Archive for the ‘Italy’ Category

Spitting: OptionalURVB

Umani Ronchi Villa Bianchi Verdicchio 2012

Style: Dry white

Country: Italy

Region: Marche

Tasting note: Not familiar with Verdicchio? Don’t worry, it’s not uncommon (*cough* freak *cough*). If you are looking for an introduction to the variety then pick up a bottle of this lovely specimen. It displays all the hallmark Verdicchio characters of straw and fresh citrus acidity with richer flavours of melon and lemon pulp. A really nice balance of fruit richness and elegance, finishing with delicate jasmine petals and a salty edge.

Final Say: Hide your shame in the shadows no longer, grab it for $23 a bottle and be excluded from the world of Verdicchio no longer.

Score: 17.5 out of 20

For any questions or feedback feel free to email me on spittingoptional@gmail.com

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Spitting: OptionalMaretti Langhe Rosso Barbera Nebbiolo

Maretti Langhe Rosso (Barbera/Nebbiolo) 2012

Style: Medium bodied red

Country: Italy

Region: Piedmont

 

Tasting note: Vibrancy all round, colour, nose and palate. Highly aromatic with white pepper, blueberry and smoky hints. The Barbera brings lifted fruit characters to the palate, blackberry, blueberry and a touch of pepper while the Nebbiolo adds a savoury, herbal edge. Grainy/chalky tannins.

 

Final Say: A fantastic cheapie packed with Piedmont charm. $17 a bottle

 

Score: 16.5 out of 20

For any questions or feedback feel free to email me on spittingoptional@gmail.com

Artigiano

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Artigiano Primitivo  2011

Vintage: 2011

Style: Medium-full bodied red

Country: Italy

Region: Puglia

Overview: The urge to write ‘Primitivo is a variety steeped in controversy’ overcomes me but then I remember that in this instance the word ‘controversy’ maybe synonymous with ‘incredibly, and blindingly mundane’ to the average wine drinker. Long story short, Primitivo is an Italian variety that was grown for a long time in California as Zinfandel. It was believed that Zinfandel was unique to America but DNA testing was performed on Zinfandel in 1993 and ermahgerd! Zinfandel turned out to be Primitivo. So there is your controversy. Its also a b#@$%&d to grow due to its large bunches that ripen unevenly. This means that there can be under ripe grapes as well as very ripe on the same bunch. Some producers let the entire bunch ripen which means that by the time the under ripe grapes reach the right baumé (sugar level) the already ripe berries have a higher concentration of sugar which often translates to higher alcohol levels. This method eliminates the chance of harvesting under ripe berries that would add bitterness to the finished wine.  Others hand pick the bunches to discard of the under ripe berries so they can achieve the right baumé.  This wine has actually achieved a nice balance between big, juicy and powerful and lean and restrained, probably due to larger scale harvesting.

Tasting note: A nice blend of sweet and savoury on the nose, plum, five-spice and cedar. The palate is quiet full and dense with characters of plum and subtle blackberry with under lying notes of white pepper and grainy tannins.

Final Say: Fantastic value, you can pick it up for $15-20 a bottle.

Score: 16 out of 20

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Sensi Chianti

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Sensi Collezione Chianti 2010

Vintage: 2010

Style: Medium-bodied red

Country: Italy

Region: Tuscany

 

Overview: Sangiovese seems to be a bit of a ‘buzz’ wine at the moment. A hipster’s favourite tipple when visiting their funky local wine bar that no one has heard about with vintage bicycles hanging from the roof. Not that I’m complaining, Sangiovese is a great variety that has taken a while to gain some traction in the Australian wine market. Chianti is arguably the most recognised Italian wine growing region. Chianti must be at least 70% Sangiovese and other, approved red wines can be added to the mix, e.g. Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. Lately they have been playing with adding white varieties in small quantities in a Shiraz/Viognier fashion. This wine is a great, simple Chianti which is a fantastic introduction to the style.

 

Tasting note: Typical notes of cherry, cherry-cola and crushed rosemary on the nose. A pretty, juicy palate with characters of cherries, sweet spice and violets. A simple style but incredibly enjoyable.

Final Say: Buy a bottle and complain that you liked Sangiovese before it was cool. Fantastic value, sells for around $16-$20 a bottle.

 

Score: 16.5 out of 20

Art Grillo

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Artigiano Grillo 2011

Vintage: 2011

Style: Dry white

Country: Italy

Region: Sicily  

 

Overview: Grillo is not a variety that I am overly familiar in so I won’t rattle on for too long. It’s a variety that is native to Sicily and is quite delicate and neutral. This wine reminds me of those great value Italian table wines that won’t take the world by storm with their complexity but are a great drink for the price.

 

Tasting note: Soft aromas of fennel, straw and talc. A savoury palate, with a zesty acid, lemon, lime and finishes with delicate talc. Fresh and simple.

 

Final Say: Well worth trying if only to say you have tried Grillo as a variety. $12-$16

 

Score: 16 out of 20

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Barone Chianti

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Barone Ricasoli Chianti 2011

Vintage: 2011

Style: Medium bodied red

Country: Italy

Region: Chianti

 

Overview: While this wine lacks some of the complexity that other Chianti’s have it is a great introduction to the variety Sangiovese and Chianti as a wine. It can also be said that in life sometimes all you need is the simple things. That being said you do not often hear anyone saying that they need Paris Hilton or Brynne Edelsten, other than those seeking mental euthanasia. The fruit charecters are lifted and in your face and there is an under-ripe, ‘green’ character but with food this becomes imperceptible.

Overall it ticks all the boxes for the price point and is a pleasant, uncomplicated drink.

 

Tasting note: Great colour, vibrant ruby hues. A dusty nose with lifted cherry and flint. The fruit characters vie for attention on the palate, cherry, strawberry and rhubarb with light undertones of cinnamon and menthol. A touch under ripe but clever food matching will mask this.

Final Say: As mentioned, if you are looking for an introduction into Chianti than look no further. $25 a bottle.

 

Score: 16 out of 20

For any questions or feedback feel free to email me on spittingoptional@gmail.com

Spitting: Optional

Prunotto Occhetti Nebbiolo d’Alba 2009

Vintage: 2009

Style: Full bodied red.

Country: Italy 

Region: Piedmont, d’Alba 

Overview: I have never imagined Nebbiolo as a pretty or elegant variety, it is a brute that requires manhandling to make it do what winemakers want it to do and even then it remains defiant. Nebbiolo is a variety that is lighter in colour but higher in tannins. It requires extended aging in oak for the tannins to soften. When young and unoaked these tannins would be far too aggressive to be a pleasurable drink. Imagine trying to drink a cup of black tea made from 20 teabags that had been left over night to infuse. When these tannins soften the spice and herbal characters of this grape shines but still Nebbiolo really needs a few years in the bottle to come into its own.

The most famous example of wines made from the Nebbiolo grape is Barolo. Barolo wines are produced in Piedmont of Italy and must be at least 90% Nebbiolo. Some Barolo can spend up to five years in oak and 3 years in the bottle aging. It has been said that a Barolo needs at least 10 years aging before it is approachable.

The wine in this review spent 1 year on oak but is from the d’Alba region which grows a more approachable style of Nebbiolo but in saying that I did find the tannins were quite powerful without food. With food where this wine really impresses. Tannin needs protein to bind to so have this with red meat, piles and piles of red meat. This wine is also a fraction of the price of most Barolo.

Tasting note: The brick colour of this wine could be unappealing to some but keep in mind that this is typical of Nebbiolo, it turns orange very quickly. A brambly, minty nose. This mint carries on to the palate. Pepper, chocolate and blackberry foremost on the palate which way to spicy cedar and dusty tannins.

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Final Say: Looking for a wine to throw in the cellar and forget about for a few years? Look no further. Give this brute five years in the cellar and you will be rewarded. It sells for around $45 a bottle.

 

Score: 17 out of 20

 

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Jack Davis

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Pieropan Soave 2010

Vintage: 2010

Style: Dry white

Country: Italy 

Region: Veneto

 

Overview: “How soave”, drum roll and a dry cough, tumbleweed tracking across the keyboard. Sorry, couldn’t help myself there, puns are like bad jokes, they sound so good as they are leaving your lips but once they are out there, spoken and free there are always followed by a cringe and a moan.

Soave is an Italian white wine that is produced in the Veneto region of Italy. Soave is made from a grape variety called Garganega. The name sounds like an evil Transformer. Soave is made up of 70-100% of this variety but other varieties can be blended in small quantities. These varieties include Trebbiano and Chardonnay. Never heard of the variety before? I’m not surprised, there is only one producer that I know of in Australia that produces Garganega, Domain Day in the Barossa Valley (If there are more I’d love to know about them, email below).

The wine in this review is probably the most recognized Soave outside of Italy, it’s made up of 85% Garganega (Michael Bay, I’m watching you. You’ve ruined my favourite childhood cartoon and I will not let you do the same to poor old Garganega) and 15% Trebbiano.  Soave Classico means that the fruit comes from a specific area within Veneto. This fruit comes from the hillsides around Soave and Monteforte d’Alpone.

 

Tasting note: Aromas of straw, lime juice and underlying mineral tones. A palate of spice, rich pineapple, melon and elegant citrus. Well integrated acid helps the wine linger.

 

Final Say: This is a benchmark Soave, elegant and rich. It will match well with seafood and delicate pre-dinner dishes. If you’re familiar with other Italian styles such as Pinot Grigio and Arneis but want to try something new give this wine a go. It sells for between $30-$40 a bottle.     

 

Score: 18 out of 20 (90 out of 100)

 

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Jack Davis

 

Spitting: Optional

Barone Ricasoli Brolio Chianti

Vintage: 2009

Style: Medium red

Country: Italy

Region: Tuscany

 

Overview: Sangiovese may be a variety that is relatively new to Australian grape grower but it a variety that has been used in the old world for a very long time. Its prolific use dates all the way back to the 16th century and its origins reach back even further.

I see its name often tease the Australian consumer who has never heard of it before, firstly it taunts them with the pronunciation of its name. My favourite attempt at sounding out its name has been ‘sag-nee-o-vay-see’, apparently the order of the letters has no importance in this case. Often when presented with a lovely Sangiovese I see the consumer’s face drop and they look to the fool presenting it to them with a look on their face that says ‘well you tell me how to say it, smart@#$%’. To help the consumer associate the variety with something they may know the presenter says, ‘Sangiovese is the predominate variety used for making Chianti’. Finally, a light of recognition, the consumers face lights up and they say, ‘So it’s sweet?”… NO! NO ITS NOT SWEET!!!!!! Damn the cheap imports that came through a decade an ago. Damn those sweetened reds, packaged in bulbous bottles and a straw cage. These sweet, cheap reds did what Blue Nun did to Riesling.

It may sound like I am a little to invested in this but it is a personal pet hate of mine. Sangiovese is savoury, spicy and complex just as the wine in this review is, a great example of what Sangiovese and Chianti has to offer.

 

Tasting note: A spicy nose, pepper and cedar. Sour cherry on the palate joined by the spice mentioned on the nose, cinnamon and other savoury spices. Soft tannins and a great length on that allows the wine to linger after each sip.

Final Say: Help me dispel the myth! Go out and try this, savoury, complex wine. Enjoy with lighter red meat dishes. It sells for around $35 a bottle. PS, please pronounce San-gio-vee-se

 

Score: 18.5 out of 20 (93 out of 100)

 

For any questions or feedback feel free to email me on spittingoptional@gmail.com

Also, check out the Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Spitting-Optional/314535381931908?sk=wall

Jack Davis