Archive for the ‘Italy’ Category

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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

 

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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)

 

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Jack Davis

 

San Vincenzo Anselmi Bianco 2010 I.G.T

Vintage: 2010

Country: Italy

Region: Veneto

 

Overview: Sauvignon Blanc is a variety that wine enthusiasts love to hate and everyday punters love to drink and even though our market is flooded with cheap Sauvy’s at the moment I do believe they play an important part in helping beginners understand wine. The main reason being that the characters are so easy to discern. If you tell somebody who is tasting a Shiraz for the first time that they should taste flavours of blackberry, pepper, tobacco and spice they generally look at you like your head just exploded from your body. However, if you tell someone who is tasting Sauvignon Blanc for the first time that they should pick up characters of passionfruit and cut grass they normally pick it up on the nose, even before they taste the wine simply because the flavours are simple and pungent not layered and complex. Cat’s piss and sweaty arm pits also sit in this category of pungent Sauvignon Blanc characters. Wine Educators teaching flavour association should try trading tinned passionfruit for novices to sniff next to a glass of Sauv Blanc for a vial of cat urine and a quick rub of their sweaty armpit on their student’s nose.

So I can hear you saying, what, in the name of sweet baby Jesus does sniffing cat’s piss and licking armpits have to do with the San Vincenzo Anselmi Biano? Well just like Sauvignon Blanc works as a bridging wine for wine amateurs so too does this wine ease beginners into Italian wines. It is a little bit more pungent and rich which would help accustom a novice’s palate who is not used to the subtle fruit and minerality of Italian whites.

Tasting note:  Upfront herbaceous aromas on the nose, cut grass, sandalwood and ripe citrus. These flavours follow through onto the palate joined by characters of pear and finishes with a fresh acidity.   

Final Say: This is a fun wine, while it doesn’t display the minerality and subtleness that I love about Italian whites I do see its merits and think it’s a great buy for around $20 a bottle. If you are curious about Italian whites but haven’t tried any before give the San Vincenzo a whirl.

 

Score: 17 out of 20 (85 out of 100)

 

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Jack Davis

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Umani Ronchi Casal di Serra Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi 2009

Vintage: 2009

Country: Italy

Region: Marche 

 

Overview: Umani Ronchi Casal di Serra Verdicchio dei Castelli Jesi, try saying that three times quickly. Just the variety itself is a tongue twister, Verdicchio. It’s easy to see why people are scared from these kinds of wines when the label is like some obscure riddle so let’s break it down. Umani Ronchi is the producer, Casal di Serra is what Umani Ronchi have named this wine, Verdicchio is the variety and Castelli di Jesi is the sub-region that the fruit has come from in Marche. This is a DOC Classico Superiore classified wine which means it comes from a region recognised for growing Verdicchio and is from a historic zone from which the wine has gained fame. Sometimes deciphering a label is half the battle.

Verdicchio is a variety that is not too common in Australia, the variety produces wines that developed as they age and typically display characters of citrus and straw. I’ve heard it to be likened to a Hunter Semillon. If you’re a wine wanker like me you might prefer to say that a Hunter Semillon is similar to Verdicchio in style.

Tasting note: Golden in colour, this is a sign of the wine’s development. A nose of honey and lemon. The palate is toasty with a hint of straw there is a touch of pineapple on the back palate but this wine mostly displays lovely savoury tones, rosemary, a soft acid and a mouth feel that is not creamy as such by incredibly full.

           

Final Say: Want a wine perfect for seafood? Then go out a grab a bottle of this wine. It has those savoury tones that are hard to find anywhere other than in Italian white wines. It sells for between $25-$30 a bottle, a steal for a wine that sits in the classification of DOC Classico Superiore.  

 

Score: 16.5 out of 20 A damn good drop. (83 out of 100)

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Jack Davis

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Photo © Patricia Thomson

Primitivo vs. Zinfandel

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Overview: This week I’ve tried something a little different, over two nights, with the same meal I’ve tried an Italian Primitivo and an Australian Zinfandel. What’s the difference between Primitivo and Zinfandel? Well nothing, they are both the same variety so why the different names? Well it’s a little like calling corn ‘corn’ in Australia and calling corn ‘maize’ in America. In Italy they call the variety ‘Primivito’ and in California they call it ‘Zinfandel’ and true to the Australian way we grow it, produce it and call it both depending on what the winemaker thinks may sound more romantic. How romantic can you get? Primitivo sounds like a new model of Volkswagen and Zinfandel sounds like some hideous war crime.

Any way, I digress, I tasted the A-Mano Primitivo 2008 IGT and the Elderton Estate Zinfandel 2009 and while both were similar they were time very different at the same time, not only because one comes from Puglia, Italy and the other from the Barossa Valley but because of the very nature of the grape itself.

To avoid confusion the variety will be referred to, from here onwards, as Zimitivodel, not a registered synonym for the grape but give it time… Zimitivodel is a grape that grow in large bunches, the bunch ripens unevenly which means you can have very ripe berries mixed with green berries on the same bunch. Thus you can hand pick the grapes at the sugar level you want – disregarding the unripe grapes, or you can patiently wait for the whole bunch to ripen which means higher sugar levels which translates into higher alcohol content and very concentrated fruit.

A- Mano (13.5% Alc) is an example of the first way of handling the grape and the Elderton (16% Alc) the second way of cultivating the variety.

Tasting Notes:

            A-Mano Primitivo 2009: Vibrant ruby in colour. The nose is of white pepper, cherry and strawberry, these characters follow on to the palate complimented by sandalwood and aniseed and soft tannins.

Elderton Zinfandel 2009: A nose of sour cherry, pepper and cinnamon. Initially on the palate there is a punch in the face of strawberry and game but a richness lingers. Chocolate and persistent acid on the finish.

Final Say: So what was the result? Well both were similar in their primary fruit characters the main difference was the spice. Both wines were a touch short on the back palate, which suggests to me that a small amount of another variety should be blended in to fill that black hole. My preference is with the Italian Zimitivodel, I found that the wine developed a great aniseed character as it opened up which was very seductive. Both wines were tried with a Moroccan Lamb Casserole, a great food match.

Scores:

A-Mano: 16.5 A great drop (83 out of 100)

Elderton: 16 Well worth a try (80 out of 100)

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

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Jack Davis

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Prunotto Dolcetto DOC 2009

Posted: February 21, 2012 in Italy
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Prunotto Dolcetto D’Alba DOC

Vintage: 2009

Country: Italy

Region: Alba, Piemonte

 

Overview:

            In Australia our main interaction with the variety Dolcetto would be the Brown Brother’s wine Dolcetto & Syrah which, if you were looking for a nice thing to say about the wine you could say it was Australia’s take on Valpolicella, a light, sweet style of wine that you can chill made in Italy. That’s if you wanted something nice to say, the truth is it is not a serious wine and thus Dolcetto has a stigma attached that it is light and sweet. I can tell you that it a good Dolcetto is not a light, insipid wine. Dolcetto typically is a medium bodied wine with a soft edge but displays great spice and liquorice characters. It is not widely grown in Australia as it is susceptible to fungus diseases and the Australian humidity promotes fungus like Channel Ten promotes Glee.

The Prunotto Dolcetto displays these typical characteristics at an accessible price.

Tasting note:

            A beautiful ruby colour, (as mentioned before the colour of a wine tells us a lot about it, if the colour was dull or brown we could assume the wine has been oxidised) on the nose there are characters of pepper and blueberry. The palate is medium bodied, with intermingling flavours of cinnamon, pepper, aniseed and cherry with a great acid that keeps the palate cleansed.

 

Final Say:

            This is one of the better Dolcetto I have tasted, the key when buying a Dolcetto is that it comes from the Piemonte region in Italy, one of my favourite regions. The price ranges from $20-$24 so if you’re looking for something different this is definitely one to pick up. Enjoy with lighter red meat meals or game.

Score: 16.5 Well worth a try (83 out of 100).

All of the information above has come from my own brain and books; Wikipedia was not, at any stage consulted.

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Jack Davis

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