Showing posts with label Abruzzo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Abruzzo. Show all posts

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Top Co-ops Come Up With Little Beauties

Top Co-ops Come Up With Little Beauties
Once upon a time, the word cooperative was frowned on by wine importers. But, in recent decades, many coops have favoured quality over quantity. Importers, such as Kilkenny's Le Caveau, have long been among those who go off the beaten track in search out the good stuff. Below, we have two very good ones indeed.

Labastide “Terrane” Terres du Tarn (IGP) 2017, 12%,
Located in the heart of the historic Gaillac vineyards, the Cave de Labastide was founded in 1949. Today it is the oldest cellar of the Gaillac appellation. It is made up of about a hundred cooperative winegrowers with an area of around 1,000 hectares of vines.
Colour is mid to dark ruby. Lovely red fruit on nose and on the palate. It is hard to fault this one. Much smoother than expected, slight spice, well made everyday easy-drinking wine. I’d say many a lunch in the area has been polished off with a carafe of this one, obviously an excellent house wine (yet another one!) on the Le Caveau list. Highly Recommended.
You may be wondering about the little known grape varieties that have been used here: it is a blend of indigenous varieties Braucoul (Fer Servadou) and Duras. The former contributes perfumed blackcurrant fruit while the Duras is peppery and structured.
So, enjoy it with your lunch or dinner or just a simple honest baguette with some fresh cheese on the side. Should go well too with charcuterie. Also as an aperitif though perhaps chill it a little if the summer is good!
Madregale Terre di Chetti Bianco (IGP) 2018, 12% abv, €11.95 at NeighbourFood Cork
Spritzer with Chambord

This white wine is obtained from a blend of Chardonnay (the dominant partner according to the label) and Trebbiano, the grapes cultivated within the municipality of Tollo in Chetti (a province of the Italian region of Abruzzo). I have long been a fan of this Le Caveau “house wine” and of its companion red. Watch out for it as restaurants reopen, along at the stockists above. Highly Recommended. And well-priced too!

Colour is a clear light gold. Moderately intense aromas with a citrus touch. Fresh and lively on the palate, with an unexpected smoothness. Good acidity too and that helps it match with the suggested light seafood or pasta dishes like spaghetti with clams. But it may also be appreciated as an aperitif.

It was hardly out of the NeighbourFood delivery box when I was pressing it into use as part of a spritzer where its minor companions in the glass were Chambord (the black raspberry liquor from the Loire Valley), ice (lots of it) and soda water.  Quite a pleasant opener to the evening and might well have been more appreciated had I presented it a few days earlier when the temperatures were about 50% higher than they are this breezy evening (June 6th, 2020).

Madregale is produced, using organic principles, by the award-winning Cantina Tollo, one of the biggest and best co-operative wineries in the Abruzzo region, covering 3,200 ha owned by 800 farmers.

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.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Montepulciano and Montepulciano

Montepulciano and Montepulciano

I think we’ve all been confused at one time or another by Montepulciano on an Italian wine bottle. It is the name of a grape and of a town in Italy. According to the grape was named after the town and was once widely grown there.

Nowadays, the grape has found another home in Abruzzo, hence Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.  In the late 20th and early 21st century, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo earned a reputation as being one of the most widely exported DOC classed wine in Italy (Wikipedia). 

Abruzzo is a large area on the east coast. The local wine industry, according to Vino Italiano, is dominated by giant cooperatives of which Cantina Tollo (below) is one example.

Now let us return to the city of Montepulciano. This is in Tuscany, in the province of Sienna, and is one of the most attractive hill towns in the area.

The main grape grown here is Sangiovese (blood of Jove or blood of St Giovani or maybe something else entirely!). Only the very best grapes are used for Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. The others are used for Rosso di Montepulciano. The Vino Nobile has the big reputation but the simpler Rosso is no mean wine either as our example indicates.

Other grapes grown here, according to Vino Italiano, are Canaiolo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, and Alicante (Grenache). No mention of the Montepulciano on that list, so you are highly unlikely to see a Montepulciano di Montepulciano. Let me know if you do!

Cantina Tollo Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (DOP) Bio 2015, 13%, €14.45 Le Caveau

This organic wine has quite a few admirers and I'm among them. Pascal Rossignol of Le Caveau, the importers: “The Bio wines are a great find. The wines are literally singing in the glass with their exuberant fruit and juicy flavours”. The winery itself says they are bursting with primary red fruit.

The fruit is hand-harvested and the wine is neither “fined nor filtered”. Colour is an attractive ruby. Aromas are mainly of red berried fruits. It is fruity and juicy and easy drinking. Lots of lovely fruit flavours, nothing extreme, mild tannins, well balanced and with good acidity. Class finish too, long and dry. Very Highly Recommended.

Innocenti Rosso di Montepulciano (DOC) 2012, 14%, €17.45 Le Caveau

The Innocenti estate lies between Montefollonico, a walled city in Tuscany, and Montepulciano, just a short drive between them. This is a blend of Sangiovese (mainly), Canaiolo Nero and Mammolo and has spent six months in oak.

Colour is bright, and light, ruby. Generous aromas of stewed plums and a touch of heavier gamey notes. It is medium to full-bodied; that warm fruit is there, some spice too, really well balanced. Fine tannins noticeable on a long and dry finish. Very Highly Recommended.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Soft and generous, Tanto delivers a lot!

Tanto Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2011 (Italy), 
12.5%, €9.00 - 11.00, Stockists

Colour: Deep red.
Nose: A pleasant wave of red fruit aromas.
Palate: soft and generous with sufficient refinement to belie its youth and to complement the dark fruits (mainly plum, for me). Add in a long smooth finish and this warm juicy delicious wine lives up to its name and delivers a lot. Good value. Highly recommended.

It is generally acknowledged that the generous Montepulciano grape "is hard to foul up". The Tanto producers have not messed up here. Worth keeping an eye out for that colourful label.

* In Italian, Tanto means “a lot”.
** If you head east from Rome through Lazio, cross over the Appenines, you’ll find yourself in Abruzzo with the Adriatic ahead of you.