it is giving me the opportunity to try wines from Italy's incredible diversity which were so far not very well known to me. Here is one from Friuli which I have never visited and whose wines I have tended to neglect. Next up will probably be a wine from Etna.

2013 Ronco del Gelso Friuli Isonzo Friulano Rive Alte "Toc Bas" - Italy, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Friuli Isonzo (4/14/2015)
When choosing a bottle from a, for me, unfamiliar grape and region, I look for something different and this one did not disappoint. Tocai Friulano is said to be related to Sauvignon Blanc but this did not taste at all like that nor indeed like descriptions of wines from the variety from Jancis R and Wikipedia. Aromas on the nose showed an attractive roundness with spice dominant on an exotic grape background. The medium+ bodied palate confirmed these flavours and added fresh acidity and a peppery backbone which may owe something to 13.5% alcohol. Maybe a bit short for ideal but a good + wine right now. Not sure whether ageing will improve things if there is a loss of freshness.

Posted from CellarTracker

JC: Fontanafredda is a name which conjures up memories from visits to Italy in the 70s and 80s. At that time, I used to see them around a lot and they were generally reliable. Another name like that was Bersano. Both seem to have fallen off my radar screen, maybe because I am now better aware of the richness of offer from smaller producers in the region.
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Re: Wine Focus for April: Italians, white or light

by Dan Smothergill » Sat Apr 18, 2015 3:45 am

Bisci Verdicchio di Matelica is an inexpensive standby of mine. Nice floral aroma, well-structured acidity and a minerally taste. For such a nice wine, it's widely available in this neck of the woods.
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Re: Wine Focus for April: Italians, white or light

by Jon Leifer » Sat Apr 18, 2015 4:38 pm

Dan: Who carries the Bisci in our neck of the woods, ie the Siberacuse area?
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Re: Wine Focus for April: Italians, white or light

by Tim York » Sun Apr 19, 2015 2:37 am

Several years ago I twice had the opportunity of sipping and spitting some of Terre Nere's Etna range at a tasting and it came as a revelation that such aromatic subtlety and elegance was possible as far south as Sicily. The explanation is, of course, altitude, northerly exposure, special volcanic soil and superbly well adapted grapes varieties in Nerello Mascalese (red) and Carricante (white). Somehow I never got round to buying any from Terre Nere after these crowded tastings, so I jumped at the opportunity of buying some bottles now, but from other producers about whose work I have read praise. Terre Nere's entry level equivalent of this one might almost have met this thread's request for "light" reds but this one clearly doesn't.

2012 Graci Etna Rosso - Italy, Sicily, Etna DOC (4/18/2015)
This is much more gutsy than my previous experience of Etna from Terre Nere where I noted "quasi-Burgundian elegance". Colour quite deep but less black than some Sicilians. Nose was rather shy with dark fruit and an iron streaked earthy touch. The palate was more savoury than sweet, medium/full bodied with dark fruit, more plum than cherry, fresh iron tinged acidity, earthy minerals and a quite strong tannic backbone with liquorice hints. There was a slight opening of aromas and smoothing of texture as the bottle progressed. I have no experience how Etna behaves with age but think that this might benefit with some more and with decanting in its present state. Good.

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Re: Wine Focus for April: Italians, white or light

by Dan Smothergill » Sun Apr 19, 2015 4:34 am

Jon,
Liquor City usually has it.

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Re: Wine Focus for April: Italians, white or light

by Jon Leifer » Sun Apr 19, 2015 6:36 pm

thx, Dan..will look for it when we go shopping..we are frequent flyers at Wegmans and a short detour to LC not unusual for us..
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Re: Wine Focus for April: Italians, white or light

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Mon Apr 20, 2015 8:44 am

2005 Mascarello Barbera d` Alba Scudetto, Piedmont.

Single vineyard, Lot 1963, $54 Cdn. No age on the rim, brilliant finish with the cheese served. This Barbera is in a real good drinking spot right now, the acidity holds it together. "Nose of red fruits" from across the table, long and elegant finish.

Tasted at DeVine Wines 10th Anniversary bash.
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Michele Chiarlo 2011 "Le Orme" Barbera d'Asti Superiore

by Robin Garr » Sat Apr 25, 2015 10:30 am

Michele Chiarlo 2011 "Le Orme" Barbera d'Asti Superiore ($16.99)

Dark reddish-purple shading to garnet, then clear at the edge. Good tart-cherry aromas and a hint of dried cherries on the nose. Mouth-watering flavors, dry and tart red fruit that follows the nose, cherries and a touch of tart cranberry, shaped with zippy, cleansing acidity. Good balance and food-friendly acidity with appropriate 13.5% alcohol make for a first-rate table wine. U.S. importer: Kobrand Corp., NYC. (April 15, 2015)

FOOD MATCH: The iconic pairings, as with its Tuscan neighbors, remain beef and tomato-based pasta dishes; as a (somewhat) lighter red, it's also good with grilled chicken. Don't push it aside with cheese-based dishes, though, or our choice, a savory wild-mushroom pasta with plenty of grated Grana Padano cheese.

WHEN TO DRINK: It's delicious now, especially with food, and Barbera in general is not an ager, so it would be prudent to drink up this 2011 soon. Still, it is showing so well that I don't expect it to go around the bend in the next year or two.

VALUE: This is an excellent table wine, and I'm content with this local price. If you have the option to shop around, however, Wine-Searcher.com reports a $15 average U.S. retail price, with some vendors offering it as low as $11. (Don't even look at the prices that wine lovers pay in Italy.)

WEB LINKS Michele Chiarlo's Web pages are available in six languages. Here's a link to the home page in English:
http://www.michelechiarlo.it/main.php?lang=uk
They're also active (in Italian) on social media including Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Their Facebook page is here:
https://www.facebook.com/michele.chiarlo.3
For more info in English, this link goes to importer Kobrand's Michele Chiarlo page:
http://www.kobrandwineandspirits.com/po ... le_chiarlo

FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:
Find vendors and check prices for Michele Chiarlo "Le Orme" Barbera d'Asti on Wine-Searcher.com:
http://www.wine-searcher.com/find/miche ... g_site=WLP
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Re: Wine Focus for April: Italians, white or light

by Tim York » Sun Apr 26, 2015 2:28 am

Thanks for that TN, Robin. It reminds me of the sort of food friendly acidic Barberas which I recall from a few decades ago but perhaps less rustic. The problem lies in choosing a Barbera which will turn out like this without specific recommendation and prior tasting. There are so many blockbusting versions around nowadays.

Here is a TN of a white from Caricante which further explores my recent infatuation with Etna.

2013 Cottanera Etna - Italy, Sicily, Etna DOC (4/25/2015)
I expect something different from Etna but, blind, I would never have taken this as coming from south of the Alps. Colour was very pale yellow. At first my nose detected a lot of spice and garrigue from the neck of the bottle but in the glass the fruit, mainly citrus and malic, and minerals pushed these right into the background. The palate was medium/full bodied and quite deep with more citrus and malic fruit, earthy and gritty minerals, crisp acidity and a marked slightly bitter saline backbone which seemed to belie the claimed 12.5% alcohol. There is a lot of stuffing and potential for greater complexity here. I was expecting this to be a dead loss with some fresh iodine infused Isigny oysters but it was excellent and more predictably the marriage with ultra fresh St.Pierre (John Dory?) was superb. Very good already and +potential?
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