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WTN: Don Corleone made me do it

by Jenise » Sun Apr 21, 2013 7:29 pm

Bought ten Sicilian wines last week to feed the neighborhood:

At the self-pour table:

2010 Planeta La Segreta (75% Nero d'Avola, 10% Mer, 109% cab), $11Fresh and interesting. Juicy rasberry and strawberry fruit with clove and vanilla. Clearly the group's favorite on the self pour table.

2011 Purato (a 60/40 blend of cattaratto and pinot grigio), $11

Straw gold and odd. Struck me as a cross between some apple wines I've had with a little retsina thrown in--there was a distinct resiny undertone. (Note from two days later: I ended up with leftovers, and after two days I have to say the wine was better than I gave it credit for. The fruit was just hiding, I think, because tonight the resin was enveloped in richer fruit. Tasted like a warm climate, oaked Sauvignon Blanc.) But Friday night the group preferred:

2011 Regaleali Bianco (a white blend of I'm not sure what), $12
Pale wine with green apple and white melon. Very dilute and nondescript, but refreshing.

2010 Colosi Rosso Siscilia (100% nero d'avola), $10
Broad, rich and spicy. Better concentration and complexity than most cheap neros.


The sit-down wines:

First, a comparison of two premium whites:

2009 Feudo di Santa Tresa Rina Ianca (70% grillo, 30% viognier), $20

Deep yellow. Peaches, mango, pineapple, lemon, vanilla, cardamom, lavender, nutty and mildly oxidative. (Note from two days later: completely oxidized. Another wine that should not have been sold/recommended.)

2011 Occhipinti SP68 (Albanello and Muscat of Alexandria), $23
Fresher, focused, serious yet flirtatiously fun with flavors of lemon, citrus, honey, herb and nuts.

Then four reds:

2010 Tenuta della Terra Nere Etna Rosso (98% Nerello Mascalese, 2% Nerello Cappuccio), $14
Suckling gave this 93 pts, Galloni 92, and the reasons are instantly evident. What a gorgeous wine. Starts off with a nose unlike anything in recent memory: pretty, floral, jasminey and plummy--haunting. In the mouth, just as inviting with a silky blueberry and cranberry thing which don't make sense together but they were there, and I'm at a loss for words to accurately describe what else I remember about it. It defies all my usual references--need to buy and spend time with another bottle to get it right. Very pinot-ish in body and femininity, with a little earth. Outstanding value. p.s. I also bought for myself one of the single vineyard wines from this property (at three times the price)--I can barely imagine what I'm in for.

2009 Passopisciaro (100% Nerello Mascalese), $39
Impressive, elegant, harmonic. Sandalwood, red fruit, flowers, cigar leaf, earth, minerals and spices. Soft tannins make it accessible now but there's clearly enough structure and depth for more interesting things to happen in the bottle. Loved it, am so glad I anticipated I would and bought the last bottle at Esquin for my own cellar.

2009 Aziendo Agricola Cos Cerasuolo di Vittoria Classico, $31
Mild barnyard on the nose along with red fruit, tea, mushrooms, leather, cedar, minerals and smoke. Earthiest of the three. When it came to picking my favorite at the end of the night, I had a hard time deciding which of these first three reds I liked best and in what order. This and the Passopisciaro had more layers, but they're also older and that goddess of a nose on the Terra Nere should not be underestimated. These were really terrific wines that surpassed any expectations set by the 2008 Occhipinti Il Frappato I opened two weeks ago.

2009 Maurigi Bacco Rossa (Nero d'Avola, syrah and cabernet) $14
Upon release this wine merited descriptors like strawberry, passion fruit, tea and some spice. What we had? Baked fruit on the nose, with a hollow mid-palate and non existent finish. Boring and clearly past it's prime; shouldn't even have been on the shelf let alone recommended to me.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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James Dietz

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Re: WTN: Don Corleone made me do it

by James Dietz » Sun Apr 21, 2013 11:58 pm

I've loved the Passopisciaro every time I've tried. Really impressive stuff.
Cheers, Jim
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Re: WTN: Don Corleone made me do it

by Jenise » Mon Apr 22, 2013 4:02 am

James Dietz wrote:I've loved the Passopisciaro every time I've tried. Really impressive stuff.


We bond! And don't you love the label? Looks like no other, you'd recognize it across a crowded room.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: WTN: Don Corleone made me do it

by Tim York » Mon Apr 22, 2013 10:32 am

That's an interesting line-up from Sicily, Jenise. I was blown away by the Terrre Nere range the first time I tasted them but foolishly never bought any. As well as the original flavours which you underline, they show a quasi-Burgundian refinement which is unexpected so far south. Is Passopisciaro also from Etna? It sounds my sort of wine.

I have greatly enjoyed whites from indigenous varieties like Grillo, Insolia and Caricante from Etna. Good examples of these manage to develop fine acidity and minerality in the torrid Sicilian climate and the last can show a quasi-Chard roundness.

I'm more positive than you about Frappato. I find good ones very refreshing and highly original with an interesting combination of fresh cherries and a lightly quinine type bitterness. At yesterday's tasting I was delighted that Valle d'Acate's rep remembered that I had asked him whether he imported any Frappato and he brought a bottle of it, which was not listed by the merchant, for my delectation and probably also for that of others who ask about it, because the grape makes up about 30% of their darkly impressive Nero d'Avola in the merchant's line-up.
Last edited by Tim York on Mon Apr 22, 2013 2:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: WTN: Don Corleone made me do it

by James Dietz » Mon Apr 22, 2013 2:08 pm

Jenise wrote:
James Dietz wrote:I've loved the Passopisciaro every time I've tried. Really impressive stuff.


We bond! And don't you love the label? Looks like no other, you'd recognize it across a crowded room.


Indeed.

If you can, look for Occhipinti's Nero d'Avola. Very tasty, I thought. Some of these Sicilian winemakers seem to be crafting edgy wines (with Cornelissen one of those on the edge).
Cheers, Jim
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Re: WTN: Don Corleone made me do it

by Jenise » Tue Apr 23, 2013 2:06 pm

Tim York wrote:That's an interesting line-up from Sicily, Jenise. I was blown away by the Terrre Nere range the first time I tasted them but foolishly never bought any. As well as the original flavours which you underline, they show a quasi-Burgundian refinement which is unexpected so far south. Is Passopisciaro also from Etna? It sounds my sort of wine.

I have greatly enjoyed whites from indigenous varieties like Grillo, Insolia and Caricante from Etna. Good examples of these manage to develop fine acidity and minerality in the torrid Sicilian climate and the last can show a quasi-Chard roundness.

I'm more positive than you about Frappato. I find good ones very refreshing and highly original with an interesting combination of fresh cherries and a lightly quinine type bitterness. At yesterday's tasting I was delighted that Valle d'Acate's rep remembered that I had asked him whether he imported any Frappato and he brought a bottle of it, which was not listed by the merchant, for my delectation and probably also for that of others who ask about it, because the grape makes up about 30% of their darkly impressive Nero d'Avola in the merchant's line-up.


Your sentence "they show a quasi-Burgundian refinement which is unexpected so far south" neatly bottom-lines my reactions to these wines, and I wish I'd thought to put it that way. Very different to my expectations based on the two bottles of Sicilian red (extracted styles both and likely, as I recall their bigness, cab-based) I've had in the long-ago past as compared to that recent Frappato. Which I didn't mean to diss--the bottle I had was purchased at a local store and had been on their shelf for about four years--it was probably a little tired. I liked the potential in that bottle, but at this point it wasn't in the same league as the best three at this tasting.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: WTN: Don Corleone made me do it

by Oliver McCrum » Tue Apr 23, 2013 3:25 pm

The vineyards on Etna are at very high elevation, which helps with freshness. They go from 500m to 1,000m or more. They certainly don't taste 'baked' or obviously southern.
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Re: WTN: Don Corleone made me do it

by Keith M » Tue Apr 23, 2013 4:33 pm

Tim York wrote:I have greatly enjoyed whites from indigenous varieties like Grillo, Insolia and Caricante from Etna.
Oliver McCrum wrote:The vineyards on Etna are at very high elevation, which helps with freshness. They go from 500m to 1,000m or more. They certainly don't taste 'baked' or obviously southern.

Oliver,
Do they grow white grapes on Etna's slopes? Till now I was under the impression that Mount Etna was the home of Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio . . . did not realize other grapes were grown there.
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Re: WTN: Don Corleone made me do it

by Dale Williams » Tue Apr 23, 2013 4:54 pm

Keith M wrote:Do they grow white grapes on Etna's slopes? Till now I was under the impression that Mount Etna was the home of Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio . . . did not realize other grapes were grown there.

OLiver can answer more fully, but I've enjoyed Biondi's white Etna (I think Carricante).
Jenise, I actually have preferred the base Terre Nere to the more expensive bottlings, which tasted more like Marc de Grazia owned the estate. :)
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Re: WTN: Don Corleone made me do it

by Oliver McCrum » Tue Apr 23, 2013 7:18 pm

They do grow white wine on Etna, mostly from the Carricante grape variety, and it can be excellent. Graci's 'Quota 600,' for example, is excellent.
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Re: WTN: Don Corleone made me do it

by Jenise » Thu Apr 25, 2013 6:11 pm

Dale Williams wrote:Jenise, I actually have preferred the base Terre Nere to the more expensive bottlings, which tasted more like Marc de Grazia owned the estate. :)


Last night we had the other half of a base bottle we opened on Monday. Surprising tannins not evident on Monday, with a lot of passion fruit and clove on that heavenly nose. I'd have normally set the bottle aside to see how many more days it takes the tannins to calm down and integrate, but the aroma was too seductive to put it down!
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: WTN: Don Corleone made me do it

by Mark Lipton » Thu Apr 25, 2013 8:46 pm

Keith M wrote:
Tim York wrote:I have greatly enjoyed whites from indigenous varieties like Grillo, Insolia and Caricante from Etna.
Oliver McCrum wrote:The vineyards on Etna are at very high elevation, which helps with freshness. They go from 500m to 1,000m or more. They certainly don't taste 'baked' or obviously southern.

Oliver,
Do they grow white grapes on Etna's slopes? Till now I was under the impression that Mount Etna was the home of Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio . . . did not realize other grapes were grown there.


Heaping on, Arianna Occhipinti sells an SP68 Bianco blend, too.

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Re: WTN: Don Corleone made me do it

by Oliver McCrum » Fri Apr 26, 2013 2:43 pm

Mark,

Occhipinti is near Vittoria, I think, which is in the southeast corner of Sicily.
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Re: WTN: Don Corleone made me do it

by Victorwine » Fri Apr 26, 2013 10:13 pm

I believe the Planeta version of an Mt Etna Bianco (as of 2012) might have a “pinch and a dash” of Riesling and Pinot Blanc added.

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Re: WTN: Don Corleone made me do it

by Jenise » Sat Apr 27, 2013 9:53 am

Mark Lipton wrote:
Heaping on, Arianna Occhipinti sells an SP68 Bianco blend, too.

Mark Lipton


She does, there was one listed on my tasting note.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov

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