A Mostly Italian Tasting (Jul. 24, 2007)

Travaglino, Poggio della Buttinera, 2002

According to the winery's site, this Pinot Nero hails from Calvignano district. I managed to write down "ripe fruit with green nuances, minerals and leather on the nose, aggressive and alcoholic on the palate" before a Winemaker walked in, tasted it and pronounced it corky. Well, he is a trained professional so thanks, guy, it's nice to have a scientific reason why I don't like a wine for a change.

The same Winemaker brought:

Recanati, Chardonnay, 2005

Quite nice on the nose, fruity and somewhat flowery, with light traces of oxidation and spices. There is oak on the palate but not obnoxiously so. Could use more dimension.

Odoardi, Vigna Garrone, Scavigna, Calarbia, 2000

Weighing in at 14% alcohol, this is a modern-tasting wine made of an indigenous varietal called Galliope. By modern-tasting I mean zanily-concentrated fruit with lots of vanilla on the nose. Not something that particularly appeals to me but the palate has impressive body and length, though the dry-ish tannins obscure the fruit. Having said all that, a lot of the wood vanishes after time in glass and the palate opens up nicely, though it never developed any particular complexity.

Masciarelli, Marina Cveltic, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, San Martino Rosso, 2001

I was somewhat surprised to find this winery has a web site. What a modern world! Initially dominated by cheesy aromas over red fruit ("reductive!" said the Winemaker), time coaxed sweeter fruit and some herbs out of it. Terrific acidity, soft tannins and good length. A heartwarmer. Were this a commercial tasting, this is the wine I'd buy.

Cantina del Briccheto, Ombranera, Barbera d'Alba, 2003

A fruity, albeit brett-y wine, that turns minerally, even sulphuric, as the brett recedes. Reasonable acidity for a hot vintage. A pleasant wine that turned tannic in time. Hard to tell what more cellar time will do to it.

Fay, Ronco del Picchio, Sforzato di Valtellina, 2003

A very weird Nebbiolo based wine. The Hugh Johnson Wine Pocket Book calls Sforzato di Valtellina "the most concentrated type of Valtellina; similar to Amarone". Judging by this sample, I can't figure out why anyone would want to do that to a Nebbiolo. Usually a wine needs to be much riper than the Fay was for me to dislike it as much as I did this little jewel. A weird flavor profile, lots of oak but the ultimate insult was a depressing sensation of stale chocolate that decimated anything and everything in its path. 14.5% alcohol, just like the Masciarelli, actually, but more obvious here. To toss back in the water.

Azelia, Barolo, Bricco Fiasco, 1996

And after that fiasco came the Bricco Fiasco... Alright, I had to get that joke out of my system.

An interesting seasoning of minerals and mildew on the nose. Good structure but I thought the fruit was still dormant. An elegant wine that is drinking well right now but I think it's still too young despite some accelerated maturing due to (non-existant) cellaring conditions.

A quick change of locale for the dessert wine:

Abbe Rous, Banyuls, Helios, 2002

Chocolate, dry fruits as well as fresh balck ones. Refreshing and somewhat surprising acidity. Good structure. This resembles Port, verifying what I'd read about the AOC, and though I'm a Sherry man, I liked it.


Anonymous said…
I think you may be a bit too harsh on the Sforzato - it sounds like it was technically bad, but that is just the way they do it. and have been doing for ages, apparently. It was superripe, but had all the floral qualities of Nebbiolo. I would buy it again to cellar. Any way, don't be turned off of Valtellina in general - the regular wines of good producers like Negri and Fay you might like.

By the way, the Masciarelli is Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, San Martino Rosso - San Martino is the vineyard.

2GrandCru said…
Did I say the Sforzato was faulty? All I said was I didn't understand why they do that to Nebbiolo. I respect tradition in general but sometimes specific samples turn me off.

I'll edit the name of the Masciarelli. Thanks.
Anonymous said…
Bastianich and Lynch in their "Vino Italiano" have a couple of interesting observations about Sforzato:
""Although some wines from specific vineyard sites can approach Barolo in concentration, producers have traditionally turned to appasimento as a means for adding concentration. [Sforzato is] tarry, glycerine-rich ... reminiscent of amarone but with a more savory, spicy aromatic profile"

[quoting a winemaker] "I remember Carlo Negri used to say that the wines of Valtellina were like the people of Valtellina: They're tough at first. You really need to get to know them, to give them time"

The Fay Sforzato is no stranger to tre bicchiere, BTW.

Also some observations on the Calabrian Scavigne DOC, from the same book: "(created in 1994, probably just for the Odoardis)", the Vigna Garrone is "one of Calabria's heftiest reds ... combing aglianico, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and merlot" (probably with Gaglioppo as well - you've probably had the grape before because it is the work horse for Librandi and Ciro).

2GrandCru said…
Nope, never tried Gaglioppo. As far south as I got in Italy was Paternoster, which I regret not bringing, in retrospect.