Showing posts with label Tuscany. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tuscany. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Two Heartily Recommended Wines. A Pinot Blanc from Alsace, a Sangiovese from Montepulciano

Two Heartily Recommended Wines. A Pinot Blanc from Alsace, a Sangiovese from Montepulciano

Meyer-Fonné Pinot Blanc Vieilles Vignes Alsace (AC) 2018, 12.5%

€20.65 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

Seductive aromas of pear, peach and almond announce this beautiful pale straw coloured Pinot Blanc from Meyer-Fonné of the Alsace. A touch of sweetness, also on the nose, is found too on the palate, where white fruit, rich and fresh and smoky, is surrounded by a refreshing minerality. Precision, depth, purity all combine here. Delicious and moreish, with a very clean finish, this is Very Highly Recommended. Very good value too by the way.

Wine Folly says it will match up well with soft cheeses, salads with cream dressings and flaky fish (eg cod). Personally, I think it would have not problem with salmon or trout.

Le Caveau: Pinot Blanc Vieilles Vignes comes from a plot of old vines, it acts like Pinot Gris on the nose — rich, oily apricot and pear fruit— but the touch of white pepper and taste of freshly squeezed oranges is classic Pinot Blanc. A house pour at a number of Ireland's Michelin starred restaurants over the past 15 years. A sure fire hit each and every bottle opened.

Félix Meyer himself has come in for high praise.

"Félix Meyer is one of the more ambitious and successful young vignerons of Alsace.” Wine Advocate.

“ ... Félix Meyer still has humility, still has a sense of wonder, and is still capable of self-criticism. He is a seeker and a perfectionist. He is a terroirist, and when he speaks of a granitic soil, the wine in your glass tastes of it.”
Kermit Lynch, US importer.

No chemical fertiliser is used in the running of the vineyard, “only compost we make ourselves using raw materials derived from organic farming. Calcium and magnesian limestone is spread each year on the granitic soil terroirs to prevent acidification.”

Innocenti Rosso di Montepulciano (DOC) 2015, 13.5%, 

€19.35 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

Light and bright ruby colour. Gloriously aromatic, with cherry and plum to the fore, forest fruits and herbal notes in the mix as well. It is medium to full-bodied; that warm fruit is there, some spice too, a lick of wood, really well balanced. Fine-grained tannins noticeable on a long and very dry finish. With a little more weight than your typical Tuscan red, this is easy-drinking and Very Highly Recommended.

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 (Abruzzo is a large area on the east coast), 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). 

Our wine comes from the town 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. 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.

Importers Le Caveau tell this Rosso di Montepulciano is a blend of Sangiovese, Canaiolo Nero and Mammolo grapes.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

A Virtual Tour and Taste of Maremma and Montepulciano with Antinori

A Taste of Maremma and Montepulciano

 with Antinori

Le Mortelle

We had the best of guides as we visited part of the amazing Antinori wine establishment last Wednesday, all online of course. Tindal’s Harriet Tindal MW introduced us to three “guides” in Italy: Filippo Pulisci of Antinori itself, Riccardo Checchi of La Braccesca vineyard and Georgia Dimitriou of their Le Mortelle estate.

Harriet, our expert moderator, asked Filippo to tell us a bit about the firm. “I’m the old guy in the room”, he started. But nowhere near as old as Antinori’s association with wine which goes back to 1385. Indeed, they were in business for a hundred years before that as silk merchants.

“But it is only in the last sixty years, even the last thirty, that Antinori accelerated to a full cycle producer - you must grow your own grapes and do the whole thing from start to finish. We are also a custodian of tradition but always innovative.” 

And Filippo cited their famous Tignanello wine as an example. A very good example indeed as it was Tignanello that helped catapult the wines of Tuscany onto the world stage in the 1970s. The explosion in popularity of Italian restaurants in the USA, and elsewhere, also helped. 

Tignanello was the first Sangiovese to be aged in barriques, the first contemporary red wine blended with untraditional varieties (specifically Cabernet) and one of the first red wines in the Chianti Classico region that didn’t use white grapes.

So Tignanello, which saw Piero Antinori lead the way, was a breakaway from the hidebound traditions (some of you may remember Chianti in its straw flask) and the rules of the appellation. He broke those rules in two ways, at least, by using international grapes and also the barriques. 

And so one of the first of what became known as Super Tuscans was born and went on to thrive. Piero is generally regarded as one of the heroes of Italian wine in the last century breaking away from a system geared more towards quantity than quality. Again, some of you will remember the EU “inspired” wine lakes and, closer to home, butter mountains.

Filippo continued: “Many followed us to Super Tuscans. We are an old family but also modern, never compromise on quality. We are also democratic producers in that we produce everyday wines to high-end expensive ones. We are always advancing, never resting on our laurels.”

We would soon see an example as Georgia began to talk about Le Mortelle, the estate she manages in the heart of Maremma Tuscany, in an area well known for the production of top quality wines. The winery appears on top of a hillside overlooking the surrounding countryside while the cellars lie underground in perfect harmony with the environment.

“It’s a mix of elegance and wilderness,”she said, where they grow quite a few of those international varieties, mainly the Cabernets and Carménère. “It is an ideal place with a warm Mediterranean climate, ideal for these varieties that require a longer ripening time."

Riccardo’s winery, La Braccesca (bought in 1990), has two different but adjoining terroirs between the hills of Montepulciano and Cortona and here two very different personalities live side by side in complete harmony: the traditional Sangiovese for Nobile di Montepulciano and the international Syrah in Cortona, an emerging wine producing area with great potential. The  La Braccesca winemakers take advantage of the terroirs, the clay near Montepulciano and the sand on the other side.

Soon he was showing us the first of the day's wines to be tasted, the Vino Nobile de Montepulciano. “The arm on the label represents the noble tradition. And when some see Nobile on the label, they think of a heavy wine.. no longer the case…now it’s all about acidity and fruitiness with softer tannins (than Sangiovese from different areas). You can drink it with everything.”

Georgia, originally from Greece and, like Riccardo, well travelled and well educated in wine, started with Vivia, “a sunny wine, recently bottled, no oak”.

Her second Botrosecco, also from Le Mortelle, is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (60%) and Cabernet Franc. “I call it simple, simple but good, with soft tannins..easy to enjoy young… a very good expression and great value for money.”

Riccardo’s second offering was Achelo. A Syrah, “a famous grape of Cortona, a recent appellation, founded only in 2000. Some time back, a few growers, including us, saw similarities between here and the Rhone: climate, soil, acidity”.

They investigated, did their research and now produce top quality Syrah. By the way Achelo is the name of a local god of abundance. The Syrah is versatile: “Use it an aperitif. And dinner too. The more you keep it open, the more it expresses itself.”

He also showed two older Syrahs, the Bramasole from 2013 and 2016. “The plot is very well exposed, lots of sun, sandy solid. There’a an impression of sweetness, not sugar, just from the ripe fruits.. it reflects what the soil produces.. it is a powerful wine and needs 15 to 18 months in barrels plus two years in bottle.”

Then he “hopped” back to the Montepulciano side for the Santa Pia 2015, a Riserva. “Fresh, with a little bit of age flavour.” How long will it last? For decades was the answer, twenty or thirty years from the very best vintages. Maybe not as long from the other vintages.

Georgia then showed the Poggio alle Nane (Hill of the Wild Duck), La Mortelle’s “flagship wine”.  The blend of Cabernet Franc 80%, Cabernet Sauvignon 10 and Carmènére 10 was finalised in 2015. It is the only Carmènére vineyard in the area and the grape is suited by the hilly grounds. “It is demanding in terms of ripening but we have the right conditions in Maremma.”

And they work on guarding those conditions. “Our focus is to minimise our impact so we use a lot of stainable techniques: monitoring insects, encouraging predators, and more. The more we work in harmony with nature, the better the results in our wine.”

The cellar in Maremma

Friday, April 24, 2020

Screw Cap and Cork. A masterclass from Tuscany by wine-maker Paolo De Marchi

Screw Cap and Cork. A masterclass from Tuscany by wine-maker Paolo De Marchi

Paolo De Marchi
Tuscan wine-maker Paolo De Marchi saw “the other side of the moon” in the early years of this century. He told us how that came about during yesterday's online masterclass.

Paolo, the owner of the superbly tended Isole e Olena vineyards in Tuscany, has a tendency to see what’s hidden - once he dug holes “everywhere” with a back-hoe to see what the roots of his vines were doing down there. So it was no surprise that when Liberty’s David Gleave MW asked him to start using screw cap on some of his wines that Paolo went into the subject in deep detail.

His initial answer though was negative. “I said not ever!”  But, he decided to try. “The DOCG though does not allow screw cap, it was not easy decision. I have to go deeper, to the moon, to imagine the other side. There may be other answers, so I try.”

It worked out well though. From 2005, the Liberty allocation of Cepparello, with screw cap but without the DOCG of course, went off to the UK and then, not over surprisingly, Australia wanted 100% screw cap. And New Zealand followed.

Clare Valley’s Tim Adams attended a 2010 event in Cork’s Blackrock Castle and his bottles that night were all screw cap. Tim and his neighbouring winemakers went for this method of closure in the late 1990s and are very happy with it. “But we are still learning...the process of evaluation is long term... could go on for 20 years”. They are well into that now!

As indeed is Paolo. And Paolo is better placed to speak on the merits of screw cap versus cork as he also bottles the Cepparello under cork for Italy, for Italian restaurants abroad, for long established importers in the UK and also for the USA. “Screw cap is more popular on white wines… every year increasing.”

“Twelve vintages now we have screw cap. Very hard to choose.” But he did indicate that the best wine you’ll ever drink will be from cork, indicated also that screw cap wines are excellent and more consistently so.

“Cork is always a mystery. Screw cap is less of a mystery - just check for physical damage to the closure, maybe a little shock on the cap. But I still prefer the wine from the cork,” and then he smiles, “from a good cork”.

As they age, he maintains both will be beautiful if different. “But that’s a minor problem. When you have a beautiful wine, enjoy it.”

David Gleave agreed. “You’re right, either way there’s diversity (diversity even within cork). Besides, corks are getting better but my personal preference is for screw cap. The tannins evolve a little more slowly. It is more consistent and Cepparello is well suited” Paolo, by the way, also does a superb Chardonnay under screw cap.

The Portuguese cork makers did up their act after the turn of the century shock from down under.  Back in 2013 in L’Atitude 51, Philip Grant of Chateau Bellevue la Foret, Fronton AOC, said he had noted a major improvement in the traditional closure since 2001 “when the Portuguese cork industry reacted to the enormous pressure they was coming under from the emergence of the screw cap as the favourite closure of Australia and other wine producing countries”.

Philip insisted that consistency is guaranteed under screw cap. He had very little to say in favour of the synthetic cork, beyond indicating that it may be useful for wines that are intended for a very limited shelf life and he meant months!

Paolo of course had an opinion. ”I don’t like DIAM - a wannabe cork!” The synthetic Noma though is “more interesting” and he might take a look at that.

Just to finish with a note or two on the Cepparello (first released in 1980). This is a Chianti Classico - it will be on the label if you buy the cork version, won’t be there if you buy screw cap. The grapes are grown on the estate which is right in the heart of Chianti Classico between Florence and Siena. It is a blend of Sangiovese 80%, Canaiolo 15% and Syrah 5%.

Why Syrah? That was a popular question during the Question and Answer session that followed Paolo’s talk. No hesitation from Paolo. “Syrah, because it ripens well, adds colour and spice, and blends very well with Sangiovese.”

Lots of other questions too for Paolo before he could take a break but I didn’t get the tail-end as my connection began to act up. Looking forward to the next masterclass from Liberty Wines and their team!

All pictures above are screenshots from the masterclass.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Three Light Reds for the Months Ahead

Three Light Reds for the Months Ahead

Les Foulards Rouges “Octobre” Vin de France 2018 11.5%, €20.85

This is a bit of an ambush. Nothing in the colour (a weak red) or in aromas (delicate) quite prepares you for what lies ahead when you sip this Languedoc blend of Syrah (mostly) and Grenache. “Smile inducing.” “Sings in the glass.” Quotes from importers Le Caveau and I fully agree.

That weak red colour is very close to a rosé. And the aromas have a delicate red berry nose, a touch of white pepper too. It is a pleasant surprise in the mouth, supple and pretty, with quite a lively character, reaching a high level of quality. 

Despite the initial doubts, I totally concede: this is exquisite, distinctive too, closer to a Beaujolais than one would think possible in a Southern red with Syrah as the main grape. Perhaps the sea breezes wafting in over the spiralling red roofs of Collioure have something to with that and with the lower ABV. If you are looking for a pretty and light red wine, and many people are nowadays, then look no further than this Highly Recommended red. 

Octobre is released each year in… October; 90% Syrah, 10% Grenache grown on granitic soil, hand harvested and spontaneous carbonic fermentation, no SO2 added. Jean-François Nicq, one of the Foulard Rouge (red scarves), took over the domaine in 2002 and practices natural wine-making and you can taste it in this pure wine.

Contrefours du Delta Côtes de Ventoux (AOP) 2016, 13.5%, €13.20 Mary Pawle

There is an increased interest in lighter red wines in recent years and, if you’d like to try one, this bottle fits the bill. It is an organic wine from the southern edge of the Rhone Valley, a “supple and juicy” blend of Grenache (60%) and Syrah.

Mid ruby is the colour. It is aromatic with a mix of red fruits (raspberries and strawberries included). It is indeed charming and light, juicy and a refreshing drop with a decent finish, tannins just about noticeable on the lips. Can be served cool too, so handy for the warmer days ahead. Well made and Highly Recommended. Well priced too, by the way.

Pairing tips included grilled lamb with thyme, goat cheese or with a fig tart.

Terrabianca “La Fonte” Sangiovese Tuscany (IGT) 2012, 13.5%, €16.15 Karwig

Do you need a light summer-time red for that pizza or pasta?  Check out this easy-drinking well-priced wine Tuscan wine from Karwig’s. Sangiovese is the grape and it is a major grape in that part of Italy, its reputation reinforced over the years by its role in wines such as Brunello di Montalcino, Chianti itself of course, and also Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.

Colour is a mid to dark ruby. You’ll note rich dark red fruit (cherry, plum) in the aromas. Well balanced on the palate, light fruit and lively acidity, a touch of soft tannins towards the finish. Easy drinking and Recommended.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Two Lovely Italian Whites

Bianco de Ampeleia, Costa Toscano Bianco (IGT) 2017, 11%, €23.95  Le Caveau 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin,
The famous Elisabetta Foradori from Trentino is a driving force behind Ampeleia and, where Elisabetta goes you’ll find good wine. This, Bianco di Ampeleia, mainly made from the old variety Trebbiano, with an addition of other local white grapes (Malvasia, Grecanico & Ansonica) grown together in the same vineyard, is a fine example.

Might be a bit much to say the colour is rose gold but it is a cloudy gold with pink tones, very much in orange wine territory here and certainly organic. It is fragrant, hints of orange peel and dried fruit. You know now you are on to something different. And then you discover the amazing flavours; it is creamy, complex and fresh. Superb body and long dry finish. Very satisfactory indeed and Very Highly Recommended. Exactly the kind of wine to give organic orange-coloured wines a good name.

Should be excellent and versatile with food, anything from fish to turkey, from antipasti and bruschetta to creamy dishes like risottos, spaghetti ala carbonara, and fettuccine alfredo. Try it too with fruit desserts.

Podere La Prendia Pinot Grigio, Mantova (IGT) 2017, 12.5%, €16.50 Marks & Spencer

M&S winemaker Jeneve Williams had a hand in this excellent unoaked white, produced from grapes in the “mild and temperate” climate of Northern Italy (near Lake Garda). It is 100 per cent Pinot Grigio, one of the most popular varieties grown in Italy.

I remember hearing Australian winemaker Tim Adams speaking in Cork about ten years ago and he was introducing his Pinot Gris which had a distinct pink tint. He told us that this is a natural phenomenon of the grape and which he had retained, at least for that harvest. It is a distinctive grey on the vine but, when squeezed, the juice runs pink.

This is because Pinot Grigio is actually a red variety but with very low anthocyanin (the molecules that give colour to red grapes). Anyhow enough of the technical!

Back to the glass and what you’ll notice is that this wine from Montova has very little colour at all, just a hint of yellow. Aromas are pleasant, pear prominent. There is a surprisingly complex palate (it has spent some time on its lees), pear and lime mingle, a lively acidity and a persistent finish. A premium refreshing Pinot Grigio and Very Highly Recommended.

Serve it lightly chilled to get the best from it. Great as an aperitif or pair with white fish dishes or light herby pasta recipes.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Three wines to enjoy from Tuscany

Three wines to enjoy from Tuscany
Terrabianca Chianti Classico Riserva Croce (DOCG) Riserva 2012, 13.5%, €25.75 Karwig Wines 

Colour is a beautiful ruby red. Aromas of ripe cherry. Superb fruit on the palate, sweet juicy cherry, touch of pepper, terrific structure, good acidity and satisfyingly long fruit-driven finish. Very Highly Recommended.

This is 97% Sangiovese with 3% Canaiolo. The grapes are selected at the winery before being approved for separate vinification in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. Ageing: Aged in Slavonian oak (50 hectolitre), then about 3 months in French oak barrique (2nd use) and in bottle for at least 12 months. 

Serving Suggestions: Best served at 16-18 °C (60.8-64.4 °F). Pairs well with pasta dishes.

Selvapiana Chianti Rufina (DOCG) 2015, 13.5%, €23.99 JJ O’Driscoll’s Cork, Wine OnLine, Liberty Wines 

Rufina is a highly regarded sub-zone in Chianti and its best wines are a match, some more than a match, for those from Chianti Classico. This producer is one of the best and produces the wine from the area’s famous Sangiovese grape (with a touch of Canaiolo). It is aged for 12 months, some in steel but most in oak casks and barriques.

It is a startlingly light red. Cherry and berry on the nose. Fresh and juicy on the palate, quite a backbone of flavour, smooth though and easy drinking but also generously blessed with finesse. Elegant and precise and with a long finish, this Chianti Rufina is Very Highly Recommended, especially if you like the lighter styles.

Camillo Ciliegiolo Maremma Toscana (DOC)  2015, 13.5%, €18.85 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

This is made from organically grown, forty year old Ciliegiolo vines. Ciliegiolo? I hear you ask. I asked too and confirmed it is little known with an uncertain genealogy, being either the parent or offspring of Sangiovese. 

Antonio Camillo is noted as a top grower in Maremma (an area of southern Tuscany that has been producing wines since the Etruscans) by none other than Oz Clark in Grapes and Wines.

The book, co-written with Margaret Rand, says Ciliegiolo (little cherry) “is sometimes bottled as a varietal, and it can be found as far south as Sicily and as far north as Val d’Aosta.”

The Camillo version is a bright mid-ruby in colour, the aromas a mix of cherry and berry. Refreshing ripe cherry fruit, some spice also, good acidity and persistent fine-grain tannins all in the dry finish. Good structure, very drinkable and Highly Recommended. Try, they say, with hearty dishes (stews) and hard cheeses.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Grapecircus at Spit Cork. Fantasia. Insania. Campania. Italia.

Grapecircus at Spit Cork.
Fantasia. Insania. Campania. Italia.
Enrico, with square halo, and Aileen

Enrico Fantasia is enthusiastic about wine #77 on his stand at the Spit Cork event in the River Lee Hotel. It is Falanghina ‘Insania’ 2016 by Bambinuto. That Falanghina is the grape variety and the best known variety from this area in Campania is Greco di Tufo which is also produced by Bambinuto.

The vineyard is about an hour east of Naples, yet in 2006 Marilena Aufiero was told she was mad to start her operation here, hence the name Insania. “She took a chance,” said an admiring Enrico, the man behind Grapecircus who are best known for Italian wines. The wine, which has spent six month on lees, is delicious, fresh with minerality. This, and others from the Grapecircus portfolio, are available via Sheridan’s Cheesemongers. Others available online via SIYPS.

Enrico has been described as “the charismatic ringmaster of Italian wines in Ireland”. He also owns a wine bar, Piglet in Temple Bar. It is not his first restaurant venture. “I couldn't stay away.”. While Grapecircus have a strong Italian list, they now include wines from all over Europe, “made by passionate people with respect for nature.. that express terroir and tradition.”

Traditionally, the Castelli dei Jesi wine-producing zone in eastern Italy is noted for its Verdicchio and Enrico’s example was the Saltatempo 2016 produced by La Marca de San Michele. Verdicchio apparently means the little green one and there are tints of green in the colour and apple notes on the palate. This one is soft and round with a crisp acidity and a pleasant slightly bitter finish.

My next white came from the Mengoba vineyard in Bierzo, Spain, the Brezo Blanco 2016. It is a Godello with some Dõna Blanca, produced more or less organically but with no certification. This relatively full-bodied wine has responded well to five months on lees, pretty intense and with a strikingly long finish.

I had intended to try his Muscadet but Enrico wasn't happy with the bottles supplied - just goes to show his professionalism - so I switched my attention to the Albarino. A taster alongside me remarked there is no such thing as a bad Albarino and this Saras 2015 by Entre Os Rios was another good one. Good colour and aroma (tropical fruits), a richer style perhaps than usual, fruity, juicy and a long dry finish. 

Aileen took me through some of the Grapecircus reds, a brilliant mini-tour, mainly through Italy. Starting with When We Dance 2015, the Chianti by the Sting co-owned winery Tenuta Il Palagio. “It is the entry level wine,” Aileen said. “they are just outside the Classico area so it is good value and 2015 was a very good year.” And indeed, this is a very good wine, cherry prominent, and fresh, organic of course.
When we dance

A quick step over to France and to Bourgueil by the Loire and a tasting of Yannick Amirault’s La Coudraye 2016. Yannick is “one of the top producers and is certified organic.” Cabernet Franc is the red grape all around this area. It is noted for its freshness and that shone through this lovely rich wine, Aileen describing it as dense.

Back to Tuscany now and the Rosso de Montalcino Banditella 2014, produced from Sangiovese grapes by Col D’Orcia. This is a super wine from “the area's third largest producer”. “But the focus is on quality. It was a tough year in 2014 but good producers produce good wine even in bad years.” The winery was certified organic in 1999 and this red is a beauty, balanced, great finish.

The Marche in Italy wasn't too far away and my final stop was Fattoria San Lorenzo for their Rosso Piceno Burello 2014, a blend of 50/50 Sangiovese and Montepulciano, their top wine,  rich but not heavy, superb and with a long long finish.

Last week, one hundred bottles of “wine without make-up” were up for tasting in the River Lee Hotel thanks to the combined efforts of four Dublin wine companies. Spit, as the combination is called, consists of Winemason, Nomad Wine, Vinostito, and Grapecircus and virtually all the wines were organic. And there wasn't a dud among them. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Three Excellent Reds From Karwigs

Teruzzi Puthod Peperino Toscano (IGT) 2014, 13.5%, €19.35 Karwig Wines

From the heart of Tuscany comes this deep-ruby wine. Fragrant for sure, all the way through to the end. In between, you’ll find it well-balanced and satisfying on the palate, tannins assertive, spice much less so. A very pleasant amalgam indeed and Highly Recommended. They also make a lovely white Vernaccia.

The grapes in this blend of Sangiovese and Merlot are grown on the little hills around San Gimignano, well-known for its medieval towers, including the Torre Grossa. Well-known too for its ice-cream which is certainly very good. What I didn't fancy very much was the cappuccino I got in the lovely old Piazza della Cisterna. The wine spends 8 months in barriques, 10% new, and  they say it’s fine for meats and cheeses.

Cà Vittoria Apassimento Gold Release Puglia (IGT) 2015, 14.5%, €16.95 Karwig

Late ripening and then the harvest is followed by a period of drying in trays. When the grapes are close to being raisins, the wine is made. This Appassimento process increases fruit concentration but leaves enough acidity to balance the rich fruit. Grapes used in this bottle are Negroamaro (60%),  Merlot (25%) and Primitivo (15%).

Gold Release may refer to the fact that this mid-purple coloured wine from Puglia in the south of Italy (the heel) has won a few awards. The aromas, like the colour, are intense, mainly plum, hints of sweetness. 

And that fruit concentration, typical of appassimento, is immediately obvious on the palate, that sweetness too. But there is indeed enough acidity to balance; the tannins still grippy. Overall, a pleasant easy-drinking wine. Highly Recommended.

Chateau La Bastide L’Optimée Corbieres (AOP) 2012, 14%, €19.25 Karwig
This is a blend of 80% Syrah and 20% Grenache and has spent some 12 months in Bordelaise barriques. Recommended serving temperature is 16-17 degrees. 

It has a dark red colour, slightly lighter at the rim. Quite an intense red fruit aroma, plus a bit of spice. Intense too on the palate, dark fruit and spice again, ripe round tannins and a long lingering finish. A very pleasant wine indeed and, like earlier editions, Very Highly Recommended.