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Showing posts with label Italian red wine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Italian red wine. Show all posts

30 December 2013

Italian "reds of the moment"

Featuring a couple of well-known names from northeastern Italy and a slightly more senior one from Tuscany (another Tuscan will follow too), all suitably red, full-flavoured and New Year-y...
Le Tobele Valpolicella Ripasso 2011 (13.5% abv) – 'volatile' balsamic notes on the nose, turns to very Italian morello cherry and almond aromas/flavours, floral and fruity with peppery edges; nice ripe cherry fruit with dry yet soft tannins vs fair acidity adding freshness, kirsch notes and perfumed crunchy fruit with attractive bite vs maturing savoury flavours. Nice 'sweet and sour' thing going on, fruity vs savoury balsamic, has good depth too. Went well with a creamy mushroom risotto. €10.99 Lidl Wine Cellar (Ireland, will confirm £ price in UK).
Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2010 (15.5% abv) – the initial nose is a little heady/porty, chunky and austere when first opened too; turning to dried plum with balsamic meaty gravy notes even, thick tannins with a touch of oak texture/flavour, that alcohol's quite punchy vs lush cherry and olive fruit; it's still pretty firm powerful and 'porty' vs attractive sweet/savoury fruit. Quite good, the other dearer Amarone (links to note on that) Lidl 'wine cellar' has is better and finer (and dearer of course); this one's more in your face but is still attractive. Good with chocolate pudding. £15.99, €17.99
Casato dei Medici Riccardi 2008 Brunello di Montalcino (14% abv) – surprisingly herby/earthy tones at first (for its age, this went with airing though) vs mature smoky notes, dried fruits (morello/kirsch) with savoury 'cheesy' edges, balsamic and black pudding too! Smooth mature palate with dried cherries and meaty flavours, melted-in tannins although still has a bitter twist of grip and structure too, a bit of oomph vs balanced finish. Nice old-fashioned red, not 'top top' but reasonable quality and authentic style for £19.99 – Brunello can be mega expensive.

13 August 2013

Pink Port and Amarone: a couple of "headbangers of the moment"

I don't usually recommend wines based purely on alcohol content - and I'm not really going to this time either - yet the alcohol is an intrinsic part of these two totally different wines (but 'still only' 19.5% and 16% abv respectively, so we're not talking schnapps/eau de vie here). Besides, a Sun-style headline doesn't do any harm every now and then, and helps bring a 'little theme' nicely together...
So, over to Croft Pink Port then: I first tried it over five years ago when just launched, in Barcelona of all places (links to feature on the 2008 Wine & Climate Change conference; not sure what this wine has to do with that, but maybe Croft was a sponsor...); and again in 2010 in the line-up of a special Douro Valley 'masterclass' tasting (links to post about this). If you can be bothered clicking on that, you'll see that I was trying to like it but was "... struggling... too techno... boiled sweets and bubble gum in that ester-y chemistry lab kinda way..." Well, I've sampled it again a few times recently, on its own and with different things; and I think I was being a bit mean before. I doubt the wine's changed much, if at all, winemaking or style-wise, so I must have. It was still a touch ester-y and 'nouveau' at first, but got more interesting in an ultra-fruity sweet rosé way with intriguing earthy kirsch aromas/flavours, nice zing and kick too (without being overpowering) to counteract the quite high residual sugar. Serve well chilled as a summer dessert or milk chocolate wine, or with/on fresh red berry fruits. Or a few sips with salty crisps or peanuts is also strangely quite nice... And Croft is keen on promoting it in trendy bars as a cocktail base: check out croftpink.com for some ideas, there are quite a few. I like the look of simply mixing it with Champagne, especially their 'Decadent' recipe including Pink Port, Champers, tea, lemon juice and "Absinthe soaked sugar lump." Mind you, I'd dispense with the sugar though! Anyway, in the UK, it's £11.99 for 75cl at the Co-Op, selected branches of Majestic and Selfridges, which might sound a tad dear, but this would do you for a week or so kept in the fridge and poured half a glass a go.
Back to the Amarone red finally, obviously no similarity whatsoever as a wine; though, as I said, with 16% (natural rather than added like Port) abv, it certainly 'packs a punch'. This one's full title is Tenuta Pule 2008 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico and is new to Lidl's 'wine cellar' range (£19.99 UK). The raised alcohol content comes from the grapes being dried out before fermentation, which concentrates the sugar in them while water evaporates; then they make it like a regular dry red wine (with cask ageing in this case). So, you get plenty of rich earthy cherry and damson flavours with balsamic and toasted almond (!) touches, big powerful and rounded mouth-feel with lush dark berry and spice fruit vs attractive meaty leather edges; turns gamier and more savoury after opening for a day or two, yet still retains that nice wild kirsch fruit. Went well with South African style chunky sausage (a version of Boerewors made by my local butcher with beef pork and coriander) and a slightly wacky spiced red cabbage risotto I made up as I went along!

30 March 2013

Italy: Tuscany - San Polino, Brunello di Montalcino

According to their site, Luigi Fabbro, Katia Nussbaum and family practise "permaculture and biodynamic-organic farming..." at their four hectare estate (10 acres divided roughly into two thirds / one third of vines and olives, which are made into their own extra-virgin olive oil) up in the pretty Montalcino hills. I've never seen or heard the former term used by a winery before, which apparently implies an element of sustainable design or building within a self-sufficient and environmentally friendly farming model (man). The vineyard is planted entirely with the Sangiovese grape, and their first Brunello, as they call this variety here or rather the local 'clone' of it, was released in 2001 following several years of restoration and replanting work between 1991 and 1998. Winemaker and viticulturist Alberto Gjilaska, originally from Albania, has been on the team since those early days. Importers include Integrity Wines in the US, Vintage Roots (£ prices below) and Dynamic Vines in the UK; € prices quoted are approx. cellar door. So, chill out and enjoy the view (copied from www.sanpolino.it)!


2011 Sant Antimo Rosso di Montalcino - lovely fruity vs 'inky' red with dark morello cherry flavours, easy going and tasty. €7
2008 Brunello di Montalcino - light toasted coconut tones, rich vs firm palate, quite extracted and chewy yet has nice tannins and plenty of ripe 'sweet/savoury' fruit, some fresh acidity lingering too on its balanced long finish. €20 £27-£30
2008 Brunello di Montalcino Helichrysum - perfumed floral wild herb and minty notes vs dried fruits, attractive maturing fruit yet still firm and dry mouth-feel, tasty concentrated 'sweet/savoury' finish. €30 £52
2007 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva - similar profile but more developed and softer, lovely dried fruits with meaty edges, still structured with subtle concentration but riper tannins and long finish.

25 July 2012

Italian reds: Sicily, Barbaresco, Amarone...

The first Sicilian red recommended here is made entirely from an obscure indigenous variety called Nerello Mascalese from vines grown in the Agrigento area in the southwest of the island. The second is another co-op winery red moulded from the better-known Nero d'Avola grape (I wouldn't have said that a few years ago but I've noticed more and more Nero d'Av wines around, which is nice) sourced from southern Sicily. Finally, the dearest one, also from the south and 100% Nero d'Avola, is a bit of a Mediterranean treat although still quite good value for the quality at £12; I'd much rather drink this than a 'cheap' Barolo at the same price.
Talking of which, or next door at least, Marks & Spencer sell a Barbaresco for £12 as well, which I found a tad austere though still pretty typical Nebbiolo in style I guess. The Barby I've included here - 100% Nebbiolo too as they all are - is more than twice the price unfortunately but is in a different class; shame that you have to pay so much to get something very good from the Piemonte region. And travelling east to the other side of the north, if you get my drift, we have a rather yummy Amarone from Valpolicella. It's fairly expensive as well, as they naturally tend to be, and not everybody's cup of red tea, being typically full-on and towards head-banging in style, so save it for a special and very hearty meal (wild boar stew perhaps?! Matured hard cheeses certainly).

2009 Nerello Mascalese Cantina del Coppiere, Sicily (13% alcohol) - 'sweet' floral fruit with wild lavender edges, tasty 'sweet/savoury' palate with ripe maturing fruit vs a touch of grip. Nice Med style. M&S £5.99
2009 Baglio Rosso Nero d'Avola Cantina Sociale Viticultori Associati, Sicily (13%) - similar profile to above, perhaps more intense and lusher with lovely sweet fruit and wild herb undertones, again attractive soft and easy mouth-feel vs structured too. Good stuff. M&S £7.99
2007 Nero d'Avola di Sicilia Casa Girelli (13%) - rich and seductive nose with savoury and almost tar-like notes, ripe dark fruit for sure; concentrated gamey and savoury palate with lush structured underbelly, very long finish. Delicious wine. M&S £11.99
2007 Barbaresco Cascina Morassino, Piedmont (14.5%) - has all that enticing firm and fresh character you'd expect from Nebbiolo vs much richer and darker than the 'cheaper' one, meaty powerful finish; classy wine. M&S £27
2008 Villalta Amarone della Valpolicella Speri, Veneto (mostly Corvina and Rondinella plus Molinara and others; 15%) - perfumed dried cherry notes with meaty 'tar' edges, powerful and firm mouth-feel vs nice and lush vs dry texture, big stylish finish. M&S £25

18 June 2012

Italy: Ciró, obscure "red of the mo"

Ah yes, Ciró, one of my favourite red tipples actually... While browsing Lidl Ireland's fairly limited Italian wine selection (apart from all the usual suspects) this weekend gone, I came across this mysterious bottle from Ciró in the Calabria region - that's Italy's 'toe' reaching out to give Sicily a kick. What a pleasant surprise too: it sounded vaguely familiar as something commendably obscure from the south, so I had to give it a go to take to a dinner party. Made from the local Gaglioppo grape variety, this 2009 Riserva weighed in at 13.5% alcohol with dense colour, rich earthy dried black cherry and raisin aromas / flavours with wild herb edges; smoky and lush with ripe dark fruit encased in attractive firm vs rounded tannins, lingering wild 'sweet' vs meaty finish.
€7.99 in Ireland, £5.99 on offer in Lidl UK stores. By the way, here's a fascinating "everything you need to know about..." page on About.com; or there's even a Ciró wine Facebook page.

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