Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Two Superb Reds in my Mystery Case from Wines Direct

The Mystery Case
I've often seen Wines Direct advertise their Mystery Case, six reds and six wines, quality guaranteed with twenty five per cent off and free delivery. Sounds good and this time I ordered one. No regrets so far! Au contraire. The first two opened turned out to be two gems, one from Italy, the other from Spain.

Nicodemi “Le Murate” Colline Teramane Montepulciano D’Abruzzo (DOCG) 2017, 13.5%, €15.60 Wines Direct

Abruzzo is a DOC zone in the east of Italy. It borders the Adriatic and has the Apennines to the west, Puglia to the south. In and near the mountains, wild horses and bears may be seen here, and certainly saffron. Our producers, Nicodemi, are an hour away from the mountains, twenty minutes from the coast. And this wine is made from the Montepulciano grape. By the way, just to confuse things, there is a town called Montepulciano in Tuscany, also well known for its wines!

The Colline Teramane is a sub zone of the general Montepulciano zone and has that extra letter (G) at the end indicating its superiority. This particular wine is smooth and medium-bodied with a dark ruby colour. Black berry fruit and ripe plum feature in the attractive aromas, cracked black pepper notes there too. No shortage of rounded flavours on the warm and enticing palate, and it’s round and smooth right to the very satisfactory finish, soft tannins and a soft mouthfeel also. Soft and generous as I’ve come to expect from these wines in general and this is one of the better examples. VHR

Foods pairings recommended by Wines Direct include: Spicy Food, Pasta and Pizza, Hard Cheese, Game. Speciality foods of the region include lamb (they have one called Abbachio al Diavolo, hot suff!), Scamorza (check out the Toons Bridge Dairy version of this cheese), mortadella (spicy, garlicky), pork liver sausage, dried pasta and saffron. Serve at 16 to 18 degrees.

The Nicodemi estate abides by all the rules that organic farming demands, leaving wild grasses to grow around the rows, oxygenating and enriching the soil. “We believe in biodiversity and even our new vines are selected from our heirloom cultivars, because something that was good in the past can play a role in the future…. With careful actions, respectful of the grapes, our experience helps us turn them into wine without pushing too hard”. Nicodemi are also well-known for their Trebbiano.

Bodegas Maximo Abete ‘Guerinda El Maximo’ Tinto Crianza Navarra DO 2016, 14.5%, €18.55 Wines Direct.

This red blend, of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Garnacha, is named in honour of the family’s father and was indeed the first wine Maximo made here in Vallervitos, “an incredible place” in the middle of the Sierra de Guerinda. His moustache was also of the large variety and an illustration dominates the label of the tallish bottle with a plastic disc over the top of its cork rather than foil or similar. 
The wine is dark, close to purple, with a  crimson rim. Nose of dark fruit, some herbal notes also. Complex and smooth, blackberry fruit and peppery on the palate, it has a lively acidity and ripe tannins, all echoed in a persistent finish. Very Highly Recommended.
The fruit is grown at altitude (700m) and the importers say that El Maximo showcases Navarra’s strengths as a DO. It certainly does. Recommended pairings are soft cheese, game, beef and lamb. Open 30 minutes before serving at the recommended temperature is 16 to 18 degrees.

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