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Felsina Chianti Classico Riserva Rancia

Date: Thu, Feb 26, 2009 Wine Tasting

Felsina Chianti Classico Riserva Rancia


Felsina Chianti Classico Riserva Rancia was the wine picked out last night in an attempt to banish the bitter memories of that shocking Villa Caffagio effort from the weekend and reaffirm my faith in Chianti. I picked up the Villa Caffagio believing it would represent Italy well in the Tesco challenge only to see it come out as the worst value wine of the bunch. So it was down to the Felsina Chianti Classico Riserva 2005 to reinstall the good name of Chianti Classico and prove the value to be had in this DOCG.
Felsina is a legendary producer in Chianti with both fair prices and an excellent product line. Alive and kicking since the 12th century, its only in the last few decades that Felsina went from also ran Tuscan producer to the top name in Chianti. This radical transformation can be credited in part to top Italian oenologist Franco Bernabei whose wines rarely fall short of outstanding. Felsina produce the very best of contemporary Chianti Classico and are considered the reference point for quality in the area. Felsina are in the southern part of Chianti, closer to Brunello, the wines are both powerful and earthy.
Last night I tried the Riserva Rancha, which in 2004 took an outstanding 95 point Parker score. The 2005 isn't too shabby either; among the very best Chianti Classico wines of the vintage, possibly the best. At €23 it's hard to think of what other #1 producer in any AC or DOC can match that kind of value, let alone a DOCG as famous as Chianti Classico. Even the 95 Point 2004 effort can still be found for under €30.
There has been a Fattoria di Felsina since the 12th century. The estate is skipping distance from Siena itself and a perfect estate to visit when touring Tuscany. Felsina produce a cheaper Chianti Classico bottling which is also outstanding but its with the Riserva Rancia that the real quality of the wine making shines through. The grapes grow in albarese and galestro soils (shale, lime and clay) and undergo a temperature controlled fermentation before seeing 12-18 months in small barrels followed by 6 months of bottle age before release.
Fattoria di Felsina also produce a very good Cabernet Sauvignon, the Maestro Raro, a famous and lauded 100% Sangiovese IGT Fontalloro (which can rival the Rancia in terms of quality), a top Tuscan Vin Santo and a blended white I Sistri, a Chardonnay with a splash of Sauvignon Blanc. All of Felsinas wines are fairly priced much to the chagrin of many other Tuscan producers.
Fattoria di Felsina Chianti Classico Riserva Rancia 2005 - BUY - €22.50
A darker than normal deep ruby red. Takes a few moments to come alive on the nose but once it does the aromas are a beautiful, fresh and lively mix of sweet cherries, toasted oak and a floral component in the background. On the palate the wine is still heavily tannic. The initial attack is very impressive, fresh yet concentrated with lots of luscious dark fruits and once more with feeling for the cherries. Fruit continues through the mid palate to a long, earthy finish. A powerful, full bodied wine that still needs a few years to relax. 93 Points
This is the kind of wine you want to be filling your cellars with (or in my case, cupboards) for short to mid term drinking. I can see this going wonderfully well with all kind of Italian fayre, meats and cheeses as well as being perfect for drinking alone. I'm not sure I can point to many more Italian wines that are better value, age worthy and simply delicious as well as terroir expressive and a great accompaniment for a range of foods. Even if you're not used to laying down the big bucks on wine, this will be the best £20 you spent on wine.
I don't think there's any need to continue this blog is there. We found it! *rings the bell* I'm off home.
Where can I buy this wine?
Americans - Napa Cabs - $29.95
Europeans - Italian Wine Selection - €22.50
Brits - Fine and Rare - £21
Leave a Comment
Buy this wine. Tell me what you thought. If you're already a convert, how much does this wine rock the casbah? When buying a wine, what is it you really want to see? Value for money? Fruit? High alcohol? (I know someone who buys wine based on the ABV!)
Italian Wine Blog - Wine90

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Tesco Wines

Date: Wed, Feb 25, 2009 Wine Tasting

Tesco Wines

There's no Tesco round my way and as I'm senza auto there is no way for me to get my mits on the hundreds of wines on sale at the UK's number 1 supermarket (I could use their online service but I'm a real techno-phobe).
This weekend I went all the way up to the northern extremities of England to the fine town of Durham and spent about an hour perusing the wines of their double-decker Tesco in Belmont, Dragonville.

What a weird and pitiful selection of wines! There must have been close to 1000 different wines on sale and to give them their dues, Tesco did try to make sure all countries/varietals were covered, even if it was just barely. If you like your Australian Shiraz you are in luck with over 30 different bottles to choose from. If you like the wines of Alsace, well, there are three, one Riesling, one Gewürztraminer and one Pinot Gris. Hmmmmmmm. Let's be very clear, Tesco is no friend of the wine lover. The buying arm at Tesco is a joke as far as representing the wonderful and varied world of wine goes but does so much better when it comes to their own "selection", that is wines that have been bottled for Tescos. Someone up in head office clearly cares about which wines get TESCO slapped on them, perhaps this is a deliberate ploy so you eventually ditch the Gallo and shop Tescos own brand and believe me, you really should.

This weekend I sampled 7 wines from Tesco and of these 7 I can recommend only two as decent QPR, and both these two are Tesco's own label. In their own special ways they were all a disappointment but some were more upsetting than others, some were eye poppingly tannic and unbalanced, some were an affront to my nostrils and taste buds whereas others were better being only slightly offensive but at least cheap. Now of course, Tesco is a huge company and these are but 7 wines so I can't call this a representative sample, there's a chance I picked out the worse wines on sale as much as it's possible that Tesco plain sucks. So here it goes, my Magnificent Seven from Tesco.

Tesco Finest Alsace Gewurztraminer - BUY - £6.99
A golden yellow in the glass with a rich and spicy nose, a touch of sweetness mimicking a cheap champagne with hints of apple. A mid-bodied, off dry wine with good fruit on the palate. A simple and straightforward Gewurztraminer but representative of the grape and the region. Really drinkable. 86 Points
Tim Adams The Aberfeldy 2005 - PASS - £25
The darkest of dark purples with an instantly aromatic nose; rich and opulent. Super oakey but fruit detectable including blackcurrants and blueberries. The initial attack was a bit tame but within 3 seconds you have a mouth filling and tannic fruit bomb with a long and pleasant finish. This wine is not to my personal tastes but clearly well made and will please the Aussie Shiraz fan. Over-extracted, oakey and too tannic to be enjoyed alone. This is a well made wine that should be enjoyed with food or left for a good few years to shed its puppy fat. 89 Points
Tesco Marques De Carano Gran Reserva 2001 - BUY - £8.99
A smouldering dark purple with an orange tint on the rim. Nose of cherries and raspberries. On the palate dry and puckering holding some good fruit too. Nice length on the finish, a pleasant wine, well balanced and very fruit forward. 88 Points
La Grande Classique Corbieres 2006 - PASS - £9.99
Mid bodied, perfectly purple wine with a cherried nose putting me in mind of Ciliegiolo. A very fruity uncomplicated wine, a touch off balance and acidic but smooth. Watery and forgettable finish, uninspiring but not offensive. 85 Points
Camp de Borja Old Vine Garnacha 2005 - PASS - £3.99
No light is getting through this deepest of purple wines. A ridiculously tight nose that eventually gives hints of blackberries and oak. Unpleasantly tannic on the palate, unbalanced and raisined, too intensely flavoured. Full bodied trash wine. 72 Points
Leitz Riesling Spatlese 2005 - PASS - £12
Cloying, teeth on cotton wool cloying wine. Golden in the glass, a mid bodied sweet wine that on the palate put me in mind of some kind of medicine both in texture and taste. Great for a cough, delicate with a lingering finish. 81 Points.
Villa Cafaggio Chianti Classico 2006 - PASS - £12
Dark ruby red in the glass with a typical and pleasing Chianti nose, all cherries, vanilla and a touch of spice. Then it all goes horribly wrong. Strikingly acidic, but firm tannins and generous mouth feel lacking in fruit at this stage, nothing much on the mid palate, disappearing on the finish. What happened? 84 Points
Well, 1000 calories, £75 and a bleached red sink later it's safe to say I'll be sticking to Waitrose for my supermarket options. I do like Tesco's Tiger bread though :D, please don't ban me from your stores.
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Which supermarket do you rate for wine if any? Tried any of these wines? Fan of Tesco?
Italian Wine Blog - Wine90

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Domaine Ostertag Sylvaner

Date: Fri, Feb 20, 2009 Wine Tasting

Domaine Ostertag Sylvaner


Domaine Ostertag Sylvaner, along with Jacques et Francois Carillon Mercurey were the wines out of the hat last night with the Ostertag number whipping the buttski off the Burg. The whites of Alsace are a bit of a pet interest for me at the moment as I'm finding incredible quality and freshness, there are many really well made wines for under £20, sometimes under £10. This wine only furthered my growing addiction.

I've never had a brush with the Ostertag Sylvaner before but knowing some of their range, especially the outstanding Gewurztraminer, Riesling and Tokay Pinot Gris grand cru wines I expected this to be top notch and at £11 this is pretty good value.

These wines are especially interesting as they are made bio dynamically, the producer, Andre Ostertag, is a radical in the area and chooses to give some of his wines the barrique treatment. This Sylvaner is "Vieilles Vignes" (old vines) and touted as possibly the best example of this Austrian grape grown in Alsace.

"This isn't Italian wine Missy", yes yes I know, but, the village in which the vineyards for the Sylvaner are situated is in Epfig which was built by one Julius Ceasar so if you think about it, these wines are a little bit Italian. Tenuous? Never! As for the other wine, the Mercurey appellation is slap bang in the middle of Burgundy and I'm sure a Roman legion or two must have marched through those fields and dropped the odd pot or coin hence bestowing a small piece of Italy deep into the terroir. *cough*

I don't need an excuse!

Jacques et Francois Carillon Mercurey 2004 - PASS - €20
Light brick red with orange hues. Aromatically too generous, like lighting a scented strawberry candle this wine jumped out of the glass, overwhelming strawberries, a sweet nose with a hint of earth and mushroom. On the palate, fruit forward, more strawberries and a few raspberries flowing through on this light-mid bodied wine, high acidity, soft tannins but an unappealing and clipped finish. It's too simple and no where close to value. 84 Points

Domaine Ostertag Les Vieilles Vignes de Sylvaner 2007 - BUY - €12
Light golden yellow going clear to the rim. Once again, really aromatic on the nose. Notes of pineapple, apples, cream and stones with the palate showing minerality. Mid bodied and refreshing, good acidity, well balanced and enjoyable. The wine is well put together and has a profile from nose to finish that is consistent but uninspiring. The mid-palate is really fruity and concentrated but the watery disappearing finish puts pay to the 90. 89 Points

Interestingly the nose the next morning on this wine is minerals all the way, maybe a wine for mr 2daysperbottle.

All these wines can be bought from BBR.com

Leave a Comment
Can you claim that you are Italian? Ever had a Mercurey or a Sylvaner wine?
Italian Wine Blog - Wine90

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Domaine Ostertag Sylvaner

Date: Fri, Feb 20, 2009 Wine Tasting

Domaine Ostertag Sylvaner


Domaine Ostertag Sylvaner, along with Jacques et Francois Carillon Mercurey were the wines out of the hat last night with the Ostertag number whipping the buttski off the Burg. The whites of Alsace are a bit of a pet interest for me at the moment as I'm finding incredible quality and freshness, there are many really well made wines for under £20, sometimes under £10. This wine only furthered my growing addiction.

I've never had a brush with the Ostertag Sylvaner before but knowing some of their range, especially the outstanding Gewurztraminer, Riesling and Tokay Pinot Gris grand cru wines I expected this to be top notch and at £11 this is pretty good value.

These wines are especially interesting as they are made bio dynamically, the producer, Andre Ostertag, is a radical in the area and chooses to give some of his wines the barrique treatment. This Sylvaner is "Vieilles Vignes" (old vines) and touted as possibly the best example of this Austrian grape grown in Alsace.

"This isn't Italian wine Missy", yes yes I know, but, the village in which the vineyards for the Sylvaner are situated is in Epfig which was built by one Julius Ceasar so if you think about it, these wines are a little bit Italian. Tenuous? Never! As for the other wine, the Mercurey appellation is slap bang in the middle of Burgundy and I'm sure a Roman legion or two must have marched through those fields and dropped the odd pot or coin hence bestowing a small piece of Italy deep into the terroir. *cough*

I don't need an excuse!

Jacques et Francois Carillon Mercurey 2004 - PASS - €20
Light brick red with orange hues. Aromatically too generous, like lighting a scented strawberry candle this wine jumped out of the glass, overwhelming strawberries, a sweet nose with a hint of earth and mushroom. On the palate, fruit forward, more strawberries and a few raspberries flowing through on this light-mid bodied wine, high acidity, soft tannins but an unappealing and clipped finish. It's too simple and no where close to value. 84 Points

Domaine Ostertag Les Vieilles Vignes de Sylvaner 2007 - BUY - €12
Light golden yellow going clear to the rim. Once again, really aromatic on the nose. Notes of pineapple, apples, cream and stones with the palate showing minerality. Mid bodied and refreshing, good acidity, well balanced and enjoyable. The wine is well put together and has a profile from nose to finish that is consistent but uninspiring. The mid-palate is really fruity and concentrated but the watery disappearing finish puts pay to the 90. 89 Points

Interestingly the nose the next morning on this wine is minerals all the way, maybe a wine for mr 2daysperbottle.

All these wines can be bought from BBR.com

Leave a Comment
Can you claim that you are Italian? Ever had a Mercurey or a Sylvaner wine?
Italian Wine Blog - Wine90

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Gaja Barbaresco 2004

Date: Thu, Feb 19, 2009 Wine Tasting

Gaja Barbaresco 2004

Though Gaja Barbaresco 2004 is now a couple of vintages old it didn't really give me the excuse I needed to drink it. So I'm going to blame it on the credit crunch. This may be a £100 bottle of vino but I already own it, so in real terms, that makes it free right? And free wine is the most delicious wine of all. OK, so it didn't have 10+ years of age on it and was no where near its drinking window, but it was still incredible wine and if the Italians refuse to wait for their Piedmont treasures to mature then neither will I.

So this is what a bottle of Gaja Barbaresco looks like. Elegant, refined, classic good looks, the hallmark of Italian craftsmanship. And this is what I look like. All the same adjectives can be applied.

I've written about Angelo Gaja's wines so many times on wine90 that you'd be mistaken for thinking Gaja is my favourite Italian producer, well in terms of continued quality, quest for excellence and willingness to experiment, then Gaja is but these wines lack something I love more and that is QPR.

Gajas entire range, from the Chardonnay to the Sperrs, from the vineyards of the Piedmont to those in Tuscany, produce wines of a good standard, though from prices ranging from £20-£250, not a one of them could be called a "value buy".

You can buy the Sito Moresco (nebbiolo), Cremes (dolcetto) and Promis (super tuscan) wines for a £20 note each but there are better wines from all 3 varietals selling cheaper. We know from experience, whether it's handbags or cars, when a luxury brand releases products for the masses, they are rarely of high quality. You're paying for the name, duck. That being said, the very best wines from Gaja, from the Barolo and Barbaresco vineyards are among the best wines produced in the world.

It is pretty much agreed that, challenged only by Giacosa, Gaja is the king of Barbaresco and with 2004 being a superb vintage in the Piedmont this bottle of wine was never going to be anything less than excellent. My review of the 2005 effort was less favourable by just two points and I'm going against the grain of expert opinion here as 2005 is rated by Galloni as a better bottle than the 2004. In my humble, the 2004 is not only more complex than the 2005 but will age better too, in the end they are two different bottles of wine, which you prefer is up to you.

Gaja Barbaresco 2004 - BUY - €116
A mid ruby red in the glass. The nose is surprisingly open, obvious aromas of wood, tar and floral notes. A mid bodied wine. On the palate the wine is smooth, tannic but so well ingrained, this is all structure and balance, little light on the mid palate but the initial attack and finish are opulent. The alcohol makes itself known on the finish which is lengthy with good fruit, dark berries. 95 Points

Clearly too young, still very enjoyable, luckily for me it's not my only bottle.

Where can I buy this wine?
Americans - America's wine shop - $123 (deal!)
Europeans - Enoteca Piccolomini - €116
Brits - Speciality Wines - £98

Leave a Comment
Leave comments on any Gaja wines you enjoy or have tried... or indeed do not like. Comment on the Ikea blinds. Anything you fancy.

Italian Wine Blog - Wine90

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Ronco del Gnemiz Schioppettino

Date: Mon, Feb 16, 2009 Wine Tasting

Ronco del Gnemiz Schioppettino

There's something about Ronco del Gnemiz's Schioppettino that makes it a real party wine. It may have been the Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc that went before it, but I'd like to think that it was the Ronco del Gnemiz Schioppettino that sent the Valentines day party (or my personal experience of it) into new realms of "I knew I liked you the minute I met you" and "We should set up in business" and all those other wonderful things you say when a great wine sends you over the line from acceptably merry into, well, rather tiddled. Of course it was the euphoria from the quality of the grape juice and NOT the alcohol that sent my head spinning even though, coincidentally, this comes in at a whopping 14.5%.

This wine is one of four wines I tried over this weekend from the Berry Bros and Rudd delivery mentioned last week. The Schioppettino was the best of the bunch, but there wasn't much to choose here with all these wines separated by just 3 points. Last week I blogged about Moschioni's Pignolo, well Moschioni also produce the best Schioppettino out there too.

Schioppettino is another (like Pignolo) native grape to the Friuli region of Italy. The Schioppetino grape is capable of creating great wines on its own but is sometimes included in blended Colli Orientali del Friuli DOC wines. On its own Schioppettino produces dark ruby red, dry wines of a good body with high acidity. Italian grape varieties 101 concluded, and on to the reviews!

Ronco del Gnemiz Schioppettino 2006 - PASS - €40
Deep brooding purple, on the nose this wine brought oodles of black pepper, herbs and dark fruits, a slight perfume note lingered too. The mouth feel was huge, a fat wine with plenty of fruit put me in mind of Syrah. Good length on the finish but not £33 for my palate. 90 Points

Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2008 - PASS - €25
Golden yellow in colour. A rich bouquet, fresh and tropical and quick to give it up too. Good acidity and freshness and continuing with a pineapple/zesty theme. A touch clipped on the end and a little watery too. Nice wine but again, not value. 88 Points

Ara Composite Sauvignon Blanc 2006 - BUY - €12
Striking golden yellow. Quickly aromatic with some grassy notes with plenty of fruit backing it up, pineapples and bananas. This wine is more honeyed than the Cloudy Bay but also suffers from a slightly watery finish, the acidity was a little off. A well put together if simple Sauvignon Blanc, a touch flabby but good QPR here. 87 Points

Pulenta Estate Malbec 2005 - BUY - €18
Dark puple in the glass. Lots of ripe dark fruit on the nose, blackberries but a hint of sweetness, a little raisined and for me, the wine screamed Black Forest Gateaux. On the palate the wine continues that raisined aspect, good amounts of fruit, held together well this is a big wine but not killing me with tannins. Tastes great and should take some ageing too. Good-O. 89 Points

See, I told you the BBR delivery would produce a lack of QPR. How thrilled I am to be right at the expensive of my pocket. The website is pretty thou!

All these wines can be purchased at Berry Bros and Rudd.

Leave a Comment
What did you drink over Valentines? Ever tried any of these wines? What will the falling pound mean for your drinking habits? We shall see our wine prices go up 25% for US and European wines over the next few months, what will you do? Drink British!? If you're not British, which 75% of you are not, please leave us your condolences.

Italian Wine Blog - Wine90

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Ronco del Gnemiz Schioppettino

Date: Mon, Feb 16, 2009 Wine Tasting

Ronco del Gnemiz Schioppettino

There's something about Ronco del Gnemiz's Schioppettino that makes it a real party wine. It may have been the Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc that went before it, but I'd like to think that it was the Ronco del Gnemiz Schioppettino that sent the Valentines day party (or my personal experience of it) into new realms of "I knew I liked you the minute I met you" and "We should set up in business" and all those other wonderful things you say when a great wine sends you over the line from acceptably merry into, well, rather tiddled. Of course it was the euphoria from the quality of the grape juice and NOT the alcohol that sent my head spinning even though, coincidentally, this comes in at a whopping 14.5%.

This wine is one of four wines I tried over this weekend from the Berry Bros and Rudd delivery mentioned last week. The Schioppettino was the best of the bunch, but there wasn't much to choose here with all these wines separated by just 3 points. Last week I blogged about Moschioni's Pignolo, well Moschioni also produce the best Schioppettino out there too.

Schioppettino is another (like Pignolo) native grape to the Friuli region of Italy. The Schioppetino grape is capable of creating great wines on its own but is sometimes included in blended Colli Orientali del Friuli DOC wines. On its own Schioppettino produces dark ruby red, dry wines of a good body with high acidity. Italian grape varieties 101 concluded, and on to the reviews!

Ronco del Gnemiz Schioppettino 2006 - PASS - €40
Deep brooding purple, on the nose this wine brought oodles of black pepper, herbs and dark fruits, a slight perfume note lingered too. The mouth feel was huge, a fat wine with plenty of fruit put me in mind of Syrah. Good length on the finish but not £33 for my palate. 90 Points

Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2008 - PASS - €25
Golden yellow in colour. A rich bouquet, fresh and tropical and quick to give it up too. Good acidity and freshness and continuing with a pineapple/zesty theme. A touch clipped on the end and a little watery too. Nice wine but again, not value. 88 Points

Ara Composite Sauvignon Blanc 2006 - BUY - €12
Striking golden yellow. Quickly aromatic with some grassy notes with plenty of fruit backing it up, pineapples and bananas. This wine is more honeyed than the Cloudy Bay but also suffers from a slightly watery finish, the acidity was a little off. A well put together if simple Sauvignon Blanc, a touch flabby but good QPR here. 87 Points

Pulenta Estate Malbec 2005 - BUY - €18
Dark puple in the glass. Lots of ripe dark fruit on the nose, blackberries but a hint of sweetness, a little raisined and for me, the wine screamed Black Forest Gateaux. On the palate the wine continues that raisined aspect, good amounts of fruit, held together well this is a big wine but not killing me with tannins. Tastes great and should take some ageing too. Good-O. 89 Points

See, I told you the BBR delivery would produce a lack of QPR. How thrilled I am to be right at the expensive of my pocket. The website is pretty thou!

All these wines can be purchased at Berry Bros and Rudd.

Leave a Comment
What did you drink over Valentines? Ever tried any of these wines? What will the falling pound mean for your drinking habits? We shall see our wine prices go up 25% for US and European wines over the next few months, what will you do? Drink British!? If you're not British, which 75% of you are not, please leave us your condolences.

Italian Wine Blog - Wine90

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Wine Language

Date: Wed, Feb 11, 2009 Wine Tasting

Wine Language

It's a funny old thing critiquing wines, the physical action of swirling, sniffing and slurping and the wine language we take for granted. Although I gain immeasurable pleasure from tasting wine, selling wine and talking about wine many of my friends dismiss the pastime as a load of old cobblers. "People drink wine to get hammered", "Yes, I will tell you what it smells of, it smells of wine" its amazing how defensive people get about the idea of critiquing wine.

Last night I went over to a friends house who happens to be a lecturer at one of the Universities here in London whose "chosen subject for 20" is communication and language. Quite by accident we got into a tasting and discussion about the language of wine and the difficulties and challenges that face people new to the wine world. You can't tell me a wine smells like a banana had you never tried one. It's hard to pick out the nuances of a wines aroma past that "wine" smell without the confidence to express yourself. There are so many factors in play for those new to wine that it was interesting to remember what it was like when wine was for me too, what posh people banged on about.

Even more interesting is the fact that my friend, although not using the language I've picked up through being involved in wine, Wset and the biz, managed to accurately describe what was going on with the two very different wines we tasted. It's quite rare to find such a fresh test subject, my friend is in her early 40s but has terrible reactions to wine so simply doesn't drink it. She had no idea about varietals, regions, vinification techniques yet, what she managed to describe about the wine, after the initial "performance anxiety" would have been enough for us wine nuts to have a good stab at which wine she was drinking, right down to appellation and grape.

There is a movement at the moment, us bloggers being a part of that, to try to demystify wine and sand down the edges of this reputation of being a recreation of the rich. I know many people who read this blog may not know all that much about wine but everyone still has a palate (baring birth defects and terrible accidents) and I encourage everyone to make tasting notes about their wines. After all, you paid good money for your wine experience whether that was down at Tesco or a specialized wine store. It amazes me that people will continue to buy the same old wines and not experiment with anything new. We don't do it with food, I think we all like a variance in our diets and enjoy trying new cuisine. We trust that we do like a McDonalds Quarterpounder but not the Filet-o-fish and no one will sass you for expressing that opinion.

So for a change, here is the "tasting note" my friend made. None the less valid, and she knows, that if she ever gets over her negative physical reaction to wine, or has to buy wine for a friend, she'll opt for the Californian Syrah over the Gamay Morgon Beaujolais.

Domaine Maurice Gaget Morgon Cote de Py - PASS - €14
Well, its red but my bulbs have a red-ish tint, the lights in here are not really good for this kind of thing. Ok, ok, dark red. Hmmm, smells like a swimming pool, chlorine, it smells cold and alcoholic, I'm not really getting any smells of grapes or any fruits really. Its really quite thin isn't it, and really acidic and sour. I didn't really get any of those tannins things you were talking about on this one or a finish. I don't like it

From this description, no tannins, acidic but red, "cold" you'd be guessing at a colder climate, thin graped wine. The being "dark" might throw you, but we can take this as just an indication of youth.

Bonny Doon Syrah Le Pousseur - BUY - €14
This is a darker red, looks much thicker. Smells richer than the other wine, I'm still not sure of much on the smell. Its far more tannic though, the wine is heavier and dries my mouth out more, much more depth and I can taste Blackberries, lingers longer once you've finished the wine. I do like it

And we'd be making a guess at a thicker skinned grape and warmer climate.

Whats the point in this Newton?! The point is, even if you know nothing about wine, you know what you like and what you don't and that is good enough. You don't have to publish tasting notes but keeping a record is a great way to stop you buying the same bottle of tosh a month later. You will begin to understand what regions/grapes you DO like and hence, waste less money on bad wine purchases. People buy which magazine because informed purchases are important, you don't repeatedly buy fruits and veg you don't care for; your palate is your own. Keep tasting notes, not only does it make financial sense it will open up a whole new world of pleasure and education.

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Do you experience reverse wine snobbery? Or are you intimidated by wine and it's language. If you frequently publish notes, share your first ones they are often highly entertaining. C'mon embarrass yourself! :p
Italian Wine Blog - Wine90

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Franz Haas Wines

Date: Tue, Feb 10, 2009 Wine Tasting

Franz Haas Wines


Franz Haas, 10 points if you can guess which part of Italy this wine producer comes from? Those with any knowledge of Italian history or geography will be able to figure out that Franz Haas wines are from the German speaking south Tyrol/Alto Adige region of Italy bordering Austria. The Franz Haas estate is located almost exactly half way between Trento and Bolzano just off the E45. The Alto Adige has a growing reputation for excellence in both red and white wines with rising popularity in the the native Lagrein, as well as excellent production of international varietals like Gewürztraminer, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and even some zippy Pinot Neros.
Franz Haas produces eleven high quality red, white and blended wines at a fair price point which is why we've decided to add this producer at the Cellar Door. Perhaps not the most famous or prestigious producer, that accolade would go to the likes off Hoffstatter, Lageder or Manincor, Franz Haas represents QPR and joins Michael Eppan for our Trentino/Alto Adige range.

Of these eleven wines I believe the best value comes from the Pinot Nero (2 bottlings) the Traminer Aromatico (Gewürztraminer) and the superb blend, perhaps the best value white blend of the region, the Manna.

Manna, named after Franz Haas wife, Luisa (Manna, obviously) is a blend of Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon and late harvest Gewürztraminer. The wine shows telling minerality and is an award winning effort year on year with GR and a consistent 88-90 point wine. In the red corner, it is the Pinot Nero, both the standard bottling and the excellent Schweizer (produced only in the best vintages) that deserve your full quaffing attention.

The wines of Franz Haas

Müller-Thurgau - €10 (white)
The lowest priced wine of the Franz Haas collection and the lowest calorie too! Those who follow my tweets will have already seen that if you're on a diet Müller-Thurgau is the wine for you. An excellent accompaniment to seafood. QPR Value - 3/5

Pinot Grigio - €12 (white)
High yields, high production and very popular. However, so many better whites here, if you're a PG fan there's probably little I can do to put you off. QPR Value 2/5


Pinot Bianco - €14 (white)
A similar production scale to the MT. Many of the Alto Adige wineries are putting out Pinot Bianco, the Haas version has good acidity and I'd pair it up with a salad or risotto. QPR Value 2/5

Traminer Arimatico - €18 (white)
This is a seriously good example of what can be done with Gewürztraminer. The yields here are smaller than the other whites, this is a bottling of which the producer is rightfully proud I highly recommend you try this full bodied and aromatically interesting wine. QPR Value 4/5

Manna - €22 (white)
Here she is! The white you really want to try from Franz Haas, the blended little blighter, created out of love especially for fans of the Alto Adige. This is a 4 grape blended white that will set you drooling. It's a great food pairing wine for vegetarian dishes too. Complex, good structure and with ageing capabilities. One of Italy's best value white wines. QPR Value 5/5

Moscato Rossa - €22 - (rose)
Indigenous Moscato Rossa is expensive for Italian rose but this is because of the very low yields (real low, 15 hectolitres p/h low). This Moscato Rossa is one of the regions best Rose wines in top vintages. If you find food pairings for oriental food tricky, this one works beautifully. QPR Value 3/5

Lagrein - €17 (red)
The native Lagrein is an en-vogue Italian grape, gaining popularity quicker than retailers seem able to stock it. Not my personal favourite producer of Lagrein but a reliable and representative example. QPR Value 2/5
Pinot Nero - €22 (red)
Pinots from this part of Italy are very good value and the standard Pinot from Haas is 90-92 point effort year on year. Considering the Schweizer is €8 more and only splits a point or two with this version, its a judgement call for which you buy. The Schweizer is certainly riper and more tannic . QPR Value -4/5

Pinot Nero Schweizer - €30 (red)
The best single variety production at Franz Haas. The wine is velvety, aromatic and great with game dishes. This is a quality Alto Adige Pinot and taking into consideration Pinot Noir wines from around the world, very good value. QPR Value - 4/5
Istante - €25 (red)
Blend of Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot this is another great blend from Haas. This is the "cult" wine of Haas with a small production of just 6000 bottles in some vintages. Ageing capabilities and a very good complete wine. Interesting. QPR Value - 4/5
Merlot - €19 (red)
This one is under-rated. The Pinot Nero steals the red wine thunder at Franz Haas but it might be this Merlot that actually represents the best value. An earthy 90 point Merlot from a producer of this quality under €20 is great deal. QPR Value - 4/5
So there you have it. The great value production of Franz Haas in a handy little pocket sized guide. Of course you'll have to print it out and fold it for yourself, but you're a resourceful bunch. Sadly, I didn't get around to talking about what I really wanted to mention today, and that is why so many wine labels have dogs on them. I suppose there's always tomorrow.
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Franz Haas, do you rate these wines? Why are there so many dogs on wine labels and in wine names? Why not kittens or hamsters? It's always great big dogs too, never Miniature Schnauzers. If I'm wrong, please link up some wine labels! Au Revoir.
Italian Wine Blog - Wine90

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Sergio Mottura Grechetto Latour a Civitella

Date: Mon, Feb 9, 2009 Wine Tasting

Sergio Mottura Grechetto Latour a Civitella


Sergio Mottura Grechetto Latour a Civitella is one of Italy's best Grechetto wines but a little on the QT *taps nose* internationally. Within Italy the wine is well known, mostly because Mottura is one of only two Lazio producers to ever bag a Tre Bicchiere award with Gambero Rosso elevating the producer into the same strata as the mighty Falesco. Tellus more..... (get it? No? Ok moving on).

Grechetto is really not known as a grape producing great whites. This bottling comes from Northern Lazio (Civitella d'Angliano) and the grape is actually a Greek native that finds its best expression generally not in Lazio, but just over the border in Umbria in the Orvieto DOC. If you've tried Grechetto chances are you were actually drinking Orvieto DOC and whilst there are a couple of producers bringing out the best in Grechetto in Umbria, bizarely it is Mottura in his corner of Lazio scooping the awards. Grechetto Latour a Civitella is generally thought to be the finest expression of Grechetto in all of Italy.
Most Italian wines I feature that are without international press are hard for you guys to come by but Mottura will handle personal orders, even as small as a case of 6 wines and forward them to the UK, USA and mainland Europe meaning I do not have to complete that tiring "Where can I find this wine" section today :D
Grechetto, and especially this bottle, have ageing capabilities and shows a completely different character with a further 10 or even just 5 years. Gambero Rosso even went as far to claim that with 10 years ageing this sub £20 bottle is one of Italy's finest white wines. If you fancy trying this for yourself, which I'm sure you will after reading my review, then you can order direct from Mottura here and avoid those pesky retailers.
Sergio Mottura Grechetto Latour a Civitella 2004 - BUY - £15
Rich, deep golden colour and a real force on the nose. Tropical aromas of pineapple, even bananas and cream as well as a touch of pleasant oak. Fruity and balanced on the palate, rich and opulent with a smooth long finish. Beautiful wine and will improve - 92 Points
There's a lot of BUY, BUY, BUY recently, but fear not, for those that like to see my wines bomb you'll be pleased to know my BBR shipment arrived today and I'm sure at least half will be eye poppingly terrible. *crosses fingers*
No Buy section today as mentioned but please.....
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Grechetto, ever tried it? Or even La Tour ever tried it?! Just say whatever you like, anything goes with me you know that by now. Cheery bye. x
Italian Wine Blog - Wine90

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Piedmont Bargains

Date: Sun, Feb 8, 2009 Wine Tasting

Piedmont Bargains

Every day I log onto xe.com and gnash my teeth, bite my nails and cry stained Barolo tears over the state of the falling pound. It's happening though. The credit crunch is real, affecting my wine drinking habits, so I presume affecting yours too. While the young Barolo I already own becomes more and more tempting it is high time to start looking around at which other Piedmont producers can offer us some real bargains both within Barolo and into Dolcetto, Barbera, Roero, Ghemme and Gattinara.
Today I am going to run through some QPR bargains from all six of these DOC/DOCG's. Just because famous named Barolo is running £40-£50 a bottle, more if you are looking for Barolo with 10 years already stacked, doesn't mean you can't enjoy other fabulous Nebbiolo or other grapes from the region. So let's get into "credit crunch" mode and talk about the best value Piedmont wines on the market today.

Barolo Bargains
Barolo is one of those wines that has a real geek following. Barolo nuts, of which there are plenty, spend hours discussing the qualities of this producer or that producer, new school vs old school production, specific vinification techniques, the advantages of this vintage over that vintage. Barolo wine aficionados are right up there with their Bordeaux and Burgundy counterparts and if you're reading this you may well be one of them and don't need me to tell you about the value of Varja, the benefit to Baudana or the merit of Molino. These are famously fair priced Barolo products and in some vintages, quite excellent. For 2009 though, which producers are still not getting their plaudits and thus, cheapy!?

Bovio - two excellent Barolo wines, especially from the great 2004 vintage, look out for "Gattera" and "Arborina". A producer starting to come to the fore, these are £20 Barolo products with 90-91 point RP scores. I've rattled on about Bovio before, I'm not sure about the ageing capabilities as I've only tasted the most recent vintages but these are shockingly good Barolo to drink young. Bargain city.

Poderi Colla - another Barolo producer I like to personally champion, Poderi Colla produce value across the spectrum of their wine production. The fairly well known "Bussia Dardi le Rose" has come on leaps and bounds in the first half of this century soaring up to 93 points with RP for the 2004 vintage. Expect to pay £30-35 for this bottling.

Famiglia Anselma - Producing a standard bottling Barolo and the very good "Adasi", these producers are fairly new to Barolo comparatively starting out in 1993. Can be a bit hit and miss but when Anselma do hit, they hit big. Prices are a bit wild but I've seen the Adasi selling for around £30 with some Italian websites.
Giacomo Brezza - With a fair old plot in the Piedmont and producing 4 sterling Barolos, the Sarmassa and Canubi being the best of the bunch it is surprising Brezza dont get their props. A fine producer of Langhe Chardonnay, Dolcetto, Barbera and Nebbiolo too this producer represents the best of the area without the fanfare. Despite Gambero Rosso awards and a long history in the area Brezza just don't come over the radar as they should. Good news for you and I then as you can stack up on quality Cannubi 2001, the Tre Bicchiere year for under £40 a bottle.

Eraldo Viberti - With several Viberti's in the Piedmont you need to make sure you pick out the wines of Eraldo! Though a small producer, Viberti is quickly becoming a consistant quality producer of Barolo. With under 23,000 bottles produced at Viberi each year getting hold of his excellent Barolo may prove tricky. A deserved 90 point wine in good vintages look to pay around £30 per bottle.

Bovio, for my money, is the QPR producer of Barolo at this price point. Of course there is one simple way to knock a few £ of your Nebbiolo habit, same producer - drink Barbaresco!

Rest of the Piedmont
Though some Barbera can run into serious money, look at Braida and the insane price of the Pozzo dell'Annunziata from Roberto Voerzio, with the other wines of the Piedmont you can drink quality for £15 and under. Some of the very best Dolcetto, 90+ Dolcetto retails under £10 so here is a list of the very best from the Piedmont in the £15 and under range.

Dolcetto
Dolcetto d'Alba and Dolcetto di Dogliani have come on leaps and bounds since the jug wine days of only a decade or so previously. Quality Dolcetto is among the best value wine in the world, let alone the Piedmont. At its best a wonderfully concentrated and fruity wine. There are only a few dedicated Dolcetto producers with most of the production coming from already big Piedmont names. Look out for the producers below, those marked in red being the best producers of Dolcetto, all selling for under £15 a bottle;

Ca' Viola, M&E Abbona, Quinto Chionetti, Pecchinino, San Fereolo

Claudio Alario, Bricco Maolica, Anna Maria Abbona, Einaudi, Luigi Einaudi, San Romano, Bruno Giacosa, Vajra, Elio Altare, Francesco Boschis and Brovia.

Barbera
Barbera really is a lot of fun. It's one of those wines whose general quality can not be assured in any way. I've spent a lot of time drinking Cotes du Rhone wines at the moment and am always struck by a kind of standardised quality in them and when you go back to Barbera you really notice that this wine can be tremendous or terrible even within similar price points. With Barbera you really do have to know what you're looking for. The price of Barbera can similarly run the gamut but for around £15 your best bets would be La Spinetta, Giacomo Conterno (maybe closer £20), La Morindina, Bava, Hastae, Iuli, Cascina Ferro, Claudio Alario, Enzo Boglietti, La Tenaglia and Martinetti. Look for '05, '01 and '00 vintages.

Roero
This is one of the Piedmont productions that can offer serious Nebbiolo value with even the top producers coming in around the £15 mark. Look out for Malvira, Angelo Negro & Figli, Matteo Correggia, Gallino, Cascina Chicco and Cascina Val del Prete.

Ghemme
A DOCG wine made mostly from the Nebbiolo grape there are few great producers of the wine with the most consistent and readily available globally being Cantalupo.

Gattinara
I've featured Gattinara on the blog a couple of times one of the most famous producers being Travaglini for their peculiar shaped bottle. However, the best producer without question is Antoniolo but both these producers retail closer to the £20 mark.

If you want bargain Nebbiolo the clear choice would be Roero wines, if you're experimenting in the wines of the Piedmont there is wonderful value in even the top producers of both Dolcetto and Barbera. Don't forget the white Gavi wines from the region or even the rapidly improving Langhe Chards. So there you have it, even in Italys most prestigious wine areas there are still 90+ point wines for £15 and under and with Bovio you can even have top class Barolo for a £20 note. Happy bargain hunting!

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Of course I've missed your favourite bargain wine from the Piedmont! Lets share our experiences of QPR Piedmont wines.
Italian Wine Blog - Wine90

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Bucci Verdicchio Classico Castelli di Jesi Riserva

Date: Wed, Feb 4, 2009 Wine Tasting

Bucci Verdicchio Classico Castelli di Jesi Riserva

Bucci Verdicchio Classico Castelli di Jesi Riserva is regarded as one of Italy's premier white wines and one of the only wines from Le Marche to continually receive the prestigious Tre Bicchiere award from Gambero Rosso year after year. Made from the increasingly fashionable Verdicchio grape this wine is Le Marche's sweetheart and the optimum expression of the varietal. No producer gives better service to Verdicchio, a grape getting more and more attention recently due to its great acidity and nutty character and no producer is better at giving the grape life as this white is capable of becoming rich and elegant with ageing capabilities of 6-10 years in great vintages.

Having never covered a wine from Le Marche on the blog I thought it about high time. Le Marche is not generally known for its wine. This is an area held in a rather low regard by many Italians as being less rich in culture, cuisine and wine but outside of Italy the Ex-pats of Europe and the USA and pouring forth into the region attracted by low house prices, a coast and the jewel in Le Marche's crown, Urbino, a world heritage site, a glorious walled hilltop town rivalling any in Tuscany and Umbria with a fascinating history. Wiki it! Fascinated?

In fact, I myself went house hunting in Le Marche, travelling up and down the coast and falling in love with another fantastic hilltop town, Macerata. So I have been raring to taste the 2005 effort from Villa Bucci having been, along with the rest of the world, so impressed by the 2004. However it is the 2001 vintage that scooped the Italian White Wine of the Year award with Gambero Rosso and apparently is still alive and kicking, complex and long. If you've tried this wine leave a comment, please!


So who are these Villa Bucci sorts? Well, Villa Bucci is a long established producer in the Verdicchio DOC region close to the town of Corinaldo, a few miles inland from Senigalia. With 25 hectares, most of this Verdicchio, Ampelio Bucci employs rigorous grape selection with yields of 2.9 tons per acre and am ample 18 months in Slavonian oak for the vineyards masterpiece, the Riserva. Also producing a high quality standard label Verdicchio and an interesting Red, the "Rosso" is 70% Montepulciano d'Abruzzo and 30% Sangiovese.
To the left is the villa of the Bucci family standing within the grounds of the 990 acre property. I would be jealous except for the toil and time poured into this fabulous Italian wine that I highly recommend. Say no to PG!
Bucci Verdicchio Classico Castelli di Jesi Riserva 2005 - BUY - €30
Crisp Golden colour in the glass. Really interesting nose, smokey notes, stones as well as fruit, lots of apple as well as almonds - butter spread on apricot stones! The kind of wine that gives you something new on the nose with every sniff! On the palate the flavours are so clean and pure, a little biscuity with a long 20-30 second finish. A wine for sea food without question. 92 Points
So, laying €30 on an Italian white wine is probably not something you do often, neither do I, but this is sheer classic Italian wine making and an experience in itself. Get someone else to buy you a bottle.
So whats coming up on the blog in February? I've just splurged at BBR to bring you wines all month from the four corners of the world but with a few extra special Italian wines in the mix. None of this is for my pleasure. It's all for you. Following yesterdays rant about Schioppettino I've bought in the latest from Ronco del Gnemiz as well as previously untasted Primitivo and Nero d'Avola at the budget end. Outside of the Italian wines there is a grand old Rioja, a Malbec, Californian Syrah, a Burgundy, and a couple from Bonny Doon, as well as the 2008 Sauv Blanc from Cloudy Bay.
Where can I buy this wine?
Americans - Winebuys - $32
Europeans - Molisini - €30
Brits - Goose Egg - You can't, once again.
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Whats coming up for you, wine wise, this month? Or any wise, what you up to!
Italian Wine Blog - Wine90

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Moschioni Pignolo

Date: Tue, Feb 3, 2009 Wine Tasting

Moschioni Pignolo

Moschioni Pignolo is a wine and a grape that are yet to feature within Wine90 and I have to admit a little ignorance on the part of this producer, the wines having been mentioned and recommended to me, but slurped just once by yours truly. Having been blown away in a Venice apartment by Moschioni's "Schiopettino" and to coincide with my trip back to Venice tomorrow I popped the cork on one of the wines most traditional to the area.

Pignolo is a local grape of Fruili, one of Italy's alleged 2000 indigenous grapes, and with Moschioni, one of the most highly regarded producers of the region, we have here a prime example of the varietal. With low yields, natural filtration processes and with no insecticides at the vineyards, Moschioni is one of the new breed in the North taking it back to basics and with startling success. Considering that Pignolo means "fussy" in Italian (as this grape is notoriously hard to cultivate) and with low yields in the vineyards already, you can imagine that this is quite the wine, at quite the price. You'd be right. But worth it?

Absolutely. These wines are deep, bold and jammy and with the Moschioni Pignolo 5% of the grapes are partly dried, giving it a concentrated boost.

So if you want to give Pignolo a try but don't fancy the $100 price tag then there are a few more respectable Pignolo producers vineyards (though not many). Choose from:

Jermann - $30 - (for QPR, this is the best)
Girolamo Dorigo
- $70
Livon - $30

However it is in the hands of Moschioni that you find this tough little grape reaches its truest expression. Moschioni produces results of the same quality with his other red stunner Schiopettino (means - Gunshot). In 2004 this wine was awarded 95 points by Antonio Galloni. Schiopettino wines grown in the Colli Orientali del Friuli region are once again dark and med-full bodied but can take on, in the right hands, a Rhone quality with sensational aromatics, raspberry and spices. Really, a serious Italian wine fan needs to take home both the Pignolo and the Schiopettino from Moschioni, they are little masterclasses of Italian wine making.

Moschioni Pignolo 2004 - BUY - €54
Deep ruby red in colour the wine immediately strikes you with a harmonious nose, blackberries, dense jammy notes complemented by a thick and tannic mouth feel but flavourful and lingering on the tongue. Its a wine of tremendous balance, full bodied and delivering quality from start to finish. Brava 93 Points

Where can I buy this wine?
Americans - International Cellar - $110
Europeans - Enoteca Ronchi - €54
Brits - You can't get it anywhere!


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If you had a dream vineyard, where would it be and what would you plant? Aaaaaah good question eh?
Italian Wine Blog - Wine90

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Talenti Brunello di Montalcino 2001

Date: Mon, Feb 2, 2009 Wine Tasting

Talenti Brunello di Montalcino 2001


Talenti Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Vigne del Paretaio 2001 is the most critically acclaimed wine ever produced by Riccardo Talenti's estate in the southern region of Montalcino close by the village of S.Angelo in Colle. Riccardo, the son of Brunello trailblazer, Pierluigi Talenti, once the chief winemaker at Il Poggione, now has 20ha of vines producing top class and well priced, consistent Brunello di Montalcino as well a very respectable Rosso and an interesting blend, "Talenti" combining Sangiovese, Syrah, Canaiola and Colorino. Its with the Riserva Vigne del Paretaio though that this producer really comes into their own.
The Riserva is only produced in outstanding years. 2001 was a 5 star vintage for Brunello walking off with many international awards. The Riserva wine goes through a heavy grape selection, such low yields from a small site equal a low production and astronomical prices. Don't expect to pay less than £50/60/$70 for a bottle of the 2001. The wine matures in barrel for a full year longer than the standard Brunello bottling, the Riserva does not really become accessible for a good 6-8 years which means.... *drum roll* its about good to drink now.
Which is what I did.
"Where the hell have you been?" I logged into my emails yesterday to find an angry mob, well, a virtual angry mob, and less angry than slightly miffed. Well, you'll all be pleased to know I've been deathly sick! For about a full month I have been sick with tonsillitis followed by a bout of the flu. Strangely enough the doctor did not prescribe me with copious amounts of wine and it was only this weekend that I could get my eye in once more, and return to my first love, getting blotto.
To mark the occasion I chose the Talenti Brunello, for those of you in the know, Talenti is the name of the Roman suburb I first moved to when I started my Italian escapades. It seemed only fitting that my return from absence should be marked by a wine so exquisite.
This wine was fabulous. Perhaps it was the fact my taste buds had been deprived for so long, or perhaps it was the narcotic mix of Lempsips and Nytol but I can happily award this wine a stonking 94 points. You're unlikely to come across it, but if you do come across any Talenti Brunello di Montalcino, from decent years, you will find yourself with a 90+ point wine.
Talenti Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Vigne del Paretaio 2001 - BUY - €65
Intense deep ruby red in the glass with a punchy and fast releasing nose, acres of fruit, dark chocolate, tobacco, blackberries and almost Barolo-esque earthiness are a treat. On the palate the wine is well balanced, firm tannins and a lengthy finish combine. Just Champion. 94 Points
So, I'm back Jack. You can expect regular updates from this point forth, come hell or high water, 5 inches of snow (as we have in London today) or partial lung collapse, I will be here battling for your Italian wine needs. Till next time ( tomorrow, or the mob are round ).
Where can I buy this wine?
The cheapest I could find it was in the States. We drank it all prematurely here :(
New York's finest - De Vino - $80
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How've ya bin?
Italian Wine Blog - Wine90

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