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Wine Focus for April 2018: The rest of Italy

by Robin Garr » Sun Apr 01, 2018 10:52 pm

Who doesn't love Italian wines? But what's this "Rest of Italy" thing? Simple enough: We propose expanding our horizons, breaking out of a rut, and rediscovering (or even discovering for the first time) the wealth of interesting wines that come from all over Italy - from Val d'Aosta down to Calabria and Puglia and on to Sicily - while setting aside our favorite Super Tuscans and top Chiantis and Piemontese trophies from Barolo and Barbaresco just for now. Beviamo!
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Re: Wine Focus for April 2018: The rest of Italy

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Mon Apr 02, 2018 5:23 pm

I am in but have a big birding festival coming up so may not be opening too much!
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Re: Wine Focus for April 2018: The rest of Italy

by David M. Bueker » Mon Apr 02, 2018 9:05 pm

Who needs Chianti!

2013 Pian dell'Orino Rosso di Montalcino - Italy, Tuscany, Montalcino, Rosso di Montalcino (4/2/2018)
Delicious with our home made lasagne with home made sauce and local beef. The bright red fruit and ample acidity cut through the richness of the cheese, and danced in partnership with the sauce. Fun stuff. I need to make sure I source another vintage of this wine.

Yeah, it’s Tuscany, but at least it’s not the big guns.
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Re: Wine Focus for April 2018: The rest of Italy

by David M. Bueker » Wed Apr 04, 2018 10:12 pm

2011 Cappellano Barbera d'Alba Gabutti - Italy, Piedmont, Alba, Barbera d'Alba (4/4/2018)
Ripe red fruit, bright acidity and subtle spice tones are all working together to make a closely knit whole wine. The acidity keeps everything fresh throughout, and the spice notes linger long after the sip is swallowed and gone. Pretty impressive Barbera.
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Re: Wine Focus for April 2018: The rest of Italy

by David M. Bueker » Fri Apr 06, 2018 8:27 am

Well I was hoping to have more content today, but the two Italian wines that were poured at last night's blind tasting were both Brunellos!
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Re: Wine Focus for April 2018: The rest of Italy

by Robin Garr » Fri Apr 06, 2018 10:36 am

Not that there's anything wrong with that.
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Re: Wine Focus for April 2018: The rest of Italy

by Robin Garr » Fri Apr 06, 2018 11:05 am

Montepulciano d'Abruzzo is one of my go-to wines when I'm looking for a good, affordable Italian table red that's not Chianti. To my taste buds it falls somewhere in the same neighborhood as Chianti on the flavor and aroma wheel, although as both halves of the name imply, it's not made from Sangiovese but Montepulciano grapes, and it's not grown in Tuscany but in Abruzzo, on the eastern side of the Apennines across the peninsula from Rome. It's not to be confused with Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, which is Tuscan and Sangiovese-based (and also very good), nor for that matter with Montalcino in Tuscany, where they make some fine Brunello. Italian wine can be confusing. But I sure do love it.

Masciarelli 2015 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo ($11.99)

Dark reddish-purple with a clear garnet edge. I detect fresh, subtle mixed berries on the nose, blackberry over back notes of strawberry and blueberry with a touch of warm spice. Fresh acidity wakes the palate, with soft tannins adding structure to simple but pleasant ripe plum and berry fruit. On the rustic side, but there’s nothing wrong with that in a modest Italian table wine. Tannic astringency, not unpleasant, lingers after the fruit fades. The label’s midrange 13% alcohol statement seems about right. U.S. importer: Vintus LLC, Pleasantville, N.Y. (March 31, 2018)

FOOD MATCH: It’s a natural with the stereotypical Italian pairings, pizza and, our choice, tomato-and-meat-sauced pasta, but it would go well with any red meat, poultry, or meatless cheese and bean dishes.

WHEN TO DRINK: Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is traditionally a lighter, rustic-style wine meant to be enjoyed with food and drunk up soon. That said, though, this one is nicely balanced and protected with a heavy modern metal screwcap, so there’s no need to be in a rush to finish it during the next year or two.

VALUE:
Even at my local price a couple of bucks over Wine-Searcher.com's $10 average retail, it’s still a fine value in the lower teens.

WEB LINK
Here's an importer's fact sheet on the 2015 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.

FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:
Compare prices and locate vendors for Masciarelli Montepulciano d’Abruzzo on Wine-Searcher.com.
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Re: Wine Focus for April 2018: The rest of Italy

by Jenise » Sat Apr 07, 2018 1:35 pm

Robin, I threw that wine into an Italian value wine tasting a few months ago. I bought a bottle to taste just to assure myself it wasn't worth showing, and in fact had the opposite experience. For the price, and a wine that in my area you can practically buy at gas stations it's so pervasively available, it has no equal. It took first place.
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Re: Wine Focus for April 2018: The rest of Italy

by Robin Garr » Sat Apr 07, 2018 1:40 pm

Whoa! I thought it was really good for the price, and rustic Italian reds ring my chimes anyway. But first place? That's high praise.
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Re: Wine Focus for April 2018: The rest of Italy

by Jenise » Sat Apr 07, 2018 1:44 pm

Robin Garr wrote:Whoa! I thought it was really good for the price, and rustic Italian reds ring my chimes anyway. But first place? That's high praise.


Mind you, not MY first place vote, but in the beauty pageant setting that is a large group (who don't drink much chianti) tasting, yes.
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Re: Wine Focus for April 2018: The rest of Italy

by David M. Bueker » Mon Apr 09, 2018 8:36 pm

2015 Angelo Negro e Figli Langhe Nebbiolo Angelin - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Langhe DOC (4/9/2018)
Outstanding value for $15. This shows lots of red fruit as well as typical floral elements. It does have a bit of a tannic bite on the back end, but hey, that's Nebbiolo. There is enough fruit to allow it to settle down with a couple of years in the cellar.
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Re: Wine Focus for April 2018: The rest of Italy

by David M. Bueker » Tue Apr 10, 2018 4:55 pm

2014 Passopisciaro Sicilia Contrada Guardiola - Italy, Sicily, Sicilia (4/9/2018)
I gave this about an hour of air, and it showed a much more elegant style than the other 2014 Passopisciaro bottlings that I had tried over the prior year or so. Loaded with crisp red fruit and floral elements, it also showed subtle herbal tones, as well as traces of iron-based minerality. My only quibble was that it showed a bit hot on the finish, a criticism I have had for a number of the Passopisciaro wines.
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Re: Wine Focus for April 2018: The rest of Italy

by Victorwine » Tue Apr 10, 2018 8:35 pm

2015 Marchesi Alfieri La Tota, Barbera d'Asti DOCG 14.5% ABV 100% Barbera
Deep ruby red color, clear and brilliant, with purple highlights. On the nose, notes of ripe red fruit and
light vanilla and a hint of spice. On the palate it comes across to me as a medium bodied wine with well
integrated notes of spice, ripe red fruit, and just a touch of vanilla. Good balance structurally. Pleasan
and lingering aftertaste. Great food wine , especially friday nite, (which is pizza, pasta lentite, or pasta
fazool nite at my house. Note the pasta dishes are not soupy but much thickier and pastier.

Salute
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Re: Wine Focus for April 2018: The rest of Italy

by Tim York » Thu Apr 12, 2018 3:51 pm

I don't have a lot of "other Italy" in my cellar at present; just one bottle of Serpico 2000, an Aglianico derived wine from Campania, a small handful of Sagrantino di Montefalco 2004 and 2003 and a couple of young Montepulciano d'Abruzzo (of which TN below). As Germaine is just getting over an attack of osteo-arthritis, she is not doing justice to my bottles and I am reluctant to open 10+ year old bottles if we can't finish them in one sitting but we will see during the rest of the month. Meanwhile I am surprised to see how much "other Italy" we have consumed in the last 12 months. This gives a partial glimpse of the diversity.

NV Pojer e Sandri Merlino Vigneti delle Dolomiti IGT - Italy, Trentino-Alto Adige, Vigneti delle Dolomiti IGT (5/7/2017)
This is a fortified wine made from the Lagrein grape and brandy from Schiavia and Lagarino grapes. On the first evening, I found this too perfumed for my taste and quite strongly marked by vanilla aromas. A day later the exaggerated perfumes had become more discreet and complex allowing enjoyment of some rich chocolate tinged fruit but the vanilla notes still dominated the mid-palate and finish. Quite good.

2015 Le Colline Dei Filari Pinot Grigio - Italy, Venezie IGT (6/23/2017)
Fresh and pleasing without a lot of personality.

2014 Fontanafredda Langhe Nebbiolo - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Langhe DOC (7/6/2017)
Much more sweetly and graciously fruited than wines of similar youth from "important " Nebbiolo using appellations showing just a hint of tar and orange on its finish and good acidity and enough backbone for balance. Good+.

2016 Roberto Anselmi Bianco San Vincenzo Veneto IGT - Italy, Veneto, Veneto IGT (7/7/2017)
Agreeably easy drinking and slightly creamily fruited white with enough acidity for freshness. Good.

2012 Pieropan Soave Classico - Italy, Veneto, Soave Classico (8/9/2017)
Medium- bodied with attractive citrus tinged fruit, minerality and a bitter touch adding firmness to the finish. Quite good and pleasant drinking but disappointing in relation to the producer's reputation and the price c.€15.

2001 Binomio Montepulciano d'Abruzzo - Italy, Abruzzi, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo (8/19/2017)
I opened my previous bottle of this 15% alcohol "prestige" cuvée about 10 years ago and thought then that it needed a lot more time to civilise its excesses but now feel that I may have held off longer than ideal. Colour was very dark and opaque with rust tints visible during the pour. The nose reminded me of a slightly oxidative port with varnish touches. The palate was full bodied and dark complexioned with rich fruit similar to that of an English malty and sherry tinged currant and candied fruit cake, texture was suave and balance of a sort and contrast was achieved by fair acidity and an attractively bitter note on the quite long finish. This still does not convince me that the Montepulciano grape is capable of great things in Abruzzo and Marche but it was undeniably an interesting and original drink for once in a while. It rather overpowered its pairing of succulent lamb and it is hard to know what would suit it best. I guess that it is now on the way downhill and am not sorry that it was my last bottle. But very good in its way.

2015 Tenuta i Fauri Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Ottobre Rosso - Italy, Abruzzi, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo (9/28/2017)
This is just what I want from M d'Abruzzo. Medium+ bodied, robust, bursting with plum fruit, dried herbs, orange peel, earth, fresh acidity and slightly rustic vigour in its ripe backbone. IMO this grape variety is in its element producing joyful entry level quaffs like this rather than most of the over-priced, over-extracted and over-oaked prestige bottlings which rarely convince me. Good+ and I hope that the store is not sold out.

2015 Tenute Girolamo Aglianico La Voliera Puglia IGT - Italy, Puglia, Puglia IGT (10/27/2017)
Medium bodied and quite enjoyable with fresh dense red fruit sprinkled with orange peel, a touch of boiled sweet, olives, herbs, fair acidity and grip. There is little in common with the complex and austere grandeur which this grape can achieve round Avellino and Vulture. Quite Good.

2015 Tenuta delle Terre Nere Etna Rosso - Italy, Sicily, Etna DOC (12/26/2017)
This bottle did not move me as much as the 2014 at a similar stage; maybe as much a matter of mood and pairing as of intrinsic quality. It showed similar features of an elegant linear shape on the palate, savoury fruit with a cherry tinge, earthy minerals, fresh acidity and backbone. My son asked "is this from Pinot Noir?"; IMO a pertinent observation. Good.

2012 Vini Valli de Verona Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Prodotto In Italia - Italy, Veneto, Valpolicella, Amarone della Valpolicella Classico (1/18/2018)
Rich high alcohol wines like Amarone are not my favourites but when I saw this bottle at c.€10 at Lidl I gave it a whirl. Because of the 15.5% alcohol I initially served it at close to cellar temperature which emphasised brightness and acidity but did not much tame the alcoholic burn. I was agreeably surprised that approaching room temperature did not further emphasise the alcohol and did bring out greater roundness with cherry touches in the fruit and better balance without veering towards cloy. I have found a number of good QPR offers like this at this supermarket chain. Good.
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Re: Wine Focus for April 2018: The rest of Italy

by Robin Garr » Fri Apr 13, 2018 12:45 pm

Sweet, fizzy and red, Sangue di Giuda is a far cry from table-wine standards, but its fruit and balance and low alcohol make it a surprisingly attractive "soft drink for grown-ups." Enrica Verdi, one of the owners of Azienda Bruno Verdi, a seven-generation producer of Sangue di Giuda, once told me that local legend attributes the odd name to strict local friars who disapproved of the wine's purported "stimulating and aphrodisiac effects." Another regional version of the story has it that Judas did not kill himself but came to the city of Oltrepò after betraying Jesus in hope of finding redemption. Local citizens recognized him and planned to kill him, but he won their affection by miraculously converting the local wine to a delicious sweet and sparkling quaff.

Cantine Francesco Montagna 2017 Oltrepò Pavese Sangue di Giuda Vino Dolce Frizzante ($12.99)

Dark reddish-purple. The narrow natural cork comes out with a pop, but only a few bubbles line the rim. Light, simple but pleasant scent of plums and mixed berries leads into a bright, appealing flavor that's more forward with plum-berry fruit. It's on the sweet side but not at all cloying; crisp acidity and a light prickly effervescence helps hold the sugar in balance, as does a light but perceptible bitter almond note in the finish. A soft drink for grown-ups, best served on the warm side of refrigerator temperature, its light 7.5% makes it an easy quaff. It's a blend of 45% each Croatina and Barbera plus small amounts of the local Ughetta and Uva Rara. U.S. importer: Bacco Wine & Spirit LLC, Lancaster, Pa. (April 12, 2018)

FOOD MATCH: It's more a lightweight quaffing wine than a wine for food, but in experimenting with snacks we found its light bitterness made it a good companion with roasted almonds. Avoid cheese, though, which due to its fatty character seems to heighten the wine's bitter edge by cloaking the sweetness and acidity.

WHEN TO DRINK: This is not a keeper. The 2017 is on the market for a reason. Enjoy it over this summer, then watch for next year's vintage.

VALUE:
My local price is in line with Wine-Searcher.com's $14 average retail. It's a fun wine, certainly worth the toll for me.

WEB LINK
Click here for the importer's fact sheet on Cantine Montagna and its Sangue di Giuda.

FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:
Wine-Searcher.com returns only limited vendors for Cantine Francesco Montagna Oltrepò Pavese Sangue di Giuda on Wine-Searcher.com. You might check in with the importer via its online contact form for information on retailers accessible to you.

Try this Wine-Searcher info page on Sangue di Giuda, though, for a list of about two dozen bottlings from other producers.
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Re: Wine Focus for April 2018: The rest of Italy

by David M. Bueker » Sun Apr 15, 2018 12:13 pm

2014 G.D. Vajra Langhe Rosso - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Langhe DOC (4/14/2018)
Bright red fruit, hints of floral tones, bright acidity and ultimately great drinkability. It would be very hard to do better anywhere for under $15.
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Re: Wine Focus for April 2018: The rest of Italy

by Bruce K » Mon Apr 16, 2018 12:08 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:2014 G.D. Vajra Langhe Rosso - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Langhe DOC (4/14/2018)
Bright red fruit, hints of floral tones, bright acidity and ultimately great drinkability. It would be very hard to do better anywhere for under $15.


Couldn't agree more. I always scarf some up whenever I can find it.
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Re: Wine Focus for April 2018: The rest of Italy

by Jenise » Fri Apr 20, 2018 3:28 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:2014 Passopisciaro Sicilia Contrada Guardiola - Italy, Sicily, Sicilia (4/9/2018)
I gave this about an hour of air, and it showed a much more elegant style than the other 2014 Passopisciaro bottlings that I had tried over the prior year or so. Loaded with crisp red fruit and floral elements, it also showed subtle herbal tones, as well as traces of iron-based minerality. My only quibble was that it showed a bit hot on the finish, a criticism I have had for a number of the Passopisciaro wines.


That was such a ripe year. Had the 2015 Passopisciaro just a few days ago and found it more to my liking, though your description of crisp red fruit and floral elements with subtle herbal tones still applies. No heat, though.
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Re: Wine Focus for April 2018: The rest of Italy

by Jenise » Fri Apr 20, 2018 3:32 pm

Here are four more we drank in April, all in search of wines for tonight's neighborhood tasting of obscure grape varieties:

2010 Terredora di Paolo Taurasi Fatica Contadina Taurasi DOCG Aglianico
Black cherry red with warm garnet at the rim, with secondary notes of leather and hot cast iron pan adding substance to the fruit. Very, very good, but too dry for a beauty pageant of inexperienced tasters.

2015 Terredora di Paolo Aglianico Campania IGT
Spicy red fruit with a little black plum thrown in, excellent balance. Needs time, better on second day and even better a week later. This wine is surprisingly durable. It goes in the tasting.

2016 Erste+Neue Kellerei Lagrein Alto Adige - Südtirol
Earth, morning-after raw cigarette tobacco and stale coffee, beef boullion, black plums and a little motor oil. No flaws, just not what I like (and yes, I've had lagreins I liked). Oh wait, maybe I should make that singular. I liked Terlano's lagrein. I maybe only had that, another that tasted of plastic shower curtains, and this. Not very promising.

2016 Villa Sparina Gavi di Gavi Cortese
Splendid stuff. Good body, fruit, acidity. More serious QPR than I expected from the quirky (but attractive) bottle.
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Re: Wine Focus for April 2018: The rest of Italy

by Jenise » Fri Apr 20, 2018 3:49 pm

Btw, just saw Tim's note on the Pieropan, a great fave of mine. Just read that the brand has been acquired by Gallo. Can't wrap my head around that.
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Re: Wine Focus for April 2018: The rest of Italy

by Jon Leifer » Fri Apr 20, 2018 5:36 pm

+1 re what Jenise said re Pieropan
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Re: Wine Focus for April 2018: The rest of Italy

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Sun Apr 22, 2018 6:44 am

2012 Cartacante Montecucco Sangiovese, Basile.

Very nice red ruby, medium intensity. Savory notes after an hour, hint of oak, cherry. This nose was slow to open up.
Seems more open on the palate than the nose, even on day 2. Dry entry, soft tannins. Medium bodied, herbs, pepper. "Is there Merlot here' from across the table. Smooth finish but not sure what to compare this one with. Good value at $25 Can.


2011 Foradori Fontanasanta Manzoni Biance Vigneti delle Dolomiti.

Cellared nicely, $35 Can. 12.5% alc, Lot 11/14. I did decant. Color has some orange tints, but varied opinions on the color. Lemon, spice, floral nose, some orange blossom maybe. Mango, nectarine as it opened, yeasty.
Dryish on entry, medium bodies, good acidity but wonder if one should drink on release? I expected a wow wine but did not happen. One poster on CT talks about " aspect of Riesling...typical neutral fruit of P Bianco". What was he drinking!!
Much better finish on day 2 with some creamyness.
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Re: Wine Focus for April 2018: The rest of Italy

by Tim York » Mon Apr 23, 2018 5:54 am

This an outstanding wine type from Umbria, which lies between Tuscany and Lazio, made from the local Sagrantino grape, which AFAIK is not found elsewhere (TomHill may be able to tell us if someone has planted it in California). IMO its wines taste something like a cross between Tuscan Sangiovese and Campanian Aglianico with some of the freshness of the former and the power and complexity of the latter. The most famous producers in the area of the hilltop town of Montefalco are Caprai, Colpetrone and Bea, whose wines tend to be somewhat heavier and a lot more expensive than those of Adanti whom I have visited twice. Other good wines with local colour at Adanti include Rosso di Montefalco (a Sangiovese/Sagrantini blend) and Grechetto, a fragrant and refreshing white. Further to west in Umbria is Orvieto, which produces a characterful spicy white of the same name, and on both sides of the border with Lazio is the famous estate, Falesco, whose wines are beloved by Parker, especially the Merlot dominated Montiano.

2004 Adanti Sagrantino di Montefalco Arquata - Italy, Umbria, Montefalco, Sagrantino di Montefalco (4/22/2018)
The outstanding feature of this bottle was its bouquet on the nose showing complex plum tinged fruit, hints of leather and earthy and ferrous minerals. The palate was medium/full bodied and followed through quite well from the nose with a good depth of fruit, slightly more marked leather and ferrous touches, some tar and liquorice enlivened by fresh acidity and still some tannic firmness on the finish. Very good.

Posted from CellarTracker
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Re: Wine Focus for April 2018: The rest of Italy

by Robin Garr » Mon Apr 23, 2018 10:43 am

I'm a big fan of Sagrantino, Tim. I just wish I could get my hands on some more often! :)
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