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2002 Piedmont Vintage

Date: Wed, Sep 3, 2008 Wine Tasting

2002 Piedmont Vintage

The 2002 Piedmont Vintage was universally panned. Piedmont 2002 is your Pearl Harbor vintage (the movie, not the event). It sucked HARD. This vintage has serious cooties. Many producers couldn't salvage much from a vintage of heavy rain and hail. The Nebbiolo grape doesn't take kindly to being bashed about and soaked, those with Barbera vineyards fared better. Possibly the worst vintage for 50 years, the 2002 Piedmont range is thin on the ground due to limited production, most bottles occupy wine lists in bars and restaurants.

Why am I telling you about this? Aha! Two reasons. Firstly, and whimsically, I have just sat through 45 minutes of the most horrendous rain and hail storms I've ever seen, which on the 3rd of September in the heart of the Veneto must surely have taken their toll on what is already a trying vintage. Secondly, I'm telling you because in every situation there are winners and losers and with the 2002 Piedmont vintage there are many good wines that are under priced (especially considering the crazy 2004 prices). Try offering a 2002 to a Piedmont fan! The reputation of this vintage is so bad that every wine suffers that carries the year. The upshot of this negative publicity is a very real 40% discount on what these wines might normally sell for. No one wants the plague after all.

If you're loving Barolo and Barbaresco but don't love laying down $75+ a bottle and are looking for wine to drink within this year then 2002 can hold some real bargains. The real bargains with bum vintage wines come at restaurants. I wouldn't personally recommend ordering any high value wines at restaurants but bum vintages can offer the best value and are usually for drinking younger. Below I have compiled a list of the best rated Nebbiolo based wines from 2002 and, where possible, the saving you can make from the 2004 vintage. Prices are contrasted against the same wines from the same online stockists.

Top 5 2002 Bum Vintage recommendations
Pio Cesare Barolo - €23 - Saving of 47%
Reverdito Barolo Moncucco - €20 - Unreal price for one of the best Barolos made in '02
La Spinetta Barbaresco - €40 - Saving of 45%
Ca' Del Baio Barbaresco - €13 - 2004 Vintage retails at 230% more
Albino Rocca Barbaresco - €15 - Saving of 60%

Saving the best till last. Albino Rocca is a legend, to be picking up any vintage of this wine for €15, especially the best Barbaresco of 2002 at €15, bum vintage or not, this is QPR overload.

$22. TWENTY TWO DOLLARS! Snap this up right now. These 2002's are drinking perfectly this year. If you don't normally buy top label wines then this is your chance to get one of the Piedmont's top producers on your Thanksgiving table for TWENTY TWO dollars. I don't want to hear that Barbaresco is not a wine for Turkey, at this price, it's a wine for Turkey! Click here. I'm moving to the states for this bargain!
Don't get me wrong, on the whole these wines are not up to the 2004 or even the 2003 standard, I am not selling you on 2002. The vintage still sucks regardless of the price but the above wines don't suck as much as they could for the price! The 2002's can be hard to come by, not only because of limited production but also because stockists don't want them so when you do find them, and if you find one of the wines listed above, snap it up.
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Bum Vintage bargains! The book says AVOID, but what do you say? There's nothing finer than finding a bargain, what are your bum vintage bargain recommendations?
Italian Wine Blog - Wine90

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Where's Wino?

Date: Tue, Sep 2, 2008 Wine Tasting

Where's Wino?

This weekend was not spent on the highways and byways of the Rhine or the grand boulevards of gay Paris nor even the Polish enclaves of South West London. This weekend was one of glorious duty with mama and papa Newtonelli, tying up the loose ends of my life in Venezia/Perugia/Roma in preperation for my imminent move to the glamorous beating heart of the wine world, Wimbledon (ok ok Earlsfield, but where's the illiteration in that?). In between the comune, post office and bank runs I made time to drink a boat load of vino and visit the Antonelli San Marco vineyards for a swift tasting sesh.
A beautiful place it is too. You can't really miss it. On the road into Montefalco both sides of the road are dominated for some distance by the vineyards of Antonelli San Marco. One of the largest (possible the, anyone know?) producers in Montefalco, Antonelli are set up for visitors, marking out all their vineyards with the wine for which the grapes make. Oooooh big deal? Believe me, in Italy it really is.

Part of the Strada Sagrantino and close to Paolo Bea this vineyard is worth a visit. I partook in a tasting of 6 of their wines, 4 reds, 2 whites and on this particular day wasn't all that impressed with the reds, excluding the 2004 Sagrantino Passito which is very close to pure raisin juice. I was pleasantly surprised in the quality of the whites especially at the price points. The basic 07 Grechetto was extremely aromatic and easy drinking and at €5 a bargain. The real star was the 100% Grechetto Vigna Tondo, aromatic and with some structure and complexity, for €9 it is something I recommend you seek out.
After my slightly disappointing visit we headed into Montefalco town to get some better Sagrantino at the wine restaurants that mark the main street to the central square of the town. If you are planning to visit Italy on a wine tour probably you are looking to the Piedmont, Veneto or Tuscany but if you've been there and done that, I strongly recommend a trip to Montefalco. The Sagrantino wines are a bit culty, tannic and could be termed inaccessible if you are new to wine but if you are looking for a true taste of Italy, a local grape accompanied by some great restaurants and typical Italian country views then a trip to Montefalco will be very rewarding. If, like me, you have to take a 6 hour train journey to get there, standing on the Intercity, 3 deep, next to the spacious cabins in 40°c heat while the panini trolley runs over your toes, it's a little less rewarding.

In between all this fun I squeezed in 3 bottles of wine to review for y'all here. The Ceretto Barbara d'Alba 2005, the George DuBoeuf Beajoulais Villages 2006 and the Chateau des Tours Cote du Rhone Reserve 2004.
Tut Tut, I know, more French wines, but if you saw a bottle of Beaujolais in a small supermarket in Perugia you would also make a grab for it. It called out to me. Plus, there has been a huge spat on Ebob about whether GdB is a hero or villain in Beaujolais, I vote hero. I wanted to see if the 2006 Bojo Villages would change my mind, even if this is a long way from the top bottling! Plus, I'm going through a Bojo phase!
Georges DuBoeuf Beaujolais Villages 2006 - BUY - €8
Light purple in the glass, good clarity. A pretty and powerful nose, floral and raspberry notes dominate, a little faux sugar. Mid bodied on the palate, some cherry and violet flavours. Simple and easy to drink. 85 Points
Ceretto Barbera d'Alba 2005 - PASS - €13
Dark purple in the glass quickly giving up notes of vanilla and dark fruits. Nice mineral flavours on the palate, good balance and a strong, long fruity finish. Pleasant, not stunning. In fact, for such a great name as Ceretto, a touch disappointing. 86 Points
Chateau des Tours Cote du Rhone Reserve 2004 - BUY - €20
Garnet red in the glass with faint orange hues this wine was very aromatic and I feel I opened it at the peak of it's evolution. Pretty nose of strawberries and coffee. An opulent and pleasant mouth feel, mid bodied wine but with a snappy finish. 90 Points
I don't strongly recommend any of these wines so wont produce any consumer advice on them.
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I'm sure most of you reading this have tried a GdB Beaujolais of some kind from Moulin-à-Vent to Nouveau. Do you love your Beaujolais? Or would you turn to Valpolicella as a replacement?
Italian Wine Blog - Wine90

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Wine Geekdom

Date: Thu, Aug 28, 2008 Wine Tasting

Wine Geekdom

So when did it happen for you, Wine Geekdom? When did you go from being someone who enjoyed drinking wine... and beer... and cocktails and really anything of the sort to a person who became completely captured by the world of wine? Last night I was talking to some wine friends and recall thinking to myself, while one of them was waxing lyrical about a certain bottle, that WOW, how weird is this? We're all sitting about talking about grape juice like it was a Proust novel. This isn't the first time this feeling hit me. Every now and again I catch myself talking about wine and thinking how crazy it is that such enthusiasm and passion can be spurred by the juice of pressed grapes. When did I become captured by the romance of wine? When did it stop being about the points and the prices and become something else entirely?

Everyone has their own stories that usually revolve around one of two reasons. That seminal wine. Or that seminal wine friend. In my case, it was a combination of both.

My ex-partners father was a real Burgundy fan. A creature I hadn't encountered before, he went to Burgundy, visited the vineyards, talked about the first growths, the cru's, how moved he was by the earth, the land, the techniques and the wines themselves. I've never met someone like this before and my immediate reaction was a raised eyebrow and a high pitched "hokay then". He had a story about every bottle he proudly showed me in his cellar. The man was in his element. Wine stirred in him something so personal that this normally matter of fact man became a poet of the most romantic kind. He introduced me to a bottle of wine, he talked about it with such enthusiasm that it would have been impossible to dislike it. That wine, my seminal wine moment, was a bottle of 2003 Morgon cru Beaujolais.

I don't remember the producer. I remember that I enjoyed the wine so much, and was so pumped up by his enthusiasm that it started me on the road to where I am today. I read up about the 2003 vintage, about Morgon and about Beaujolais. It wasn't too long before I learnt that my seminal wine, a Beaujolais, is something unenlightened wine snobs would guffaw at, and HARD! I don't care. Morgon cru Beaujolais is etched onto my heart and has led me all the way to this point, in Italian wines no less! I didn't make a tasting note, I wouldn't have known how to. He had. He had details of the wine, the best drinking age, how much he paid for it, his personal experience of each bottle kept next to all his wines. A good practice.
Next month, after all my travels around Europe and especially Italy I move back to London. To celebrate I ordered some wines from BBR and within that case, of course, is Morgon cru Beaujolais, I revisit this wine regularly to pay a kind of homage to where it all began and if that aint Wine Geekdom, gals and pals, I'm not sure what is.

Of course when we talk about wine, we are talking about the liquid we have in front of us, but we're also talking about the blood sweat and tears of the producer, what was going on that year at the vineyard, the country in which the wine is grown. Those with a love for Italian wines, more often than not, also have a passion for all things Italian. My seminal wine friend is a massive Francophile and this helps the attachment grow. Is it a coincidence that I studied Roman Archaeology, that I support Ferrari and follow the calcio? A love for the land should lead naturally for a love for that which comes from it? Wine is romantic. It captures the senses and the imagination like nothing else. I have suffered heartbreak over wine, truly. Opening a bottle I've been saving for years to find that it is corked, or cooked, this can break my day! I can not imagine how it feels for wine producers, I could never do their job. Work all year to perfect the ripeness of your grapes, only for a hailstorm to ruin your crops a few weeks before harvest. Oh well, no wine this year! Did Fiorentina beat Lazio?
As a critic or a buyer, you leave your bias at the door, Francophile, Italophile, whatever. As a consumer I spend from the heart.
*stands up* My name is Sarah Newton, I'm 28 years old and I'm a wine geek.

The first step to recovery is admitting it after all.

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No reviews today but I would love to hear about your seminal wine moment, the wine, the person or experience that turned you from a person who drinks wine into a "wine geek".
Italian Wine Blog - Wine90

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Inama Soave Classico

Date: Wed, Aug 27, 2008 Wine Tasting

Inama Soave Classico

Inama Soave Classico is a wine that unites the world. Inama Soave Classico is ridiculously cheap, fantastically and consistently flavourful and gives you everything you ever wanted from a wine. You want a multi dimensional nose? You got it. You want a balanced and structured wine? No worries. You want to pay £7 for a 90 point wine? Sold to the lady in the straw hat. It's insane how good this wine is for the money but not as insane as the fact that Soave is continually overlooked in favour of *blows into hand* Pinot Grigio.

I couldn't be more bored with Pinot Grigio right now. Ok, Vie de Romans, Villa Russiz, they produce wonderful Pinot Grigio's but still, the mass produced, mass exported Pinot Grigio out there, for the most part, is dull as dishwater. I've had more exciting bottles of mineral water, honestly! So what is it about Pinot Grigio? Why is everyone drinking this wine over Soave? Over Falanghina? Is it purely Pinot envy? It could be a part of the reason. If asked to name an Italian white on Family Fortunes every one would hear the "wha wha whaaaaaa TOP ANSWER" because we all know PG. I am begging of you to put it down, step away from the PG and pick up a bottle of Soave, and not just any bottle of Soave, THIS bottle of Soave.
Inama are a celebrated and fairly new vineyard (1960's) in the Soave Classico region producing some stonking whites at great prices. This particular Soave has a production of 150,000 bottles a year which is fairly high and that they manage to achieve such excellence with such a high production is a credit to the winemakers. They are busy bees over at Inama, knocking out high quality Chardonnays, standard Veneto Rosso's, Sauvignon Blancs, dessert wine and a very good Carmenere. However, it is their range of Soave's that set the Gambero Rosso guys salivating and gets me clapping my hands with glee because we have, in their Soave range, QPR in spades.

For those who don't know Soave, it's a region in the Veneto with 3 DOC/DOCG wines. Soave is not a grape variety, the grape used to make Soave is called "Garganega".

Soave DOC - Tends to be the cheapest of the 3, no real ageing potential, a simple example of the Garganega grape.
Soave Classico DOC - These are wines with grapes grown in the "Classico" region of Soave, that being Soave itself and Monteforte d'Alpone. These wines tend to take on a more mineral quality and are a little fruitier and capable of a little ageing. Oh, and they're pricier too.
Recioto di Soave Superiore DOCG - These wines can only be grown on the slopes of Soave and Monteforte d'Alpone, must have at least 3 months bottle age. The Riserva versions must be aged two years. These wines are more complex than the Soave Classico DOC's.

If you're still feeling the need to head into Pinot Grigio land let me give you some PG Tips, as with every grape varietal that becomes exceptionally popular there are some real lemons out there but there are also four really excellent producers namely Vie de Romans, Villa Russiz, Tramin and from the Alto Adige, Alois Lageder.
Soave is the wine of Romeo and Juliet, it can be complex, it can be simple but a good bottle is always fruity and for nosehounds this is one of the better Italian whites with interesting aromas of honey, pears and apricots. These are nose and flavour profiles I enjoy in a white wine but I do realise that some people just like bland, dairy milk chocolate, walkers ready salted crisps and standard Pinot Grigio. Whatever floats yer boat, innit!
Inama Soave Classico 2006 - BUY - €9
Very light hay colour, a pleasant nose of pears, peaches, honeyed with some apricot notes too, nose is wonderfully fresh and fruity. The palate is structured, mid bodied, the fruit continues throughout the tasting with a super long finish. That this is £7 a bottle is crazy. Value here in spades. 90 Points
Where can I buy this wine?
Europeans - Web di Vino - €9.25
Americans - Wine Exchange - $10.99
Brits - The Cellar Door - £7
Australians - No place! Sorry
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I'm still waiting for that Australian Italian wine superstore? Anyone know one? Am I bashing your beloved Pinot Grigio? Have you tried Soave? Have you tried this Soave? Stories of Soave please!
Italian Wine Blog - Wine90

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Antonelli San Marco

Date: Tue, Aug 26, 2008 Wine Tasting

Antonelli San Marco

Antonelli San Marco - It seems the German wines are boring you rigid so Antonelli San Marco then, the Montefalco outfit who are coming on leaps and bounds seems like a good way to kick off this 100th blog post of the Italian wine blog! Aren't you going to congratulate me? 100 not out!
As I reported last week I've been moved into the product section of our company which means I get to try more wines and recommend and discount the better ones so you can try them too. In the last 7 days we've added some wines of Antonelli San Marco, Arnaldo Caprai and the huge Tuscan powerhouse, Frescobaldi.

Antonelli San Marco are an interesting company producing year on year better Sagrantino and a few lesser priced blended wines. I have been raving on about Umbria on here for yonkers, I have a home a good golf stroke from Montefalco itself, and Umbria is just a footstep from Tuscany yet the prices of wines and properties is a marked amount less. Some real bargains can be found in Umbrian blends, but its the Sagrantino wines that are the highlight in Umbria.
You may recall a few months back I visited the Arnaldo Caprai vineyards - click here to read more about Sagrantino di Montefalco. These are among the most powerful wines in the world and those who like some tannin sand-papering their mouths or enjoy waiting 15 years for a wine to be accesible will love them. The Antonelli Sagrantino's are not yet as famous as the Caprai's and Bea's of this world, as such they are cheaper and a little softer and for my money a good introduction to this grape.

Antonelli San Marco are your due bicchiere vineyard, perpetually it would seem. Although this vineyard has been around since the 19th century the new generation, headed up by Filippo Antonelli, has brought a new buzz to the place. The 2003 Sagrantino, despite the heat that made it too hot too handle in a few other wineries is among the best ever produced here and the blended wines of 03 and 04 have taken a hike in quality too but the bargain of the last 5 years from this vineyard is the ordinary Rosso di Montefalco Riserva 2003, certainly a contender for the big 90 and under €15. Typically we don't sell the Riserva, obviously the 2003 is becoming a limited commodity we only sell the standard bottling but its the Riserva I am going to recommend and source.
For those interested in the wines on The Cellar Door added this week we have:
- Arnaldo Caprai Sagrantino di Montefalco Collepiano 2001
- Arnaldo Caprai Montefalco Rosso 2003
- Antonelli San Marco Montefalco Rosso 2003
- Antonelli San Marco Sagrantino di Montefalco 2001
- Frescobaldi Morellino di Scansano 2004
- Frescobaldi Chianti Riserva Nipozzano 2003
- Diego Curtaz Torrette 2007
- Diego Curtaz Gamay 2007
Yes thats right, Italian Gamay, and it's alright too, if you're a Bojo lover you should have a go with it.
Antonelli San Marco Montefalco Rosso Riserva 2003 - BUY - €12
Deep and attractive ruby red in the glass. Aromas of leather and spices, earthy and intense with a fine structure and coating mouth feel, very hot on the finish but some nice coffee in the midpalate, a wine that I feel could suit my personal tastes be warned, its a strong wine. 89 Points.
Can only find this wine available in the states from Corporate Wines! Told you it was a devil to find.
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As always I'd love to know what wines you'd like to see sold it is our aim to get to 1000 Italian wines in 2009 making us one of the largest Italian wine sellers online but don't let me buy a load of lemons, what do you fancy? Any comments about anything always welcome! :D Anyone who wants to say Brava on my 100th post will receive a virtual hug... awwww!
Italian Wine Blog - Wine90

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Frankfurt Wine

Date: Tue, Aug 26, 2008 Wine Tasting

Frankfurt Wine

Frankfurt Wine - or the wines I found within Frankfurt are both well stocked internationally and well supplied locally. Frankfurt wines consist of popular, and mostly Tuscan, Bordeaux and Burgundian reds and the white wine on offer is almost exclusively locally produced (Rheingau or Mosel) Riesling. In every decent restaurant you have a good supply of local whites including Rieslings from all harvest periods (Kabinett thru Eiswein) as well as some Müller-Thurgau wines. The only red of any note in the area is produced on the Rhine at a bend in the river at Assmanshausen, this Pinot Noir red called Spatburgunder (late Burgundy) has a tiny production and cult following. The Spatburgunder I tried was nothing to write home about but if you're interested in trying a German red then one of the best exponents of this varietal is August Kesseler.

Through my 3 days in Frankfurt I was on something of a Riesling mission and sampled all the Prädikat designations several times and I can say, for my palate, not loving the Eiswein. For those who don't know the German Prädikat designations are basically an order of the required must weight, the sugar content of the grape juice, and the level required is dependent on grape variety and wine-growing region. Basically its all to do with the time of year the wines are harvested and the ripeness of the grapes. Eiswein is harvested in the middle of winter, December and sometimes January, and only a small amount of wine can be extracted from these grapes. This explains the high prices, around 60kgs of grapes go into one 500ml bottle of Eiswein (compared with a standard 10-15kgs for a regular ripe harvest bottle of wine). Eiswein is sweet, really sweet, to my palate and thru many producers I was only reminded of cough syrup for children, taking the sweetness down a level my favourite sweet Riesling consistently was the Auslese but even this could only be taken as an after dinner wine. For every day, drink it with your salad the Spatlese Rieslings were favourite, as above.

I took a tour of the Rheingau and got to try, in the tiniest glasses known to man, a range of locally produced wines. What immediately strikes you about this part of the Rhein, between Assmanshausen and Lorelei is the amount of area covered by vine. I've never seen anything like it, the south facing slopes are complimented by the wide Rhein and protected by the hills facing the vineyards, it really is perfect terroir and they've taken advantage in the most efficient way. Not only is every spare meter under vine but the use of the space is also awesome, the symmetry of the vineyards is almost poetic. Take a look. The area is set up for wine tourism, while I was there it was the 900th anniversary of the production of red wines in Assmanshausen and the town was decorated with banners. Every other building is a wine shop offering tastings and tours. If you have taken tours of the Italian or French wine growing regions you will really appreciate the effort the Germans take to be both informative and open!

What surprised me, in the shops of Frankfurt and the wine lists of the better restaurants was the abundance of Italian wine. I shouldn't really be surprised, a particularly good, famous and well stocked website like http://www.superiore.de/ is catering specifically for the German speaking language who are simply in love with Italian wine, and all things Italian in general. Some great shop bought prices on some famous Super Tuscans, including 2004 Tignanello (which you find very rarely now in the Italian stores) makes Frankfurt a great place to spend time for an Italian red lover.

Unlike Italy, Germany only has great white wines and in their whites they are as nationally selective as the Italians are about all their wines! I didn't see a Soave or Pinot Grigio all weekend! The hotel I stayed at, Intercontinental Frankfurt, was as magnanimous about International brands as the rest of the city allowing myself and my travel partner to have a hotel room tasting session. On offer were about 10 different wines by the glass, 3 of these being German, the rest being Kalifornian, Italien, Französisch, Chilenischen und Australian. Tasting notes to follow.
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Ever been to Frankfurt, what is your favourite German wine?
Italian Wine Blog - Wine90

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Wine Heaven

Date: Wed, Aug 20, 2008 Wine Tasting

Wine Heaven

By the power of Greyskull! I HAVE THE POWER! Today I'm in wine heaven as greater responsibility of our range of wines has been passed to myself following the full time departure of our current product manager. Whilst it is sad news indeed to be losing a colleague and friend from The Cellar Door the opportunity to be in control of the wine inventory is far and away more exciting than online marketing. Would you rather spend all day tagging and blogging or swirling and spitting? Don't even answer it!
While it's certainly exciting to be charged with increasing and improving our range of wines it is also mind boggling. The sheer range of Italian wines, with their 300 appellations and 10,000's producers makes this new role exceptionally challenging. I know it should be She-ra to the left but she's lame!
As I've mentioned a few times, I am moving to London at the end of September and will begin my rounds of the Restaurants, Hotels and wine bars and begin to promote our company outside of Italy. I'm asking for your help! Of course, I've been to Arnaldo Caprai and made my mind up to get this fantastic producer on the site ASAP. Personal involvement over the year with Vie de Romans, Feudi di San Gregorio, Racemi Primitivo, Inami and Viviani put them top of my list and no Italian wine website should be without Banfi, Fontodi and Frescobaldi even if their wines don't do it for me, they're popular.
Then there are the restaurants who require a completely different selection of wines. Always looking for the next exciting producer or appellation en vogue and with the ability to mark it up in an obscene way. Meeeeeeep!
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Give the people what they want! What do you want? What Italian wine do you drink most often? What Italian wine do you find hard to source? Which Italian wine do you think no self respecting wine website should be without?
I am asking you to do my job for me? Of course. I'm busy. Ta. xxx
Italian Wine Blog - Wine90

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Mosel Riesling

Date: Tue, Aug 19, 2008 Wine Tasting

Mosel Riesling

Mosel Riesling, or what 18 months ago was Mosel-Saar-Ruwer Riesling is the area of Germany where the Riesling grape finds its best expression. Aside from Alsace, the other great Riesling producing region of France, (that once was Germany, where German Shepherd dogs are named after, but really should be called French Shepherd dogs post 1945, but that wouldn't frighten any intruder now would it?) Riesling is thought to be king. Frankly, it's all a bit complicated before we even begin. For German wines, the categorisation of such, the different harvest times and the unpronouncable terminology leave me a little confused. Italian wine is a dive in the penalty box compared with your Eiswein, Spätlese, QbA's and Prädikatswein.

It's worth it. If only for the bottle shapes alone! Riesling is still out of vogue which is a bizarre trend seeing as the wine could be described as the antithesis of Chardonnay, as Riesling never has an oaky character. Since my London wine flight two months ago where a sweet Riesling from New Zealand hit 9 other big names out of the park I've been sampling Rieslings from any country at every opportunity, which living in Italy, isn't all that often actually! However, when I see Riesling on the menu it jumps out at me and is definitely my grape of the season. That season being summer, it's a timely grape fad as with Riesling you have the luxury of a range of sweetness in your wine and a variety of countries growing the grape. As possibly the most terroir driven grape variety I would recommend anyone studying wine or interested on picking up on the nuances of terroir to stick with Riesling for a few months and really come to appreciate it.

In 2 days I fly to Frankfurt, just 100 miles outside the Mosel zone for a long weekend where I plan to sample a full range of Rieslings. I have the wine lists of a few restaurants printed out already and I'm good to go. Of course the notes will appear here on Wine 90 as will restaurant recommendations, if they're any good of course!

Mosel Riesling has a huge production and a wide variety of producers who go about making wines through the sweetness range from the dry Rieslings right the way thru to Eiswein (Ice Wine), so called because the grapes have been frozen on the stalks and harvested as late as necessary, usually December. The frozen water within the grape creates a concentrated must and a super sweet wine. Whilst Eiswein is waxed lyrical across internet wine blogs, I have never had the pleasure, so this is one of my "must do" experiences for Frankfurt. The top Eiswein names to look out for are Hermann Donnhoff, Selbach-Oster and Dr Loosen among others, to make an Italian comparison these are Gaja priced producers and I'll be looking for something a little more value driven on my trip.

Mosel Dry Rieslings are usually well balanced fruity affairs with precise and clear flavour profiles. These wines are usually quite low in alcohol, crisp and light bodied and very good value. If this is the white wine profile you enjoy then producers to seek out include the guys above who produce a range of sweetness among their Rieslings and Fritz Haag, Winninger, Egon Muller and Merkelbach.

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Any restaurant or sight seeing recommendations for Frankfurt? Any Riesling recommendations? Do you enjoy Riesling? have you tried Eiswein? can you speak German? ever been bitten by a French shepherd? or any other rootin' tootin' thing you have to say.
Italian Wine Blog - Wine90

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Bibi Graetz Testamatta 2005

Date: Fri, Aug 15, 2008 Wine Tasting

Bibi Graetz Testamatta 2005

Bibi Graetz Testamatta 2005 has been sat in my cellar now for a few months and with the recent review of Bibi Graetz Testamatta 2006 from Wine Spectator getting an unbelievable 98 points it seems the time was right to pop what I already knew was a good wine and see if the 2005 comes anywhere close to that impressive. I've been neglecting Tuscany a little over the past few weeks but tonight with the rain pelting down on Venice I needed to be taken away to another terroir and I don't think another bottle wraps up Tuscany in the way this Bibi Graetz wine does.

The Bibi Graetz vineyards are just outside of Florence, not where you would expect to find a wine scoring 98 points or indeed a wine so frequently lauded by all critics, national and international. Yet it is here that a very small production, only around 25,000 bottles, of one of Tuscanys best blended wines is grown. The 2006 is available from September and with that score you will want to buy a case and with a current retail point of €69 this wine is perfect for those who like to buy a case to drink and a case for investment (so in actual fact you are drinking your world class Super Tuscans for free, nice eh?)
Look at that funky label. Which top Italian design team came up with that? Well actually, the multi talented Bibi Graetz himself created the image on the bottle that gives that last official rubber stamp of uniqueness and authenticity to this wine. Although this wine isn't from Bolgheri it's still an ITG Super Tuscan and if the 2006 is 98 Points and €69 you have here the best value Super Tuscan on the market.
Another thing Bibi Graetz do exceptionally well is promote the best of the local grapes. Whereas your other Super Tuscans will use Cabernet Sauvignon, Franc and Merlot alongside Sangiovese, Graetz opts to include Colorino, Canaiolo and Malvasia Nera into the blend depending on their individual growing successes in each vintage. So what of the 2005? Actually it was all Sangiovese this time around, and while I like it very much, I don't like it 98 points. I can't wait to try this 2006 vintage!
Bibi Graetz Testamatta 2005 - BUY - €65
Vibrant dark ruby red in the glass, particularly nice colour, dark hues. Large and forward aromas of plums, blackberries and cassis, a small hint of floral notes. Best on the palate the wine is superbly balanced with some nice toast on the mid palate as well as some fruit. Not fruit forward but a luscious mouth feel and firm tannins which suggest I'm here too early. Drink after 2010. 92 Points
This is one of those wines where I can envisage a higher score in a few years time but for today it's 92 points to my palate.
Where can I buy this wine?
Europeans - Vinpiu - €65
Americans - Wine Library - $79.98
Brits - Fine and Rare - £40
Australians - Not sure! If anyone knows tell me and I'll add it!
Leave a Comment
Last night I was looking at the prices of some Chateau Y'quem and making my fantasy league of wines I need to buy over the next 10 years. I dream of Y'quem but know I will settle for a 2003 Rieussec :oD Which is your fantasy wine and what will you end up settling for?!
Italian Wine Blog - Wine90

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Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo

Date: Wed, Aug 13, 2008 Wine Tasting

Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Reserva Privada

Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Reserva Privada doesn't sound very Italian does it? Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Reserva Privada isn't Italian, not by any stretch of the E-magination. However, this weekend I sampled the worlds worst Barolo. I can't even bash the producer because the bottle was bought in London in Whistlestop by a friend who thoughtfully saw the word "Barolo" and bought it for me. There was no producer. Alarm Bells? Apparently not!
As kind and sweet a gesture as this was, we were both spitting it out and pouring it down the drain and refilling our glasses with this famous mass produced Chilean number. Casillero del Diablo have loads of products that I will definately be checking out on the basis of this wine, today I am raving about their 65% Cabernet Sauvignon & 35% Syrah blend Reserva Privada retailing around $13 or £8.

I have to admit, I eyed it with some suspicion. It looks fabulous, has a great name and the reserva came in at something like £8 but in actual fact, it was really very good, one dimensional, could have come from anywhere sure, but as far as grape juice goes, it was a fruit hit and head and shoulders over this nameless shameful Barolo (and about a third of the price).

Back to Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo, I had the 2005, but as with a lot of these mass produced wines, vintages play a smaller role in the overall quality. I have found my second fruity guilty pleasure to go alongside Gallo Zinfandel and it's this wine. As a sucker for good looks, this is an attractive wine and will appeal to the average wine buyer on so many levels, its got the groovy label and the cool name, its got the fruit, its got the "reserva" option if you want to feel a bit special, it's a wine marketing success, and its Chilean, which is kinda cool lets face it. Like Marcello Rios.

My London trips are always great for trying out non Italian wines, sat by the Thames with the HMS Belfast right up in my face I actually found a green Chardonnay in my glass, I don't mean it tasted vegetal or was under-ripe, I mean it was the color green. At a party that same night I got to try an Argentinian Shiraz that was pure raisins, simply raisin juice. I know to you readers sat out there in Milton Keynes or Arlington, VA this is not exciting news, but I am locked up in Italian wine jail, it makes me want to paint my face blue and shout FREEEEEDOM.

So, buy this wine. Try this wine. It's simple but its got nose, it's got palate, it's got it all going on and it's going to accompany meat dishes superbly, it's a red you can drink on its own with a bag of crisps, and if you want to recreate my life, add to the mix a fruit and nut Toblerone and watch Kill Bill I and II back to back. Perfect Sunday I reckon.
Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Reserva Privada 2005 - BUY - €10
Dark ruby red in the glass, explosive spicy nose of blackcurrents, plums and pepper, a full bodied and fruity palate, smooth and well structured, firm tannins, balanced and so fruity. It has a finish, maybe a little clipped but overall, completely enjoyable and highly recommended. 90 Points
Don't forget there is still a competition live until Friday to win a case of wine click here.
Where can I buy this wine?
Europeans - Schuwo - €10
Americans - Empire Wine - $13
Brits - Morrisons or Tesco - £8
Australians - Can't find it online, but probably like everyone else, you can get it down the shops!
Leave a comment
I know, it's not Italian! Tried any Concha y Toro wines? Tried any Chilean wines? Do you think the HMS Belfast is an eye sore too? Did you like Kill Bill? What's your movie wine?
Italian Wine Blog - Wine90

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Wine Olympics

Date: Tue, Aug 12, 2008 Wine Tasting

Wine Olympics Competition

Being the sporty gal I am, the Olympics are always of the utmost interest to me. Every four years I get caught up in the fervour of this aging athletes last chance, or that 13 year olds backward somersault, and, barring the yawn-some opening ceremony and Andy (get a haircut) Murrays limp out of the tennis competition, it's been a good games and especially for us Brits currently sitting 9th in the medal table.

One thing the Olympics do not inspire me to do is to drink more wine but the UKs gradual slide down the table probably will. The Olympics are the creme de la creme of sporting achievement and, being unhealthily obsessed with vino as I am, it led me to think, quite unnaturally, about which bottles our countries would send off to the Wine Olympics.
I'm English, really we don't produce wine, we do produce some quite good act-chew-ally sparkling whites, but well, *muffled cough*. As I live in Italy, we would send the mighty Barolo to the Olympics and probably come in somewhere around 9th too.

Who would win the wine Olympics? Well, it would be Italy. Obviously. Not France. Italy.

What am I waffling on about? WELL. It's another competition of course, last month Mr Andrew won a 6 pack case of assorted Italian wines and I have another question for you to have a 2nd chance to win a case of wine.

Competition Question
Who would win the wine Olympics? The name of the wine and the country please and, even better, a reason for the answer.

Something like this:
B. di Montalcino of Italy would win gold but would later be disqualified for doping :)

Please leave your answer, name and email address as a comment to this post. Competition live until Friday the 15th of August, the best answer wins a 6 pack of Italian wine worth around €80. Good luck!

Italian Wine Blog - Wine90

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Abbona Dogliani Papa Celso Dolcetto

Date: Thu, Aug 7, 2008 Wine Tasting

Abbona Dogliani Papa Celso Dolcetto

Enrico e Marziano Abbona Dogliani Papa Celso is one of the best Dolcetto wines on the market today. Abbona Dogliani Papa Celso Dolcetto, produced in my favourite region of Italy, the Piedmont, is a QPR king in a region where QPR is becoming increasing hard to find. The Piedmont, home to the king of Italian wines, Barolo, has a QPR trick up its ermine laced sleeve and that trick is Dolcetto (well, along with Barbera anyway!).
A wine growing in popularity, Dolcetto is the wine the locals of the Piedmont drink daily but their cover has been blown in some style as the wine is being embraced like a brother across the pond in the good old US of A. Prices are going up, but not as up as they're gonna be. The 2006 is the best vintage of this Dolcetto I have ever tried and whilst I can't go 90, it's close, as close as it can be actually, 89!

Dolcetto is not really a wine for ageing though can be kept nicely up to around 10 years so this isn't a wine to buy by the truck load and sit on in the hope of selling on at a much higher price. It is a wine to be enjoyed today. The Abbona Dogliani Papa Celso Dolcetto is a first class example of Dolcetto and should easily keep that long. It's fairly rare for a Dolcetto to be scoring in the 90's and only the very best get Tre Bicchiere'd and this is one, retailing under €15 is something unique.
Founded in 1970 the vineyards of Enrico and Marziano Abbona are very productive with a great range of Piedmont wines from the grapes of the region. Abbona are famous for their Dolcetto but also produce above par Barbaresco, Barolo and Barbera wines as well as an interesting Langhe Bianco, which under my Veneto sun, is far more appealing today!
Enrico e Marziano Abbona Dogliani Papa Celso Dolcetto 2006 - BUY - €14
Lively dark ruby red in the glass. Intense aromas of blackberries, very fruity with some floral and earth notes too. On the palate the wine is surprisingly mid bodied with firm tannins and a nice finish and a good length. A very complete and nasally exciting Dolcetto. 89 Points
Where can I buy this wine?
Europeans - VinoLanghe - €14
Americans - Wine Chateau - $14 !on sale!
Brits - Berdux Weine - £9
Australians - Delicasa - AU$21
Leave a comment!
What is your favourite Dolcetto, have you ever tried Dolcetto, do you aspire too, if so which?
Italian Wine Blog - Wine90

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Fattorio Petrolo Galatrona

Date: Tue, Aug 5, 2008 Wine Tasting

Fattorio Petrolo Galatrona

Fattorio Petrolo Galatrona is a Merlot that should have appeared during Merlot Month. Fattorio Petrolo Galatrona is one of the most revered Merlot's in Italy, Galatrona's fairly small annual production of 13,000 bottles make it highly sought after though the price is nowhere near a Redigaffi. The 2004 was an awesome one off. The 2004 vintage was crazy across Tuscany producing many greats, but it is here where the vintage gave a great wine the kick into legendary status. The 2004 got a stonking 96 points from Antonio Galloni and an outrageous 97 from James Suckling at Wine Spectator and year after year this bottle is awarded the prestigious Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchere. 2004 Petrolo Galatrona is special, its all that and a bag of chips it is a case buy wine, no questions asked.

Fattorio Petrolo are a slice of Tuscan heaven. Not only do they grow this award winning Merlot but their piece of Tuscany is also a kind of Agriturismo come holiday estate with swimming pools and tennis courts and a beautiful Tuscan villa in which you can stay. You may or may not know your author here has two passions, and two jobs in fact, I love wine but I also love foreign travel, being one of the founders of HotelsClick.com and selling villas across Tuscany. As beautiful as it is, some kind of busmans holiday I would enjoy at this property! If this looks like your kind of holiday a list of prices can be obtained by clicking here. Sadly, this property isn't on my books! Boo Hoo.

Back to the wine. This Merlot is an outrageous deal. I got to try the 2004 this week and it is absolute QPR heaven. In my opinion a 95 point wine, I wasn't quite as impressed as JS but for the money a better value Tuscan Merlot surely can't be found. Can it? This is a wine that must be decanted and probably a points value will depend on which part of the time bell curve you are sampling.

This is the wine! This is the wine you are looking for to impress your boss, new girlfriend (or boyfriend), for your wedding anniversary, this is the wine, call off the dogs, stop the search and just use the links below to buy a case of the 2004. If you like Merlot, this is it, this is standing side by side with Pomerol. Did I mention the price yet? €75. If you are balling €75 a bottle its a no brainer, otherwise, go for the 2001 Falesco Montiano.

Fattorio Petrolo Galatrona 2004 - BUY - €75
Lovely dark ruby red, a vibrant almost blood red in the glass. An explosive nose, particularly fresh, vibrant and fruity, loads of dark cherries, chocolate and some floral notes too, I also got some smoke and spices. A complex nose indeed unfolding like a flower. Full bodied and luscious on the palate, superb balance to the wine and a finish that goes on for a full minute. A wine for decanting several hours. Great value, top ageing potential. 95 Points
Where can I buy this wine?
Europeans - Italian Wine Selection - €75
Americans - Wine Boutique - $99
Brits - Fine and Rare - £51
Australians - Italian Wine Selection - AU$126
Leave a Comment
The Brits got a fair deal for once! What have you been drinking over the weekend? What are you drinking over next weekend? What are you drinking right now?
Italian Wine Blog - Wine90

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Antinori Guado al Tasso Bolgheri

Date: Tue, Jul 29, 2008 Wine Tasting

Antinori Guado al Tasso Bolgheri

Antinori's Guado al Tasso Bolgheri is the last Super Tuscan to get the Wine90 treatment this month. Antinori Guado al Tasso Bolgheri is a blended Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot wine in almost equal amounts with just a splash of Syrah (usually 5%). These Super Tuscans are ITG wines which means they don't have to follow any particular ratio of grapes or have a certain alcohol limit. So in different vintages, depending on the success of the harvest the ratios can alter. However, most producers try to stick closely to previous vintages to keep some continuity in the brand. Blind tastings would be even more fun if they did not!

We are focusing on Guado al Tasso today because we sold out. Plain sold out. One customer came along and just gobbled up our entire inventory last week so I had to see what the fuss was about and if the 2005 vintage has been slightly disappointing like the Tignanello and Ornellaia.

Before we get into this you may have noticed there have been no tweets from me and very few blog posts. Twitter went nuts last week. Deleting all my followers and those I follow in a botched update so go kick their butt! As for not posting... last week I spent some time in Paris and it gave me the chance to try some interesting French wines so I've been busy drinking instead of writing which is slightly more fun!
As this is the "Italian wine blog" I would like to be able to bash the French vin but actually they were all rather excellent. Reviewed for your pleasure is the Perrin & Fils Chateauneuf du Pape 2005 and the Chateau Leoville Poyferre 2004 .
I'm not actually pledging any kind of allegiance to France in that photo I'm not sure why I have posed so bizarrely! I'd also like to apologise for my hair which took a "tour bus bashing" with not only the wind messing me up but also assorted twigs and leaves smacking me about the bonce as the bus hurtled far too quickly through the streets of Paris.

Back to the Guado al Tasso. It's one of Italy's most requested, famous, respected wines but still only the third most well known of the Antinori stable, following Solaia and Tignanello. Meaning "Badgers Ford" in English, Guado al Tasso's vineyards are in Bolgheri and the 2005 vintage is made up of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot and 5% Syrah. As with much of Tuscany, 2005 was a difficult vintage with a wide variance of successes and failures due partly to localised weather patterns, and as always the particular skills of the wine makers themselves. Antinori have some of the best wine makers in the world so any disappointment should really be weather related.

2005 was a better year for Merlot, always forgiving, so the 2005 is heavier on Merlot than some past vintages. And? And? Well, it's as good as last years. Of course it is a different wine experience but taking everything into account, 2005 and 2004, no real quality difference. In fact, I slightly prefer this vintage on taste and as much as I love sticking my nose into wines and am all about the nose, taste does matter somewhat! So they tell me.

Antinori Guado al Tasso Bolgheri 2005 - BUY - €55
Very dark, deep ruby red. Needs decanting and produces an explosive nose after a few hours. Brings around aromas of plums, blackberries and that familiar chocolate note as well as noticeable but non-offensive oak. Full bodied and well balanced, the 2005 is a fruity wine with the dark bitter chocolate notes continuing in the mid palate. A generous finish, the most striking point is the overall balance of the wine, well tuned and elegant. 93 Points

Perrin & Fils Chateauneuf du Pape 2005 - BUY - €40
Great deep purple colour with pink hues. The nose was kirsch like, lots of raspberries, very sweet but not sugary, noticeable cherry notes too. Mid bodied and rich on the palate but so smooth, one of the easiest drinking wines I've tasted this year. Really simple, very fruity, looks like a wine to drink young, fun and easygoing with a great nose and lovely flavour. Like wine flavoured juice! 90 Points

Leoville-Poyferre 2004 - BUY - €40
Lovely deep red in the glass. My bottle came out of the fridge in a tiny restaurant in the Marias so the nose was almost impossible to decipher. Some definite vanilla, cherry and a hint of smoke on the nose. Super mouth feel, really firm and fruity, great tannins, rounded and opulent I can't believe the price on this 2004 Bordeaux and can't stress how much you should be buying this wine esp considering the 2005 prices. 92 Points

"You are not passing many wines these days". Yes I know, I know, but I don't go out looking for horrible wines and this is my own money here folks. Sometimes I do find a stinker and it will get soundly trashed. If anyone would like to send me a horrendous wine I am open to your samples (of wine!).

Lastly, you may notice I've snuck in the occasional vini stranieri lately. Yours truly will be leaving Venice in the next few months for another European city, likely London, possibly Paris where the amount of choice of international wines is luxurious. Although I will always try to keep the blog focused on Italian wines, you may know that I am on the WSET wine course and as such can not limit myself entirely to experiencing only Italian wines, I preach trying different wines so I should practise this myself. Also, I'd just plain fail if I don't try other wines and as much as I love you all, I'd like to pass my exams!
I knew you'd understand! Lastly, I've added "Australians" to the last section of the blog as I've noticed a great increase in hits from down under. *waves* G'day!
Where can I buy this wine? (Guado al Tasso)
Europeans - Enoteca Grandi Vini - €54
Americans - NapaCabs! - $89.95
Brits - The Cellar Door - £52
Australians - Discount Wine - AU$105
Leave a comment!
Tried any of these wines? Are you one of the Aussie readers? Would you move to London or Paris? Are you going to send me revolting wine? Or anything else that tickles your fancy, except comments about my hair, which are forbidden.
Italian Wine Blog - Wine90

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