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Tim York


Wine guru




Tue May 09, 2006 3:48 pm


near Lisieux, France

WTN: Some unfamiliar Italian estate with a few gems.

by Tim York » Wed Jul 04, 2007 9:34 am

This leading Benelux importer organizes regular tastings of his impressive range, including such prestigious names as Gaja , Fontodi and Vorerzio, and it is only possible to pick out a few wines to sample at each tasting. One fly in the ointment here is the discouragingly high prices for retail customers; on this occasion, however, he was offering some bin-ends at attractive prices.

This time I used the tasting to try the wines of some estates which are unfamiliar to me and there were, indeed, some previously undiscovered gems, notably the Gavi from la Ghibellina, the Roero from Cascino Chicco, the Romagna wines from Zerbina and the Verdicchio from Bonci.

AZIENDA AGRICOLA (“AA”) MONSECCO – Le Colline - Gattinara

GATTINARA MONSECCO 1993 (EUR 17,80 discounted to EUR 5)
Browning C but still showing attractive aromas of cherry mixed with tar and good body and length quite similar, for me, to a mature and low key Barolo.

AA LA GHIBELLINA – Gavi – Monterotondo

The wines were presented by the owners, Alberto and Marina Ghibellina, a charming and enthusiastic young couple.

I was bowled over by GAVI DI GAVI MAININ 2006 (EUR 12,30); the N was complex yet brightly focused with notes somewhat reminiscent of Riesling Kabinett plus some cherry and the P developed these aromas into a deliciously fresh and floral drink with a tangy finish. Alberto explained that this is a typical Gavi matured in a tank. On the other hand GAVI DI GAVI ALTIUS 2005 (EUR 14,20) sees 4 months in barriques; it is richer and more sophisticated than Mainin showing softer fruit and perhaps more breadth and length well balanced by an attractive mineral freshness; a fine wine but the Mainin style is closer to my heart.

MONFERRATO ROSSO 2004 (100% Barbera – EUR 18,40) showed aromas of spicy dark fruit and vanilla and rich spicy body with typical Barbera acidity and some tannic structure. The wood did not dominate but I would have still preferred less of its aromas; in Alberto’s view, the wood ageing (18 months) is desirable to make up the Barbera grape's tannin deficit.

AA PIRA (Chiara Boschis) – Barolo

This estate is more familiar but I like their wines and have confidence in the dynamic owner, so I had another look. DOLCETTO D’ALBA 2005 (EUR 11,80) showed aromas of spice, leather and plum and a fresh fruity palate; less explosively exuberant than in November but still a fine Dolcetto. BARBERA D’ALBA 2004 (EUR 18,80) was very nice, showing brighter and more acid fruit than the Dolcetto with good weight and mouth-fill; less sophisticated and rich than the Monferrato but without the vanilla touches and more enjoyable for me. BAROLO “CANNUBI” 2001 (EUR 63,30) is on different plane; leather and tar aromas with excellent depth and structure and just beginning to sing; potentially very fine.


I did not enjoy these wines so much as those of Boschis; the style seems richer but with less tension and focus. DOLCETTO D’ALBA “VAGNONA” 2005 (EUR 11) was round and quite rich with cherry notes but less complex and fresh than that of Boschis. Likewise BARBERA D’ASTI LA CONSOLINA 2005 (EUR 11) was soft, supple and rich with orange peel notes. BARBARESCO SORI MONTARIBALDI 2003 (EUR 37,30) had rich, candied aromas, good body and structure with chocolate notes on the finish.

TENUTA LA VOLTA – Cabutto – Barolo

A nice DOLCETTO D’ALBA 2005 (EUR 11,70) showing good robust fruit with spicy leather notes. Also a nice BARBERA D’ALBA SUPERIORE 2004 (EUR 16,10) showing good fresh complex fruit with some backbone.


This estate is located in the Roero area to the North-West of Alba. I enjoyed its range whose exuberant fruit stood up very well to the frequent use of oak.

The white ROERO ARNEIS ANTERISIO 2006 (EUR 6,90) shows quite full fruit with pineapple hints and good grip. BARBERA D’ALBA GRANERA ALTA 2005 showed exuberant robust fruit; slightly rustic but most enjoyable. BARBERA D’ALBA BRIC LOIRA 2004 (EUR 11,60) was more sophisticated and complex with oak well integrated but still perceptible. ROERO VALMAGGIORE Nebbiolo 2003 (EUR 24,60) showed rich, ripe fruit, good grip and structure easily dominating the still present oak flavours.

AA VILLA SANT’ANNA - Abbadia di Montepulciano

Mostly nice wines here. CHIANTI COLLI SENESI 2004 (EUR 13,80) showed attractive soft fruit with cherry notes and a nice Chianti tang; overpriced for C. Senesi. ROSSO DI MONTEPULCIANO 2005 (EUR 14,90) was a clear step up showing fuller fruit and body and nice structure. VINO NOBILE DI MONTEPULCIANO 2004 (EUR 22,50) was a further step up in the same vein. VINO NOBILE DI MONTEPULCIANO RISERVA POLDO 2003 (EUR 32) was more ambitious but less successful, for me; very present wood gave a boring international patina to fine rich fruit.

AA RIECINE – Gaiole in Chianti

I liked the CHIANTI CLASSICO 2004 (EUR 14,15) a lot; quite deep fruit with cherry note and a nice tang. CHIANTI CLASSICO RISERVA 2003 (EUR 30,25) was not very Chianti like; a good rich wine with fruit cake notes and fair freshness for the vintage but short on the Chianti tang.


An enjoyable ROSSO DI MONTALCINO IL ROCCOLO 2003 (EUR 22,70) showing rich tangy fruit with oil notes. BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2002 (EUR 39,25) is a commendable effort in a difficult year; good fruit, well balanced and structured and perhaps more enjoyable but without the punch of a lot of “important” Brunello.


I did not greatly like these. SAGRANTINO DI MONTEFALCO 2003 (EUR 24) showed surprisingly soft almost soggy fruit with orange notes. SAGRANTINO DI MONTEFALCO SOR ANNA 2003 (EUR 31) was similar but somewhat redeemed more structure and tannin.

This importer is dropping Adanti whose Montefalco I consider much superior to these two offerings.

AA VALLEROSA BONCI – Cupramontana (AN)

Excellent Verdicchio here; particularly VERDICCHIO DEI CASTELLI JESI CLASSICO 2005 (EUR 8,95) showing crispness, grip and good length (and good QPR) and VERDICCHIO DEI CASTELLI JESI SAN MICHELE 2005 (EUR 16,10) with a softer, deeper, more complex honeyed N and a generous full P with minerality and typically Verdicchio charm.

FATTORIA ZERBINA – Marenzo – Faenza (RA)

Good wines here from an unfamiliar region. SANGIOVESE di ROMAGNA TORRE DI CEPRANO 2003 – 90% Sangiovese plus Merlot, Syrah and Ancelotta – (EUR 12,85) is delicious showing rich currant and soft fruit cake aromas and good body balanced by good grip. MARZIENO Igt Romagna 2001 – 70% Sangiovese, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon plus Merlot and Syrah – (EUR 26,40) is also a fine rich wine slightly deeper and more structured than the previous.


PINOT NERO « VILLA DI BAGNOLO » Igt 1996 (EUR 27,10 discounted to EUR 5). A very well developed Pinot Noir N with cherry notes and a ripe P with good acid balance. A bargain.

And lastly a wine, also from an unfamiliar estate, drunk at dinner last night.


ROMAGNANO Rosso - Vino da Tavola del Lazio - 1993 - Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cesane.

A harmoniously balanced wine in the discreet mode of traditional mature Rioja showing attractively mature "sweet" aromas and fruit with raspberry hints, resolved structure, fair length and just a suspicion of cloy on the finish. Very nice still.

The Colacicchi estate is owned by the Rome wine-merchants, Trimani, one of the best in Europe. Their flagship wine is Torre Ercolana made only in the best years from a similar blend of grapes to Romagnano. In the 70s Torre Ercolana enjoyed something of a cult status and was highly praised in Burton Anderson's excellent pocket guide to Italian wines of that period. I have a magnum of Torre Ercolana 1988 awaiting a suitable occasion and the very decent showing of this junior partner makes me impatient.
Last edited by Tim York on Thu Mar 22, 2012 6:35 am, edited 1 time in total.
Tim York
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Ian Sutton


Spanna in the works




Sun Apr 09, 2006 3:10 pm


Norwich, UK

Re: WTN: Some unfamiliar Italian estate with a few gems.

by Ian Sutton » Wed Jul 04, 2007 5:18 pm

Ta for the notes and a great price on the Gattinara - even in a weaker vintage. 14 years old for a fiver ain't bad going.

I checked back on my notes and didn't taste any of the Montaribaldi 2003's at the Barbaresco wine festival last year. In general the 2003'a were a variable bunch and at times unbalanced. On reflection the 2002's, with some sensible de-classification of riserva's / single vineyard wines down to normale produced some good wines - perhaps more reliable for my palate.



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