February 2010 Wine Focus: Diverse Italy

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February 2010 Wine Focus: Diverse Italy

Postby Jenise » Sat Jan 30, 2010 3:40 pm

For this month's Wine Focus, we're going to look at the less usual suspects in Italian wine: that is, all regions except Tuscany and Piedmonte.

And though it's officially not February yet, I have this empty bottle on my desk that the cats keep knocking over so in order to get it into the recycle bin pronto, I'll start the thread.

2008 Girale Primitivo, IGT Salento
I'm currently picking up wines for a March neighborhood tasting called Mystery Box wherein we serve different red varieties blind and ask participants to match the wines up with thoughtfully worded descriptions. It's always fun to mix some cool but obscure stuff worth knowing about into the mix, and a good Primitivo struck me as a perfect candidate so I bought this one to try. Not a fan: unspecific red fruit flavors without spice or convincing character. Soft acids and tannins provide the kind of "smooth" delivery novices tend to seek out but to us it was just boring. I'll give it points for holding the alcohol at 12.5%, though. Oh, and I should have paid more attention to the back label, it's a negotiant wine and I typically avoid those: Girale is a registered trademark name and the wine is bottled by Lomazzi and Sarli. God knows who made it.
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Re: February 2010 Wine Focus: Diverse Italy

Postby David M. Bueker » Sat Jan 30, 2010 3:41 pm

Thanks for kicking things off Jenise. I'll be involved later in the week.
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Re: February 2010 Wine Focus: Diverse Italy

Postby Ian Sutton » Sat Jan 30, 2010 5:07 pm

Thanks for your note - I was feeling like I may have jumped the gun, but Jenise Bolt is just faster out of the blocks :wink:

Spookily a wine from very close to the one Jenise opened. This one also a nod to the original idea of passito/Amarone/ripasso wines, as this is made in similar fashion to Amarone (I understand), this one partially dried on straw mats. Eaten with roast lamb/apricot stuffing, which it worked well with, but would work just as well on it's own.

1997 Azienda Agricola Taurino Brindisi Patriglione - Italy, Puglia, Brindisi (1/30/2010)
An attractive mature looking red colour of medium density and just a little (orange) age at the rim.

Likewise the nose is very appealing, with cherry fruit backed up by somewhat smoky cured meat and a little balsamic lift.

On the palate tangy but integrated acidity supports a palate that's a little richer than the eye suggests. There's a distinct mocha coffee aspect to it, that might in other circumstances detract, but seems to fit the wine well, being matched well to the lightly baked, figgy fruit aspect that's not unusual in Puglian reds. A persistent finish rounds off a wine of some class, yet still offering something in common with the regional style. Overall it's impressive how elements of baked fruit/coffee match so well with the juicy/tangy acidity. In such instances I could see balance being an issue, but not here.
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Re: February 2010 Wine Focus: Diverse Italy

Postby Jenise » Sat Jan 30, 2010 8:17 pm

Ian, when I lived in Alaska I was fortunate to get invited to a lot of special events where visiting winemakers would stop and pour wines at small dinners in order to write off their vacation in our great state. Not sure if that actually applied to our foreign visitors to tell you the truth, but whatever: Dr. Cosimo Taurino and the missus came through. We were all mad about his Salice Salentino in those days and anxious to try everything. He bought dinner, and you know what he insisted on serving the Patriglione with? Dessert: chocolate cake. I have never had a wine/chocolate pairing as good. And I've never seen the wine since. I know he has since passed away so it's nice to read that this wine is still pleasing people around the globe.
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Re: February 2010 Wine Focus: Diverse Italy

Postby David M. Bueker » Sun Jan 31, 2010 5:32 pm

2004 Caven Valtellina Superiore - Inferno Al Carmine
Rustic wine with good fruit. The tannins are shockingly soft for Nebbiolo, making this quite drinkable despite its young age. There's a sweetness to the wine from its fruit, and the balance is fine. Enjoy this now, though I would expect it could hold and develop for quite a while. After a few false starts this is finally a Valtellina that I like.
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Re: February 2010 Wine Focus: Diverse Italy

Postby Ian Sutton » Sun Jan 31, 2010 6:10 pm

David
You have my respect for sneaking a Nebbiolo into the focus 8)
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Re: February 2010 Wine Focus: Diverse Italy

Postby Dave Erickson » Sun Jan 31, 2010 6:26 pm

Speaking of Taurino: I've heard that Winebow (LoCascio) has dropped Taurino from its portfolio. Apparently things have not gone well in Guagnano since the death of Dr. Cosimo Taurino in 1999. I have heard one or two scandalous stories, which I will not repeat here until I can get more than one source. Anybody know anything?
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Re: February 2010 Wine Focus: Diverse Italy

Postby David M. Bueker » Sun Jan 31, 2010 7:55 pm

Ian Sutton wrote:David
You have my respect for sneaking a Nebbiolo into the focus 8)
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Just had to look around for it.
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Re: February 2010 Wine Focus: Diverse Italy

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Mon Feb 01, 2010 5:10 am

Seems like S Italy is getting some notice here, thats great. I still think this months Focus is far too wide ranging. (I like to explore a certain region/grape variety whatever).
There is an interesting thread on "under-valued Italian regions" on the UK forum. Very healthy discussion too. Think I might concentrate on that line of focus here this month?
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Re: February 2010 Wine Focus: Diverse Italy

Postby Tim York » Mon Feb 01, 2010 10:31 am

I agree with Bob that the focus here is too diffuse. There is great diversity with so many disparate regions to look at. I'll see if I can make up a worthwhile personal survey from old WTNs because my cellar is poor outside Piedmont and Tuscany with nothing at all from Friuli, Liguria, Puglia, Calabria and Sicily.
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Re: February 2010 Wine Focus: Diverse Italy

Postby JC (NC) » Mon Feb 01, 2010 12:34 pm

In looking for a wine for contributing notes this month I found that almost all my Italian wines on hand are from Tuscany. I think I have a Valpolicella Superiore around somewhere but will have to hunt it. If we focused just on Puglia or Sicily, etc. I wouldn't be able to contribute at all without buying additional wine and I'm trying to drink up some of what is on hand. (David, we will have to focus on Tuscany some time as you have remarked.)
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Re: February 2010 Wine Focus: Diverse Italy

Postby Robin Garr » Mon Feb 01, 2010 1:21 pm

Dang, we just enjoyed a delightful 2006 Monte Antico, now under Stelvin, which *may* eliminate its long-earned reputation for bottle variation ... and of course it's a Tuscan. :oops:
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Re: February 2010 Wine Focus: Diverse Italy

Postby David M. Bueker » Mon Feb 01, 2010 2:23 pm

Tim York wrote:I agree with Bob that the focus here is too diffuse. There is great diversity with so many disparate regions to look at. I'll see if I can make up a worthwhile personal survey from old WTNs because my cellar is poor outside Piedmont and Tuscany with nothing at all from Friuli, Liguria, Puglia, Calabria and Sicily.


Tim - your post is exactly why the focus is somewhat softer this month. Many of us are poor in terms of Italian wines outside of the two big regions, as are many wine shops. The hope was that people would explore any of the myriad regions & thus spark interest.
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Re: February 2010 Wine Focus: Diverse Italy

Postby Tim York » Mon Feb 01, 2010 4:45 pm

David, I'm not going to boycott this thread and will do my best but I really do think a sharper and more homogeneous focus would have been better, e.g. Veneto or central Adriatic (Romagna, Marche, Abruzzo, Molise) or south of Rome and/or the islands (Sicily and Sardinia). I hope that nobody is going to suggest all of France except Bordeaux and Burgundy :? .
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Re: February 2010 Wine Focus: Diverse Italy

Postby David M. Bueker » Mon Feb 01, 2010 4:52 pm

Not at all. Unfortunately there is no way to make everyone happy in Wine Focus. When we do something specific (e.g. Sicily) people complain (yes, me too) about lack of availability, but when we make it too broad then there's a lack of focus. Ultimately it's just for fun, and I hope everyone takes it in that light.
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Re: February 2010 Wine Focus: Diverse Italy

Postby JC (NC) » Mon Feb 01, 2010 7:01 pm

Well said, David. Of course the individual can set their own focus if they want and concentrate on one Italian region in depth.
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Re: February 2010 Wine Focus: Diverse Italy

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Mon Feb 01, 2010 10:48 pm

I buy a Rosso Piceno but end up tasting the Tellus from Grifoni!!

After allowing the DeVines staff to taste my new world Ripasso (!) I purchased the other day, Nick thought I might enjoy the Tellus from Cocci Grifoni he was pouring on the tasting bar. It was quite fruit forward but pleasing...oh I need to spend more time tasting Italy!

`07 Tellus Tenuta Cocci Grifoni, Marche Italy.

60% Montepulciano, 40% Merlot and Cab Sauv. No oak I was told. Empson import, two daughters now run the estate.

Ruby with purple edges, floral aromatic nose with violets, cherry and raspberrry. Velvety tannins, red fruits, good acidity. New world like but has appeal with ample structure and grip. Not really my style, not too keen on this kinda blend.

So what did I pick for Focus? I stayed with Grifoni and purchased the `05 Le Torri which is a blend of Montepulciano and Sangiovese. Price, $22 Cdn. Stay tuned forumites.
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Re: February 2010 Wine Focus: Diverse Italy

Postby Tim York » Tue Feb 02, 2010 4:57 am

JC (NC) wrote:Well said, David. Of course the individual can set their own focus if they want and concentrate on one Italian region in depth.


Good suggestion. I will try to concentrate on a couple or so regions. First stop Valtellina, I think.
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Re: February 2010 Wine Focus: Diverse Italy

Postby Oswaldo Costa » Tue Feb 02, 2010 7:22 am

2007 Occhipinti Nero d'Avola Siccagno Sicilia IGT 13.0%
Loved my first bottle of this last October, but others found brett in the second at the Who Needs Tuscany or Piedmont tasting two weeks ago. So I was eager to try a third one in the sanctity of the home, with my own glasses, etc. Here my colleagues might have found brett too, as the aromas seemed the same, but Marcia and I must be genetically altered by Bacchus, may the chubby little bugger revel in peace. Dark sour cherry aromas, not giving much, give way to vibrant acidity, light tannins, pronounced salinity, and a taut and nervy sensation of stemminess. With food, it was balanced and pleasurable, with satisfying weight. Aromatically, should fulfil the promise in a year or so. The last 50ml, about twenty minutes after the buffering effect of food had faded, were surprisingly thin and acidic (not sure what that means, if anything).
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Re: February 2010 Wine Focus: Diverse Italy

Postby David M. Bueker » Tue Feb 02, 2010 9:14 am

Tim York wrote:
JC (NC) wrote:Well said, David. Of course the individual can set their own focus if they want and concentrate on one Italian region in depth.


Good suggestion. I will try to concentrate on a couple or so regions. First stop Valtellina, I think.


Cool. I'm already there waiting for you. :mrgreen:
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Re: February 2010 Wine Focus: Diverse Italy

Postby Tim York » Tue Feb 02, 2010 10:44 am

One Italian region whose wines I would like to know better is Valtellina. It is an Alpine valley running from West to East at the extreme North of Lombardia close to the Swiss and Austrian borders. The ownership of the valley which was of considerable strategic importance in the past has passed between Switzerland and Italy.

The climate here is Alpine with warm days and cool nights in the summer and cold winters. Nebbiolo (known locally as Chiavennasca) is planted and makes wines like Inferno and Sassella, which I first met in visits to Italy in the 70s and found often thin, acidic and tannic. Those which I have tried recently were much better with the class of Barolo, Barbaresco and Gattinara, if lighter bodied and more austere. On a higher plane IMO is the local speciality, Sfursat or Sforzato, which is made in the same way as Amarone; personally I find those which I have tasted very successful with the Valtellina austerity toned down yet with the structure and class of Nebbiolo lending a distinction which I don’t often find in Corvina based Amarone.

Here are WTNs on both styles from the estate Conti Sertoli Salis. The family owns a splendid palazzo to which a virtual visit can be found on the attached link http://www.sertolisalis.com/index2_eng.html . I used to enjoy meeting Cesare Sertoli Salis on his visits to tastings in Belgium but, alas, he died in 2005 at the early age of 53; I do not know whether the estate still maintains the same standards.


Valtellina “Sassella” 1997 – Conti Sertoli Salis, made from Nebbiolo (chiavennasca) 95% together with Pignola, Rossola and Brugnola valtellinesi, was bin-end picked up for €5; it was a distinguished bottle with a very original flavour profile in a somewhat dark savoury register; colour was a quite light but vigorous garnet, the palate was classically shaped with good length, the body was also quite light at first but seemed to round out somewhat, the flavours were intense and the structure sufficient with aromas that were of sour, even slightly bitter, cherry mingled with minerals, fine herbs and tar; 16/20++. (November 2008)

Canua Sforzato Valtellina 1997 - Conti Sertoli Salis. Deep, rich and complex and long, hints of fruit cake and slightly marred for me by an alcoholic finish, but the others thought that the rich fruit covered this well. It definitely has more elegance and class than any Valpolicella Amarone which I have tasted (due to Nebbiolo?) and also outclasses two recently tasted Amarone style Bordeaux blends from JOSEPH South Australia. Another wine which sang fully and more beautifully as the evening advanced. Fine 17/20++. (November 2006)
Last edited by Tim York on Tue Feb 02, 2010 11:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: February 2010 Wine Focus: Diverse Italy

Postby Ian Sutton » Tue Feb 02, 2010 11:07 am

Tim
Ta for the background. If anything, I'm more cautious over Sfursat, as the alcohol issue you found above, plus the loss of Nebbiolo delicacy, have put me off the ones I've tried. Maybe I'm just a Nebbiolo bigot :wink: I seem to have less issue with Cab/Merlot as per the Primo Joseph.

I do also find these wines very much more sensitive to temperature and tend to aim to have them a degree or two cooler than medium bodied reds.

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Re: February 2010 Wine Focus: Diverse Italy

Postby Tim York » Tue Feb 02, 2010 11:20 am

Ian Sutton wrote:Tim
Ta for the background. If anything, I'm more cautious over Sfursat, as the alcohol issue you found above, plus the loss of Nebbiolo delicacy, have put me off the ones I've tried. Maybe I'm just a Nebbiolo bigot :wink: I seem to have less issue with Cab/Merlot as per the Primo Joseph.



Interesting confrontation of views here, Ian. Nebbiolo enhances Amarone versus Amarone spoils Nebbiolo.
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Re: February 2010 Wine Focus: Diverse Italy

Postby Oswaldo Costa » Tue Feb 02, 2010 11:23 am

How does one distinguish an Alpine valley running west to east from one running east to west? :evil:

Joking aside, thanks for the report, extremely interesting.
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