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Wednesday, May 3, 2017
Barolo and Amarone. Two Italians Worth Meeting
A good few years back, a mixed nationality group of tourists, including yours truly, were slowly making our way across Italy. There were a few Australians in the party - they were mainly beer-drinkers (stubbies rather than stickies) but included one winemaker - and their conversation regularly featured the word Barolo. It seemed like a holy grail to them. Later I would find out why! Perhaps they also mentioned Amarone but I can't recall. These two wines from the north of Italy are well worth getting to know!
Ciabot Berton Barolo (DOCG) “La Morra” 2011, 14.5%, €32.95 Le Caveau
Nebbiolo is regarded as native to the Piedmont region and produces some of Italy's “most uniquely perfumed and powerful reds”. Since early days, one of those wines, Barolo, was referred to as the “king of wines, the wine of kings”. This La Morra is a right royal example.
It comes from a prestigious and historical cru. The winemaking is “fairly” traditional. The 100 per cent Nebbiolo is aged 18 months in 25 hl Slavonian oak casks (useful for stabilising and harmonising) and then 6 months in steel vats before bottling.
According to Vino Italiano: “…. the top wines in the DOCG are said to hail from the communes of Monteforte d’Alba, Serralunga d’Alba, Castiglione Falletto, Barolo and La Morra.” The hilly land concerned lies generally to the south-west of Alba and much of it is a protected World Heritage site since 2014.
This gorgeous light red wine has aromas of blackberry in Autumn, gentle hints of cherry too, plus floral notes. On the palate it is smooth round and rich, some spice too. Concentrated and elegant, perfumed and powerful. The excellent acidity heralds a long, fresh finish, a finish as satisfying as all that goes before. Very Highly Recommended.
Luigi Righetti Amarone della Valpolicella (DOCG) Classico 2012, 15%, €25.95 Karwig Wines
Amarone, some of you will know, is a style, not a grape and the style was developed in the area of Valpolicella where local wine-makers searched for a way to increase the body, complexity and alcohol content of their wines, made generally from Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara fruits. Amarone della Valpolicella is an intensely flavoured dry red wine made from dried grapes.
Righetti may not always feature in the lists of top wine-makers here but his is a good one; you may take a certain confidence from the G in the DOCG. Colour is a deep ruby red. The complex nose features oodles of dried red fruit. It is rich and dry with concentrated flavour - the alcohol is also high; some spice too and a noticeable tartness, all characteristics carried through to the finalé. Very enjoyable wine and Very Highly Recommended.
See also (from current Italian series):
Monday, January 9, 2017
Three Classy Reds
Don't judge a book by the cover. The plain label on the Gamay could well lead you to believe this is a bottom shelf wine whereas it is anything but. Perhaps, especially if you bought bottom shelf Moroccan wines on French holidays years ago, you wouldn't be expecting a great deal from the Volubilia but it is a lovely surprise. And no surprise really with the Italian. You'd expect this to be good and it is very good indeed.
Clos du Tue-Boeuf Gamay 2015, Vin de France, 12%, €18.85 Le Caveau
Light red, fairly typical of the grape, is the colour of this natural beauty. The aromas are of strawberries and raspberries. On the vibrant palate, you'll find the same mix of fruit flavours, with a light tang of cider apples; it is light and fresh and smooth for sure, fine tannins and then a long finish.
The two Puzelat brothers, regarded, by Jamie Goode, as “natural wine royalty”, mature this for 4-6 months in large wooden vats. The organic grapes are bought in from trusted local winegrowers in the Loire. “The wines are quite unique, highly expressive of their terroir, authentic, filled with life and have a very strong personality.” That lively personality is very evident, pleasingly so, in this example and it is Very Highly Recommended. By the way, it is neither filtered nor fined, so do decant!
La Zouina Volubilia Classic Red, Morocco 2012, 13.5%, €22.95 Le Caveau
This is a relatively new French run chateau. Bordeaux know-how plus freedom to experiment has helped produce this excellent result from a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (50%), Syrah, Mourvedre, and Tempranillo.
Colour is medium red. And the aromas include warm blackcurrant. It is medium bodied, smooth and fresh, well endowed with concentrated berry flavours, medium spice, fine tannins. It is well balanced with a long and juicy finish. A surprise from Africa and Very Highly Recommended.
Ascheri Coste & Bricco Barolo (DOCG) 2010, 14.5%, €47.00 (down to 30 in recent Fine Wine sale) O’Brien Wines
No surprise that this one was good as I had tasted it at the O’Brien Wine Fair in Cork. Nebbiolo is the grape here. Made from two select plots from Ascheri’s single vineyard, this is their top cuvée.
The wine has spent 26 months in Slavonian barrels, six months in steel and a further nine in bottle before release. According to Grapes & Wines, Italian Nebbiolo ages better than those of California and Australia. And indeed the producers reckon this will last for 18 to 20 years if kept in a cool dark place.
I couldn't wait that long to tuck into this garnet coloured wine. Small red fruits feature in the aromas, also some herbal hints. It has a palate full of rich flavours, spice too and an acidity that helps put all in harmony. This elegant and inviting wine is Very Highly Recommended.
They, Ascheri, recommended matching it with hard mature cheese, pheasant, pigeon, roast lamb and beef, Mediterranean vegetables. I've tried and tested it here with Parmesan and Walnut crusted rack of lamb with roasted vegetables, the lamb bought at our local craft butchers, Davidson’s of Montenotte, Cork.
Tuesday, December 8, 2015
All Red For YouGarnacha-Syrah-Nebbiolo
Ricossa Barola 2010 (DOCG), 14%, €17.00 (down from 22.99), SuperValu Christmas
In the Langhe hills it’s the aromas - of truffles, mushrooms, hazelnuts, coffee, and above all else, Barolo or Barbaresco wine - that sweep people off their feet. (Vino Italia).
Barolo, by the way, is a place in Piedmonte (Italy) and the grape is Nebbiolo. There is a minimum aging requirement of three years (two in barrel) and the result has been described as the king of wine, the wine of kings.
So let's be king for a day and try this vibrant ruby red. And yes there are gorgeous dark red fruit (cherries mainly) wafting up from the glass. The Riedel (Veritas 6449/67) has been made for New World Pinot Noir but it certainly works well here! The fruits are agreeably prominent on the palate but there is a great balance, some spicy elements too, a sweet and savoury experience and then the long dry finish. I really like this one, feeling rather royal! Very Highly Recommended.
Marco Real Corraliza de Los Roncaleses 2012, Santacara (Navarra DO), 15%, €15.50 Karwig Wines
Colour here is a bright cherry, long lasting legs. For me, nose is more fruit (cherry) than floral (which is highlighted on the label). Soft and full-bodied and elegant too, moderate acidity and yet, despite the high abv, the balance is fine; the finish is long and pleasant. Highly Recommended.
It is one hundred per cent Garnacha and wines made from this variety can be high in alcohol (as is the case here) and heady (not the case here!). By the way, I had this with Poulet Basquaise and it was an excellent match.
Think I may have been fairly close to this vineyard a few years ago when I came over the mountains from France to Roncesvalles, a major stop on the camino to Santiago. It was lunchtime and I was hoping to get the Pilgrim’s Meal but was told it was available only in the evening!
Finca Pasion Mi Fuego Syrah 2012 (Argentina), 13.5%, €13.50 Karwig Wines
Colour is a dark red (with a lighter rim) and it has ripe fruits aromas. Then you get the fruit again on the palate, spice too and quite fine tannins, a pleasant presence in the mouth plus persistent finish. Hand-harvested and estate bottled, this is easily quaffable and Highly Recommended.