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Allegrini La Grola 2004

Date: Wed, Sep 24, 2008 Wine Tasting

Allegrini La Grola 2004

Allegrini La Grola 2004 is the note I chose to dig out for ya'll on this freezing Wednesday in the Veneto two days before I go back to London. Readers of yesterdays entry will know that all my wines are packed and ready to make the trip home with me to SW London so I'm senza vini for the next couple of days. To help fight the craving for quality wine I have been frantically searching on the interweb for wine bars and shops in the overnight locations of my mammoth 1200 mile drive back to London.

First stop will be Gex (France), coincidentally home to a huge wine shop stocking great Burgs and Alsace wines so don't feel too sorry for me, I have been throwing out my clothes and dvd's in order to make more room in the back of the car for an obscene amount of wine bottles. Gex wine shop. Gex is a town world famous for its cheese so on Saturday morning I'll be taking a trip to the Gex farmers market to sample the delights of this region. I'm a touch excited! If I don't throw out my camera I'll take some shots of Gex to upload on Monday.

Alrighty then. Allegrini's La Grola actually makes its second appearance this year on Wine90. Way back in March I wrote a couple of entries on Allegrini. One of the most famous producers in the Veneto, Allegrini are world famous for their Amarone and Valpolicella wines. La Grola is a serious QPR alert, all singing, all dancing, slap you in the face with a wet fish BUY.
The La Grola won't break the bank, retailing at around €14 the 2004 vintage is sheer class and another easy 90 point effort. We all like 90 pointers under €15 after all. A blended wine containing the Corvina and Rondinella you love from your Valpolicella but also with a splash of Syrah (makes me very happy) and even a splosh of Sangiovese.
Allegrini La Grola 2004 - BUY - €14
Deep dark brooding purple in the glass. Aromatically forward, notes of spices, baked plums, blackberries and chocolate. On the palate the wine is big and luscious with rounded tannins and a mid palate raisin inspired flavour profile, nice length on the finish if a little "hot". 90 Points
As you're all whipping me for recommending too many wines tomorrow, my final blog entry in Italy, I will dig out a note of sheer horror to accompany my note of my favourite Italian wine of 2008. Balance is everything after all.
Where can I buy this wine?
Europeans - Enoteca Lucantoni - €14
Americans - Stirling Fine Wines - $17.99
Brits - Andrew Chapmans - £13.99
Australians - Discount Wines - AU$49
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Ever been to Gex? Do you digg farmer's markets? Ever tried this wine? Ever thrown out all your belongings to make way for more wine? Thanks for all the Brunello recommendations, across all formats Twitter and emails over 40 recommendations so... CHEERS PALS!
Italian Wine Blog - Wine90

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Ciacci Piccolomini d'Aragona Brunello di Montalcino Vigna di Pianrosso

Date: Tue, Sep 23, 2008 Wine Tasting

Ciacci Piccolomini d'Aragona Brunello di Montalcino Vigna di Pianrosso

Ciacci Piccolomini d'Aragona Brunello di Montalcino Vigna di Pianrosso wins the award of longest wine name ever on Wine90 that much is fact but does it bring any other unique qualities? It do! It's also the first wine I've written about without actually having drunk it in the past few days. It's also the best Brunello di Montalcino I've ever had. My tasting note is from the 1997 vintage and is a couple of years old now.

Why am I bringing you such old news?

Well, because all my wines are packed, boxed and ready to by heaved into the back on my brothers car. I'm leaving the urban hub of Mestre in 3 days for sunny London town and as such I simply didn't drink any wine last night, nor the night before! Is it a coincidence that this morning I wake up to find two mosquito bites on my face?! I don't believe so. We all knew red wine was good for you but I didn't realise it was a mosquito repellent too, which clearly it must be. Another reason for a daily tipple if one were needed.

So Ciacci Piccolomini d'Aragona eh? These are serious players in Montalcino, seriously slick image and top quality wines. Anyone interested in both wine and the female form should check out their website which should carry some kind of 18 certificate. When Ciacci Piccolomini d'Aragona make good... they really make good and Brunello is what they do best. That being said, the Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blended "Ateo" is a very fair priced Super Tuscan and the 100% Syrah "Fabius" can bring very good value (personally I prefer the Syrah).
Ciacci Piccolomini d'Aragona produce 3 Brunello wines that seem to take turns in being the best of the vineyard but in 1997 this wine, the Vigna di Pianrosso was the star turn. 36 months in Slavonian oak and low yields do not a cheap wine make, you can pick up the 1997 Vigna di Pianrosso today for about €120 a bottle. This is why we buy wine on release grape pickers :D
Ciacci Piccolomini d'Aragona Brunello di Montalcino Vigna di Pianrosso 1997 - BUY - €120
Brooding dark red in the glass. After several hours decanting eventually brought around intense aromas of toast, smoke and black cherries. On the palate the wine really comes into its own with the most full bodied, velvet attack of fruit with a nice mineral quality there too. The wine is perfectly structured the tannins well integrated and the finish is long and elegant with the fruit continuing on the palate from start to finish. Super balance. 95 Points
No need for the OCD panic, the title fits.
Where can I buy this wine?
Europeans - Bracali - €120
Americans - K&L Wine Merchants - $149
Brits - Fine and Rare - £74
Australians - Um
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October is going to be Brunello month. I don't drink enough of the stuff and I need your recommendations on Brunello di Montalcino wines that you've tried and loved. Recommend Brunellos for me for Brunello month and the best recommendation will get a special round of applause from my good self. Bring it on!
Italian Wine Blog - Wine90

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Giacosa Barbaresco Santo Stefano Riserva

Date: Mon, Sep 22, 2008 Wine Tasting

Giacosa Barbaresco Santo Stefano Riserva

Bruno Giacosa's Barbaresco Santo Stefano Riserva is one of the most revered and collectible bottles of wine in the whole of Italy. This weekend I was packing up all my wines ready to make the bottle shocking trip back to London via Switzerland and France and decided to save this bottle the journey and drink the famous Red Label Barbaresco from Giacosa at my leaving meal in Venice. What a chore!
Aside from some heartbreaking cork taint there wasn't going to be any question of disliking the Giacosa. 1998 has been my personal favourite Barolo and Barbaresco vintage to drink in 2008 and this bottle showed exceptionally well offering up all the traditional Piedmont notes as well as a huge dose of marzipan. Garnet red and still needing to disperse its share of tannins the wine is emphatically the best Barbaresco I've had this year and can happily be awarded 95 points.
Giacosa Barbaresco Santo Stefano Riserva - BUY - €100
Ruby red, garnet hues. The nose on this wine is explosive with tar and roses coming at you but after an hours decanting the wine gave off marzipan notes most strongly. On the palate the wine is full bodied and smooth though still quite tannic. Perfect balance, touches of sweetness on the super-long finish and sweet spices and fruit throughout the tasting experience. Opulent and refined and in a great stage of its drinking window. 95 Points
BUY. BUY? Buy a wine that costs €100? Of course this wine isn't QPR, when we are talking about €100 bottles of wine we are talking about another experience completely. This is not every day drinking wine but rather wine for a special occasion, a very special occasion! Everyone spends money on something that someone else thinks is insane. Whilst 99% of the population would gawk at €100 for a bottle of wine, others would gladly hand money like this over for a pair of jeans or a haircut... and that would make me gawk.
What might make fellow winos gawk however, is the fact I had this wine with a seafood risotto. Tasted great though! Not the ideal wine for risotto but on this occasion both the wine and the food were so good that they matched in greatness! Not weight, not flavour, but greatness!
Now for some terribly sad new. Blog entries this week may be a little clipped, it's my last 4 days in Venice and I'm really busy sorting out my move so apologies to you if you read wine90 with a cup of coffee because this weeks entries will be espresso sized. American readers! Please leave your comments, I can see from analytics that this blog has more US readers than UK readers so come forth, show yourselves, don't skulk in the corners. Americans drink more Italian wine than any other nation so let me know what Italian wines you're drinking! I'll throw in a "please" :D
Where can I buy this wine?
Europeans - Pedrelli - €100
Americans - Anconas Wine - $199
Brits - Fine and Rare - £131
Australians - This Aussie section really isn't working out for me! Suggestions???
Leave a Comment
Is there a country, area or vineyard that constantly disappoints you rather than pleases you? A country's wines that you just don't see what the hoo haa is about? Where it be?! And of course... have you had the Giacosa Barbaresco Santo Stefano Riserva in any vintage?
Italian Wine Blog - Wine90

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Prunotto Barolo Bussia

Date: Fri, Sep 19, 2008 Wine Tasting

Prunotto Barolo Bussia

Prunotto Barolo Bussia is a wine that has managed to evade me over the last 3 years. Prunotto is a highly respected company, the Barolo Bussia is a Tre Bicchiere super star of Italian wine and yet I have never tasted this wine. Even though the great grandpappys of Italian wine own Prunotto (Antinori) it has still managed to pass me by. I've seen it, I've picked it up, I've played with it but only this week did I actually purchase a bottle. So last night I thought it was about time to break my Prunotto duck and see what all the hoo haa is about.

Prunotto Barolo is always talked about in terms of value. These Barolos are steady 90-94 point efforts year on year but the prices, even in the best vintage, even in this magnificent 2004 vintage, rarely go over the €50 mark. Like all Barolo wines this comes from 100% Nebbiolo grapes, this particular Barolo comes from the Bussia vineyards in Monforte. The 2004 vintage saw the wines aged in majority new french oak with some second year barrels for a smaller proportion of the wine. Fancy!

Yadda Yadda Yipp - Did it make me happy?

Yes actually it was pretty lively but I was reminded once again to stop popping young Barolo. Even though the Vajra of last Friday was 2001, just those 3 years make a difference but clearly both should be left far longer than this. However, like any crime, if you have to commit infanticide at least do it with some gusto. This wine is no where near its potential but still it's a great bottle of wine and if I do feel the need to rob a Barolo of its wine destiny I will probably pick on Prunotto again!

Prunotto Barolo Bussia 2004 - BUY - €45
Brick red colour in the glass flowing to the rim. A generous aromatic nose, lots of cherry, floral notes, plum and a hint of chocolate. Full bodied yet soft and luscious mouth feel, exceptional acidity, clearly present but soft tannins and a very long finish. Drinking really well today but don't do it. 93 Points

Bargainous! This is another case of a wine that you will get the most enjoyment from if you buy 12 and open one year on year. Wine evolves like nothing else, this is what makes it so interesting, so debatable and at times, so frustrating. It's great fun to taste through the same vintage year on year, however, I'd still wait till 2012 before you even begin your experiment! Someone has to do this for me, I want to know that one person will buy 12 bottles of this wine and every year come back to me and tell me all about it. Of course I could do it myself but I'm already in danger of serious picklization*

Where can I buy this wine?
Europeans - Enoteca Lucantoni - €46
Americans - No 2004 Vintage showing yet. Loads of 2001 options
Brits - Everywine - £37
Australians - Stephen McHenry carries the 94! - AU$110

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Words and wine have always had a strained marriage. What words are in your wine vocabulary that are not exactly textbook? Show me your super freaky side.

*Picklization is not a real word. Pixelization is though, very soon I will be in real danger of that too but more on that next month.

Italian Wine Blog - Wine90

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Poggio Argentiera Fonte 40

Date: Thu, Sep 18, 2008 Wine Tasting

Poggio Argentiera Fonte 40

Poggio Argentiera Fonte 40 was the stand-out wine from the final two wines I was asked to try by Poggio Argentiera. So today I am obviously very sad that my Poggio experiment is over but extremely happy to be bringing to the whole wine world this screaming value white wine that appealed directly to my palate (and wallet) and will be the white I'm bringing to all my parties this year. High praise indeed? Well, I don't get that many party invites but sure, this wine is a QPR bargain, it's aromatically explosive, fruit on the nose, fruit on the palate, fruit every which way you want it and some good old minerality and length in there for good measure.

I like my whites fruity and balanced and I love it when my whites throw in something I really wasn't expecting and with this 40% Ansonica/40% Vermentino and 20% Fiano blend it was bringing me a bunch of ripe bananas. No word of a lie. Total Bananas. The Fiano in this wine seemed to feature very prominently as my tasting note is all about the tropical fruits, creamy edge and mineral quality which is all Fiano.

Poggio Argentiera Fonte 40 - BUY - €11.50
Dark golden colour. Hugely aromatic, pears, tropical fruits, alcoholic on the nose, seriously detecting banana peel. Refreshing, nice acidity on the palate, fruity from the initial attack all the way to the finish, as expected a little alcoholic on the end but pleasingly so. This is a brilliant white wine, perfectly attuned to my taste in white, full of character. 90 Points

I might seem crazy with the 90, especially with the notable presence of the alcohol but it did nothing to detract from these great creamy, citrus (and banana!) flavours. The only problem I have with this wine is finding it. I found only one online merchant supplying the wine. Both these white wines would kill in the Italian restaurants of London and by George we must do what needs to be done to let these bottles fulfill their wine destiny!

Last night I also sampled the Guazza. This is an 80% Ansonica - 20% Vermentino blend that is a little more subtle and lighter but still a good value white that I can give a big fat BUY to.
Poggio Argentiera Guazza - BUY - €7
Light golden colour. Nice tropical fruits on the nose, quite creamy also with hints of peach. Mid bodied, very fruity on the mid palate with a mineral note too, excellent balance and mouth feel, complete, not too hot, very acceptable and refreshing. Finish is clipped and a tad watery - 86 Points
This is a wine I can go for when I don't want a white to dominate the food but still want a fruity character, the clipped finish doesn't allow this wine to stand alone in my humble.
Well, that's it. Now I have to go back to buying my own wines like a schmuck! :D
Where can I buy this wine? (Fonte 40)
Only one stockist online - Italian Wine Selection - €11.50
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You know how food tastes better when someone else cooks it? So then, does wine taste better when it's gratis? :D Favourite white wines under £10 ($20)?
Italian Wine Blog - Wine90

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Poggio Argentiera Finisterre

Date: Wed, Sep 17, 2008 Wine Tasting

Poggio Argentiera Finisterre

Poggio Argentiera Finisterre 2006 and Poggio Argentiera Principio 2007 are the 2nd of 3 sets of wines I'm reviewing for Poggio Argentiera. If you read yesterdays blog you'll have seen that I was blown away by one of Morellino di Scansanos of Poggio Argentiera and kinda "h'okay" about the other. If you didn't read it, curious sorts can do so by click here.

First off the bat, these wines are nothing like the MdS wines, we are talking chalk and substance quite a lot less like chalk. These are Italian wines from the same vineyard so we still have some Italian characteristics, high acidity for example, but really these wines are no place close to Morellino or even each other. I had my Riedel in hand, my hard Italian cheeses getting softer by the second and the wines decanting nicely so lets settle into the story of these two vinos.

The Poggio Argentiera Principio 2007 is a wine made from 100% Ciliegiolo, a Tuscan grape pretty much unknown to all except Italian wine fans. Grown close to the town of Manciano the 2007 production was 13,000 bottles.
Poggio Argentiera Principio 2007 - BUY - €15
Deep purple in the glass, beautiful cherried nose, hints of vanilla and raspberries, sweet to the smell. Mid-full bodied, silky smooth mouth feel, well balanced tannins, good structure, a little more acidic than expected, loyal to type, decent finish. 88 Points

This is a really enjoyable wine that I imagine would appeal to all my girlfriends. It comes across as feminine in the flavour profile yet the mouth feel was more masculine. It's a wine that can be drunk by itself which isn't something I can say of the second wine, the Finisterre.
Poggio Argentiera Finisterreis a 50/50 blend of Syrah and Alicante (Grenache) grapes, fermented in french oak, coming from low yields I was prepared for a torrid love affair.
However, this wine is a real puzzler. I am not sure where I stand with it. On the one hand it has a good balance and structure and on the other it wasn't packed with flavours I enjoy. It gave me the impression of that class mate at school who you didn't really like but was a favourite of the teachers. The teacher would always be throwing him questions and nods like they had some kind of secret understanding between them. 10 years later you look him up on Facebook and he is the Liberal Democrat candidate for Wirral South*. This wine clearly has something to say, I'm just not sure what it is, or if it's profound or interesting yet it's giving off hints that it could be destined for greatness.... or maybe not. I need to make a date with this wine on the 16th September 2018.
Poggio Argentiera Finisterre 2006 - PASS - €35
Deep purple in the glass, vibrant. Aromatically a little tight then comes a chocolate nose, some blackcurrant too. Really quite tannic with a full bodied mouth feel, complex, nice structure, lacking fruit on the mid palate also quite bitter, backward, get the feeling I'm drinking this wine far too young. 89 Points
Given a little more time to breath and pairing it up with the Italian cheeses the wine took on a softer character and was much more enjoyable. My final word on this wine - if you want to buy it and drink it today pair it up with some chunky meats or hard cheeses and give it several hours breathing space. I do believe this wine will show something more subtle and refined in 10 years time. I must PASS the wine for drinking today at that price point though. What I would like is an older vintage as this simply doesn't feel like a wine you should be judging today. *hint hint*
Where can I buy this wine? (Principio)
Only one retailer I can find "Vinmonopolet" from Denmark. - €15
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Any experience of the Ciliegiolo grape? Favourite wine out of Tuscany? Is the current financial climate giving you the wine worries? Favourite Italian cheese? Is it insulting that we English named a biscuit (the worlds most boring biscuit too) after Italys most celebrated hero?
*This has not happened to me.
Italian Wine Blog - Wine90

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Poggio Argentiera Morellino di Scansano

Date: Tue, Sep 16, 2008 Wine Tasting

Poggio Argentiera Morellino di Scansano

Poggio Argentiera are fast becoming the kings of Morellino di Scansano. Poggio Argentiera are pretty new in Tuscany, the project began in 1997 with just 6 Ha of vines in Morellino di Scansano, fast forward 10 years and you have one of the best producers in the region creating exciting Morellino di Scansano as well as top quality blends.
Poggio Argentiera are a media savvy outfit who take full advantage of the league of bloggers and use the online medium to its full advantage, reporting on the harvests online, keeping video diaries and giving out media packs. While the wine making is an Italian affair, Justine Keeling, an english marketeer is responsible for the companies fresh image and funky designs in the heart of this most traditional of wine making regions.

Last week I was contacted by Poggio Argentiera to taste through their latest range of wines and as a huge fan of Morellino di Scansano and having heard so much about this producer I was naturally keen. There was no obligation to write a blog entry only simply to comment to the company themselves about their wines. Upon trying the first wine I was pretty sure this would be all I could do. However the quality of the second wine, the Capatosta 2006 was incredible, in fact the highest points I've ever personally awarded to a Morellino di Scansano that I felt it was valuable to mention. Secondly, these two Morellino di Scansanos were so different that it provides an insight into just how important vintage and vinification can be to a wine.

Poggio Argentiera produce a range of wines to accompany the traditional Morellino di Scansano, four of which I will have the pleasure (hopefully pleasure) of tasting tonight and tomorrow. Starting with the two remaining reds, the "Finistere" a 50/50 Syrah/Alicante blend and the "Principio", 100 % Ciliegiolo! Thursdays blog entry will review the two whites of the pack, the "Fonte40" a 40% Ansonica, 40% Vermentino and 20% Fiano wine and the "Guazza" a 80% Ansonica and 20% Vermentino.

Poggio Argentiera produce two Morellino di Scansano wines that are as different as two MdS from the same company can be. The first wine, the Bellamarsilia 2007 is a weaker effort than the Capatosta 2006 and just goes to show what an art vinification trully is. If you ever need an example of the importance of viticulture/vinification techniques (oak, ageing, yields, age of vines) use these two wines! I tasted these wines before I read about the processes the wine goes through and the tasting notes made marry directly to the processes these wines took. It's always nice when that happens!

Bellamarsilia is made from 85% Sangiovese, 10% Ciliegiolo and 5% Alicante from newly planted vines close to the coast in Marmerra. The wine goes through 4 months maturation in stainless steel vats.

Poggio Argentiera Bellamarsilia Morellino di Scansano 2007 - PASS - €10
Very dark ruby red, purple-ish in the middle, vibrant, clear. Quickly aromatic of cherries, raspberry, mid-bodied wine, good acidity, a touch hollow but a pretty finish. 86 Points

Although this wine is bright and lively, it is not great QPR. Faced with a straight choice between the Bellamarsilia and Capatosta I would plump for the latter every time.

The Capatosta 2006 is fantastic. Morellino di Scansano wines rarely break through the 90 point barrier but in my opinion this is a definitely a worthy entry into that illustrious bracket.

The Capatosta is made up of 95% Sangiovese and 5% Alicante grapes from old vine clones with very low yields. The wine is fermented in small French barrels and aged for 12-13 months.

Poggio Argentiera Capatosta Morellino di Scansano 2006 - BUY - €21.50
Deep purple in the glass, thick, deep purples to the edges. Explosive nose, super ripe, dark cherry, plums, vanilla, oak, very "chianti" on the nose, rich and impressive the best nose on a Scansano I can remember. Full bodied, mouth filling, loads of fruit on the mid palate, great structure and balance, finishes a little hot but super impressive length. 91 Points

Where can I buy this wine?
Europeans - Italian Wine Selection - €21.50
Americans - Sand Creek Wine - $29.99
Brits - Everywine - £18
Australians - Nope, Sorreeeee
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Morellino di Scansano is the smart mans Chianti. Agree or disagree?
Italian Wine Blog - Wine90

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Italian wine weekend

Date: Mon, Sep 15, 2008 Wine Tasting

Italian Wine Weekend

This weekend I went all to town for you peeps tasting through six different Italian wines and I have some QPR bargains for ya and some bottles that would be better used as some form of torture against an opposing army. On a weekend of the worst weather I have encountered in Mestre thus far we were forced indoors with little else to do but watch Italian TV or raid through my wine collection, we chose the vino.

On Friday night the weather held long enough for me to take what will probably be my last trip to the Lupo Nero restaurant in Mestre old town. Choosing from their decent wine list we ordered up an Alsatian Riesling (corked) and a GD Vajra Barolo 2001 which was exquisite, notes to follow.

Saturday was a wash out. I had meant to go to Lake Garda and sample some Soave and Amarones, instead we made it as far as McDonalds at Mestre station before being driven home by the wild weather. This weekend I had a friend from London visiting me who is keen to learn more about wine, so for educational reasons only we took a Pinot Nero, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc and Syrah to talk about the different characteristics of the grapes. All these wines were Italian in origin apart from the Zinfandel (natch), which was Gallo and dearly appealed to my pal's pal.

Nothing turned out how you'd expect. The Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlots bombed, the nose of the Cabernet Franc was fruity and interesting, the Pinot from Italy was the wine of the night and my friend didn't go for the Planeta Syrah which has novice appeal written all over it. I was provided with my worst Italian wine of 2008, became a real fan of the Barolos of Varja and this morning walked in to find 6 bottle of Poggio Argentieras finest awaiting review this week. Instead of an Italian wine hangover I am pumped and ready for the trials and tribulations of another weeks strenuous wine blogging.

GD Varja Barolo 2001 - BUY - €30
Garnet red in the glass with lighter hues I feel I got this bottle at a nice stage of its evolution. The nose is beautiful with sweet spices and a gentle oak couples with a profile of definite almond characteristics. Still somewhat tannic but with good structure and fine length, very opulent and enjoyable. 92 Points

Le Due Terre Pinot Nero 2005 - BUY - €27
Garnet red with floral notes on the nose, lots of strawberry present and a slight butter biscuit whiff on the end. Smooth, mid bodied with a gentle mouth feel and well balanced tannins. Good effort. 90 Points

Planeta Syrah 2005 - BUY - €18
Dark ruby red in the glass. Huge nose of prunes, a little leather and animal notes too. Huge mouth feel, very tannic but pleasantly so, fruit on the mid palate and a big finish. 89-90 Points

Paesaggi Merlot 2005 - PASS - €6
Garnet red with a meaty, plum-esque nose, unbalanced wine, thin, acidic, bitter and extremely hollow on the mid palate with a watery unsatisfactory finish. Abysmal - 62 Points

Angoris Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 - PASS - €5
Deep ruby red in the glass, wildly balsamic and vinegar like on the nose, no fruit here. Better on the palate, mid bodied with some length, still a weird experience. 76 Points

Santa Margherita Cabernet Franc 2007 - PASS - €5
Lovely colour, deep ruby red. The nose is vegetal but more fruit here than you'd expect plus a little fake sugar. Mid bodied with some rounded tannins and a decent balance, good length on the finish. A "just" pass for the price. Liveable. 82 Points

The Santa Margherita was a close call, I personally wouldn't buy it again but for the money it's a drinkable wine.

Where can I buy this wine? (the Barolo)
Europeans - le vitel etonne - €30
Americans - Primo Vino - $36
Brits - Cellar Brokers - £18
Australians - Cellar Brokers - AU$40

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What did you drink at the weekend? Or anything at all. Did it rain, did you go shopping, see any friendly pigeons?
Italian Wine Blog - Wine90

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Falesco Vitiano

Date: Fri, Sep 12, 2008 Wine Tasting

Falesco Vitiano

Falesco Vitiano, an equal parts Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon looked to be another Falesco stunner on paper. Any regular readers will know I am the biggest fan of Falesco and have dedicated several blog entries to their fair priced range. I love the QPR with Falesco, I love their modern attitude towards wine marketing and I love that they are using Lazio to produce high quality reds which is fantastic terroir and I'm glad it's being recognised.
I roared on for days about Falesco's Tellus and Montiano so perhaps what I'm truly a fan of is their Merlot production because this blend put a whole new spin on unpleasant. It's so displeasing to the senses that I can't believe it's actually deliberately made this way. It's not like the wine has bad colour, or depth, it hasn't been made poorly, in fact the tell tale signs of quality are there however, to my nose and palate, this was one of the most bizarre wines I've yet to taste.

Falesco Vitiano is a darling of the critics. After trying this wine I went along to the Parker and Wine Spectator websites to see if it had assaulted them as it had assaulted me. What I found were 88-90 range scores for every single vintage including my assailant, the 2005. It's very difficult to comment about wines whose flavour and nose profiles are so off putting. Usually you can balance for your own taste nuances, for example, when a nose profile includes licorice I know that I do not like it, but other's do, so I can't take praise from a wine for this, but when it smells like the backside of bovine?
As with any individual my palate is unique to me, however looking up the notes on Cellar Tracker I found that several other wine lovers had exactly the same opinion. So how can Galloni and Suckling rate this wine 88-90 and 100+ others find it so grim? Are wine experts just more finely tuned to aromas of dung finding them innately more pleasurable than the rest of us mere mortals? Aren't wine critics supposed to be representative of the palatus populus* rather than having super tasting powers? Of course wine splits opinion all the time, but you seldom see such wide ranging experiences of wine as with the Vitiano.
Whatever the reason for the bizarre opinion split personally I wont be touching this wine again and am not recommending it here on the blog. I'm very positive about Falesco and for the same price you can pick up the Syrah/Merlot equal blended Tellus available worldwide.
Falesco Vitiano 2005 - PASS - €7.50
Lovely, deep brooding dark ruby red in the glass. On the nose the wine smells barnyard dirty, aromas of dark cherry somewhere underneath that though this is a secondary aroma. On the palate the wine was fruitless, mid bodied, quite bitter, licorice notes, too acidic, off balanced but a decent length on the finish. 84 Points
84 Points! Yes, the wine isn't badly made, and yes it's weird and off balance and smells like a barn and the fruit does disappear but it does have aromas and it has a nice mouth feel and great colour, whilst I wouldn't buy it again it is a question of taste. It loses points for a lack of fruit and being off balanced, I can not slam this wine too hard for not appealing to me personally.
Boy O Boy what a tricky customer Falesco Vitiano is. If you do have €7.50 in your pocket and have nothing better to do than play with me I would love to know what other people make of this one.
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What has been the worst wine you have bought on recommendation, whether that's the recommendation of a friend or critic? Have you tried this wine?

*Palatus Populus is not a real wine term. Do not use this in conversation with wine nerds. While we are here, I must also tell you that "Bum Vintage" is also not a real wine term (google it) these are specialist Wine90 terms and I am trademarking them as we speak. :D
Italian Wine Blog - Wine90

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Ca del Bosco Cuvee Annamaria Clementi

Date: Thu, Sep 11, 2008 Wine Tasting

Ca del Bosco Cuvee Annamaria Clementi

Ca del Bosco Cuvee Annamaria Clementi is the top bottling of Lombardy power-producer Ca del Bosco. Faced with last nights choice of sparkler I had to make a toughie between Ca del Bosco Cuvee Annamaria Clementi and the Giacosa Spumante Extra Brut. I opted for this wine for two reasons. Firstly, I've drunk so much Giacosa this year it's borderline obscene and secondly, because the Ca del Bosco comes from Lombardy, a region I have continually neglected since the beginning of the blog.

Ca del Bosco is a huge outfit and the most famous wine maker internationally within Lombardy. Producing some of Italy's highest quality sparkling whites, Ca del Bosco do not stop there also producing daring red Bordeaux blends, Chardonnay, Carmenere, Pinot Nero, Merlot and 2 Franco-Italico blends using Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Barbera and Nebbiolo (I know! Click here to see this wine) all grown in Franciacorte. One question though, no Riesling? :D

Despite this industrious and inventive range Ca del Bosco are known for their sparkling wines, producing 7 highly respected sparklers both of the white and pink variety. This one is undoubtedly the best, the Brut Cuvee Annamaria however does have a reputation for vying quite wildly year on year from "The best sparkling white in all of Italy" in good vintages to "The most overpriced sparkling white" in bad. I got my mits on the 2001 and hand on heart it's quality, as it ought to be at €60 a pop.
However, very few wines can be used as a living room ornament come fancy paper weight after consumption and so you're getting value right off the bat!
Ca del Bosco receives tanto amore on home soil. As I've whinged about more than once, finding French wines in Italy is impossible so when the sports teams of Italy win, as they seem invariable to do, you'll likely see this stumpy fella on the podium opposed to your Champagnes with a capital C. Ca del Bosco are the teachers pet of Gambero Rosso with over 25 Tre Bicchere awards putting them just behind Mr Gaja and Spinetta.
Ca del Bosco Cuvee Annamaria Clementi 2001 - BUY - €60
Spicy notes come straight out of the glass, with some secondary notes of apples, flowers, a nutty (pine nuts!!!) character and toasted oak. Well balanced and full bodied sparkling white with acres of pineapples & a little stone fruit on the palate and a long, vibrant finish, standout acidity, fresh and charming. 92 Points
Where can I buy this wine?
Europeans - Italian Wine Shop - €61
Americans - Cellar Brokers - $60
Brits - Nickolls and Perks - £48
Australians - Cellar d'Or - AU$141
Could only find the 1990 in the States. What's the story with that?
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My excuse for opening such a fantastic bottle of Sparkling wine for myself, on my lonesome, on a Wednesday night? I have levelled my World of Warcraft character to 68 and it took me, on and off, 4 months to do it. I blame each one of you for this. What has been your most questionable justification for popping Champagne/Sparkling wine?
Italian Wine Blog - Wine90

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Italian Riesling

Date: Wed, Sep 10, 2008 Wine Tasting

Italian Riesling

Italian Riesling? It happens. Italian Riesling was going to be my subject matter today regardless of how the bottle I finally sourced from Italian Ebay turned out (Martilde Gelo Riesling). It's not so easy to find and there is a very good reason for this! Riesling is grown successfully in many wine growing regions. Of course, Germany and Alsace but also New Zealand, Australia and the USA are producing highly acclaimed Riesling. In Italy the production is tiny with just a handful of vineyards in the northern parts of the country having a bash at it.

I've been on a personal Riesling bender for the past month and so wanted nothing more than last nights bottle of Italian Riesling to be every bit as good as those from NZ, Aus and the US. If you've been reading wine90 over the past 4 weeks you'll have noticed I took a trip to the Rheingau and my time there firmly cemented my adore of German Riesling. Italian Riesling would have been the perfect marriage, my favourite white grape (currently) and my favourite wine growing country, Italy. Sadly, twas not to be.

Everything about this wine was interesting. Firstly, the producers have named this wine after their dog and have a drawing of said pooch on the label which immediately makes me happy. Secondly, they are coming out of Lombardy which I think I've mentioned twice on the blog so that excited me. Thirdly, this was an Italian Riesling and lastly, they produce tiny quantities so it appealed to my culty, nerdy, obsessional need to find unique wines and bargains.

Then I opened it and much like Pandora, soon wished I had not. This isn't to say all Italian Riesling is bad. I am working on the basis of this one bottle and a small tasting history of a handful of other producers but in my experience Italian Rieslings are among the dullest Rieslings out there. There's really no need for them. When the rest of the world does it so well and we're struggling to produce something outside of Gotham (as the Italians call Milan) perhaps it's time to bin the idea and just refocus on our own fantastic whites.

Martilde Gelo Riesling 2006 - PASS - €8
Bright yellow colour in the glass, decent nose, stone fruits and floral notes. Low acidity on the palate, fruit disappears and a flabby texture to the wine let it down, mid bodied with a fair finish. 79 Points

I don't want to be too hard on this wine, it came from Ebay so really we don't know how well the wine has been stored but I wasn't getting any impression that the wine was faulty. The 2006 Lombardy vintage was hardly a sparkler either and I have heard good things about this producer in the past, hence, why I bought the wine in the first place. I will advise you though, to just skip Italian Riesling, there is better value Riesling out there and by far better quality. Riesling is high acidity, it's not that this wine is so bad, just that it doesn't tick the Riesling boxes.

Where can I buy this wine?
Are you some kind of glutton for punishment? My searches for this wine online have turned up fruitless anyway. Much like the wine.

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If you named your wine after your pet would it sell and what varietal would it be?
My wine would be called Bambi, would be a zesty Zinfandel and would be deer. Guffaw. You?
Italian Wine Blog - Wine90

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Cantina Tollo Cagiolo Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2005

Date: Tue, Sep 9, 2008 Wine Tasting

Cantina Tollo Cagiolo Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2005

Cantina Tollo Cagiolo Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2005 is the "Red Italian Varietal" Decanter International trophy winning wine of 2008. One of only 2 Italian wines to scoop an International Trophy beating out Nebbiolo and Sangiovese wines for this coveted title. Well, coveted-ish. There's no denying this is a fabulous wine, I tasted it and it's excellent, great structure, fruit and length but the best single varietal wine in Italy, against the 2004 Barolos it aint.
The Decanter awards are an interesting exercise, this year 9,219 wines were entered and around 1000 from Italy so old Italia was very well represented but these wines are sent via the producers themselves. No Gaja, No Giacosa, No Tua Rita, No Antinori, No Quintarelli, really, very few big Italian names bothered to pay their £80 and send their wines into the judges. However, of 1000 Italian wines this was the best of the bunch and 1000 wines is no small sample! Try telling that to the folks of Burgundy and Oregan who watched a Spatburgunder walk away with best Pinot Noir over £10!
Casting aspersions on Decanter's results aside, this is, nevertheless, a fabulous example of Montepulciano d'Abruzzo from my favourite recent vintage. It's also a QPR doozy. I don't talk much about The Cellar Door on this blog, mainly because wine writers in general always face assaults over their bias. Whether that is palate bias, monetary bias or regional bias but in cases where I feel the people who read the blog will truly benefit I will mention The Cellar Door. We recently added this wine and are selling it much cheaper than you can find in the UK for £15, that's about 20% less than standard retailers and if you've never tried a Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, which most people have not, this is the one to buy. We're knocking it down, when really we should be marking it up, to get our customers to try this wine. OK TCD chat over!
The awards themselves for the Italian section may have been a touch dubious but the advise given in Decanter magazine was spot on and I echo their comments and urge people to check out Italy's best regional grapes. Italian wine has come on leaps and bounds in the last 5 years and pretty much all 20 counties are now producing world class wine. Decanter recommends you try Fiano, Falanghina, Greco di Tufo, Nero d'Avola and Morellino di Scansano as I've been banging on about for the past 12 months, so if you don't trust this 28 year old British wino then maybe you'll trust the Wine Masters! After all, and I quote one of the esteemed Wine Masters .... "Don't underestimate just how good Umbria's Montepulciano d'Abruzzo and Sagrantino are becoming". Ouch! Well, we all make mistakes eh! Thank god for bloggers.
Cantina Tollo Cagiolo Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2005 - BUY - €18
Dark ruby red in the glass with purple highlights, this wine has one of the most expressive MdA noses I've witnessed all year. The oak is detectable but very pleasant with notes of blackberries and chocolate. On the palate the wine is full bodied, perfectly balanced, ingrained and rounded tannins with fruit holding in the mid palate and a long finish. Montepulciano Perfection. 93 Points
Even in the 3 years I've been in Italy it seems Montepulciano d'Abruzzo has got better, in the last 5 its gone from an "also grape" to probably the hottest grape in Italy. Continually I am surprised at the quality and fair prices of these wines and from about 10-12 different producers I've had this year only one failed to impress me. I see this wine becoming a more serious option over the next few years and prices going up, also capable of some aging this wine is a case buy.
Where can I buy this wine?
Europeans - Italian Wine Shop - €18
Americans - Dont know?
Brits - The Cellar Door - £15
Australians - Dont know?
Leave a Comment
What is your wine bias? We all have one, of course I am biased to the wines of Italy because of total immersion and exposure, I am biased against anything that comes close to carrot like! What is going to immediately turn you on or off a wine?
Who sells this wine in the US, Australia?
Andy Murray lost.
Italian Wine Blog - Wine90

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Terra di Vento

Date: Fri, Sep 5, 2008 Wine Tasting

Terra di Vento

Terra di Vento are a lesser known Campanian outfit producing good quality, fair priced local varietal wines. Terra di Vento were introduced to me by that other fine Italian wine blogger Mr Terence Hughes of Mondosapore. Terry, top bloke that he is, had Terra di Vento send up some wines to our HQ in Venice.
I had every intention of tasting them last night but got distracted by the wine pages. So, this morning, at the ungodly hour of 7am I tasted the Aglianico and Fiano, two of Campania's finest, before making my way to work.
I'm unsure if the effects of morning grogginess on wine tasting have been thoroughly studied, but I can tell you for free, wine at 7.00am kick starts your mouth like nothing else! Forget flossing. Forget mouthwash. Swirl some of this tannic/acidic Aglianico round your chops, it's quite a shock to the system!

Terry, I don't think he'll mind me telling you, is something of a champion for less famous grape varieties, importing lesser known Italian wines into the New York area in an effort to get people drinking these great wines that the majority of US drinkers haven't yet heard of. These wines will make unique additions to restaurant lists thanks mainly to very good (say it with me) QPR.

So what of these wines? Well, aromatically they are both explosive with wonderfully deep colour on both the red and the white, both followed a similar pattern of holding some fruit on the palate having good acidity but the red especially was a little thinner than expected especially for the grape variety and both of them faded fast. However, these are wines that will both retail under €8 and the sheer fruit on the nose and palate will make them very popular internationally. Both wines do represent their varietal faithfully. I was impressed.

Terra di Vento Faiano Fiano 2007 - BUY - €6 (ish)
Clear, golden colour. Tropical fruits on the nose, pineapple and banana, honey notes also a little sweet spice. The wine is mid bodied with good acidity, a little hot on the finish but the tropical flavours still abound. One dimensional but enjoyable. 84 Points
Terra di Vento Petrale Aglianico 2006 - BUY - €8 (ish)
Intense dark ruby red, black in the centre. Gorgeous nose of dark cherry, a little earth and some raspberries, if blind I'd have guessed a young Barolo! Tannic, good acidity, almost well balanced and fruity, thinner bodied than I was expecting. The finish is watery and disappointing. Perfect start and middle, let down by the end. 85 Points
These are both loose BUY recommendations. I would buy these wines to take to a party, or to have with a typical Campanian meal or to introduce someone to the wines of Campania. They are both strong stylistically so are interesting wines and would make a nice, cheap, talking point.

Where can I buy these wines?
Hmm, good luck finding these wines. There's a chance we will be stocking them but using the normal wine searching tools, no one is stocking these wines. That's why Mr Hughes is bringing 'em over innit!
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Not to advocate 7am wine drinking, I would normally refuse a drink before lunchtime, but where is your personal line? Which O'Clock is it just plain wrong to taste before? (and Mr Hughes, if you read this, let me know how you feel about these two wines)
Italian Wine Blog - Wine90

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Argiano Solengo 2005

Date: Thu, Sep 4, 2008 Wine Tasting

Argiano Solengo 2005

Argiano Solengo 2005 is another of those great value Super Tuscans but this time from the heart of Montalcino. Argiano Solengo has long been a favourite within Italy, less famous than your Tigs and Solaias but inside a more acceptable price bracket for those of us less minted than Scrooge McDuck. The 2005 has been particularly well received by the critics so I thought I would buy a bottle from my local Enoteca and see if it's as good as they say.
If you're a frequent reader of the blog you'll know I reviewed a fair few Super Tuscans back in early summer and 2005 has been a vintage where many had struggled to reach the quality of the previous vintage. Perhaps because this isn't coming out of Bolgheri or perhaps because the guys at Argiano did a super job, this wine hasn't suffered at all from 2004, in fact it's better.
Solegno has an interesting, more even blend than many other Super Tuscans using 25% Syrah, 30% Merlot and 45% Cabernet Sauvignon. Something about this wine gives me the impression of a little less polish and a robustness that isn't a feature of other Super T's and I like what they are trying to do here. It's firm and fruity and different. It's also capable of ageing and has great structure and balance. An excellent choice for a case buy Super Tuscan the wine does have the ability to evolve year on year in a pronounced way. I bought a case of the 2004 and from tasting the 2005 wish I hadn't! Not that the 2004 isn't superb but the 2005 has that "drink now" factor I wasn't getting from 2004.
The Solegno spends 16 months in french oak and is an unfiltered wine. This wine is bold and different and might not appeal to every palate, just because you enjoy Tig is no indicator at all that you'll like this wine. It's quite outside the "normal" Super T profile. The wine is infamous for catching people out in blind tastings, you may think Bordeaux or even Australia, I wouldn't call this an expression of Italy, I'd just call it a fine bottle of vino! Argiano's Brunello di Montalcino isn't half bad either but no where close to this special wine.
I've read a lot of cases of the 2001 being spoilt wine in the US. Not sure if this was an isolated vintage.
Argiano Solengo 2005 - BUY - €45
Deep, penetrating dark red, bordering on black in the glass. Spicy nose, detectable oak, licorice and wild berries. A thick and mouth filling wine, good acidity and silky tannins. On the palate some earthy flavours come to the fore with a long satisfying finish. 93 Points
Where can I buy this wine?
Europeans - Alla Corte di Bacco - €45
Americans - Liberty Harbor - $59.99
Brits - Fine and Rare - £34
Australians - Prince Wine Store - AU$140
Leave a Comment
Tricky wines. Everyone talks about how wines are becoming more and more similar and the individual expressiveness of the terroir is being eroded by producers trying to copy a certain "international" style. Do you feel wines produced are becoming more and more similar? Which wines do you find give no hint of their terroir? Examples!
Italian Wine Blog - Wine90

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