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Wine Focus for February 2017: Wines of Italy

by Robin Garr » Tue Jan 31, 2017 10:35 pm

Yep, wines of Italy. All of them, from tip to toe plus Sicily, red, white, pink, bubbly and other. This is where our 2017 approach of taking a broad look at wine by country gets put to the test. The field is open, but we're hoping that this leads to new kinds of conversation as we pick up specific wines and think about their particular character and how they fit in to the broader Italian picture. Give it a try, and let us know how you think it goes!
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Bob Parsons Alberta

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Re: Wine Focus for February 2017: Wines of Italy

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Wed Feb 01, 2017 12:00 am

Good subject for Feb, feel sure a few here have some nice wines in their cellars.
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Re: Wine Focus for February 2017: Wines of Italy

by Rahsaan » Wed Feb 01, 2017 12:56 pm

Over the weekend I had a bottle of 2007 Vallana Gattinara at a restaurant with friends. Not sure if it needed more air because we finished it within two hours, but during that time it was a nice still-fresh-but-also-maturing bottle of lean-ish nebbiolo. Given the leanings towards leanness I was surprised that my companions (who usually want rich robust southern wines) liked it as much as they did. Perhaps the darkish flavors and underlying substance held them over.

All in all, nice for a meal, and very well priced.
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Re: Wine Focus for February 2017: Wines of Italy

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Wed Feb 01, 2017 2:29 pm

Rahsaan, first past the post..good for you! I remember the 2003 which I consider to be one of the best reds I have ever tasted.
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Re: Wine Focus for February 2017: Wines of Italy

by Rahsaan » Wed Feb 01, 2017 3:20 pm

Bob Parsons Alberta wrote:...I remember the 2003 which I consider to be one of the best reds I have ever tasted.


Those are very strong words!!
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Patchen Markell

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Re: Wine Focus for February 2017: Wines of Italy

by Patchen Markell » Wed Feb 01, 2017 4:32 pm

I've had a couple of 1998s of that Vallana in the last year or so and they've been terrific: not NOT lean, but very giving and expressive. I think 2006 is the only vintage I own, though.
cheers, Patchen
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Re: Wine Focus for February 2017: Wines of Italy

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Thu Feb 02, 2017 2:44 am

You know me Rahsaan. Just a simple wine loving guy :D .
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Re: Wine Focus for February 2017: Wines of Italy

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Thu Feb 02, 2017 3:52 pm

Just checked my cellar..have some Grillo, Aglianico, Barbera, Pelavergaso good for starters.
Have to think an 88 Fontanafreda Barolo willl be shot :( .
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Re: Wine Focus for February 2017: Wines of Italy

by Oliver McCrum » Thu Feb 02, 2017 4:41 pm

Vernaccia di San Gimignano 'Fiore,' Montenidoli

Absolutely delicious wine; pale straw, complex, textured, minerally, long, delicious. I've never had another wine from San Gimignano that impressed me but I'd go out of my way to drink this one.
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Re: Wine Focus for February 2017: Wines of Italy

by Rahsaan » Thu Feb 02, 2017 4:46 pm

Bob Parsons Alberta wrote:Have to think an 88 Fontanafreda Barolo willl be shot :( .


Why would you think that? Did you store it next to the furnace.
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Tim York

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Re: Wine Focus for February 2017: Wines of Italy

by Tim York » Thu Feb 02, 2017 4:56 pm

I really find it hard to focus on Italian wine as a generic proposition. There are few countries, except France, where the wine scene is so diverse.

We have Alpine style wines in Valle d’Aosta and Alto Adige with the former leaning towards Swiss styles and grape varieties and the latter towards Austrian…. Quite cool climate and very individual wines from local grape varieties in Piedmont dominated by the superb Nebbiolo derived Barolo and Barbaresco….. Warmer, dare I say flabbier, wines in Veneto…… Alpine foothill wines in Friuli….. Fresh high acidity characterful wine from Tuscany with the local Sangiovese variety….And at the other extreme we have warm climate and often heavy reds made from Negramaro and Primitivo in Apulia and Nero d’Avola in Sicily but such is the diversity even in Sicily that the slopes of Etna produce wines of almost Burgundian elegance from Nerello Mascalese. Between all these almost all regions have individualistic wines, e.g. Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and some superb Aglianico derived reds from Campania and Basilicata.

I notice that I have mentioned mainly reds above but there are some excellent whites even in the torrid south because vintners there have developed the use of local varieties which still provide good freshness and acidity, e.g. Grillo, Caricante, Greco, Falanghina.

The fascination of Italian wine lies in its combination of different terroirs with well adapted local grape varieties but international varieties do very well in certain places. Cabernet Sauvignon can produce superb results in Bolgheri and I have had very good wines from Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Syrah elsewhere in Tuscany. I have been less convinced by Italian efforts with Chardonnay except in the Valle d’Aosta.

After this long preamble I turn to this evening’s Sangiovese derived Rosso di Montepulciano (a small Tuscan town not to be confused with grape of the same name in Abruzzo and Marche). It is in a fresh tasting style and was a good pairing with cannelloni.

2014 Avignonesi Rosso di Montepulciano - Italy, Tuscany, Montepulciano, Rosso di Montepulciano (2/2/2017)
I was initially surprised by the quite light colour and body of this wine but having got over that I started to appreciate its red cherry tinged fruit, gentle minerals, light herbs, fresh acidity and decent length with not a lot of backbone. Quite elegant and good.
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Re: Wine Focus for February 2017: Wines of Italy

by JC (NC) » Thu Feb 02, 2017 5:56 pm

2009 Villa Pozzi Nero d'Avola, Sicily. Labeled as 13.5% abv. Synthetic cork--hard to get the corkscrew well into the cork and I had to use a wrench to unwind the corkscrew. I opened this the latter part of January but haven't posted my note yet. This was opaque and dark purple in color with a crimson rim. On the nose I find berries--blueberries or perhaps boysenberries. On the palate I get rich dark fruit, spice and minerality. It almost tastes sweet. It is medium-bodied with a medium-length finish. I found a previous bottle to be a bit rustic, but didn't pick up on that this time. It is nice and is food-friendly. I had it with steak but it could be paired with pork, some stews, or a pasta dish such as lasagna or pasta Bolognese.
Last edited by JC (NC) on Fri Feb 03, 2017 3:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Wine Focus for February 2017: Wines of Italy

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Fri Feb 03, 2017 2:49 am

Rahsaan wrote:
Bob Parsons Alberta wrote:Have to think an 88 Fontanafreda Barolo willl be shot :( .


Why would you think that? Did you store it next to the furnace.


No..LOL. Was in a cool spot in the basement. Have no real Barolo knowhow Rahsaan.
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Re: Wine Focus for February 2017: Wines of Italy

by Tim York » Fri Feb 03, 2017 7:55 am

Here is a link to a useful wine map of Italy http://vineyards.com/country-wine-regions/italy . It's close to 1500 km from Aosta in the north to Reggio di Calbria in the south and even more to get onto the main islands Sicily and Sardinia.
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Re: Wine Focus for February 2017: Wines of Italy

by Rahsaan » Fri Feb 03, 2017 11:48 am

Bob Parsons Alberta wrote:
Rahsaan wrote:
Bob Parsons Alberta wrote:Have to think an 88 Fontanafreda Barolo willl be shot :( .


Why would you think that? Did you store it next to the furnace.


No..LOL. Was in a cool spot in the basement. Have no real Barolo knowhow Rahsaan.


I'm no expert, and I believe 88 was not the 'best' year. But Barolo is one of the more long-lived wines in the world, easily needing 20 years to start to show. Fontanafredda is not very highly regarded these days, but I have heard people speak highly of earlier vintages.
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Re: Wine Focus for February 2017: Wines of Italy

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Fri Feb 03, 2017 4:33 pm

Thanks Rahsaan.

Have to say the write up from Tim was great reading. I am becoming a bigger fan of Italy and there is a great selection here in Edmonton. I am very keen to sample more Nerello Mascalese which seems to have a big fan base here :) .
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Re: Wine Focus for February 2017: Wines of Italy

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Fri Feb 03, 2017 10:30 pm

TN: 2014 Feudi di San Gregorio Fiano di Avellino, Campania

Guess many here know of my liking for European whites..Loire, Languedoc, Spain but Italy can rank pretty high too. This Fiano was being tasted at a westend wine store last night so I dived in. Knowing the rep helped, extra 1 oz pour!!!

Light straw in color, mineral and floral tones on the nose. Crisp citrus and white stonefruit flavors, good fruit balance and nice length. Lively acidity but would be hard pressed to guess blind. Expected a more "nutty" style on the finish.
Next up a traditional Pinot Grigio that seems to fly off the shelf downtown.
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Re: Wine Focus for February 2017: Wines of Italy

by Tim York » Sat Feb 04, 2017 4:38 am

Nice TN, Bob. It is a good illustration of what I was saying about local Italian grape varieties well adapted to their local terroir and climate; in this case inland in the Campanian hills at about the level of Naples, not exactly a cool area.

You get my mouth watering for FSG's whites. Their people used to visit Belgium frequently and I bought their different whites on several occasions as well as some reds. The latter have such aggressive oak ageing that, for me, they need at least 10 years before they are appoachable but the whites are enjoyable right from the start. I posted a TN on a fine Taurasi 2000 a few weeks ago - viewtopic.php?f=3&t=57383&hilit=taurasi

I did a Wine Searcher hunt for a FSG Fiano source in France with a nil return and only one in Italy :shock: . I doubt if that represents the full truth; a lot of French/Italian cavistes/enoteche don't bother with WS.
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WTN: 2014 Castello Monaci Primitivo Piluna Salento IGT

by Peter May » Sat Feb 04, 2017 12:13 pm

We had this last night in an Italian restaurant in Barbados. Jo chose it to compare with the previous evening (when I'd chosen the Californian '7 Deadly Zins' Zinfandel at another restaurant) in order to compare the two clones of Tribidrag.*

The Zin had really impressed with its complex flavours and depth.

This Primitivo was lighter coloured and lighter bodied and seemed a simpler wine, but over dinner it opened up giving more. Enjoyable and a good food wine, but not the 'wow' wine the Zin had been..

14%abv and closed with a twin top.


*and because it was one of the more reasonably priced wines on an interesting list -- because the Barbados dollar is tied to the US dollar the collapse of the GB Pound against the USD has made every thing up to 20% more expensive than we'd expected.

Looking at winesearcher.com it seems both wines are priced the same retail in the USA ($10 and upwards + tax), here in restaurants the Zin was $50USD and the Primitivo was $45USD
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Re: Wine Focus for February 2017: Wines of Italy

by Patchen Markell » Sun Feb 05, 2017 12:18 am

On my last trip to NYC I had a revelatory glass of Elisabetta Foradori's Manzoni Bianco -- revelatory, both because I only knew Foradori's Teroldego, and also because it was a deliciously alive, vibrant wine. I haven't seen it in Chicago, but I was able to find a bottle of Foradori 2012 IGT Vigneti delle Dolomiti Nosiola, "Fontanasanta." This is a wild-yeast, skin-contact, amphora-aged white, made from a grape supposedly native to the Trentino region -- yeah, yeah, I know, it checks all the hipster boxes -- but it doesn't have the oxidative notes or the depth of color of some of its orange peers. As with the Manzoni Bianco, this is lively and vibrant, with bright citrus and malic fruit playing off of beeswax, astringency, and spice. Although it goes through a period of mild hollowness in the midpalate about 15 minutes after opening, it fleshes out nicely with a little more time, and the push and pull of the different elements is sustained through the whole bottle. Delicious.
cheers, Patchen
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Re: Wine Focus for February 2017: Wines of Italy

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Sun Feb 05, 2017 8:09 am

Terrific..I have just pulled the 2013 from the cellar as Foradori sounded familiar! It will be of real interest to compare notes when I open eh.
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Re: Wine Focus for February 2017: Wines of Italy

by Tom NJ » Sun Feb 05, 2017 11:38 am

1982 Cesari Amarone della Valpolicella, DOCG "Classico" region, 14% abv.

Was gifted this bottle perhaps 20 years ago by a favorite (Italian) aunt, and as she is now not doing very well I thought I would open it so I could report back to her while that was still possible. The occasion was my birthday dinner last night, a week late due to my wife's ill-timed flu (very inconsiderate of her).

I have to admit, I've only had a handful of Amarones in my life. I was not enamored of them the first time I tried one, nor the 3 or 4 times after that. That classic forward bitter note is/was so off-putting, and the trumpet blare of other flavors so overwhelming that, coupled with the usual 15+ % abv, all adds up to a style of wine I never really took to.

Still, this birthday bottle came in at only 14%, and it was almost 35 years old, so I was hopeful that combo may have tamed things a bit. (Couldn't check the color or sediment through the opaque bottle.)

The bottle was opened 2 1/2 hours before dinner, then decanted at service. Really nice ruddy orange color, almost right to the rim, not watery at all. The nose was surprisingly muted, which made it all the more startling when -

WAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!

Bitter!

Whew. "The Great Bitter" is no misnomer. That first taste made me literally cringe. Yeah, there were some flavors behind it. Eventually. But it wasn't worth the pain. It was like drinking a glass of Angostura. I thought I was gonna have to toss the bottle.

Fortunately I didn't. After about 15 minutes things simmered down and became much more balanced. There was still a distinct bitter start to the palate, which you'd expect of the style, but it didn't make me cry any more. And behind that pucker there was a rich melange of raisin and fig and orange peel and god knows what else all jostling around in there. Certainly one of the more complex flavors it's ever been my pleasure to swirl, and thanks to the aging process (I'm assuming) not as jarringly complex as the younger Amarones I'd had previously.

I'm glad I had produced a meal of equally rich and complex flavors to stand up to this beast. Anything demure would have been swallowed up and blasted into oblivion. All in all then, a really fun wine to drink first on its own, then paired with a variety of foodstuffs afterwards. It's so rare to come across novel (to me) flavors these days, as opposed to just variations of the same handful of grape varieties and blends, that "fun" really is the apt word here.

My wife liked it too. But she's Irish. It had alcohol in it.

For dessert I would have liked to have continued the Viva Italia! theme with a moscato passito (one of my favorite sweeties), but having none settled for a BV "Muscat de Beaulieu" (NV, 18% abv) which normally sells for $9/375ml at Gary's, but was on sale last week for SIX DOLLARS! Even at full price this is one of my all-time favorite wine values. Went a treat with red pears and blue Castello last night. Polychrome dessert!

Ok, lets see if I can get my pic of the Amarone to post....

Nope. Good grief, why does it always say "The submitted form was invalid. Try submitting again.
It was not possible to determine the dimensions of the image
." whenever I try to attach pics lately, even when I scale the size waaaaaaaay down?

Oh well. If you want to see the wine in glass, just click: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/f7/ff/59/f7ff59cd2902a8c96e35df972884ed2a.jpg. Sorry.

Well, that ran over long as usual. I'm nothing if not consistent, right? But I've had nothing else to do this morning while my Little Irish Rose sleeps off her drunk :lol:
"He ordered as one to the Menu born...."
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Re: Wine Focus for February 2017: Wines of Italy

by JC (NC) » Sun Feb 05, 2017 8:24 pm

I'm of a mixed mind about Amarones myself--like some, and find others too bitter. Maybe I will open one this month but may get to a Chianti Classico first. Thanks for the descriptive notes and a belated happy birthday to you.
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Re: Wine Focus for February 2017: Wines of Italy

by Tom NJ » Sun Feb 05, 2017 9:38 pm

JC (NC) wrote:.... belated happy birthday to you.


Thank you very much :D
"He ordered as one to the Menu born...."
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