Showing posts with label Italy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Italy. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Wines of Italy's Marche. Carminucci Family impress with this set

Wines of Italy's Marche
Carminucci Family impress with this set

The Marche (pronounced Mar-kay) is a long narrowish region on the east of Italy, between the Adriatic and the Apennines. The main cities are Pesaro in the north, Ascoli in the south and Ancona in between. It has an ancient wine-making tradition and its warm and cool viticultural zones mean a variety of produce.

Verdicchio is, by far, the main white grape of the area, with highly regarded wines coming from Castelli di Jesi and Matelica. But “there’s a significant production of a crisp Trebbiano-based white in the south”, near Ascoli-Piceno, according to Vino Italiano, and this is where our family, Carminucci, comes from. 

Red wines here are “a softer version of Chianti” according to Vino Italiano, and they can also be “some of the best values around”. 

The World Atlas of Wine is of much the same opinion. "Rosso Piceno... generally with lower yields and judicious oaking, can be good value." Sangiovese and Montepulciano are the main red grapes.

The Carminucci family started making wine here in 1928 and Findlater’s have  introduced their wines to Ireland.  The five wines below come from the sub-regions of Falerio, Offida, Rosso Piceno, 

Carminucci Naumakos Falerio (DOC) 2015, 12.5%, €15.95. Findlater's (whose stockists include Bradley’s North Main Street, Cork).
This is a fresh and fruity blend of Trebbiano, Passerina and Pecorino. Trebbiano is the backbone while the other two, each native varieties, boost the aromatic complexity. Crisp, tangy and refreshing.

Colour is a light straw, tints of green, micro-bubbles. Aromas are pleasant if modest, of almonds. There are refreshing fruity flavours with an immediate appeal, persistent from start to finish. And I'm not talking tasting portions here. This is not a wine to sip and abandon; it has second, even third, glass appeal! Good acidity too. Could possibly do with a bit more body, a tad more viscosity, but a very pleasant wine as is and Very Highly Recommended.

Carminucci Belato Offida (DOCG) Pecorino 2015, 12.5%, €16.95 Findlater's (whose stockists include Bradley’s North Main Street, Cork)
This is 100 per cent Pecorino. I am talking about a grape, not the famous sheep's cheese of Italy. The Pecorino grape is so called because a bunch resembles a sheep’s head. That’s one story. Another is that the bunches are a favourite treat for the sheep. In any case. it does well here in Offida.

Wine-Searcher.com says: Pecorino cheese is, coincidentally, a surprisingly good food match for Pecorino. I did try a previous one with the Pecorino from Toons Bridge and it certainly worked well. Brief details here

Colour of this Carminucci, a producer newly introduced by Findlater’s, is a pale straw, invitingly bright. Aromas are delicate and pleasant, of apple, pear and banana, some floral elements too. On the palate, it is full and rewarding, good depth of flavour and minerality; it is full bodied, dry and well balanced. A very pleasant mouthful indeed and Highly Recommended.

Winery tips: Serving temperature: 10-12 degrees; pair with
aperitifs, fresh cheese, white meat, fish.

Carminucci Naumakos Rosso Piceno Superiore (DOC) 2013, 14%, €16.95 Findlater's (whose stockists include Bradley’s North Main Street, Cork)

As with the whites, the DOC for this red is in the south of the Marche region, close to Falerio, Offida and Rosso Conero. The blend is 30% Sangiovese and 70% Montepulciano. It has been matured for 12 months in 400 litre oak barrels.

It is a dark ruby red with a complex bouquet of the darker fruits (plum, cherry), hints of liquorice too. The first rich sip tells much. It is a lovely rounded wine, full of flavour, some moderate spice, with  a terrific balance, quite fine tannins and a persistent finish. Very Highly Recommended.

Carminucci Grotte Sul Marc Falerio (DOC) 2015, 11.5%, €14.95 Findlater's (whose stockists include Bradley’s North Main Street, Cork)

Same three grapes but a different vineyard to the Naumakos, lower ABV also. Light straw colour, tints of green. Pleasant aromas of fruit (apple, pear), plus floral notes also.

After the introductory tingle, the fruity freshness (grapefruit now added to the mix) continues; it is dry, fresh yes, and well balanced. Good acidity too (they recommended trying it with fish) and a pleasant and persistent finalé. Highly Recommended.

Carminucci Grotte Sul Marc Rosso Piceno (DOC) 2015, 13%, €16.95 Findlater's (whose stockists include Bradley’s North Main Street, Cork)

This Grotte Sul Marc line underscores “our link with this territory… the Grottammore hill zone”. It is a blend of Sangiovese and Montepulciano and no oak has been used in this one. You are advised to “use all through the meal, with delicatessen products, cheese, and roast meats”.


Ruby red is the colour. There are cherry aromas. On the palate it feels smooth, with rounded red fruit flavours, slight spice and altogether a rather lovely wine, dry and soft and with a good finish. Enough acidity to keep it welcome at the table. Highly Recommended.

See also from current Italian series: 
Fontanafredda. Important Player in Italian Wine
Two Amazing Whites from Italy.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Fontanafredda, important player in Italian wine. Three examples.

Fontanafredda: important player in Italian wine. Three examples.

The Modern History of Italian Wine (2016), to which we'll be referring often over the next few months, picks Fontanafredda, renowned for decades for its Barolo, as a key player in Italy's wine industry. The important company now produces some 7.5m bottles a year and you can find quite a few of its products, including the Barolos, in Karwig Wines. Below are just three examples. 

Fontanafredda Raimonda, Barbera D’Alba (DOC) 2009, 14%, €21.15 Karwig Wines


In 1858, an area close to the village of Serralunga D’Alba was registered to the King Vittorio Emanuele II. Here he indulged his passion with the commoner daughter of a drum major and it was eventually their son Emanuele Guerrieri, Count of Mirafiore, who devoted his life to making wine here, “with a very modern approach”.

Success with Barolo followed later but, after war and economic strife, the banks took over in 1931 and appointed a winemaker to take charge. In recent years, the property passed to Oscar Farinetti, “another visionary” according to the recently published Modern History of Italian wine, “who revitalized its sale and the commercial image of the brand”. 

Dressed with the colours of the estate, the Stripes series “is the central line of production by Fontanafredda”. And the Barbera for this striped bottle is grown around Serralunga.

Part of the wine is aged in large French and Slavonian oak casks, the rest stored in small barrels of medium toasted French and American oak for about a year. The two parts are blended prior to bottling.

Colour is a deep ruby. There are intense aromas of cherry and plum, notes of vanilla. Quite a striking velvety mouthfeel on this one, round with ripe and tangy fruit, hints of spice, and an excellent acidity. A very pleasant drop indeed and Very Highly Recommended.

Karwig’s also do another excellent example of the grape: Renato Barbera D’Alba.

Fontanafredda Gavi (DOCG) 2015, 12.5%, €23.10 Karwig Wines

This is another of the vineyard’s Stripes Series and the Cortese vines from which it is produced are grown near the village of Gavi in south east Piedmont. Serve between 10 to 12 degrees and you’ll find it is ideal for starters and light meals.

It is a light straw colour with a definite green tint and micro-bubbles cling to the sides of the glass. There are fairly intense aromas, a melange of white fruit and blossom. Lively fruit flavours predominate as it rolls smoothly across the palate. It is an easy-drinking well-balanced wine with a long dry finish. Highly Recommended.

Fontanafredda “Le Fronde” Moscato D’Asti (DOCG) 2012, 5.0%, €9.95 Karwig Wines

This is a gorgeous moderately sweet wine, another string to the impressive Fontanafredda bow. Try it with all desserts, they encourage. I had a few of those delightful cheesecakes from Charly and tried the two together. Excellent, though I'm told it may be even better with drier cakes (e.g. panetone). And, by the way, it is also lovely on its own.

May not have much alcohol on board - yes, that five per cent is correct - but it has quite a lot going for it otherwise. It is slightly fizzy, lots of bubbles in evidence, mainly clinging to the sides of the glass, a frizzante rather than a spumante. Indeed, the low alcohol count means it can be convenient to use within a multi-course meal, either as aperitif or with dessert. I prefer to use a normal white wine glass rather than a flute.


It is aromatic (this one sage and honey) and floral, full and fruity also. Well worth trying, ideal in the garden in summer, with three or four friends. Recommended.

Recently reviewed:

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Two Amazing Whites from Italy.

When I started on this Italian odyssey,  using The Modern History of Italian Wine as my main guide, I was prepared to be impressed by the reds, less prepared to be bowled over by a couple of lesser-known whites. But it is well worth getting acquainted with this superb duo.

Colle Stephano Verdicchio di Matelica (DOC) 2015, 12.5%, €16.15 Le Caveau

Its lovely fruit acidity makes it lively and distinctive, and so good with food. This organic wine is produced in Matelica in Italy’s Marche. Matelica is an inland area, higher and cooler, well in from the coast of the Adriatic. 

Importers Le Caveau say you could eat off the floor of the winery “and hygiene is very important when making this kind of white wine. We love it this for its racy, stony and revitalising mouthfeel”. Sounds like a Sauvignon Blanc to me and indeed Le Caveau recommend using it like a Marlborough SB.

And its not just le Caveau that are impressed. In 2013, the Decanter Italy supplement raved about it: “Italy's best-buy of all time? Unbelievable quality for the price.” Just wonder how well that went down in nearby Jesi, another area well known for its Verdicchio!

Colour is quite a light straw. Aromas are herby, grassy, minerally, reminiscent indeed of Sauvignon Blanc. With its herbal tang, it is lively and refreshing on the palate, zesty with the sourness of green apples and quince. And, like many Italian wines, the crisp acidity means it is superb with food (sea-food ready is a term I've heard used in connection with Verdicchio from this area). Very Highly Recommended.

Terredora Di Paolo “Loggia Della Serra” Greco di Tufo (DOCG) 2015, 12.5%, €18.95 (€16.95 on offer) O’Brien’s

The grape is Greco (nothing to do with Greece, according to Vines and Wines) and the village is Tufo in Campania. The grape and the terroir here seem made for each other and the combination “gives Loggia Della Serra a particular complexity and personality”. Pair with fish, soups and tasty pasta and serve at 10 degrees.

The vineyard’s high opinion of this wine is widely shared. It is highlighted in Vino Italiano as a consistently accurate expression of the grape. It is not “… a long ager. …at its best one or two years from the vintage”. So my timing on this one is spot-on.

The recently published The Modern History of Italian Wine also has high praise for Terredora. “The vineyards are… among the best in Irpinia. Terredora cultivates indigenous grapes only.”

Colour is a light straw and the intense aromas feature white fruits and blossoms. The intensity is also on the palate, citrus notes here too and a rich minerality also prominent in this elegant and full-bodied wine. Definitely has that strong personality and a long dry finish. Very Highly Recommended.

See also from this current Italian series:
Wines from Italy's Marche
Fontanafreddo, important player in Italian wine



Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Four from the north of Italy. Dark and Handsome

Four from the north of Italy
Dark and Handsome

The first three wines are all "related" in the sense that they come from the same three grapes: Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara. All four wines come from the north of Italy.

Fasoli Gino, La Corte del Pozzo Bardolino (DOC) 2013, 12.5%, €15.49 Mary Pawle Wines

Bardolino is the lightweight sibling of Valpolicella (made from the same three grapes: Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara). The wine is named after the village on the shore of Lake Garda. If you know the village - quite a few Irish holiday here - you probably know the wine type.

Ruby is the colour, light and bright. A hint of rose in the colour and also in the aromas, a mixture of fruity and floral. And the same elements continue to combine to deliver a good and harmonious result in the mouth. A lightweight perhaps but a rather delicious one and Highly Recommended.

It is an organic wine and the grapes are cultivated by members of the Associazione Cumunita’ dei Giovani, young adults with special needs. See review of the Gino Valpolicella from last July here.



Costa Mediane Amarone della Valpolicella (DOCG) 2012, 15%, SuperValu

This is a blend of Corvina Veronese, Corvinone, Rondinella, Molinara from the Valpolicella area of Veneto in the North East of Italy. It is “good at the table” and they recommend trying it with red meat, mature cheese. Serve between 14 – 16 °C.

It is ruby red with a slightly lighter rim and has pleasing cherry aromas. On the palate there is a concentration of fruit, some spice too, fresh and delicious with some sweetness. The high alcohol is smoothed right down in a medium to full body; it is easy drinking with a good dry finish. Highly Recommended



Sartori Valpolicella Ripasso (DOC) Superiore 2014, 13.5%, SuperValu
For centuries, Veneto winemakers have used various techniques to improve the depth and complexity of their wines. Ripasso is one method and you may see the full details here.  

This Sartori is made from a blend of local grapes and Corvina is the main one with Rondinella and Molinara also in the mix.


Aromas from this ruby red wine are of fragrant cherry, intense and persistent. On the palate, it is fruity and spicy, lively and delicious, sweet notes too, and then a long dry finish. Medium bodied and easy drinking it is Recommended.


Rovero Lajetto, Monterrato (DOC) 2001, 14%, €19.00 Mary Pawle Wines

This 100% Pinot Nero has spent 12 months in French oak and a hell of a lot longer in the bottle. So be sure and decant this Italian and let it hang for a few hours. The 15 year old will be all the better for it. It will look brighter, feel fresher and taste better.

Colour is a dark red, the rim a shade lighter. Dark and moderate fruit aromas are followed by a well-rounded palate; tannins are fine at this stage and the finish is long and dry, not bad at all for an old fellow. Not too sure it is worth waiting for all this time but it is certainly a very pleasant and decent wine and Highly Recommended.


Sunday, January 29, 2017

From Sharecroppers to Entrepreneurs. The Modern History of Italian Wine

From Sharecroppers to Entrepreneurs
The Modern History of Italian Wine

At a lunch last April in West Cork, Italian winemaker Elena Pantaleoni (La Stoppa) told me that farmers were , not so long ago, looked down on in Italy, that her farmer brother had to leave Italy for France to gain some respect in his chosen profession. I was just a few pages into The Modern History of Italian Wine (edited by Walter Filiputti) when I was reminded of that conversation in the Good Things in Skibbereen.

“The modern history of Italian wine, which began to take shape in the late 1960s and the early 1970s, is the finest page ever written by our agriculture.
It gave birth to the most important agrarian revolution, in a few years turning poor farmers into entrepreneurs whose bottles are now found worldwide. ‘Contadino’ (peasant/farmer) was a derogatory term, sometimes used offensively. Until the 1970s, it was very difficult for a farm/peasant boy in the Friuli countryside, for example, to marry outside of his social class.”

In those few transformative years, a new awareness of public health emerged and production processes, previously heedlessly helped by chemicals, was enhanced by the arrival of “cold technology, laying the groundwork for mechanical oenology or knowledge”

And then the US market took off for Italy, helped hugely by the Italians in the states, in their restaurants in general and by Robert Mondavi in particular. The fascinating book takes us through the decades that followed and “is a history of labour and creativity that is all Italian, something to be proud of”.
Other famous names emerged in Italy. And famous wines too, such as the “Super Tuscan” Tignanello, Sassicaia (100 points from Parker for 1985 vintage and another Super Tuscan), Castello Banfi’s Brunello (which established itself as “a symbol of Italian quality in the wider world”.

The US market was becoming increasingly important and “indeed began to drive the industry”. In the 1990s, Angelo Gaia, another leading figure in the renaissance, noted the change in America: “they were understanding our fine clean wines”.

There were many breakthroughs including the Masi’s innovative Ripasso method and Campofiorin, a Super Venetian and “the inspiration for a while series of wines". 

And then came the setback of the methanol scandal in 1986 when over twenty people died. But Italy acted quickly to tighten quality controls. And the renaissance continued, moving the industry ever further from chemistry towards sustainability.

And that progress is being marked on the landscape (on it and under it) by some amazing wineries, quite a few of them illustrated in the 400 page book. Most of us know the very spectacular wineries of Spain but they are matched in Italy. 

Just take a look at some of my favourites, the L’Ammiraglia in Tuscany, the Cantina Khamma and the Feudo di Mezzo (both in Sicily), the Petra in Tuscany, La Brunella in Piedmont, and Cantina Jermann di Ruttars in Friuli.

There are separate chapters on the 60s, 70, and each decade right up to the present. Here the winemakers who were prominent in each decade are mentioned. Just two hundred or so in all, so many will be disappointed but the editor says the book is dedicated “to all Italian vintners” and also to those not mentioned (who are asked to “please be understanding”).

Factors leading to the breakthrough in the 60s were the controversial introduction of the DOCs in 1962 and the abolition of sharecropping in 1964. Many sharecroppers left the countryside and the old vines (and many native varieties) were at risk. But many former sharecroppers became modern farmers and many entrepreneurs joined them in the vineyards.

Fontanafredda, many of whose wines are available here (Karwig Wines, for example), go back a bit further than the 60s and the estate was, in 1858, part of the heritage of King Vittorio Emanuele 11.  They were making excellent Barolo at least as far back as 1924. In recent times, “the property passed to another visionary, Oscar Farinetti, who revitalized its sale and the commercial image of this brand which today, with its 90 hectares and concessions, produces about 7.5 million bottles”.

In the early 70s, “we saw the beginning of the long process that would lead knowledgeable oenology to drive the chemistry away from the temple”. As Piero Antinori said: “Modern technology simply allows us to express our full potential”. Leonildo Pieropan figures prominently in this decade. In 1971, he produced the Soave Calvarino and in 1978, Soave La Rocca, aged in wood, “another revolution for his territory”.  Liberty Wines import the wines of Pieropan to Ireland.


The “mastery of oenological science” put the Italians in position to tackle global markets and, despite the methanol setback, they did so in style during the 80s. But Angela Piotti Velenosi first had to conquer her local area of the Marches and Piceno where only cooperative wineries and bulk wine reigned. 

Angela and her husband founded their winery in 1984 starting with just five hectares. Three decades later, the vineyards stretch to 105 hectares and produce 2.5 millions bottles, “of which a large share is exported to five continents”. Quite a lot it makes its way here to Ireland and Karwigs have quite a selection.

In the 1990s, Italian winemakers, who had mastered the technology, began to look at their vineyards “as the source of better quality. Viticulture took its place again at the centre of the wine system.” Italy was flying in world markets, Brunello di Montalcino “a symbol of this extraordinary success”.

The islands of Sicily and Sardinia are major players in the Italian wine industry yet one of the smallest producers is among those chosen to represent the 1990s. “One label, one wine and a success for twenty years”, the Galardi estate is on the slopes of..an extinct volcano. The four owners started to recover the old vineyards in 1991 and now produce, organically since 1997, some 33,000 bottles of IGT Roccamonfina Terra di Lavoro, a blend of Aglianico and a small percentage of Piedirosso, “the essence of the south”.

Sustainability was the model to follow as the new millennium dawned. Wine tourism too began to build and, speaking of building, famous architects designed inspiring wineries. And who do I see listed as one of the “representatives" of this decade? None other then Colutta (Friuli Venezia Giulia) whose owner Giorgio Colutta visited Cork last year.
Giorgio (right) in Cork last year.

Giorgio explained that he is not organic (that's easier to do in the warmer south!) but this former pharmacist has introduced environmentally sustainable cultivation techniques and is self sufficient with regard to energy consumption. His is a small company but has reached out around the world, especially to the Far East. Fortunately he is on the books of Wines Direct where you may purchase his amazing Pinot Grigio and the even more amazing Schioppettino. 

The Schioppettino grape variety is from the local area and has a history there dating back to at least the 13th century. Giorgio told me the name means “little bang”, the sound the grape makes when you pop a ripe one into your mouth!

The chapter on the current decade features Up and Coming winemakers and ideas. The future may be in the past if the exploits of father and son team, Pasquale and Umberto Ceratti, are anything to go by. In Calabria, they make “precious wine with ancient methods”.  Following these antique methods, they make a few thousand bottles of Greco di Bianco from a vine that came with the Greeks in the 8th century BC.
Elena Pantaleoni (front, 1st left), at lunch in Skibbereen

So back to Elena and her vineyard La Stoppa. Her family bought the old place in 1973, and revived the vineyards and the winery. Nowadays, using organic methods, La Stoppa specialises in the production of wines derived from the local varieties: Malvasia di Candia Aromatica, as well as from Barbera and Bonarda, in addition to the wines derived from the historically introduced varieties of French origin: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Semillon. Beautiful wines from a beautiful place and available here from Le Caveau. Just thought I'd get that in, even if the editors couldn't!

Divided into three parts (“The Renaissance of Italian Wine,” “Italian Wine. Innovation” and “The Geography of Italian Wine”), the book narrates a never-before-told, all-Italian story of hard work and creativity. It leads readers on a journey through the sun-drenched regions of Italy, a country that has dramatically revamped its wine-growing and vinification procedures since the 1970s. All in all, it is a marvellous book, full of detail and passion, and well illustrated too.

  • Just one criticism: While there are indices for winemakers and another for names, there is no overall index. If I want find Valtellina (which is mentioned at least three times), for example, I just have to go through the whole book. Why Valtellina? Well, we had an Italian night in the Farmgate in 2015 and the wines came from there as does Farmgate front-of-house Mirco! The Italians and their wines are everywhere - thankfully. 
  • The Modern History of Italian Wine is edited by Walter Filiputti and is published by Skira. It is available from Eason's (€58.80) and online from the publishers (€46.75).  

Monday, January 9, 2017

Three Classy Reds. Don't judge a book by the cover!

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.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Love Red? Three of the Best.

Sainte Croix Magneric, Corbieres (AC) 2012, 14.5%, Mary Pawle Wines

Fruit, spice, and power feature in this well-balanced blend of Carignan (42%), Grenache (29) and Syrah (29). The vineyard, run by an English couple, Jon and Elizabeth Bowen, has been organic since 2008 and they recommend pairing it with anything from Spiced lamb tagine to Roast venison.

This is a dark, medium to full bodied, wine with ripe dark fruit aromas to match. That fruit, spice too, on the palate, concentrated, with outstanding freshness, tannins soft and ripe and no slacking off in the long aromatic finalé. Power and elegance in the one package and Very Highly Recommended.

We had another beauty from the same vineyard a month or so back. Check out Le Fournas here

Il Grigio da San Felice Gran Selezione Chianti Classico (DOCG) 2013, 13.5%, €34.95 (27.95 in recent sale) O’Brien’s Wines.

Made from “our finest Sangiovese (80%), enriched with other ancient indigenous varieties”, the result is a superbly complex wine of great elegance and concentration. Just 40,000 bottles are produced of this particular wine which has an ageing potential of 15 years. It has been aged for 24 months in mixed oak plus 8 months in bottle. 

Sangiovese, also known as Brunello and Bonarda, is a top red grape in Italy. Tuscany is its home but it is grown all over Italy, also in the US, Australia and Argentina.

Colour is medium red and the aromas feature ripe red fruit (strawberries, cherries). There is terrific concentration in this medium-bodied gem, spice too and a superb acidity to balance and it boasts a long dry and spicy finish. Very Highly Recommended.

Matches suggested are red meat, pasta and pizza. You could also do as I did and try it with cheese. I had Carrigaline, both the original and the smoked, and all got on very well together!

Jerome Quiot Cairanne Côtes du Rhone Villages (AC) 2014, 13.5%, €18.30 Karwig Wines

The family Quiot began their wine story in the Vaucluse when they acquired a few hectares there in 1748, so the nod to tradition is to be expected. This wine is made from the traditional grapes of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and old vines of Carignan. Old style vinification too in tanks and oak barrels.

Colour is a lovely ruby and there are raspberry and cherry in the aromas. On the palate, it is fruity for sure, spice also, a very good depth of flavour, nicely balanced; the tannins are close to smooth in this medium bodied wine and there is an excellent finish as well. It packs quite a punch for such a smooth wine and is Very Highly Recommended.




That noticeable acidity helps make it a good food wine, lamb, roasted meat and cheeses are recommend by the producers. I found it a terrific match with Moussaka, especially the version made using this recent recipe from Dublin's Tang Restaurant in association with Glenisk - see the details here.  

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Engaging Native Italian Trio

Engaging Italian Trio
All Natives!

Baglio Rosso Nero d’Avola, Terre Siciliane (IGP) 2014, 14%, €19.50 Le Caveau

This organic wine has undergone natural fermentation - without additional yeast - and is Highly Recommended. Colour is a very dark red, heading into black. Dark fruits and spice on the nose follow through to the palate, some savoury notes here too, plus excellent acidity. Fresh too, this fruity low intervention medium bodied wine is a delicious easy drinker.

Filippi “Castelcerino” Colli Scaligeri, Soave (DOC) 2014, 12.5%, €18.65 Le Caveau

This is quite an attractive wine, beginning with its medium gold colour. Aromas of fresh white fruit, hints of anise. White fruit flavours too, no shortage of minerality, elegant and fresh, quite smooth with a lingering finish, this light bodied biodynamic wine is Highly Recommended.

The main grape for Soave is Garganego, sometimes others are added. But not here. This is 100% Garganego, the fruit of 70 year old vines. It is also held on its lees for an extended period and they recommend pairing it with fish, salads, and light pasta dishes. An entry level wine but far from basic. Well worth a try.

Masi Campofiorin 2005 Rosso del Veronese (IGT), 13%, €17.50 (now at 14.95) for the 2008 version, Bradley’s Off Licence

An ageing potential of 10 to 15 years is flagged on the bottle, so I'm in pretty good time, I said to myself as I opened this gift from a friend. Colour is a ruby red and the aromas speak of warm ripe cherries. There follows a good concentration of cherries and berries, good acidity, very fine tannins and a decent finish. Highly Recommended.


This rich, smooth wine has spent 18 months in large oak barrels, is very approachable and versatile with food. It is made by re-passing (ripasso, sometimes also called double fermentation, is a method used to add more structure, body and flavour). The grapes used are Corvina, Rondinella, Molinara, all native grapes.