Walking Down Memory Lane - Italian Tasting Notes

This is a collection of notes pre-dating the 2GrandCru blog that I never got around to uploading. As far as I can tell, I've changed so much over the past couple of years that some of these notes might no longer reflect my personal taste or even my writing style but it sure was fun reading them over. I've marked with a question mark wines I doubt I could stand to drink these days.

Paternoster, Aglianico del Vulture, Don Anselmo, 1997

A fascinating Old World wine. Browning yet solid color. The nose has a signature of cherries at first, then black fruits, but as this wine isn’t really about fruit, the prominent notes from the first are of an intriguing herbal mix and some earth. The palate shows good acidity, the kind that backs up a solid core of fruit and doesn’t make a lot of noise; a spicy, lingering finish; bitter tannins that are very well integrated; and it’s so well balanced you don’t feel how full the body is. Took some 2+ hours to open. (Nov. 29, 2006)

Imported by Anavim, this must have been badly stored somewhere and others bottles I'd had were not up to notch. I bought it mostly at discount for 150 NIS. Who knows what went wrong? A shame as when this wine is in good condition, it is unique.

Paternoster, Aglianico del Vulture, Rotondo, 1998 ?

The first impression is that of a closed, tannic, serious wine. A color of ink black with browning at the rims, with good legs. On the nose, the fruits are masked by something slightly unclean I couldn’t quite place. As the wine opens, the nose shows in turn sour cherries, black fruits, oak and leather, freshly turned earth, flowers and finally a big bang of chocolate. Full bodied, intense with good length. Grows sweeter and fruitier winding up as sweet as it was tannic at first, a good food match (don’t think steak, think cow!) that took over 2.5 hours to open. Should hold for a couple of years more at least. (Jun. 5, 2005)

This was Wine Of The Month at VinoCigar and so it cost me 120 NIS. I don't remember what its shelf price was. I think within a year, this style would become too modern for me.

Francesco Rinaldi, Barbera d'Alba, 2003

The cork was very damp. A bright ruby-red color and a nose that was initially very reticient, but opened up quickly to show red fruits, plums and vanilla with a nice overlay of spices. A spicy plate, with soft tannins and a pleaasantly bitter, reasonable length of a finish. A very good food wine of no great complexity. (Sep.19, 2005)

Cascina Orsolina, Barbera d'Asti, Bricco dei Cappuccini, 2000 ?

A heavily oaked wine, anyone’s call whether this is appropiate for a Barbera. Me, I don’t have enough experience to be biased, but I did feel the oak overwhelmed the fruit, and if the fruit ever regains its footing, it would be a much better wine. Very enjoyable within it’s own style, with heavy aromas and flavors of vanilla, coffee and chocolate hiding the fruits at first, but after 90 minutes or so, it’s more like cigar box harmonized with crushed currants and wild berries. (Sep. 25, 2005)

Cascina Orsolina, Grignolino d'Asti, 2004

Almost rose in color. Nose of strawberries - that later turn to cherries - and spices, with maybe a hint of leather. Medium bodied, with balanced acidity giving it a nice sort of tartness. Opens nicely in glass even showing some coffee. (Aug. 28, 2005)

Bianchi, Ghemme, 1999

Starts out rather promising, with a nose of red fruit and dried cherries, and a hint of toasted bread. Then the nose turns towards black fruits and vanilla and other barrel-derived spices. The palate is fairly balanced with nice acidity but somehow doesn’t feel special enough, just another little Old World appelation with a New Wave tweak. I assume it will soften in time but not improve. (Dec. 4, 2006)

The last four wines were imported by the Doosh. Doosh offers an alternative in Piedmont to the well traversed path offered by WineRoute. Sometimes it works.

Planeta, Chardonnay, 1999 ?

Complex nose that took hours to decipher: tropical fruits, candy, honey, maple, some spices perhaps and through it all, lots of vanilla and oak. At first, the abundant oak made me think the bottle was off, but in time, the oak became the framework and not the picture. Full-bodied with a long aftertaste. (Apr. 12, 2004)

Subsequent tastings and personal growth lead me to believe I would no longer find the oak here merely "the framework". Imported by France-Israel Group and overpriced, as is their wont.

Planeta, Merlot, 2000 ?

Initially a plummy, chocolate-y, modern - even internationalized - modern version of Merlot, this one develops notes of roasted coffee and herbs in glass to show distinct Mediterranean character. Full-bodied, long, tannic and austere on the palate, it looks to be 2-3 years before its peak. (Oct. 26, 2005)

Umani Ronchi, Rosso Conero, Cumaro, 2000 ?

Deep purple color. It has a nice nose: mature red fruits turning into black, with funky sweat and later cofee and herbs. The palate startes succulent but turns heavy and a bit over-oaky, with a grainy feel and a drying, bitter finish. (Feb. 12, 2006)

Give HaKerem credit for importing a wine made entirely from Montepulciano grapes. Then fine them 200 dollars for pricing it at over 100 NIS and send them directly to jail...

Avignonesi, Vendemmia Tardive, 1993

Gold colored, with butter, honey, dried fruits, spices and hints of petrol on the nose. Balanced sweetness on the palate with honey and melons with a mildly pungent streak thoughout. Still refreshing despite its age and I’d guess it’s drink now and for a couple years more. (Aug. 6, 2005)

Bought in Table and Vine for about 30 USD for a half bottle. I still don't know what this wine was and I was never able to find a review anywhere. An alternative to Vin Santo.

Castello di Gabbiano, Tuscany, Alleanza, 1997 ?

A New World wine that manages to masquerade as an Old World wine for some time after opening, showing red and black fruits, with some olives and oak and a good dose of acidity. Then the oak takes over, allowing for a very grainy texture on the palate, while numbing the rest, mostly the acidity. A full-bodied, tannic, long wine, that was probably opened at least 2 years too early. Not my cup of tea, but well-made, though not in the Super-Tuscan major league. (Nov. 7, 2005)

I've since recognized that this sort of wine deceives you into thinking it just needs more time. Bought in Atlanta for 40-50 USD.

Marchesi de Frescobaldi, Tuscany, Mormoreto, 1996

An elegant wine. A complex nose with red and black fruits, spices and characoal, though I must admit the latter overpower the fruit at times. Very structured on the palate, fine, ripe acidity and enough tannins for a few more years. Very smooth and quite long and though packed with flavors, it still feels like the palate should develop more nuance to live up to the label’s reputation. (Oct. 26, 2006)

Bought on sale at Anavim for 150 NIS.

Terrabianca, Tuscany, Campaccio, 1997

A deep nose to kill for: mature black fruits frames by spices and roasted meats. A whole dinner, in short. The palate is broad and long, complex, powerful yet harmonious; and it goes downhill after an hour or so. But its really a wine to share with friends, anyway. Approaches greatness. (Jan. 9, 2006)

Carpineto, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva, 1998

A nose of sweet red fruits, sweet spices and herbs, a hint of sweat and leather. The palate shows less spices but is succulent and has a slightly salty and minerally on the finish. Medium-full bodied and elegant with silky, integrated tannins. Seems like on a peak stretch of a few years. (Jul. 4, 2005)

Bought in VinoCigar for abour 160 NIS. I should start buying these again.

Falesco, Umbria, Montiano, 2000

Fantastic nose of ripe red and black fruits, saddle leather, chocolate. The palate echoes the nose yet remains austere and tough and not entirely together for a couple of hours. A mix of old and new that lack some complexity right now but I suspect that will come in time. I like this wine without quite being able to explain why. (Apr. 16, 2006)

Falesco's 100% Merlot has had fluctuating prices due to overlapping importers over the years. The shelf price at Anavim was close to 300 NIS while 2004's were listed at about 180 NIS by WineRoute and finally offered on sale at two for 300.

Allegrini, Valpolicella, La Poja, 1995

A modern wine that displays the Allegrini elegance. Black cherries, spices and lots of chocolate on the nose. The palate is deep and broad, full-bodied and still damn tannic. In fact, something about this wine is still young and closed, at least in the first 30-60 minutes. To sum it up, it’s like dark bitter chocolate with a dash of chilli. Drink in the next 3-4 years at least. (Aug. 10, 2005)

Bought at Sam's in Chicago for 50 USD.