WTN / WineAdvisor: Who's Assisi? (Sportoletti 02 Rosso)

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WTN / WineAdvisor: Who's Assisi? (Sportoletti 02 Rosso)

Postby Robin Garr » Fri May 05, 2006 8:26 am

Who's Assisi?

Pronounce the name of this pretty Umbrian village as most Americans do - "a sissy" - and the puns become almost inevitable. Let's not even go there today. The Italian Trade Commission's Website, ItalianMade.com, takes a much more elevated view of the wines of the region:

"Two antithetical records characterize Assisi: It is, on one hand, one of the most important spiritual centers of Christianity thanks to Saint Francis of Assisi and, on the other, it is a center of culinary pleasures par excellence. It is sufficient here to taste a bottle of great Assisi wine to suddenly realize how thin the line is that separates spirit from matter."

The regional DOC regulations for Assisi Rosso call for 50% to 70% Sangiovese, 10% to 30% Merlot and up to 40% of "other local red varieties." Sportoletti's rendition, according to the importer's Website, apparently pushes the limits of the regulation in the direction of an "international" style with as little Sangiovese (50%) and as much Merlot (40%) as they can get away with; the remaining 10% is Cabernet. The wine also spends four months in French oak.

<table border="0" align="right" width="140"><tr><td><img src="http://www.wineloverspage.com/graphics1/spor0504.jpg" border="1" align="right"></td></tr></table>Sportoletti 2002 Assisi Rosso ($17.49)

This is a very dark blackish-purple wine with a garnet edge. There's lots going on in the aroma - cherry-berry fruit with subtle herbal notes, undertones of smoke and raw beef, and a hint of the high-toned volatile acidity that's commonplace in Italian reds. Juicy and fresh on the palate, forward black fruit is nicely structured by mouth-watering acidity and a pleasant touch of bitterness in the finish. Excellent food wine. U.S. importer: Winebow Inc., NYC; Leonardo Locascio Selection. (May 4, 2006)

<B>FOOD MATCH:</b> Fresh local lamb chops pan-seared with garlic and fresh rosemary make a perfect match; any grilled red meat or poultry should be fine, and pasta with a tangy tomato-based marinara should suit as well for a meatless option.

<B>VALUE:</B> I'd like to see this closer to the lower teens, but can't really quibble about the price for a wine of this quality, particularly against the strong Euro.

<B>WHEN TO DRINK:</B> The Sangiovese and Merlot blend ought to hold it in the cellar for a couple of years, but I don't see it improving. Drink soon, while it's still fresh. Note also that this 2002, though still available at local retail, is two years behind the current release.

<B>PRONUNCIATION:</B>
<b>Assisi</b> = "<i>Ah-SEE-zee</i>"

<B>WEB LINK:</B>
The U.S. importer has an informative fact sheet about Sportoletti Rosso - with some startling reviews of other vintages from the Usual Suspects, including a Parker comment on the 2001 ("...a seductive, delicious, hedonistic Italian red with gobs of sweet black cherry and currant fruit presented in a forward, plump, lush, succulent style...") that's almost an unintentional self-parody.
The winery Website is available in both Italian and English.

<B>FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:</B>
Look up prices and locate sources for Sportoletti's wines on Wine-Searcher.com.
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Re: WTN / WineAdvisor: Who's Assisi? (Sportoletti 02 Rosso)

Postby OW Holmes » Fri May 05, 2006 12:08 pm

Robin, I finished a bottle of the 04 last night. I had started it the night before. Your description would fit it just fine. A bit too international for me, but it did have a bit of earthiness to add a little interest to the primarily dark berry flavor. No change, and certainly no improvement, over the 24 hours. I am not disappointed that I only have one more, even at the last fall 13.99 price tag. I doubt that the 04 will improve much either, but I'll probably hold it for a couple of years just to check that possibility out. Nothing about it would cause me to rush to drink it now.
-OW
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Re: WTN / WineAdvisor: Who's Assisi? (Sportoletti 02 Rosso)

Postby Paulo in Philly » Fri May 05, 2006 12:55 pm

OW Holmes wrote:Robin, I finished a bottle of the 04 last night. I had started it the night before. Your description would fit it just fine. A bit too international for me, but it did have a bit of earthiness to add a little interest to the primarily dark berry flavor. No change, and certainly no improvement, over the 24 hours. I am not disappointed that I only have one more, even at the last fall 13.99 price tag. I doubt that the 04 will improve much either, but I'll probably hold it for a couple of years just to check that possibility out. Nothing about it would cause me to rush to drink it now.


That was the same experience I had. It just became way too dull after 3 sips. I kept hoping the oak and the dullness of too much fruit would magically vanish, but it did not to my dismay. It did not make me want to buy another bottle.
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Re: WTN / WineAdvisor: Who's Assisi? (Sportoletti 02 Rosso)

Postby Paulo in Philly » Fri May 05, 2006 1:00 pm

I prefer to say "Ah-sleezy".....!

I recently had this wine back in the fall as I was on my quest to taste as many Umbrian wines before heading there in December. Just the style of this wine was too modern for my palate. It did not make me yearn to buy another bottle. Unfortunately, most wines I had there in Umbria were way too "morbido" and quite towards the jammy style. This wine, I found, was not as radically jammy and modern as some, but just did not make me sing.
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Re: WTN / WineAdvisor: Who's Assisi? (Sportoletti 02 Rosso)

Postby Agostino Berti » Fri May 05, 2006 7:27 pm

Back when I was a Parker-head (not long ago), his high ratings convinced me to buy Villa Fidelia by Sportoletti (their top end wine). These are Cotarella wines. I'm not a big fan of Cotarella wines now because he tends to use international varieties, hence the nickname Mr.Merlot, but at least I don't think he believes in using additives or concentrators. I wonder how my 3 bottles of 2000 Villa Fidelia are doing, should I drink them now and enjoy the big Parker style "sumptious" fruit?

Talking about "a-slleeezy". The Sagrantino di Montefalco area used to be much smaller. Now that its become an expensive hot item, I heard the Sagrantino DOCG area has expanded a great deal. Certainly Sagrantino di Montefalco is a wine that has not been around in a dry version for a long time and is the result of of a great, well orchestrated marketing push. Maybe the Italians are finally learning from the French?
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Re: WTN / WineAdvisor: Who's Assisi? (Sportoletti 02 Rosso)

Postby Paulo in Philly » Sat May 06, 2006 1:33 am

My feeling from the local people is that Caprai gets too much hype - how can a family who has made curtains all their lives now make wines? I also have heard there is a lot of attitude with the recent success. Isn't it all about marketing push? I find the region to have too much diversity in styles of wines being produced there these days, still a lot of experimentation going on. I recently enjoyed Colpetrone and Domenico Penacchi's Terre di Capitani when I was there over the holidays - their wines seemed a little more balanced to me. The Sagrantino Passito is a very delicious wine to have with crostate. Hmmmmm! I just cannot take the overoaked coconut like wines, like Goretti's "L'Arringatore". I will be back there this summer and will try other wines.
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