February 2010 Wine Focus: Diverse Italy

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Re: February 2010 Wine Focus: Diverse Italy

Postby David M. Bueker » Tue Feb 02, 2010 11:39 am

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


West to east valley read from left to right. tfel ot thgir morf daer dna werbeH ni syellav tsew ot tsaE. :twisted:
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Re: February 2010 Wine Focus: Diverse Italy

Postby Oswaldo Costa » Tue Feb 02, 2010 11:50 am

Your mastery of the Valtelinna dialect is impressive!
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Re: February 2010 Wine Focus: Diverse Italy

Postby Brian K Miller » Tue Feb 02, 2010 12:57 pm

I have for some reason been picking up a few northeastern Italian wines. Terrudelgo, anyone? I have a Refosco, also.

We just tried a great Pigata from Liguria Sunday night, too!
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Re: February 2010 Wine Focus: Diverse Italy

Postby Oliver McCrum » Tue Feb 02, 2010 3:03 pm

I hope I will be forgiven for posting a note on a wine I import:

Di Barrò Fumin 2007, Vallée d'Aoste
Deep red, hint of violet at rim; aroma of blackberries, plums and smoke; same flavors on palate, fairly lush fruit but with almost Barbera-ish acidity to balance; hint of salt plum; very distinctive, acidity gives good length.

I discovered the Aosta valley very late but am falling in love with the wines.
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Re: February 2010 Wine Focus: Diverse Italy

Postby JC (NC) » Tue Feb 02, 2010 4:02 pm

Nice note. No forgiveness needed.
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Re: February 2010 Wine Focus: Diverse Italy

Postby Oliver McCrum » Tue Feb 02, 2010 7:11 pm

I love the idea of the thread, not surprisingly. I don't have a single Tuscan wine in my book.
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Re: February 2010 Wine Focus: Diverse Italy

Postby Jenise » Tue Feb 02, 2010 7:46 pm

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.


Or: 2) go shopping or 3) sit out the month. I agree with both the criticism and David's response, though. We never seem to make everybody happy. :)
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Re: February 2010 Wine Focus: Diverse Italy

Postby Jenise » Tue Feb 02, 2010 7:47 pm

Oliver McCrum wrote:I hope I will be forgiven for posting a note on a wine I import:

Di Barrò Fumin 2007, Vallée d'Aoste
Deep red, hint of violet at rim; aroma of blackberries, plums and smoke; same flavors on palate, fairly lush fruit but with almost Barbera-ish acidity to balance; hint of salt plum; very distinctive, acidity gives good length.

I discovered the Aosta valley very late but am falling in love with the wines.


Where IS the Aosta Valley, Oliver? I'm unfamiliar.
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Re: February 2010 Wine Focus: Diverse Italy

Postby Jenise » Tue Feb 02, 2010 8:00 pm

2008 Allegrini Valpolicella, the Veneto

About two months ago I needed a softer fruitier wine to augment a good wine that we had that was too young and harsh, so I picked up two bottles of this Valpolicella. One for the rescue project, and another for a casual pizza night wine on another occasion--my cellar's deficient in the spaghetti red department. We drank the remainders of the first bottle, I recall, in some adequately shaped freebie glasses that seem to do well with most whites and simple young reds. We thought the wine was okay, but just and only that. Boring, essentially. So the other night I sent Bob to the cellar to bring back a specific "useful red", and the second bottle is what he returned with. Well, it wasn't the wine I had in mind, but he thought it was and he came back from the cellar (which I maintain, so it's a strange and mysterious place to him) looking like a proud puppy who'd just succeeded at his first trick, and I didn't have the heart to correct him. We drank it out of the large glasses I'd gotten out for the other wine: Riedel "Oregon pinot" glasses.

Revelation: this is a much nicer wine than we'd understood it to be from the first bottle. More body, more fruit, more aroma, more balance, more everything and quite deliciously so at that. In fact, I'd buy more.

So, another lesson at what we here know all too well anyway: Glassware really does make a difference.
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Re: February 2010 Wine Focus: Diverse Italy

Postby Ian Sutton » Tue Feb 02, 2010 9:12 pm

Jenise
Valle d'Aosta is to the north-west corner of Piemonte - indeed on a map it looks more like a sub-region of Piemonte.
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Re: February 2010 Wine Focus: Diverse Italy

Postby Dave Erickson » Wed Feb 03, 2010 12:10 am

So that would be a "No." Okay.
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Re: February 2010 Wine Focus: Diverse Italy

Postby Oliver McCrum » Wed Feb 03, 2010 1:27 am

Ian Sutton wrote:Jenise
Valle d'Aosta is to the north-west corner of Piemonte - indeed on a map it looks more like a sub-region of Piemonte.
regards
Ian


Yes, and there are a few traces of Piedmontese viticulture in the eastern end (not sure which way the valley runs, David), but in this area there is no connection whatsoever other than the geographic. Indigenous varieties, different soils and amazingly high-altitude viticulture, especially for red grapes (this wine was grown at over 2,000 feet).
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Re: February 2010 Wine Focus: Diverse Italy

Postby Tim York » Wed Feb 03, 2010 4:46 am

Oliver McCrum wrote:
Ian Sutton wrote:Jenise
Valle d'Aosta is to the north-west corner of Piemonte - indeed on a map it looks more like a sub-region of Piemonte.
regards
Ian


(not sure which way the valley runs, David)


Thanks, Oliver, for the appetising WTN. The river Dora Baltea runs from West to East through Aosta and turns south some 20km further on. (BTW I was wrong about Valtellina; the river Adda flows from East to West into Lake Como.) Car problems enforced an unwanted weekend in Aosta last October but I was unable to get an appointment at Les Crêtes, probably the best known estate, found the open enoteche very expensive by Italian standards and only had a couple or so indifferent bottles in restaurants. So it looks as if I have unfinished vinous business in the area.

NWR. The town of Aosta turned out to be well worth exploring with some fine Roman remains, an interesting cathedral, views of high Alpine peaks all round and a fine central square.
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Re: February 2010 Wine Focus: Diverse Italy

Postby Tim York » Wed Feb 03, 2010 9:02 am

Last night I opened a wine from Romagna. This region is the South-Eastern portion of the Emilia-Romagna province, bounded on the south-west by the Apennine summits and on the east by the Adriatic. At its north-west it starts close to the suburbs of Bologna and at its south-east includes Rimini. From a wine point of view it is regarded as a poor relation of Tuscany to its west and Marche to its south along the Adriatic but I don’t think that this is entirely fair as there are some excellent producers making very good wine from Sangiovese in particular. In my experience their Sangiovese tends to be slightly more generous but less acid, tangy and mineral than Chianti Classico.

I passed through Romagna last October but made the mistake of visiting the Enoteca Regionale at Dozza rather than an estate like Zerbina and/or Drei Donà, so I have much more to learn about these wines.

Sangiovese di Romagna Superiore Riserva Petrignone 2006 – Tre Monti, Imola – Alc.14.5% was matured in used barrels.
C: quite deep ruby.
N: a well developed bouquet of ripe red fruit, hints of leather strap and a suspect cheesy note which tended to diminish as the bottle took on air (I did not get this last at a tasting where the bottle had been opened longer).
P: quite full bodied with a soft velvety feel, good fruit with fine balancing acidity and enough tannic structure but also that diminishing cheesy note and touches of caramel on the finish. I am guessing that both of these will diminish further with time; 15.5/20 with ++ potential.

To give a better idea of the range available in Romagna, here is a extract from my note of a November 2008 tasting at a Belgian importer. I bought very little because the importer’s prices are high.

Fattoria Zerbina near Faenza, Romagna

High quality is being achieved here. The Sangiovese fruit here seems a tad sweeter and less acidic than most in Chianti-land.
Tergeno IGT 2006 (W) (€16), 50% Albana di Romagna and 50% Chardonnay, showed nicely burnished aromas with mineral notes and a round palate with a touch of sweetness balanced by minerals and good acidity; 15.5/20+.
Sangiovese di Romagna Superiore (“SRS”) Ceregio 2007, 100% Sangiovese, showed aromas of round red fruit with nerve and white meat touches and a savoury palate with a fine tang and only a touch of roughness on the finish; 15.5/20+.
SRS Torre di Ceparano 2004 (€15), 90% Sangiovese with Merlot, Syrah and Ancelotta, was more muted but some fine fruit, touches of tar and a more tannic and linear structure; 16/20+.
Marzieno IGT normally contains 70% Sangiovese, 15% Cab Sauv and the balance Merlot and Syrah but, in the difficult 2002 (€26) vintage, Sangiovese was reduced to 50%; it showed some sweet fruit, noticeable wood, a quite lean structure with good tension and elegance; 15/20.
Marzieno IGT 2004 was much fuller, rounder and more with wood fully absorbed but aromas somewhat closed; 16/20 with + potential.
SRS Pietramora Riserva 2004 (€35), Sangiovese 97% and Ancelotta, was a fine structured wine with complexity and needing more time; 16/20 with ++ potential.


PS Since writing the above, I discover from the Tre Monti website that Petrignone 06 earned 3 bicchieri from Gamberro Rosso 2010.
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Re: February 2010 Wine Focus: Diverse Italy

Postby Brian K Miller » Wed Feb 03, 2010 12:51 pm

2005 Az. Agri. VIGNALTA "Venda" Colli Eugenei Rosso. 80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet, 100% Italian. :mrgreen:

Lightish dark ruby color, clear...no cloudiness.

Nose had quite a bit of red plum, plum skins, some serious earthy funkyness which blew off.

Tannins were soft, but this wine had a nice splash of acidity that made the wine very refreshing. We found the wine very spicy...I tasted oregano! The funk present on the palate as well blew off with air and swirling, leaving the red plum, a slight hint of cherry, and a nice Italian bitter finish.

We all enjoyed this...another cheap-ish slurper (sub $20 at an expensive shop). I actually preferred this to the pricier mostly Cabernet reserve wine I picked up at Corti Brothers last year.
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Re: February 2010 Wine Focus: Diverse Italy

Postby Oliver McCrum » Wed Feb 03, 2010 5:56 pm

Tim,

I would say that the area around Brisighella, where Zerbina is located, is well worth a visit, both for the countryside and for the wine (and the olive oil, which is famous). The hills there are IMO much more promising terroir than much much of the flatland of Emilia-Romagna. She also does a great job with Albana Passito, which when it's good is one of the best of its type in Italy (her best bottling is called Scaccomatto).
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2008 Frank Cornelissen Etna Susucaru

Postby James Dietz » Thu Feb 04, 2010 1:58 pm

  • 2008 Frank Cornelissen Etna Susucaru - Italy, Sicily, Etna DOC
    You want unusual, this is unusual. You want different and outside the box, this isn't even close to the box. Yet I really liked it for not being at all like anything I had tasted before. Cloudy salmon in the glass, this is unfiltered and it shows. Tastes of grapefruit and pomegranate, similar nose. This a Nerello blend We had it with grilled tilapia over a bed of spinach, and it was perfect with the somewhat spicy/salty fish. Great fun. (91 pts.)
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Here is Garagiste's exposition on the wine and the winemaker:

After spending the weekend with Frank Cornelissen in Italy (I basically haven’t slept since Friday, if that tells you anything) I can say with certainty that he is doing something so unique that it would be almost impossible to replicate in another situation – I’ve visited many (hundreds if not thousands) of winemakers from every creed and nationality and he stands out for a complete dedication to a cause of terroir, vision, passion and heritage that is yet to be written. His insatiable appetite for energy and the natural lifestyle are untamed and loyal to no one but himself. The combination of extreme terroir (6-10 feet of snow in winter - 100-105 degree days in summer with 50-60 degree differentials in day/night temperatures, elevation above 3000 ft, sea influence from the southern Mediterranean off of Africa) and a cadre of pre-phylloxera vines that have gone untouched by the intervention of man for decades give him a painter’s palate to work with that is truly unmatched. Combine that with some of the most natural winemaking on earth and you have a very explosive situation (from an intrigue and fermentation standpoint). It is no coincidence that others (with deep pockets, such as Andrea Franchetti of Tenuta di Trinoro) have come to Etna to follow in his footsteps but Frank Cornelissen remains the pioneer of this region and the one that newcomers seek for advice on how to tame this wild and active volcanic land. In his mind, there is no advice to give – only nature can speak for itself. In my mind, Frank prefers to walk softly but he carries a very big wine stick.

After supporting Cornelissen through the tough and crazy years (we were his first US outlet), Frank is unknown no longer. In the past few months he’s been featured in the New York Times, Wine & Spirits and various European and Japanese rags that have ordained him our generation’s new inspiration in wine. Through all of this, he remains the same as when I first met him – a complete and total renegade but not for the purpose of being so (an important distinction). He is deemed a renegade for no other reason than he lives (and says) what he believes: that life, liberty and and the pursuit of freedom (artistic or other) is the basis of any human existence. Since his first vintage (2000-2001), Cornelissen has gone nearly mad on the flank of the snowy and torrid mountain (alone in complete isolation to grow his vines and vinify his wine) and at the same time he has gained fame and a golden level of cult status among wine enthusiasts world-wide. He has also fallen in love and is about to bring a baby daughter into this world and the new summer of 1969 aura that pervades his everyday life shows in the current crop of wine – by far the finest he has ever produced and a group of vinous treasures that should make him a household name among a further level of the wine geek faithful (in the same realm as Clos Rougeard and others). In my mind, there is no wine collection complete without the addition of Cornelissen – simply by pulling the cork, the taster is educated and inspired (whether the concoctions are enjoyed or not).

On to the wine...

2008 was a great vintage on Etna – the entire portfolio has actual tannins, structure and presence not seen since the 2001s (including the new 2008 Munjabel Bianco which we will offer later this month – it should be around the same price as the Susucaru). I tasted all of the wines over three days, some as many as 6-8 times - all contain that magical eccentricity that winemakers around the world have studied but simply cannot figure out how to copy. The new set of wines is less extreme than in the past but it is even more wondrous and multi-dimensional (which is hard to believe).

From a blend of Malvasia, Black Muscat and Nerello Mascalese (Frank's signature varietal, this portion is pre-phyloxera planted in 1871, 138 years of age) the “Susucaru” is his most limited wine (even more limited than the Magma R) - it is not exported and not sold to the US. To be blunt, this wine is indescribable and it cannot be compared to any other wine in my experience (nor in Frank’s). It is technically a rose’, produced from free-run juice and no actual pressings of solid matter/seeds/skins. Whole clusters are allowed to gently leak their juice and the most pristine, unfiltered liquid is used for this wine. Nothing is added, nothing is taken away and no chemical treatments are used in the vineyard or in the wine (no sulfur, stabilizers, enzymes or yeast) - this is pure grape extract in its most primal, volcanic form.

The Susucaru is a wine geek’s fantasy beverage full of intrigue at every turn - it is not trying to be hip or cool but it is held in the “coolest” of circles for the very reason that is is trying to be nothing – it just is. Due to its free run nature, the Susucaru requires 3-4 times the grapes than Cornelissen’s other wines thus it is very costly to produce. While I cannot describe this wine in proper words, it contains whiffs and flavors of Aramis cologne, Trinidad bitters, orange rind, cinnamon (no oak is used – it’s from the grapes), fresh tobacco, nutmeg, wild fennel and a host of other tantalizing aromas and tastes that slather the palate with a luxurious texture and divine length. Full-flavored and unctuous with terrific acidity, this wine is one of a kind – it's that simple. In its fresh state, the color is orange with pink tinges from vinification in completely neutral “vessels” (all of the Cornelissen wines are raised in a trade secret mix of “vessels” that cannot be revealed but I suspect they are various sizes of clay pots). In the end, the Susucaru is not technically what I would refer to as “wine” - it is more a mix of ideology, philosophy and grapes that were grown and vinified with the freest of spirit leading the way.

As mentioned above, this wine is not exported for retail and it is not available in the US (besides this small parcel) – the entire Italian retail allocation is less than 50 bottles and they are very expensive. In total, only 43 cases were produced (as opposed to the little wonder beverage, the Contadino, of which there are nearly 500 cases). Most of the production of Susucaru is reserved for the top restaurants in Italy (Cornelissen's wines are now on the list at half of the Tre Forchetti restaurants in Italy and all of them have come to him to purchase wine directly – he has no distributor in Italy).

Please note: Those looking for the typical wine experience of red, white or rose’ need to recalibrate their thinking – this is about an open mind and palate and the Susucaru fits no description of red, white or rose’ - it defies all of our perceptions about wine and it is happy to redefine the term “wine” for all of us.

Cheers, Jim
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Re: February 2010 Wine Focus: Diverse Italy

Postby Oliver McCrum » Thu Feb 04, 2010 4:29 pm

I'm going to go off by myself for a week and 'recalibrate my thinking...'

Not.
Last edited by Oliver McCrum on Thu Feb 04, 2010 4:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: February 2010 Wine Focus: Diverse Italy

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Thu Feb 04, 2010 4:36 pm

WTN: `07 Villalta Valpolicella Ripasso, Veneto.

Diam cork, 13.5% alc, opened half-hour, $20 Cdn, from Casa Girelli a well-known producer.

Color. Almost opaque, reddish tints on rim.

Nose. Cherry, plum, tobacco, floral, "Gamay" from one taster (I served blind).

Palate. Cherry, ripe blackberry, nice acidity but too new world in style. Velvety tannins, brief hints of the dried fruits, no bitter streak here. Lengthy fruit laden finish. Pass folks.
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Re: February 2010 Wine Focus: Diverse Italy

Postby James Dietz » Thu Feb 04, 2010 4:40 pm

Oliver McCrum wrote:I'm going to go off by myself for a week and 'recalibrate my thinking...'


:lol:
Cheers, Jim
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Re: February 2010 Wine Focus: Diverse Italy

Postby Salil » Thu Feb 04, 2010 10:43 pm

Oliver McCrum wrote:I hope I will be forgiven for posting a note on a wine I import:

Speaking of wines you import - is the Sibilla Piedirosso one of your picks?

I will be picking up a couple of bottles of the 08 this weekend and plan to crack one soon for this month's focus.

Meanwhile James, thanks for sharing that. Another Garagiste gem I thought is worth sharing on another Cornelissen wine:
We offered this last year but many of you asked for a few more bottles so here you go (this is different than the 2007 Contadino 5 we offered a few months ago). If Christmas cake could melt into a soil infested mold of living bacteria swimming in a murky mess of orange essence and sappy, cloudy, tobacco-tinged sarsaparilla, it would be this delicious treat cut from the active hillsides of Mount Etna. While the above description may sound horrific, horror is in the eye of the beholder and I know many Goths from my teen years that would find this not only tame but plebian. An homage to the natural “wine” movement and an experience to initiate one’s palate to better understand the rest of the wine world (see above referenced Musigny comment). The fact that we’ve had so many re-order requests for this is telling - a beverage unlike anything else. Cornelissen does not recommend decanting - I do, for at least 15 minutes. Keep in mind, natural wine gobbles oxygen quickly and this is best consumed on the first evening.
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Re: February 2010 Wine Focus: Diverse Italy

Postby Oliver McCrum » Fri Feb 05, 2010 12:28 am

Yes, Salil, but probably not my actual importation if you're in CT. Hope you enjoy it; oddly the two Sibilla wines remind me of Loire wines, not at all what one would expect. (They're own-rooted, and the soil is volcanic.)
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Re: February 2010 Wine Focus: Diverse Italy

Postby Salil » Fri Feb 05, 2010 12:34 am

Oliver McCrum wrote:Yes, Salil, but probably not my actual importation if you're in CT. Hope you enjoy it; oddly the two Sibilla wines remind me of Loire wines, not at all what one would expect. (They're own-rooted, and the soil is volcanic.)

I'm in CT, but getting it from New York (Crush wines). Didn't realize they were ungrafted vines as well - cool!
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Re: 2008 Frank Cornelissen Etna Susucaru

Postby Tim York » Fri Feb 05, 2010 5:05 am

James Dietz wrote:[list][*]2008 Frank Cornelissen Etna Susucaru - Italy, Sicily, Etna DOC


Thanks James for that fascinating post. I was struck by the originality of the Etna wines from Terre Nere but Cornelissen sounds even better. And a rapîd google revealed revealed a Belgian source :) at about 120km round trip :( .
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