Showing posts with label Corvina. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Corvina. Show all posts

Friday, October 26, 2018

Italian Red Wine Grapes

A special occasion is always made better with special company, and a special wine.  During anniversary week for Denise and I (the 20th!) we had several special meals at places which mean a lot to us.  The Beverly Hills Italian restaurant Da Pasquale is one of those places.  Not only have we never - not once - been disappointed with a meal there, they seemed to put on an extra special table for our day. 

I wanted a Primitivo wine for that meal, but they said they were out of that variety.  I shifted gears and took our server's suggestion that I try a different wine, and I'm glad I did.  It's nice to have people around who are trustworthy.

Allegrini's 2014 Palazzo Della Torre is a blend of Veronese Corvina, Corvinone and Rondinella grapes, with a splash of Sangiovese.  Here's the twist: the winery says, "A small percentage of the harvested grapes are left to dry out until December and then added to the previously vinified fresh grapes."  That gives a fleshy, meaty mouthfeel to the finished wine. 

You can't taste it, but the wine is named after what's called a "splendid masterpiece of Renaissance architecture now owned by the family."  Aging went on for 15 months in used oak barrels, with another seven months in the bottle.  Alcohol sits at 14% abv.  It looks like it sells for about $20. 

The wine shows a bit hot on the nose at first, but settles down quickly.  Aromas of stewed figs and red fruit come paired with autumn spices and earth.  It's a hearty red, with red plums, cassis, and more spice on the palate.  I paired it with pappardelle and lamb shank, to much delight. It also went well as a mate to risotto with beef and mushrooms.


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Friday, March 21, 2014

Going Italian At Whole Foods: Gran Passione Rosso

This month and next, Whole Foods Markets has the spotlight on Italian wines at great prices.  Get the details on the wines and the April virtual tasting event on Twitter here.

You can go to the hashtag #WFMWine to see how much fun we had on the first tasting.

Today we sample one of those wines.

Twitter Tastings

Thursday March 13, 7:00-8:00 p.m. CT:
Banfi Principessa Gavia Gavi
Ruffino Orvieto Classico
Gran Passione Rosso
Donnafugata Sedàra

Thursday April 10, 7:00-8:00 p.m. CT:
Presto Prosecco
Caposaldo Pinot Grigio
Monrosso Chianti
Verrazzano Rosso


Gran Passione Rosso $14.99
This wine is composed of 60% Merlot grapes and 40% Corvina, grown on small farms in the Veneto region.  Possessing a rich character due in large part to its production in the appassimento method, in which the Corvino grapes are dried in the sun before pressing.  It's the same way Amarone is made.  This process makes for heightened aromas and flavors, and it's not usually found in wines at this price point.  Oak aging adds its own touch of complexity.
This very dark, ruby-colored wine gives off quite the nose - noticeable from across the room.  Blackberry and black currant aromas are a delight, a pungent one, topped with notes of chocolate.  Deep, dark flavors of berries and prunes define the palate, and the mouthfeel is marked by wonderful acidity and firm tannins.  The richness of the wine is remarkable, and it does taste like a cousin to Amarone.  It's not priced like it, though - just $15 at Whole Foods.
The Twitter crowd really liked this wine, even before it was sipped.  @winefashionista sniffed and tweeted, "Love the nose on the Gran Passione - rose and violets!"  @RickGriffin also loved it: "Love the mouth feel of the GrandPassione! Velvety with berries, red stone fruit & a bit of spice which is nice!"  @WineHarlots liked the look and the taste of it:  "Great packaging... Cherries and leather."  @AnotherWineBlog chirped, "OMG the Gran Passione is to die for," while @ClearLakeWine tweeted, "Consensus in this tasting group is that the Gran Passione Rosso is the favorite of the night."   It was for me, too - at least my favorite red.


Friday, November 29, 2013

Bertani Amarone Vertical Tasting & Luncheon

It was a good afternoon in Beverly Hills.  More than once, I heard that comment from attendees at a lunch and vertical tasting of Bertani Amarone at Via Alloro on November 1, 2013.  "Skip cleaning the apartment for a vertical tasting of Amarone?  Sure!  Oh, there's lunch, too?  Cool.  Where are we going next?"  Many thanks to Palm Bay International for staging this event and for inviting me to attend.

Winemaker and Bertani technical director Andrea Lonardi (pictured) presided over a tasting six Amarone vintages from the Bertani estate covering five decades: 2006, 1998, 1990, 1981, 1973, 1964.  Bertani holds back half of all production of their wines from each vintage, so each of these wines is currently available for sale in the US.  There were a few other Bertani wines included, too, as if the vertical wasn't enough.

Things got rolling with an introductory mingle featuring many wine people, iPhones ablazing.  Pictures, notes, exchange of business cards were conducted while enjoying the Bertani Bertarose Rosé.

Lonardi studied in the south of France, worked in Argentina, Chile, Washington state and Sonoma before taking the job with Bertani.  I asked him where his dream vineyards would be: "Burgundy for Chardonnay, Bordeaux for Cabernet Franc and southern France for Grenache," he said.

Techniques have changed over past 50 years.  Lonardi says they used to harvest in October, but now do so in September due to climate change.  Their grapes get at least three months of drying time between harvest and crush.  They still dry grapes just like they did 50 years ago, on straw mats.

Bertani was founded in 1857 by two brothers.  They became négociants around Verona, then bought vineyards in Valpollicella and started growing their own.  The first of their wines brought to the US was labeled SECCO BERTONI to differentiate it from the sweet wines popular in that day.

Amarone's slight bitterness is delightful, and it's the reason for its name.  "Amaro" means "bitter" in Italian.  The style was first made when the cellar master forgot to stop fermentation on a sweet wine.  It came out dry, and it was good.  A tradition was born completely by accident.

Bertani's vineyards stretch out across all the wine producing areas of Verona, from Valpolicella to the Valpntena - the valley of the gods - to lakeside Bardolino to the easternmost hills of Soave.  The different soil types in these areas allow the winery to express a number of different terroirs in their wines.

The Amarone vertical:

Overall, I found the alcohol and tannic structure became more noticeable as we drank through the years.  Fruit also comes more to the forefront in the younger vintages.  Lonardi's favorite is the '73.  I like 'em all, but the two oldest really fascinated me.  The prices are suggested retail.

1964 Amarone Classico  $450
Vintage report: The spring was wet, while the summer was dry, as were September and October.
This wine aged for 18 years in large Slavonian oak barrels and was bottle in the fall of 1983.  15% abv.
Brick, with a browning edge.  Lonardi commented, "The '64 is really outstanding today."  Elegant, with a nose of raisins, orange peel, coffee and caramel.  On the palate, the wine is very easy in the mouth.  The alcohol isn't even noticeable.  Spices and cherry fruit are subdued by iron-like minerals.

1973 Amarone Classico  $300
Vintage report: Ideal temperature and rainfall during spring and summer.
Aged nine years in large Slavonian oak barrels, this one was bottled in the spring of 1983.  15% abv.
Brick colored, browning at the rim.  The nose shows raisin and candied orange peel.   Again, elegant.  An easy feeling palate with big coffee notes and alcohol again not a factor.  More high mineral flavors. Absolutely no trace of alcohol on the palate, very easy to sip.

1981 Amarone Classico  $230
Vintage report: Average rainfall.  August and September were hot.
After nine years aging in those Slavonian oak barrels, the wine was bottled in the spring of 1991.  15.2% abv.  Red color, brick rim.  Raisins and sweeter notes of brown sugar and dark chocolate grace the nose, while flavors of dark chocolate, coffee, black tea and orange peel highlight the palate.  Tannic structure firm.  Alcohol starts to come into play.  Paired with mushroom risotto, the raisin notes really come forward.

1990 Amarone Classico  $300
Vintage report: Ideal season.  Rain in the spring, warm, dry summer.
This vintage took six years aging in Slavonian oak and was bottled in the fall of 1999.  15% abv.
Ruby, with a brick edge.  Candy orange, cherry and baker's chocolate on the nose.  Big cherry notes, black tea and a hint of raisins on the palate.  Big fresh tannins are more noticeable, great acidity, grip on the finish.

1998 Amarone Classico  $190
Vintage report: Average temperatures and rainfall in the spring, hot in July, August and September.
This wine aged for six years in Slavonian oak and was bottled in the spring of 2005.
Deep ruby core, brick rim.  Aromas of raisin, cherry, tea and coffee grounds.  The palate features a brilliant acidity with bright cherry flavors and black tea on the finish.  Alcohol steps forward, great tannic structure.  Nice and dry.

2006 Amarone Classico  $130
Vintage report: Normal rainfall during the spring and no rain in July.  Frequent light rain in the first half of August.
The wine aged for six years in oak and was bottled in the of winter 2012.  15.4% abv.
Ruby, just starting to brick at the rim.  It's all big, bright cherry on the nose with slight raisin notes and a touch of tea.  On the palate, fresh cherry, firm tannins and lively acidity make for a very vibrant wine. Notes of coffee and tea finish the pleasure.

The other Bertani wines included in the presentation:

Bertarose Rosé  $15 - Copper hue. pleasant strawberry nose, palate light, dry and refreshing, great acidity
50% Merlot and 50% Molinara., fermented on the skins

Sereole Soave $20 - 100% Garganega, straw, green tint.  On the nose, nutty salinity, wet rocks.  Palate shows tart peach, lovely acidity, herbal, salinity. Great with the radicchio and arugula salad. Stood up well to the radicchio.

Original Vintage Edition 2009 $32 - A replication of the first Bertani wine produced in the 1800s.  It is made from 80% original Corvina clones (Rizza, Nera and Corvinone) with a 20% mix of Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese and and Syrah.  Aged in chestnut and cherry wood, not oak.  First in cherry 2-5 months, then in chestnut to 18 months.  The nose shows spices and cherries with bright, fresh cherry flavors.  A touch of cinnamon and nutmeg are a delight.  Great acidity and tannic grip.

Villa Arvedi Amarone 2008 $60 - 70% Corvina Veronese and 30% Rondinella, the wine is produced in true Amarone style.  the grape bunches are harvested and taken to farmhouses where they are left to dry on straw mats for about four months.  This raisins the grapes and concentrates the natural sugars.  Aromas are highlighted by dark black cherry, with flavors of really savory cherry and huge tannins on the palate.  Great with the lamb shank.

Recionoto della Valpolicella Valpantena DOC $37 - 80% Corvina Veronese and 20% Rondinella, this dessert wine is produced Amarone-style and left to dry on straw mats for about five months, then slow fermented for about a month.  Aging takes place for 18 months in French oak barriques, half of them new.  It has a big, sweet nose of raisins and brown sugar and an even sweeter palate showing raisins, caramel and mocha.  It rocked the warm chocolate tart completely.


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Friday, September 27, 2013

Tough Time Tasting At Italian Wine Event In L.A.

Last week I attended a trade wine tasting event in Los Angeles, put on by Kobrand Wine and Spirits importers.  This event showcased their Italian wines, which are of high quality and readily available at many restaurants and wine stores.  Los Angeles was the final whistle stop on the importer’s nine-city US tour.

The event was a big disappointment for me, not because the wines were disappointing - the ones I had the chance to taste were tremendous.  The disappointment came from the situation that seems to be prevalent at wine trade events in L.A.

The event felt like a college kegger with suits.  So many people seemed to be concerned with eating, partying and schmoozing - hey, it is L.A. - that the limited space at the tasting tables was taken up with folks who were there, as I heard more than once, to "drink wine," not "taste wine."

The crowd appeared to me to be largely made up of wine buyers and sommeliers - dressed to impress at 2:30 p.m. - with a few members of the press thrown in.  Throughout my radio career, it was always the media who showed up anyplace a free meal was handed out.  At wine trade events in L.A., the food service takes second billing to loud conversations in which wheels are greased for someone’s next position or some “catching up” is done to find out whatcha been up to since the last tasting event.  Plenty are there as plus-ones, excited for the opportunity to get drunk for free on a Thursday afternoon.  Tasting and evaluating wine drops to fourth in the priority list.

The Los Angeles wine scene is not one that gets much mention in the wine press, unless it is negative.  With the serious restaurant atmosphere here - not to mention the money and expensive tastes that are ubiquitous in Tinseltown - one would expect a more serious attitude at wine at events like this one.  Instead, we get a restaurant crowded with people who are clearly more interested in "being there" than in tasting what was brought there for that purpose.  Tables are clogged with those who choose to take that moment to hold court for their entourage and with those who stand at the tasting area to have personal conversations.  This is something I have noticed at many L.A. wine trade events, not just this one.

I know some will say I’m being ridiculous, that the event is for business and this is how business is conducted.  I get that conversations will happen - just move away from the table to chat.  And leave the plus-ones at the office unless they are there for a purpose other than chugging Brunello.

I quickly became disenchanted with trying to muscle in for a taste and bailed on the event.  I hope for better results next time, but I do not expect them.

I did have the opportunity to sample a few big winners, which is what I came there to do in the first place.

Roberto Pighin’s family winery has the major estate in Friuli and a smaller one in the Collio DOC zone.  His Pinot Grigio Friuli 2012 shows beautiful fruit - apples, pears - and a very nice level of freshness.  The Pinot Grigio from Collio plays a little more minerality and rests a little softer on the palate.  Pighin’s Sauvignon Blanc Friuli 2011 comes through with a savory note of minerals on the citrusy fruit.

Owner Emilia Nardi was on hand to pour the Sangiovese wines of her Tenute Silvio Nardi.  With estate vineyards spreading east and west from Montalcino, she has revamped her father’s brand and embraced modern scientific techniques.   The Nardi Rosso di Montalcino 2010 has a smoky, dusty, cherry nose with fabulous fruit and acidity on the palate.  The Nardi Brunello di Montalcino 2008 boasts Sangiovese grapes from Casale del Bosco and Manachiara.  Roses and fruit on the nose, very fresh tasting.  The single-vineyard effort, Brunello di Montalcino Vigneto Manachiara DOCG, offers coffee-tinged fruit.  Overheard near the table: “I’ve never had a bad Nardi.”

The Feudo Maccari Grillo Sicilia 2011 brought the savory feel of the ocean, while the Maccari Nero d’Avola 2010 presents the native Sicilian grape in pristine no-oak fashion.  Fragrant flowers on the nose, soft cherry on the palate.

From central Tuscany, the Tenuta Sette Ponti Crognolo is mainly Sangiovese with a smattering of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Dusty cherry, great acidity, savory edge.

Masi Agricola, of the Veneto, poured a delightful white - Masianco 2012.  Pinot Grigio and Verduzzo are blended, with the latter partly dried and seeing a little oak.  The wine has great weight and is quite complex, leaning to the savory side a bit.  The Masi Campofiorin 2009 is a mix of Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grapes.  Complex cherry and spice notes.  My pourer described it as “easy, but not a stupid wine.”  To say the least!

I didn’t get close enough for a taste of Sassicaia, but I did try a couple from the family’s second label, Salviano.  The Umbrian estate yields an Orvieto Classico that is steely and crisp and and blend of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc which is almost honey-sweet with flinty minerals.  It finishes quite like a dessert wine.


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Monday, May 21, 2012

Italian Wine: Viva Vino Los Angeles 2012


The week-long festivities for Viva Vino Los Angeles 2012 peaked in the middle, with the mid-week grand tasting event on May 16th at The Mark For Events.

Hundreds of Italian wines were poured, from producers large and small.  Assuming you love Italian wines, it was a chance to wallow in them to your heart’s contento.  If nothing else, you could add a few grapes to your Century Club efforts - quite a few.  There were grapes like Cortese, Grechetto, Corvina, Rondinella, Turbiana, Malinara, Teroldego - and those are from just the first two tables at which I stopped.  If you are new to Italian wines, I apologize in advance for the extreme grape geekiness you are about to encounter.  If you have not sampled these wonders, though, you really owe it to yourself to do so.

Notable Wines:

The white wines at Viva Vino were simply outstanding.  From table to table, one white after another impressed with acidity and minerality.  Green apples here, a touch of lime there, but nearly all the whites I tasted were driven by extreme minerality, laced with bracing acidity and just waiting for a meal to come along.

The most impressive wines of the day, for me, were from La Castellada in Oslavia.  Winemaker Stefano Bensa (right) was on hand to guide me through three scintillating whites.  The 2007 Friuliano, 2006 Ribolla Gialla and 2002 Bianco Della Castellada are among the best wines I’ve had in a while.  They all spend four days on skins, a year in oak, a year in the tank and a year in the bottle.  Bensa told me they are produced as naturally as possible, from low-yield vineyards.  The intensity and complexity of these wines is mind-blowing and they are definitely age-worthy.

Also in Oslavia, Robert Fiegl is producing three exceptional DOC Collio wines - a savory Ribolla Gialla, a playful Pinot Grigio and a pungent Sauvignon Blanc.

A lovely Gavi, La Maddalena Gavi DOCG 2009, from Cantina Produttori di Gavi in Piemonte, is produced from 100% Cortese grapes.  It has beautiful acidity and the taste of green apples.  It’s a completely refreshing wine.

Tuscany’s Robert Pitti Vermentino Bianco Toscano IGT 2010 slathers the minerals  in a nice salinity.  The palate is savory and the acidity lingers on the finish.

Terre de la Custodia is owned by the Farchioni family in Umbria.  Their 100% Grechetto Colli Martani DOC 2009 is savory and mineral driven.

Gruppo Montresor showed a Pinot Grigio Veneto IGP, Pinot Grigio Marche IGP Brumaio Organic and Lugana DOC Gran Guardia, which is 100% Turbiana.  All three display nice acidity and savory minerality.

Sicily’s Donnafugata presented two wines produced with 100% Zibibbo grapes, a clone of Muscat of Alexandria.  The grapes are dried on the winery rooftop before fermentation, which steps up the concentration of aromas and flavors.  The raisiny sweetness is abetted by bracing acidity.

From the Friuli hill country comes Vidussi.  The Malvasia Vidussi DOC 2011 is one of the few wines I sampled which showed a blast of fruit and flowers on the nose, rather than rocky minerality.  Unoaked, the wine still plays richly on the palate.  Their Ronchi di Ravez Bianco Collio DOC 2011 combines four grapes - Ribolla Gialla, Malvasia Istriana, Friuliano and Picolit.  There is plenty of earthy fruit after spending three months in a large cask.

Also from Friuli, Valter Ciani was represented by sons Alessandro and Andre.  The pair poured five outstanding white varietal wines - Friuliano, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and  a Prosecco - which they told me wholesale for around four dollars per bottle.  They are looking for someone to import these wines, and they would seem to be a great addition to some distributor’s portfolio.  Contact them at andre@viniciani.it.

Distinctive Reds:

Tuscany’s Palagetto poured their Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2004.  This is the way you want your Sangiovese to taste.  Beautiful, earthy cherries and plums are framed by firm tannins.

Terre de la Custodia is owned by the Farchioni family in Umbria. Their Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG 2005 has great acidity, tannins and very dry, raisiny, cherry notes.

Gruppo Montresor poured Amarone Della Valpolicella DOC Classico Capitel Della Crosara.  A blend of 60% Corvina, 30% Rondinella and 10% Molinara, it has great tannins, acidity and a raisiny edge to the fruit.

From Veneto, Masi showed their prowess with Amarone.  The Costasera Amarone Della Valpolicella Classic DOC 2007 has fabulous acidity and the trademark dried fruit and raisins on the palate.

Conti Wallenburg’s Trentino Teroldego Rotaliano DOC 2011 is composed entirely of the Teroldego Rotaliano grape.  It shows rich, ripe cherry and a dash of tartness, along with great acidity.  With only two months in oak, it’s fresh and vibrant.

Trentino-Alto Adige’s Barone Fini Merlot 2010 is enjoyed at the Vatican, I’m told.  The importer’s representative said the earthy fruit and nearly toothless tannins make it “one of the only reds the older Cardinals can handle.”

Tuscany’s Castello di Monastero Chianti Classico 2007, on the other hand, sports big tannins and smoke-cloaked fruit.

Sicily’s Villa Pozzi Nero d’Avola is earthy and quite smooth, while Umbria’s Moretti Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG 2007 has tannins in play, but they are not overwhelming.  20% of these grapes are pressed by foot - stompin’ it old-school.

From Basilicata, in southern Italy, D’Angelo’s Aglianico del Vulture DOC 2008 is big and brawny.  Their Riserva is a much smoother version.

Sparkling:

Bubbles were provided by Gatta Winemakers’ sparklers, produced in the Champagne method in the Lombardia region.  Their Brut Franciacorta DOCG, 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Nero, bubbles up nicely and shows a sweet edge to the fantastic acidity.  Zero Franciacorta DOCG is 100% Pinot Nero, and offers a toastier nose.

Conti Wallenburg poured a Trentino sparkler, Rosé Costantinopoli.  It is 100% Pinot Nero and has a fabulously funky nose with mineral-driven strawberry flavors.

Food:

I have to give a shout out to a really tasty discovery - Italian Magic Olives.  These gourmet stuffed olives are really something to sign up for.  They appear to come from Gardena, California via Chicago.  That’s the gist of what the very Italian representative told me.  One winery rep had a bowl full of them delivered to him by a very attractive young woman.  I told him she must like him a lot, and he raised an eyebrow and asked how I knew.  I said that if she didn’t like him, she would have kept those olives for herself.

Objets d’art:

There were some arty, one-of-a-kind wine gift bags designed by Caroline Hallak of Beverly Hills on display during the event.  No prices are given online, but I’m told the bags go for between $14 and $19 each.  She’s open by appointment only, due to the exclusive nature of her clientele.  It’s a lot to pay for a wine gift bag, so make sure the wine you’re gifting is worth putting in a designer tote.

There were some paintings on display as well, from wine artist Elisabetta Rogai.  She paints with wine, or at least with paints made from wine.  Her work is worth a look.  Hopefully it ages like wine, and not like Dorian Gray.


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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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Monday, March 14, 2011

ALLEGRINI PALAZZO DELLA TORRE VERONESE 2007


Allegrini Palazzo Della Torre

The tent sale at one of my local wine shops - Wally's, in Los Angeles - is an event to which I am always drawn as if by magnetic power.  They could have the sale in the store, but it just wouldn't be the same even if the prices were.

Something about the carnival atmosphere produced simply by throwing up a big tent over a parking lot holds large sway over me.  I'm sure others feel attracted to tent sales, too, or there wouldn't be so many of them.  For me, though, it's only the one at Wally's where I find myself under the big top twice a year.

I see some of the same people there on each visit.  It's always nice to stop by Richard Maier's stack of wine cases, on top of which he is always pouring tastes of his rich Maier Family wines from the Sonoma side of Spring Mountain.  A guy named Anthony is usually pouring some Argentine delight or another.  And I swear the shoppers I see cruising the tented aisles - whose names I don't know - are as familiar as my neighbors, maybe more so.

The big thrill of the event is discovering new wines, of course.  One such thrill is the Allegrini Palazzo Della Torre.

Produced in the town of Fumane, near Verona, this big red is the first of my most recent finds I've tried, and it made the trip worthwhile.  This wine utilizes Corvina and Rondinella grapes.  A majority of them are vinified right after harvest, but some are sent to the drying room, Amarone-style, before being vinified in January.  Then the wines are blended and aged in oak barrels.  This estate-bottled wine has 13.5% abv, and lists for $22.  I picked it up for $16.

This Italian beauty is inky black in the glass.  The raisiny character promised on the label certainly comes through on the nose.  A huge element of dried fruit greets the nostrils, not smelling sweet at all, but very fruity nonetheless.  There is also a tar aroma.  The wine is very dry on the palate, with a full, hearty mouthfeel that’s more like a beef stew than a beverage.  That dried fruit plays on the palate, too, with a raspberry angle.  After a bit of breathing time, the tannins are silky smooth and the acidity is bright.

Go ahead and keep your in-store sales and online deals.  Finding wines like this makes me keep my eyes open for tents.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

MONTE ZOVO VALPOLICELLA RIPASSO 2007


Monte Zovo Valpolicella

Birthday month rolls on for Denise, and we dropped in on Il Buco again.  I've mentioned them before, with good reason.  The food is excellent, the service is unfailingly pleasant and the wine list is very Italian and fairly deep.  It's no surprise, then, that we ended up there for birthday lunch.

I went with a sausage dish and decided to have a red wine.  I asked the waiter for a good choice, and he pointed me in the direction of a California Meritage, Malibu, in fact.  I would like to try that wine, but as I explained to him, when I go to Il Buco, I like to go Italian.  He immediately suggested this Valpolicella, and I said that it would be fine.

The Monte Zovo Ripasso is the sort of wine I have come to expect from Il Buco, very Italian, a bit rustic and a great match with the food they make.  It's from the Valpolicella region of Veneto in the northeastern part of Italy.

The grapes used are Corvina (70%), Rondinella (20%) and Molinara (10%).  I'm told Ripasso means "second pressing," indicating the juice is re-fermented on the skins used in making Amarone, which is a "first-pressing" wine.  It's fairly hefty at 14% abv, yet it feels only medium full in the mouth.  It's a deep garnet color with a demomstrative nose of black cherry and blackberry.
 
The palate shows some dry, dusty, brambly notes which are suggestive of an old-vine Zinfandel.  The flip side of that coin is the freshness that this wine carries with it.  It spends two years in oak, yet the wood seems not to leave its mark as indelibly as it might with other grapes.

I enjoyed this wine with the farfalle and sausage plate.  The pairing was excellent.