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Re: WTN: Etna disappointment

by David M. Bueker » Tue Jun 10, 2014 5:35 pm

Steve Slatcher wrote:I see Julia Harding has a recent article on Cornelissen on Jancis' Purple Pages. It seems as though his wines are a lot more consistent than they used to be.


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Re: WTN: Etna disappointment

by Oliver McCrum » Tue Jun 10, 2014 9:22 pm

Steve,

I visited Cornelissen briefly when I was on Etna a few weeks ago (maybe you did too?). It was a fascinating visit, he is still completely committed to extreme natural winemaking (no SO2, for one thing), but he is also extremely particular about hygiene in the winery. I don't drink enough of the wines to know if there's a trend.
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Re: WTN: Etna disappointment

by Oliver McCrum » Wed Jun 11, 2014 8:20 pm

Benanti is switching importers in CA, there are some closeouts. I've stocked up on the white, the sparkler and the Serra della Contessa...I was hoping to import the wine but I'll have to make do with drinking it...
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Re: WTN: Etna disappointment

by Steve Kirsch » Fri Jun 13, 2014 10:57 am

The 2001 Calabretta Etna Rosso that I drank this week was not a disappointment. It was fully mature but still quite vibrant. (That said, I wouldn't hold this vintage in the cellar much longer.) I've enjoyed several vintages of this wine in the past fews years, thanks to Chambers Street Wines. Only the 2003 (I believe) that I had at a friend's house this past winter was a disappointment--flat and uncharming--but that could have been a result of mishandling, I suppose.
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Re: WTN: Etna disappointment

by Dale Williams » Fri Jun 13, 2014 11:36 am

I'm not a Cornelissen fan, but he is much more sui generis than a representative of Etna in general. Hot topic or not, I get a lot of pleasure from reds from Calabretta, Biondi, Graci, etc. For Terre Nere I prefer the base red, but have heard the upper bottlings overall dialed back the oak -haven't had much lately.
For the whites the other night I had the base Terre Nere, nice enough, though I prefer the all Carricante Vigne Niche. I also like Graci and Calabretta's Carricante bottlingsd
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Re: WTN: Etna disappointment

by Steve Slatcher » Fri Jun 13, 2014 2:10 pm

Oliver McCrum wrote:I visited Cornelissen briefly when I was on Etna a few weeks ago (maybe you did too?).

Sadly not. I would have liked to in a way, along with many others, but we didn't want to spend all week on producer visits.

We only visited Terre Nere, Calabretta and Biondi.

It's interesting that Calabretta has been mentioned here - we tasted a lot there, all from barrels/tanks, and I was very impressed. I am not sure exactly why, but they seemed to have a certain raw straightforward nature, and very keen cellar door prices too. Interesting high altitude (I think we were told 1000m, but can that be true? It is possible, but high on Etna) Pinot Noir - very much Pinot Noir, but unlike any other I have had - extremely clean, sharp and fresh.
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Re: WTN: Etna disappointment

by Mark S » Fri Jun 13, 2014 6:10 pm

Calabretta is nice, and I like how they follow the traditional Rioja model when it comes to releasing their wines (usually 10 years after harvest).
Love to travel there someday.
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Re: WTN: Etna disappointment

by Victorwine » Sun Jun 15, 2014 12:04 am

Maybe I’m showing my age here, but it almost seems like “yesterday” that the majority of Sicilian wine was sold in “bulk” Sicily has a long history (4000 years) of “bulk wine production”. I “grew up” drinking a Sicilian “jug” wine called Segesta. (It didn’t take a “critic” to tell us it was “good”), Back than it was produced from Marsala red grapes or Calabrese grapes, today every “wine geek” (I know) knows Nero D’Avola.

To all the producers growing grapes on the slopes of Mt Etna and producing wine from them--you got one set of “balls”. I raise my glass to you!

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Re: WTN: Etna disappointment

by Steve Slatcher » Sun Jun 15, 2014 9:06 am

Victorwine wrote:Sicily has a long history (4000 years) of “bulk wine production”.

Whoa! Sicily does indeed have a history of bulk wine production, but nothing like 4,000 years. I don't think it was possible to make wine in bulk back then was it?

1,000s of years ago a lot must have been peasant wine produced for own consumption, but even in Roman times specifc named Sicilian wines were recorded. Just before phylloxera hit, Sicily was building up a reputation for quality wines, along with other region in Italy, and in the late 19th century Etna wines were being sent to international exhibitions and trade fairs. It helped that Phylloxera arrived late in Sicily! Phylloxera, and the mass emigration that followed, destroyed all that, and the wine industry was slowly built up again on bulk wines, mainly used for blending. Though even then there were a handful of quality brands. The current move back towards quality wine arguably started in the mid-1980s. I think I started to become aware of it very early this century, with those big Planeta international varietals.

But that is to take nothing away from the gonads of Etna producers, who in the space of about 15 years or so have built up their reputation.
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Re: WTN: Etna disappointment

by Victorwine » Sun Jun 15, 2014 12:46 pm

Steve wrote;
Whoa! Sicily does indeed have a history of bulk wine production, but nothing like 4,000 years. I don't think it was possible to make wine in bulk back then was it?

By “bulk wine” all I mean is prior to “estate bottled” (Bottled by the producer himself (750 ml bottles). (I have seen my beloved Segesta go from "gallon jugs" to "3-liter jugs", magnums to 750 ml bottles and than just "puff" (gone)).

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Re: WTN: Etna disappointment

by Steve Slatcher » Tue Jul 08, 2014 4:56 pm

I have just finish a run of 5 blog posts about my recent trip to Etna. They all have the tag "etna", and can be reached through this link:
http://www.winenous.co.uk/wp/archives/tag/etna

There are lots of things left unsaid, mainly about the places we stayed and ate. Let me know if you want more details.
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Re: WTN: Etna disappointment

by Mark S » Sat Jul 12, 2014 12:55 am

Steve Slatcher wrote:I have just finish a run of 5 blog posts about my recent trip to Etna. They all have the tag "etna", and can be reached through this link:
http://www.winenous.co.uk/wp/archives/tag/etna

There are lots of things left unsaid, mainly about the places we stayed and ate. Let me know if you want more details.


Steve, just saw this. Have to look at these when I have more time.Thanks for the link!
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Re: WTN: Etna disappointment

by Jason Hagen » Mon Jul 14, 2014 7:34 pm

Dale Williams wrote:My favorite of the Terre Nere line for reds remains the base level. But I've never tried the pre-Phlyox one.


I was at a non wine-geek friends house helping with some stuff. He asked if I wanted a glass of wine so I said sure. I saw him pull a bottle from his wine rack in his extremely hot house and I wondered what I had got myself into. He pours me a glass and I am stunned. I asked what the heck it was but he didn't know so I grabbed the bottle. It is the 2010 Terre Nere (base level). His wife she bought it at a bevmo sale for $7 :o Very nice stuff.

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Re: WTN: Etna disappointment

by Jason Hagen » Mon Jul 14, 2014 7:38 pm

Steve Kirsch wrote:The 2001 Calabretta Etna Rosso that I drank this week was not a disappointment. It was fully mature but still quite vibrant. (That said, I wouldn't hold this vintage in the cellar much longer.) I've enjoyed several vintages of this wine in the past fews years, thanks to Chambers Street Wines. Only the 2003 (I believe) that I had at a friend's house this past winter was a disappointment--flat and uncharming--but that could have been a result of mishandling, I suppose.


Have you had more than 1 bottle? The first one I had was stunning. The second one was a VA bomb. I returned my third bottle after reading that was the norm. The current price was around $30. Imagine all the rioja or barbaresco I could get at that price and not have to gamble. In the end I just grabbed the 2012 Geyserville.

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Re: WTN: Etna disappointment

by Dale Williams » Tue Jul 15, 2014 4:55 pm

Jason Hagen wrote:Have you had more than 1 bottle? The first one I had was stunning. The second one was a VA bomb. I returned my third bottle after reading that was the norm. The current price was around $30. Imagine all the rioja or barbaresco I could get at that price and not have to gamble. In the end I just grabbed the 2012 Geyserville.


Where did you read that was the norm? I just read through 90 CT notes and saw one reference to VA (and one positive note that referenced a lifted floral note). Several references to brett, which is more in line with my experiences of the 2001. I'm not a huge Calabretta fan- I like the wines, but a little too rustic to swoon over. But no clue where idea that (excessive) VA was the norm comes from.
I liked the 2002 a bit more than the 2001.
Plus these are under $30. What dependable 10 year old Barbaresco are you buying for $25?
:)
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Re: WTN: Etna disappointment

by Andrew Bair » Tue Jul 15, 2014 11:41 pm

Being late to this thread, here are a few thoughts:

1. Re: Terre Nere: I have not noticed any excessive oak thus far, but the earliest vintage that I have any notes for is 2007. Perhaps someone else can fill in as to whether there has been a stylistic change over time. Mark's point about de Grazia typically favoring barrique-aged wines in his import portfolio is well taken; of course, it is a matter of personal opinion as to how much barrique is too much. (The modern-leaning Barbarescos of Albino Rocca get it right as far as I am concerned.) I like to keep an open mind as much as possible, but certainly respect divergent opinions.

1a. I've only tried the Don Peppino once (2007), and while it's an excellent wine, I'm not convinced that it is superior to any of the Terre Nere crus per se. Incidentally, Feudo is my favorite of the four crus.

2. If someone can show me a Carricante with 10-15 years of age on it, and show that it is has evolved significantly for the better, I will become a believer. It's not as much a question of whether they will last, but whether they will actually improve over time.

3. Never seen Benanti in MA. Have seen the Calabretta Etna Rosso a couple of times, but have yet to try it.

4. Jason: if you have any sleeper recs for sub-$30 Barbaresco, I'd be grateful if you can tell us, and I don't mean this in a condescending way. The only possibility that I can think of is the regular Produttori Barbaresco, which some markets sell in the high $20s. It's still a great value in the low to mid $30s, especially in years when there are no Riservas (can't wait to try the 2010).

5. Not sure who mentioned red Marsala grapes - never come across any of the rare Rubino versions of this dying wine. Would be interested to hear if anyone is putting any effort into this category nowadays. To my knowledge, the late Marco de Bartoli did not make a red "Marsala", vino di tavola or otherwise.

6. Finally, Cornelissen. I've had quite a few hyper-natural wines that have been well balanced, and some that were not. That said, bottle and cask variation is frequently inevitable with such producers. The one bottle of Rosso di Contadino (7) that I've tried was actually very nice; maybe I was lucky. For the sake of comparison, I've had several really nice wines from Claude and Julien Courtois, but my experience with Coturri* has been overwhelmingly negative. The other cuvees from Cornelissen (Munjebel and Magma) are too expensive for me to take chances with.
*Not sure they are technically "natural" wines, but you get the point stylistically, and the bottle variation issue is relevant to them as well.
** On a complete tangent, is Topolos still around? I always gathered that they were philosophically similar to Coturri - maybe I'm way off here. Never seen their wines regardless, but they sound really funky from what I've read.
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Re: WTN: Etna disappointment

by Steve Slatcher » Wed Jul 16, 2014 3:31 am

Andrew Bair wrote:2. If someone can show me a Carricante with 10-15 years of age on it, and show that it is has evolved significantly for the better, I will become a believer. It's not as much a question of whether they will last, but whether they will actually improve over time.


I am not sure I can exactly SHOW you this, but I will assert that Benanti's Pietra Marina 2009 (tasted this year, and featured in my last blog post) is such a wine. It certainly showed a lot of evolution and improvement over the several young other Carricante wines I tasted. Here is my brief TN:

Pietra Marina, Etna Bianco Superiore DOC, Benanti, 2009, 12.5%, £31.00
Pale greenish gold. Complex, and not too intense on the nose. Medium acidity. Dry. Intense, and complex in ways I find difficult to describe. Good now, but will keep for several more years ******

(The ****** rating is the highest I ever give to a wine, and might possibly be an exaggerated score in this case. Nevertheless it was a damned fine wine.)

Edit: Just realised this particular wine does not (yet) meet your 10-15years criterion, but why is it important that wines should improve over that period if it evolves and improves quicker than that?
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Re: WTN: Etna disappointment

by Oliver McCrum » Wed Jul 16, 2014 5:05 am

Andrew Bair wrote:
2. If someone can show me a Carricante with 10-15 years of age on it, and show that it is has evolved significantly for the better, I will become a believer. It's not as much a question of whether they will last, but whether they will actually improve over time.



In my experience Pietramarina certainly ages for ten years, and I'm told by people whose taste I agree with that it goes longer than that. Whether you can find older bottles in your market is another question. By 'ages' I mean 'improves in the bottle.'

Kerin O'Keefe just wrote a good piece about ageable Italian whites, and Pietramarina was one of the few examples.
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Re: WTN: Etna disappointment

by Steve Kirsch » Wed Jul 16, 2014 10:08 am

Jason Hagen wrote:
Steve Kirsch wrote:The 2001 Calabretta Etna Rosso that I drank this week was not a disappointment. It was fully mature but still quite vibrant. (That said, I wouldn't hold this vintage in the cellar much longer.) I've enjoyed several vintages of this wine in the past fews years, thanks to Chambers Street Wines. Only the 2003 (I believe) that I had at a friend's house this past winter was a disappointment--flat and uncharming--but that could have been a result of mishandling, I suppose.


Have you had more than 1 bottle? The first one I had was stunning. The second one was a VA bomb. I returned my third bottle after reading that was the norm. The current price was around $30. Imagine all the rioja or barbaresco I could get at that price and not have to gamble. In the end I just grabbed the 2012 Geyserville.

Jason

Jason, I've probably had six or more bottles, from the 2000-2001-2002 vintages, plus the one 2003 that I mentioned above. All but the 2003 were sound.
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Re: WTN: Etna disappointment

by Jason Hagen » Wed Jul 16, 2014 7:03 pm

Dale Williams wrote:
Jason Hagen wrote:Have you had more than 1 bottle? The first one I had was stunning. The second one was a VA bomb. I returned my third bottle after reading that was the norm. The current price was around $30. Imagine all the rioja or barbaresco I could get at that price and not have to gamble. In the end I just grabbed the 2012 Geyserville.


Where did you read that was the norm? I just read through 90 CT notes and saw one reference to VA (and one positive note that referenced a lifted floral note). Several references to brett, which is more in line with my experiences of the 2001. I'm not a huge Calabretta fan- I like the wines, but a little too rustic to swoon over. But no clue where idea that (excessive) VA was the norm comes from.
I liked the 2002 a bit more than the 2001.
Plus these are under $30. What dependable 10 year old Barbaresco are you buying for $25?
:)


It was from a thread on another board. Reading around I get the feeling it is not the norm but my second bottle did scare me off of the 01. I might grab some of the 04.

As far as Barbaresco, I was not talking about 10 year old. More like the 2012 Geyserville. Young stuff for sure. But as far 10 year old rioja, take your pick.

Cheers,

Jason
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Re: WTN: Etna disappointment

by Jason Hagen » Wed Jul 16, 2014 7:14 pm

Andrew Bair wrote:4. Jason: if you have any sleeper recs for sub-$30 Barbaresco, I'd be grateful if you can tell us, and I don't mean this in a condescending way. The only possibility that I can think of is the regular Produttori Barbaresco, which some markets sell in the high $20s. It's still a great value in the low to mid $30s, especially in years when there are no Riservas (can't wait to try the 2010).


I don't have any sleeper recs since, sadly, I drink far less barbaresco than I should. I am thinking of Produttori and Paitin. And although I have yet to try the 2009, I got Stefano Farina for $19 at winex.


Steve Kirsch wrote:Jason, I've probably had six or more bottles, from the 2000-2001-2002 vintages, plus the one 2003 that I mentioned above. All but the 2003 were sound.


Thanks for the info.

Cheers,

J
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Re: WTN: Etna disappointment

by Andrew Bair » Wed Jul 30, 2014 8:55 pm

Oliver McCrum wrote:
Andrew Bair wrote:
2. If someone can show me a Carricante with 10-15 years of age on it, and show that it is has evolved significantly for the better, I will become a believer. It's not as much a question of whether they will last, but whether they will actually improve over time.



In my experience Pietramarina certainly ages for ten years, and I'm told by people whose taste I agree with that it goes longer than that. Whether you can find older bottles in your market is another question. By 'ages' I mean 'improves in the bottle.'

Kerin O'Keefe just wrote a good piece about ageable Italian whites, and Pietramarina was one of the few examples.


Thanks for the tip, Oliver. I haven't seen the Benanti wines in my area thus far.

Also, I read Kerin's article, and definitely agree with her about the best examples of Soave and Verdicchio being capable of aging nicely. (Regrettably, I've never had anything from Valentini yet - that would require some saving.)
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