Showing posts with label Veneto. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Veneto. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Italian Trio at O’Brien’s. Bardolino and Soave by Guerrieri Rizzardi

Italian Trio at O’Brien’s
Bardolino and Soave by Guerrieri Rizzardi
On a recent weekend, my local Douglas O’Brien’s - indeed O’Brien’s nationwide - had an Italian tasting, highlighting the wines of Guerrieri Rizzardi from the Veneto. I came away with a few bottles, two Bardolino and one Soave. The Bardolino wine zone may be familiar to quite a few of you as it lies on the eastern shores of Lake Garda, popular with Irish holidaymakers.

Soave is also in the Veneto but further east. The drive for quantity over quality led “to the eventual detriment of the Soave brand” according to Wine-Searcher.com. Yet good producers - and Guerrieri Rizzardi is one of the best there, according to Grapes and Wines -  can make “a complex and satisfying” classico. My bottle comes from the original Classico. Watch out too for Soave Superiore.

Like Soave, the Bardolino viticultural area saw much expansion and again there was a drop in quality. Wines in original areas near Bardolino town are labelled Classico and Superiore as are the ones below. No lack of quality here though! The wines were on offer (offer price in brackets) when I called, but just for that weekend!
Costeggiola Soave Classico 2011, 13.5%, €15.45 (12.36), O’Brien’s
Only about twenty per cent of Soave now comes from the original Classico zone. Costeggiola enjoyed a very good year in 2011. And this is a blend of Garganega (70 per cent minimum) and Chardonnay (30% maximum). No oak has been used but it has been aged on lees.

The characteristics of Garganega are exotic spice, citrus fruit and nutty aromas and Chardonnay is used to enhance richness, body and complexity.

It boasts a lovely light gold colour. Not overly aromatic but pleasant peach and pear notes come through. Fruit and acidity were immediately noted, minerality in play too, and a persistent finish. Recommended.

There is a note on the bottle that this should not be served too chilled. Very important advice! Serve between 12-13 degrees to get the best from your Costeggiola!  With all that lively acidity it would be a pity not to drink this with food and they recommended pairing it with Italian starters, white meats, fresh or smoked seafood, shellfish, goats cheese or tempura prawns. Should be okay too with salads and vegetarian dishes.

Tacchetto Bardolino Classico 2014, 12.5%, €16.45 (13.16) O’Brien’s
This has a very light red colour and indeed is nice and light in many respects, including the fragrant fruity aromas. It is fresh and fruity too on the palate, a little spice too, good acidity and quite a long finish, a beautiful light, smooth easy-drinking wine, good either with or without food. Highly Recommended. And you can make that Very Highly Recommend if you like this easy-drinking fruity style!

There are three grapes variety in the blend - Corvina (80%), Rondinella (10) and Merlot (10) - grown on stony vineyards. Label recommends serving it at 14-16 degrees but a well informed source in Douglas told me he has seen it served lightly chilled.

Food pairings, suggested by the producer: Cajun; rabbit; steak tartar; salami and cold pork meat.


Munus Bardolino Classico Superiore 2013, 13%, €21.45 (14.90) O’Brien’s

This is made from the highest quality grapes (including some very old Corvina) from the best Bardolino vineyards and spends 12 months in seasoned oak. Indeed, Munus is the only red wine cuvée from the Bardolino classico wine area aged in oak barrels. The same three grapes are used: Corvino (70%), Merlot (20%) and Rondinella (10%).

Color is a little darker than the Tacchetto, not by much. Aromas are vibrant and fruity, and follow through to the palate. Flavours are more robust, “more muscle,” I was told in Douglas! Acidity is excellent, hints of sweet spice too, and a good finish too. All that acidity means it's meant for food. Bring on the lamb!  The producer says: “Superb with pork and poultry dishes and lighter game such as partridge and quail. Also porcini mushroom risotto.” Very Highly Recommended.

There are other Guerrieri Rizzardi wines at O'Brien's as well as this trio.


Thursday, February 18, 2016

From Rioja to Veneto. Crianza - Reserva - Ripasso

From Rioja to Veneto

Crianza - Reserva - Ripasso

Today, we travel from the Rioja in Northern Spain to the east of Lake Garda in the Veneto region of Northern Italy. And we have three pretty good wines to sample along the way! We’ll take it nice and easy and throw in a few not too difficult technical terms at the end.

Muriel Fincas de la Villa Rioja Crianza 2012, 13%, €14.99 (stockists include: Ardkeen Quality Foodstore (Waterford), Carpenters Off Licence (Dublin), Comet Off Licence (Dublin), JJ Gibneys (Dublin), La Touche Wines (Wicklow), Number 21 Off Licence (Cork), and The Wine Centre (Kilkenny).

Poor Soil is the Key!
This crianza is one hundred per cent Tempranillo and has spent 12 months in oak, and comes from the bottle with a nice bright cherry red robe. The aromas are of red fruit, wafts of vanilla. No shortage of flavour on the palate, some spice too, fine tannins and a lengthy finish. Highly Recommended.

Poor soil is the magic catalyst here, according to the winemakers. “The secret of the quality and expressiveness of our wines is the poor and balanced nature of our soil, exceptionally suitable for the vine.” Bodegas Muriel are in Elciego, one of the most famous villages of Rioja Alavesa.

Faustino V Rioja Reserva 2010, 13.5%, €18.98 (widely available, so shop around!)

9,000,000 bottles!
Faustino, with vineyards in the best parts of Rioja, is the largest privately owned vineyard in the region. “The winery holds more than 50,000 oak barrels and a permanent stock of some 9 million bottles - without doubt, the largest bottle collection we’ve ever seen”, says The Finest Wines of Rioja (2011).

Cherry red is the colour of this reserva and there are fairly concentrated dark fruit aromas, vanilla and spice notes too. Fruity and peppery, smooth with well integrated tannins and a good long finish. Highly Recommended.

The grapes are Tempranillo and Mazuelo (10%). It has spent 16 months in American oak and 24 months more in bottle. Match it with red meats and mature cheeses, says the winery. And they also recommend “flavourful fish such as tuna and squid in its ink”.
See more about Rioja and its wines here in a recent post.

Campolieti Valpolicella Ripasso 2012, €13.5%, €17.70 Karwig Wines

Second Time Around

Campolieti means happy fields and this Classico Superiore is produced by Luigi Righetti with Corvina as the main grape of the blend. 

In the heart of Valpolicella Classico, the Luigi Righetti estate is a small to mid-sized family run winery. The most exciting tradition to evolve from the Veneto region is the process used to dry grapes prior to pressing. Amarone and "Campolieti", the ripasso Valpolicella, have traditionally been the products to benefit from this process.

Aromas of plum and blackberry are noted in this rather fruity ruby red wine. Much the same fruits can be detected in the flavours. This has been made from grapes dried and put through the Ripasso method (see link below); this enhances the concentration. It also has a good dry finish. Ideal with Pasta, Risotto, Roasts, Red Meats. Highly Recommended.

Technical Terms
The red label (crianza) indicates 1 year in oak, 1 in bottle.
The burgundy label (reserva) indicates 1 year in oak, 2 in bottle.
Read all about the Ripasso method here.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Amarone and Ripasso. Not Quite Brothers. But Related.

Amarone and Ripasso
Not Quite Brothers. But Related.


Amarone is a rich Italian dry red wine, from the Valpolicella zone centred around Verona in the Veneto region. It is much sought after and made from partially dried grapes.  Grapes are allowed to dry, traditionally on straw mats but much Amarone is nowadays produced in special drying chambers. The practice is known as appassimento.
Ripasso is a less expensive red wine, made by fermenting young wine with the unpressed but drained skins and lees left over from making Amarone and this process can give given the Ripasso a “super-charge”. This is known as ripasso (re-passed).
With so much “interference” going on in the winery, there are bound to be different styles across the area. If you’d like to try and compare the two examples below, you’ll find them in SuperValu, both with the Specially Sourced stamp.
Supra Sasson Amarone della Valpolicella 2009 (Italy), 15%, €25.00 SuperValu.

I’ve seen this described as “half-resembling Port” but I think that may be going a bit too far. Still, it is an excellent easy drinking wine and Very Highly Recommended. Colour is an intense red, close to purple. Aromas too are rather intense, mainly of red fruit. On the palate, it flows across impressively, a full bodied warming wine with no shortage of fruit, concentrated and very pleasant indeed and with little hint of that 15% abv.

Sartori Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore 2012 (Italy), 13.5%, €12.00 (reduced from 19.99) SuperValu.

The Ripasso is not as darkly coloured but its aromas are also very inviting indeed. Another warming wine on the palate with excellent flavours and spices, a very well structured wine with a much lower abv. Might be a “baby” Amarone but quite a big rich one and also Very Highly Recommended.

French Focus
The focus in SuperValu turns to French wines from the 12th of next month when they display a handpicked selection of "stellar wines". The list covers many areas of the country, from the Loire to Bordeaux, and already I have earmarked a Chablis Premier Cru (€20) and a Vacqueyras Domaine St Roch (12) as two to sample.


And not just from the big name areas. There are interesting wines too from St Chinian, Corbieres and Minervois. And, if you're in the mood to try a new variety, they have a hand-harvested Carignan (10.00) and a young Mourvedre (9.00) and also a Bourboulenc (10.00). Looking forward to trying some of those!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A Sunny Rosso. The Poor Man’s Amarone!

A Sunny Rosso
The Poor Man’s Amarone!


Gran Passione Rosso 2013 (Veneto IGT 2013), 14%, €13.99 Karwig Wines .


From the area around Venice, comes this blend of Merlot (60%) and Corvina. Corvina is the principal grape in red Valpolicella wines. The interesting thing here is that the grapes are dried in the sun before pressing (similar to how Amarone is made). This process helps towards a more intense wine and that is the case here. Very Highly Recommended, a very good wine at a lot less than you'd pay for an Amarone.


Colour is dark red/purple with a fairly intense fruity aroma. It is smooth, with concentrated fruit flavours and slight spice. Some tannins also but nothing too grippy. Really well balanced and a very pleasing finish indeed.


Cantina di Soave Recioto di Soave Classico 2009, 12.5%


Again the grapes (white) are dried for this sweet wine, the drying process nowadays helped by technology with which the producers can control the development of botrytis. Colour is a honey/gold and ripe fruits dominate in the aroma. Sweet fruits on the palate but with a great freshness and tempered by a crisp acidity before a very pleasant fruity finish.


This is not at all a cloying dessert wine, closer to a Jurancon moelleux than a Sauternes, and I'm sure you’ll find an occasion for it. Perhaps as an aperitif, with certain desserts, and even as an after dinner drink.


The label writer was in good form here (not sure the Google translation does him or her justice): Has the colour of the sun. The scent of seasonal and wildflower honey. Velvet personality and persistent.

Got this as a present from Italy. Maybe you’ll get lucky too. If not, it might be worth trying for it (or something similar) at Le Caveau or Corkscrew Wine Merchants.