Showing posts with label Abruzzo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Abruzzo. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

The Colors Of Abruzzo

Here are three distinct colors of Italy's Abruzzo region - white, red, and rosé.

Feudo Antico Tullum Pecorino Biologico 2019

The Feudo Antico winery is located in Abruzzo, an Italian wine region east of Rome.  The region is more known for its red wine, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo than its white or pink bottlings.  Antico was founded in 2004 with its sights set on preserving some indigenous grapes which were falling out of favor - like Pecorino and Passerina.

The 2019 Tullum Pecorino Biologico was made from 100% Pecorino grapes, taken from vineyards on the hillsides around Tollo in Chieti.  The soil in the DOCG Tullum - the smallest wine region of Abruzzo - is slightly calcareous.  A winery rep stated on the virtual tasting event hosted by Gambero Rosso that the land came from the sea, and it is easy to find fossils there.  

The wine was fermented in steel tanks, then aged on the lees - the spent yeast cells - for six months in large concrete tanks.  Winemaker Riccardo Brighina spontaneously fermented the wine and left it unfiltered.  Alcohol checks in at 13.5% abv and the wine sells for, on average, $15.

This Abruzzo white wine is tinted yellow.  It smells of citrus, mostly - Meyer lemon, lime and tangerine.  There is also an earthy aroma like that of apricots.  The apricot note is more noticeable on the palate, with all that citrus coming along for the ride.  The acidity is quite fresh, very refreshing.  The finish is medium and carries apricot and salinity, along with the Meyer lemon.


Tenuta Terraviva Cerasuolo d'Abruzzo Giusi 2019

Tenuta Terraviva lies in the hills of Tortoreto, Teramo province of Abruzzo.  The vineyards are close to the Adriatic Sea, and benefit from that proximity.  Terraviva works primarily with indigenous grape varieties, like Trebbiano, Pecorino, Passerina and Montepulciano.

The Cerasuolo d'Abruzzo DOC is dedicated to the rosato wines which used to be labeled as Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Cerasuolo.  Giusi is made completely from organic Montepulciano d’Abruzzo grapes.  The wine was fermented spontaneously with indigenous yeast, aged six months in steel tanks, then aged three more months in the bottle.  Alcohol is a restrained 12.5% abv and a bottle usually sells for around $12.

This Italian rosato lights up the glass beautifully in a blaze of cherry red.  The nose - the expected cherry, strawberry, cassis notes - has an undercurrent of tar and is draped in a muscular earthiness.  The fruit flavors come along on the palate bright and fresh, with a beautiful acidity.  The grapes, by the way, are Montepulciano with limited skin contact and steel vinification and aging.  


Valle Reale Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Vigneto di Popoli 2015

Valle Reale makes Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wine like no other winery.  Their vineyards are located within one of Italy's most noted and beautiful national parks.  Besides the lovely surroundings, it must be nice to know there is always a park ranger nearby.  The estate is owned by Leonardo Pizzolo, and the winemaker is Emmanuel Merlo.

The rich Vigneto di Popoli wine is made wholly from Montepulciano d’Abruzzo grapes, grown in the pebbly, chalky soil of the oldest estate vineyards.  Fermented in stainless steel, this wine was aged for two years in neutral French oak tonneaux, then six months more in the bottle.  Alcohol slips under the radar at 13.5% abv, while the wine generally sells for about $19.

This wine is medium dark with aromas of black cherry, cassis and blackberry wafting up from the glass.  There is also a bit of leather, tobacco and pencil lead.  The palate offers cherry, licorice and baking spices, along with a nice acidity and medium-firm tannins.  The sip is really enjoyable, but it pairs well with a steak or anything Bolognese. 


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Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Gambero Rosso Italian Wine Master Class: Part Two

Virtual wine tasting events are no stranger to me, especially in the era of COVID-19.  Get the box, open the box, log on and taste from home.  No social distancing to strain the process, no mask needed.  I was invited to take part in a Zoom gathering recently along with two dozen other wine writers.  The event was called the Tre Bicchieri Web Show, which featured twelve different Italian wines from various producers.  My shipment was delayed several times - it came from Italy, after all - so I didn't get to take part in real time, but the box finally arrived and I was finally able to taste the wines inside.

The Tre Bicchieri Web Show was presented by Gambero Rosso, a Rome-based Italian wine and food magazine that was founded in 1986.  It was their first-ever Master Class, which indicates that there are more planned.

The interactive event was hosted by Lorenzo Ruggeri, the wine guide's international editor, with comments along the two-hour journey from each winery's representative.  This is the second installment on Now And Zin Wine to feature the wines that were tasted.  We started with four amazing white wines and now move on to four of the eight reds included in the assortment.

Velenosi Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Prope 2017 

Ercole Velenosi and Angiolina Piotti established Velenosi in 1984 in Ascoli Piceno, in the Marche region.  They now make Abruzzo wines in Controguerra, to the east and across the border to the south.  The first vintage from that outpost was in 2005.  Angela Velenosi now sits on the board, while Filippo Carli and Luca Fioravanti work in the cellar.

Prope is made completely from Montepulciano d’Abruzzo grapes, grown in gravelly clay soil.  They are destemmed and placed in stainless steel tanks for vinification, which could last as long as a month.  Then, the wine is transferred into large barrels for 12 months of aging.  Alcohol is 14% abv and the retail sticker should be around $15 when it is available in the U.S. market.

This wine is tinted medium dark ruby and shows purple around the rim.  It smells of bright, ripe cherries and strawberries.  There is not a big influence of oak.  The palate is nice and fresh, with fruit in the forefront and a gentle acidity.  The tannins are easy-going enough for gulping, but the wine does pair well with tandoori lamb from my favorite Indian restaurant.  Ruggeri noted the flavor of dried fruit and meatiness at the end of the sip.

Conte Leopardi Dittajuti Conero Pigmento Riserva 2016 

The Count Leopardi winery is in Numana, Marche, on Italy's Adriatic coast.  The estate is owned by the Leopardi Dittajuti family and has been for some 15 centuries.  Back then, one of the Leopardis was made a bishop, then killed by pagans, then made a saint.  Today, Piervittorio Leopardi is dedicated to the beautiful area, the forests, the limestone massif, and to Montepulciano, Conero's traditional grape, which has been vinified by Leopardi for nearly forty years.  The vineyards between Numana and Sirolo are rich in limestone and marl and cooled by the Adriatic Sea.  

Leopardi's Pigmento Riserva was made by winemaker Riccardo Cotarella, completely from Montepulciano grapes.  The fruit was late-harvested - in the end of October and early November - a roll of the dice that dared the fates to bring damaging rains.  He lucked out.  Leopardi says this elegant, full-bodied, well-balanced Riserva wine has great structure, good concentration and smooth, consistent tannins.  Alcohol tips 14% abv and the price tag reads $38.

As the name implies, this wine is very dark colored - hardly any light gets through.  The nose is complex and lively - black cherry, cassis, vanilla, cedar.  On the palate, a bit of licorice joins the fruit profile.  Acidity is brisk, but not racy.  Tannins are firm, but not toothy.  I would like a sausage or pork chop with it, but I would settle for a salami.

Giordano Emo Capodilista - La Montecchia Colli Euganei Cabernet Sauvignon Ireneo 2016 

Giordano Emo Capodilista's estate is located in Veneto, in the Euganean regional park.  The vineyards lie in the northern part of the area - in the almost Alpine territory of Selvazzano.  More recent acquisitions are in the volcanic hills to the extreme south - in the more Mediterranean area of Baone.  The two sites are not that far apart - only about six miles - but they feature very different terroir.  The grapes that make up Irenèo are 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, grown along the slopes of Monte Castello, while the 6% Merlot and 4% Carmenère came from the area around Villa Emo Capodilista.  The wine was aged for a year in barrique barrels, then six months in the bottle.  Alcohol hits 14% abv and the retail price is $30.

This Italian Cab has a bit of Merlot and Carmenère mixed in.  The color is medium dark garnet with a bit of bricking around the edge.  Aromas of blackberry are joined by the smell of minerals and a whiff of smoke.  The palate has a chalky note to it - the owner referred to the wine in his presentation as "salty."  The tannins are manageable and the acidity is middle-of-the-road.  The wine really puts me in mind of Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles, not Napa.  I paired the wine successfully with grilled kielbasa and charred Brussels sprouts.

De Stefani Colli di Conegliano Rosso Stefen 1624 2015 120 USD

Still in Veneto, up north in Piave, owner and winemaker Alessandro di Stefani steered away from the so-called easy money of Prosecco in favor of still wines with character.  The results should make everyone glad he made that choice.

The 2015 De Stefani Colli di Conegliano Rosso Stefen 1624 was made from 100% Marzemino grapes grown in clay soil which is mixed with minerals from the Southern Limestone Alps, the Dolomite Mountains.  Marzemino is said to have been Mozart's favorite wine grape, and that is completely understandable.  The single-vineyard grapes were destemmed and slowly fermented on the skins up to a point, when the juice was put into oak barriques, where it stayed for three years.  Aging continued in the bottle for 18 months before release.  Alcohol checks in at a lofty 15.5% abv.  Depending on the vintage, it can be as high as 17.5% alcohol.  The sticker price is up there as well, at $120.  

This wine is deep, dark and delicious.  The nose opens with a whiff of smoke, which leads to aromas of dried cherry, cedar and pipe tobacco.  The palate shows a nice mix of fruit and savory - the cherry flavor finds a black raspberry partner.  Firm tannins and bright acidity make it dance on the tongue.


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Monday, August 3, 2020

Abruzzian Art Of The Earth

People sometimes don't think that wine importers are very important, that all they do is have crates of wine shipped in from who-knows-where to be peddled on the shelves in the lower reaches.  The best importers are those with a nose for wine, who can sniff out good stuff through endless trials, then bring the product to us.  Great importers like Kermit Lynch and Terry Theise are as important and as recognizable as great producers.  Mack and Schühle are Miami-based importers who find great wine and pass it along at a price that is more than fair.  Founded in 1939, the company expanded to the Miami office eight years ago.  They produce wine in Italy and Spain and distribute other wines globally.

Art of Earth Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2019

The certified organic grapes for this bottle were grown in the light, sandy loam of Abruzzo DOC in eastern Italy, between the Adriatic sea and the Apennine Mountains.  The variety is full, 100% Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, the wine hits a reasonable 13.5% abv on the alcohol scale and it retails for $12.

This wine certainly smells like it is the art of the earth.  There are abundant minerals to go along with the ripe, red cherry aromas and the sweet oak on the nose.  The palate follows suit and lays in a racy acidity on top of the firm tannins.  Spaghetti Bolognese would be a nice pairing, but I had mine with a pork chop and loved it. 


Friday, February 7, 2020

The Wine Of The Sheep: Pecorino

Italy's Abruzzo region is known mainly for sheep and agriculture.  It is only fitting they would have a grape that marries both.  Pecorino is "the grape of the sheep."  The name of the Umani Rochi wine made from that grape, Vellodoro, means roughly the Golden Fleece sought in myth by the Argonauts.

Inside Abruzzo, nestled in the foothills and bathing in the waves of the Adriatic Sea, is the Terra di Chieti IGT.  White wines are the specialty of the region and Pecorino is the primary grape there, although Umani Ronchi grows largely Montepulciano in the deep, sandy clay soil of their Abruzzo vineyards. 

Umani Ronchi Terra di Chieti Pecorino Vellodoro 2018

The wine - a 100% Pecorino varietal showing the grape’s characteristic aromatics and high acidity - was vinified in stainless steel tanks and did not undergo malolactic fermentation, although it did rest on its lees for four months.  That contact with the spent yeast cells is what gives Vellodoro its weight.  Alcohol stays at 12.5% abv and it sells online for about $14.

This wine of the Pecorino grape displays a light floral note on the nose, but the show is its minerality.  Citrus aromas even take a back seat to the smell of wet driveway.  On the palate, lemon, lime and almonds play a bigger role amidst a ripping acidity.  Enjoy in the wintertime, but stick a bottle aside for when warm-weather foods take over.  


Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Oakless Red Wine: No Complexity, No Problem

The Caldora winery is in the community of Ortona, in Italy's Abruzzo region, just above the "ankle" on the back of the "boot."  It's close enough to the coast to enjoy the effect of the Adriatic Sea.  The winery has a special arrangement with the many small growers in the two coastal provinces of Teramo to the north and Chieti to the south.  They say they don't actually buy grapes from these growers, but rather rent the vineyards and use the fruit for their wines.

If you like your red wines simple and unadorned, the 2017 Caldora Montepulciano d'Abruzzo is for you.  It is a 100% varietal wine, with no oak aging used in the making of it.  Alcohol is easy to take at 13% abv and the wine retails for $12.

The Caldora carries a subdued nose, rather like a toned down Syrah.  It's certainly a clean nose, with no oak to color the fruit.  The Montepulciano grapes take center stage, showing blackberry and plum aromas and similar dark fruit flavors.  The acidity is fresh and lively.  The lack of complexity is not a problem, as the wine sips just fine.


Monday, October 14, 2019

Bargain Italian White Wine

Citra Vini is an association of unified wineries in the Italian wine region of Abruzzo.  The group was established in 1973 and their vineyards cover a lot of ground in Chieti - about 15,000 acres.  The winegrowing association is located between the Majella, a limestone massif in the Apennine mountain range, and the Adriatic Sea.  Some 3,000 growers contribute grapes to the Citra effort. 

Their website explains a bit of the storied history of the Montepulciano grape.  Hannibal gave the wine to his soldiers for its supposed restorative powers, and Ovid praised it in a poem.
The Citra umbrella shades a lot of labels.

Citra says the Trebbiano grape has been grown in central Italy since the Roman era.  It was originally used to make wines for the grower's family.  The 2017 Citra Trebbiano d'Abruzzo carries a relatively light alcohol number of 12% abv and it sells for about $10.

This bargain Italian white wine sports a nice nose of citrus and apricot with a savory salinity.  The savory streak takes the lead on the palate for a tasty sip.  There's not a whole lot of acidity here, which hurts food pairing a tad.  Consider this a sipper.


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Monday, September 16, 2019

Steel Sangiovese Shows True Colors

Citra Vini covers a lot of ground in the Italian Chieti region - about 15,000 acres.  The winegrowing group - an association of unified wineries in Abruzzo established in 1973 - is located between a limestone massif in the Apennine mountain range and the Adriatic Sea.  Some 3,000 growers contribute grapes to the Citra effort. 

Their website explains a bit of the storied history of the Montepulciano grape.  Hannibal gave the wine to his soldiers for its supposed restorative powers, and Ovid praised it in a poem.

The making of the 2017 Citra Sangiovese Terre di Chieti was overseen by renowned enologist Riccardo Cotarella.  The wine was vinified and aged a bit in stainless steel tanks, not oak vats.  Alcohol hits a moderate 13% abv and and this would appear to the Citra bargain brand, as it sells for about ten bucks.

This Sangiovese is a lightweight wine with an appealing nose and palate.  Aromas of cherry and raspberry are fresh and cheery.  The red fruit flavors are bright and natural, owing to stainless steel vinification and aging.  No oak.  The finish pales quickly, but it's an enjoyable sip.


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Friday, April 12, 2019

Trebbiano From Abruzzo

Citra Vini, an association of unified wineries in Abruzzo established in 1973, covers a lot of ground in Chieti.  The winegrowing group is located near the Majella, a limestone massif in the Apennine mountain range, Gran Sasso - the highest peak around - and the Adriatic Sea.

Their website explains that the Trebbiano grape goes by a number of names, each one utilizing the area in which the grape is grown.  The Citra umbrella shades a lot of labels, and this would appear to their bargain brand, as it sells for less than ten bucks.

There was scant information available about the wine, but a winemaking team of 19 worked on it, so at least they had a lot of experience in the cellar.  Alcohol hits a reasonable 12% abv.

The 2017 Citra Trebbiano d'Abruzzo barely colors up - it's a very pale gold green in the glass.  The nose gives off soft floral notes with a hard edge of minerals.  The palate is tart and refreshing, with apples, earth and those wonderful minerals.  A great acidity leaves the mouthfeel crisp and dry.  Have it with oysters or crabs.


Friday, March 8, 2019

Don't Be Sheepish Abut Pecorino

A ferzo is a patch of fabric stitched together with others to form a sail or a flag, and it's the central idea behind Ferzo's patchwork of vineyards.  Ferzo says their wines grow out of  "small-scale, highly selected viticultural operations in the skillful hands of local vintners."  The grapes come from Abruzzo, in the broad province of Chieti.

The Winebow Group explains, "the vineyards that source Ferzo Terre di Chieti Pecorino are found in the rolling hills that stretch between the Adriatic Sea in the East to the Appenine Mountains in the West.  The relationship between mountains and sea is always felt in this part of Italy as temperature variations yield a constant breeze known here as the "brezza di terra".

The Pecorino grape is named for sheep, which apparently like munching on this particular fruit. The varietal wine is fermented and aged in stainless steel, getting three months in the tank and one in the bottle.  The alcohol clocks in at 13% abv and it retails for $26.

The nose comes on with a healthy whiff of lanolin and citrus, salinity on the side.  It's a savory sniff, with the ocean taking the forefront while the fruit plays a lesser role.  On the palate, the salty feel stays the course, while apricot, lemon and orange come through on a wave of nuttiness.  The wine finishes tart and refreshing.


Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Easy Drinking Italian Bargain Red

Citra Vini, an association of wineries in Abruzzo established in 1973, covers a lot of ground in Chieti.  The winegrowing group is located near the Majella, a limestone massif in the Apennine mountain range, Gran Sasso, the highest peak around and the Adriatic Sea. 

Their website explains a bit of the storied history of the Montepulciano grape.  Hannibal reportedly gave the wine to his soldiers for its supposed restorative powers, and Ovid praised it in a poem.   The Citra umbrella shades a lot of labels, and this would appear to their bargain brand, as it sells for less than ten bucks.

There was scant information available about the wine, but a winemaking team of 19 worked on it, so at least they had a lot of experience in the cellar.  Alcohol hits a reasonable 13% abv.

Citra Vini Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2017

The nose on this 2017 Italian wine is a bit fuzzy at first, but the cherries and blackberries are there, along with a strong initial whiff of chocolate.  It's medium-ruby in color and offers cherry, black cherry and a hint of raspberry on the palate.  Tannins are reasonable, if not very firm, and the acidity is quite refreshing.  I snacked it with a hard Italian cheese, the name of which escapes me.  Pair it with meat or tomato sauce dishes and you'll be fine.


Friday, June 8, 2018

L.A. Restaurant Does Italian Wine Right

I'm disgusted with myself that it took me so long to get to Sotto in Los Angeles.  It's 15, 20 minutes from my home, right down Pico.  No excuses.  I should really get out more, and when I do, I should go back to Sotto.

Italian food from a chef who knows Italian food, with Italian wines to match.  Steve Samson owns the joint, and the food is fantastic.  The pizza crust nearly brought my wife to tears; the pork meatballs did it to me. 

It's the wine I'm here to blather on and on about, though.  Wine Director Jeremy Parzen brings his knowledge of Italian wine to bear on what people are calling one of the most interesting wine lists in L.A.  Parzen, like me, writes about wine.  Unlike me, zillions of people read his blog - DoBianchi.com.  It's one of the more widely read wine sites on the web, and one of the better ones, too.  Parzen is a wine genius, I know because I read him.  He may be an actual genius, too.  I don't know, but it wouldn't surprise me.  Because of his involvement in Sotto, my expectations of the wines were high.

The 2016 Cirelli Trebbiano d'Abruzzo is $12 by the glass at Sotto.  Abruzzo is an Italian region, east of Rome, between the Adriatic Sea and behind the rain shade of the Apennine Mountains.  The Agricola Cirelli farm is organic, downright biodynamic with such attention given to the interaction of animals with the vines. 

My wife says she gets pork drippings and honey on the nose, the pork a memory from her childhood in an Italian household in Pennsylvania.  She also likes the savory, herbal flavors.  I get a nose full of wet rocks, the seashore and a slightly smoky note that seems almost shy.  The palate shows a grand salinity and stone fruit, dry as a bone. 


Denise had a Sicilian wine, probably because we’ve never been let down by one.  This one was the Biondi Etna Bianco Outis, at $18 by the glass.  It's made from the indigenous Carricante grape, in the Etna Bianco region.  The area covers the foothills of the Etna volcano, both north and south sides, and the Biondi grapes grow in the south.  The Carricante is blended with other local white varieties, like Moscadella dell'Etna, Minella, Malvasia and Catarrato.  The wine got about eight months aging in stainless steel.  We both loved the ocean on the nose and the volcanic rock on the palate.


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Monday, August 29, 2011

ITALIAN WINE TASTING AT ENOTECA DRAGO


Enoteca Drago

In Los Angeles, the Drago family is to Italian food and wine as the Rockefeller family is to money.  They know it, they live it, they breathe it.  Wine importer V.E.D.I. Wines brought some of the wines they represent to Enoteca Drago in Beverly Hills recently for an afternoon trade tasting, and I had the good fortune of an invitation.

Here are some of the tasty Italian treats I discovered from Veneto, Lombardia and Abruzzo, along with some sparkling wines from Valencia, Spain.

Cava Pago de Tharsys:

Pago de Tharsys poured those extremely nice sparkling wines produced in Valencia.  There were a lot of earthy notes in these Cavas, and some very interesting grapes.

Rosado Brut 2008:  100% Garnacha; strawberries and earth
Brut Nature 2008:   80% Macabeo, 20% Chardonnay; yeasty and earthy with notes of guava
Tharsys Unico:  100% Bobal; yeasty and crisp with a nutty edge
Dominio de Tharsys Brut:  75% Macabeo, 25% Parellada;  very fruity and fresh
Dominio de Tharsys Rosado:  Bobal; earthy cherry nose, cherry syrup flavor with a hint of banana

Marcato had a couple of notable sparklers from Italy's Lessini Hills of Verona, in the Veneto region.

Durello Spumante Brut:  85% Durella with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay as well; multi-vintage; steel fermented, Charmat method; nutty nose; light and fruity, with a citrus/tropical play
Durello 36 Mesi:  Durella, Pinot Noir & Chardonnay again; creamier, yet still vibrant and fresh; traditional method

Cavalchina is from Veneto.

Cavalchina is the name of the district where this winery is located, on the southeastern border of the Garda amphitheatre.

Bianco di Custoza:  40% Garganega, 30% Fernanda, 15% Trebbiano, 15% Trebbianello; very nutty with a light acidity
Amedeo Biano di Custoza Superiore:  40% Garganega, 30% Fernanda, 15% Trebbiano, 15%Trebbianello:  more acidity than in the Bianco di Custoza
Chiaretto Bardolino:  Rose harvested and vinified separately from the rosso, not as a bleed-off; very light pink with strawberries and flowers
Bardolino:  the red bardolino; gorgeous nose, black cherry and chocolate, unusual for a steel fermented wine; flavor is fruity and floral
Santa Lucia Bardolino Superiore:  60% Corvina, 25% Rondinella, 15% Marzemino e Barbera; nice tannic structure, the wood aging doesn't overwhelm

Vigneti Prendina is from Lombardia.

Merlot Garda:  85% Merlot, 15% Rondinella; the grapes are harvested at different times, so separate vinification is required; neutral oak barriques, smokey fruit
Pinot Grigio Alto Mincio: oakless Pinot Grigio with a lovely aroma
Falcone Cabernet Sauvignon:  85%  Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot; dark and smokey; 12 months in barriques

Contesa is in Abruzzo, centrally located in Italy, but considered part of the south.  The region borders the Adriatic Sea.

Nerone:  Montepulciano d'Abruzzo; great drak nose showing tar, tasting of smokey plums
Contesa Montepulciano d'Abruzzo:  great acidity, very smooth; 24 months in large barrels
Vigna Corvino Montepulciano:  very smooth; dusty cherry notes
Vigna Corvino Trebbiano:  stainless steel fermentation; rather like a new world Sauvignon Blanc; grassy and earthy; grape dates back to Roman times in Abruzzo
Vigna Corvino Cerasuolo:  dry rose with a lovely nose; one day skin contact gives a lovely cherry color
Pecorino:  citrus and a nutty quality
Sorab Pecorino:  four weeks barrique fermentation; weightier with delicious use of wood; aged on its lees for 6 months


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