Italy


chiarli
The Cleto Chiarli “Modén Blanc” Pignoletto dell’Emilia Brut, a non-vintage vino spumante from Emilia-Romagna, was fashioned from grechetto grapes, not a variety that I association with sparkling wine, and indeed the product offers individuality that demands that it be purchased and enjoyed, especially at the price. It’s made in the “cuve close” method, that is, the process in which the second fermentation that produces the bubbles occurs in tanks rather than in the bottle. No matter! The color is a very pale straw-gold hue, enlivened by a steady stream of tiny glinting effervescence; the bouquet is pure apples and pears, quince and ginger, with a stream of smoke and steel and lingering notes of heather and roasted lemon. On the palate, this engaging sparkler is quite dry, layered with limestone and flint minerality and powered by bright acidity, all serving to highlight subtle citrus and stone fruit flavors touched with an unusual seashell-marsh flower-herbal element. 12 percent alcohol. Very attractive as an aperitif with savory snacks. Very Good+. About $16, representing Good Value.

Dalla Terra Winery Direct, Napa, Calif. A sample for review.

Not every wine needs to be profound, protean, fathomless and brooding, as I have asserted many times and will probably do so many more times before I shuffle off to Buffalo, a ditty that has, by the way, been looping through the convoluted canyons of my mind for several days. (Why do these things occur? I haven’t seen “42nd Street” since I was a mere lad innocent of the vine.) Anyway, often all we require of a wine is that it offer enough character that our noses lab_Carmenere_piu.pngand palates perk up and the flavors and body to go with whatever we’re eating at the moment. Such a one that fulfills these obligations and more is the Inama Carmenere Puì… 2013, from the Colli Berici wine region of the Veneto. The wine is classified, in fact, as a Veneto Rosso, being composed of 70 percent carmenere grapes and 30 percent merlot. It aged 12 months in second-use French barriques. For those of you who believe that the carmenere grape is exclusive to Chile, remember that it was grown in Europe first, before migrating to South America, where for decades people thought it was merlot. C’est la vie! The Inama Carmenere Puì… 2013 sports a dark ruby robe and a bright, ripe and engaging bouquet of black and red cherries and currants buoyed by notes of bitter chocolate, tapenade and rosemary, with a bit of that herb’s dry, resinous power. It’s robust without being rustic, amply furnished with vibrant acidity and dry, slightly dusty, mineral-flecked tannins and displaying plenty of spicy black fruit flavors. The tannic influence increases as the minutes pass, contributing to a finish that feels a bit austere. 13.5 percent alcohol. If you’re firing up the grill, consider this wine with leg of lamb studded with rosemary and garlic; pork chops crusted with a Southwestern rub; or, as we employed it, with baked ziti. Drink now through 2018 to 2020. Very Good+. About $20.

Imported by Dalla Terra Winery Direct, Napa, Calif. A sample for review.

The Marchesi di Grésy family has been sole owner of the Martinenga vineyard in the Barbaresco barbregion of Piedmont since 1797. The nebbiolo grapes for the newly released — to give the full name — Tenute Cisa Asinari Marchesi di Grésy Martinenga Camp Gros Riserva Barbaresco 2010 derive from a small south-facing portion of the vineyard. It’s the first Riserva bottling in the estate’s roster of wines. The wine aged 12 months in French barriques, 12 months in 12.5-hectoliter Slavonian oak casks (330.2 gallons), with no new oak, and 26 months in bottle before release. It’s a wine of splendid beauty, elegance, tone and presence. The color is medium ruby shading to a light magenta rim; aromas of mint and iodine, graphite, spiced and macerated black and red cherries and currants are touched by hints of smoke, lavender, violets and sandalwood; melding in the background are elements of loam and Lapsang Souchong tea. The Martinenga Camp Gros Riserva Barbaresco 2010 offers a texture that sweeps the palate with a lithe and supple effect, enlivened by bright acidity and deepened by a strain of granitic minerality. Flavors of sour cherry and orange rind bear that same loamy, tea-like influence, along with a woodsy-herbal quality that persists through the depths of a slightly dusty, tannic finish. 14 percent alcohol. A model of balance, integrity and harmonious decorum, and a distinct pleasure to drink. Drink now through 2024 to 2030. Exceptional. About $106.

Imported by Dalla Terra Winery Direct, Napa, Calif. A sample for review.

We drank the Tommasi “Rafaèl” 2013, Valpolicella Classico Superiore, with pizza last weekend — it made one of those “bingo” effects with the Salami Toscana with fennel — and it would work tommasiequally well with hearty pasta dishes, braised short ribs and grilled pork chops, or a burger. Made by an estate founded in 1902, near Verona, and operated now by the fourth generation of siblings and cousins, the wine is a blend of the traditional Valpolicella grapes: corvina Veronese, 60 percent; rondinella, 25 percent; molinara, 15 percent. It aged 15 months in large Slavonian oak casks, large as in 65 hectoliters, or 1,717 gallons. The color is a medium ruby hue with a tinge of garnet at the rim. “Plums and more plums,” I wrote in my notes, along with black tea, pepper and a whole box of dried spices and potpourri, or think of the heady scent of a pomander, an orange studded with cloves, slowly drying in the sun; other fruit accents include black cherries and raspberries. The wine flows across the palate with a sense of urgency, propelled by bright acidity and a clean, chiseled graphite mineral element, managing to be pleasantly dense and elegantly spare at the same time. The finish brings in beguiling touches of tobacco and cigarette paper and a hint of sage. 13.5 percent alcohol. Lovely personality and character. Now through 2018 or ’19. Excellent. About $20, representing Real Value.

Imported by Vintus LLC, Pleasantville, N.Y. A sample for review.

Typically around the middle of April, I and my fellow wine writer/blogger colleagues begin rose brutreceiving marketing messages about brut rosé Champagnes and sparkling wine for Mother’s Day. Not long after, the suggestions about Port for Father’s Day gifts begin to pour in. It’s as if there’s some sacred PR tenet that dictates Pink for Moms and Port for Dads, in some sort of Venus/Mars dichotomy. Now I truly love Brut Rosé Champagnes and sparkling wines — and I like Port too — so I don’t mind playing along with the game, though my real inclination is not to limit these products to the days that honor our individual parents but to indulge all year round. Here, then, are six brut rosé examples from a variety of countries and regions, mostly composed of chardonnay and pinot noir grapes, but featuring some outliers too. Prices range from $18 to $70. Your mothers will thank you. With one exception, these wines were samples for review.
Image from traveleatlove.com.
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castell-de-vilarnau-brut-rosado-cava-catalonia-spain-10299036
The Vilarnau Brut Rosé Reserva, nv, Cava, is a blend of the indigenous red trepat grape, commonly used for rosé wines in Catalonia, (90 percent) with the remainder pinot noir. It spends 12 months or more in the bottle before disgorgement. A delightful, dry and delicious brut rosé, it offers a very pale copper-salmon color, with a supercharged surge of tiny bubbles, and pert aromas of strawberries and orange zest, somewhat tea-like and floral, and a slightly candied note of orange marmalade. The wine is lively with bright acidity and a keen-edged limestone element. 12 percent alcohol. Quite charming. Very Good+. About $18.
Imported by Vin Divino, Chicago.
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ROTARI ROSE_075_2016_Data
A blend of 75 percent pinor noir and 25 percent chardonnay, the Rotari Brut Rosé 2013, Trento, Italy, offers a very pale onion skin hue and attractive aromas of strawberries, orange rind, apple peel and almond skin. This sparkling wine is very dry, spare, almost elegant, with crystalline acidity and chiming limestone-and-flint minerality, all enlivened by a sort of spanking fresh seashell-sea breeze salinity and savoriness. Now through 2018 to 2020. Excellent. About $20, representing Good Value.
Imported by Rotari USA,
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T0007571_Szigeti_Rose
The Szigeti Pinot Noir Brut Rosé, nv, Burgenland, Austria, is 100 percent varietal and aged on the yeast 12 months in the bottle. The color is a soft salmon-copper hue, energized by a constant stream of tiny bubbles. This is a very attractive and rather exotic sparkling wine that along with the usual elements of orange zest and strawberries includes notes of cloves and red currants, brambles and rose petals, in a dry, tart package framed by flint and chalk minerality. 13 percent alcohol. Excellent. About $25.
Imported by Winebow, Inc., New York.
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T0007218_La_Valle_Rosè
La Valle Brut Rosé 2011, Franciacorta, Italy, sees no oak or malolactic fermentation, the philosophy being to produce a sparkling wine that reflects freshness and purity and the influence of the vineyard. I can’t speak about the last aspect, but as to the first two, yes, this is a wonderfully fresh and pure brut rosé, sporting a classic pale onion skin hue and a fabulous frothing of tiny bubbles. (It’s 100 percent pinot noir and spent 30 months on the lees in the bottle.) It’s a sparking wine that depends on delicacy and elegance for its effects, yet hinges on a display of tensile strength in its crisp, vibrant, austere, stony-steely structure. A lovely nuance of faint raspberry, orange zest and brioche completes the picture. 12.5 percent alcohol. Now through 2020. Excellent. About $55.
A Leonardo LoCascio Selection for Winebow Inc., New York.
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The current issue of the Champagne Veuve Fourny et Fils Premier Cru Brut Rosé, nv, is a blend of 85 Fourny_Rose_nonvintage(12)_webpercent chardonnay (30 percent of which is reserve wine) and 15 percent pinot noir. It rested on the lees in the bottle two years before release. The wines are primarily 2011, with portions of 2010, ’09 and ’08. The color is an entrancing pale copper-salmon hue, animated by a torrent of glinting bubbles; dried strawberries and raspberries and permeated by notes of toasted almonds and almond skin, heather, apple peel and orange rind. This is a juicy, close to delicious but very dry Champagne of ice and snow, bolstered by ample limestone minerality and vibrant acidity that push it toward glacial, Olympian heights and crystalline purity. 12 percent alcohol. Always a favorite in our house. This recent release, disgorged in 2014, should drink well through 2020 to 2024. Excellent. About $65, a local purchase.
Imported by Kermit Lynch, Berkeley, Calif.
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moet
The color of the Möet et Chandon Grand Vintage Brut Rosé 2008 is vivid blood-orange-red with a sheen of tarnished silver; blood orange shows up, too, in aromas redolent of that fruit, with notes of raspberry, heather and wildflowers, a touch of orange liqueur and the vibrancy of damp limestone. This Champagne is quite dry, savory and saline, with a depth of clove spiciness, macerated strawberries, seashell minerality and a distinct flint-chalk element; a few minutes in the glass bring out hints of apple peel, heather and peach fuzz. It’s taut with acidity yet generous and enveloping, and it finishes slightly briery and with a yin and yang suggestion of orange marmalade, both the faint sweetness and the echo of bitterness. 12.5 percent alcohol. This is a blend of 46 percent pinot noir, 32 percent chardonnay and 22 percent pinot meunier; the wine aged seven years on the lees in bottle. Now through 2020 to 2025. Wonderful weight, presence and tone. Excellent. About $70.
Imported by Möet Hennessy USA, New York.
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Inexorably we drift from Spring into Summer, so in honor of this transitional state I offer a dozen savory, zesty white wines. The grapes range from the familiar — sauvignon blanc, riesling — to the unfamiliar and exotic — grillo, gouveio, while the geography takes us all over the place. Prices rise from about $12 to $28, giving space for some real bargains and great values. As usual in these Weekend Wine Notes, I eschew all technical, historical, geological and personal data — as interesting as those items may be — for the sake of quick and incisive reviews, ripped, as it were, from the pages of my notebook, and designed to pique your interest and whet your palate. Unless otherwise noted, these wines were samples for review. Enjoy!
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haberle_label
Alois Lagerder Haberle Pinot Blanc 2013, Südtirol Alto Adige, Italy. 13% alc. Production was 1,125 cases. Very pale straw hue; ripe, spice, macerated and lightly roasted stone-fruit with a halo of white flowers; notes of dried thyme and fennel; lithe and supple texture, offering vivid acid cut and limestone dimensions of structure; very dry but juicy with peach, pear and yellow plum flavors; real personality and character. Now through 2017 or ’18. Excellent. About $23.
Dalla Terra Winery Direct, Napa, Calif.
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erste-neue
Erste + Neue Pinot Grigio 2015, Alto-Adige. 14% alc. Pale gold color; very appealing, with notes of green apple, pear and lemon balm, heather and meadow grass; heady and floral; lovely silken texture; quite dry, with pert acidity and shimmering limestone minerality; nothing complicated, just altogether irresistible. Now through 2017. Very Good+. About $16.
Imported by T Edward Wines, New York.
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assobio
Esporao Assobio 2014, Douro, Portugal. 13% alc. 40% viosinho grapes, 30% gouveio, 20% verdelho, 10% arinto. Pale straw color; pear and acacia, heather and thyme; a bracing aura of sea-breeze and salt-marsh; very dry, with pert acidity, layers of damp flint and shale minerality; an exotic spicy-herbal flare; lean and supple. Now through 2017 to ’18. Very Good+. About $14, marking Great Value.
Imported by Aidil Wines, New York.
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semillon
Esporao Private Selection Semillon 2013, Alentejano, Portugal. 14% alc. Medium gold hue; elevating aromas of quince and ginger, spiced pear, lemon oil and orange rind; slightly honeyed in aspect but quite dry and spare; a fragile infusion of tropical fruit and flowers with a hint of fig; lovely silky texture, moderately lush but honed by limestone. Now through 2018. Excellent. About $28.
Impoted by Aidil Wines, New York.
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Gewurz
Lazy Creek Vineyards Gewurztraminer 2014, Anderson Valley, Mendocino County. 14.2% alc. Production was, alas, only 65 cases. Pale straw color; classic notes of lychee, pear, jasmine and rubber eraser, with hints of cloves and ginger; lithe texture, with crystalline clarity, acidity and limestone drive, great vibrancy and appeal; the limestone-flint minerality builds through the dynamic finish; grapefruit finish with a touch of bracing bitterness. A terrific example of the grape. Now through 2019 or ’20. Excellent. About $22.
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Matetic EQ Coastal Sauvignon Blanc 2015, Casablanca Valley, Chile. 13.5% alc. Pale straw color; Matetic EQ Coastal SB 14 Ftgrapefruit, lilac, greengage; celery seed and fennel with back-notes of lime peel, quince and ginger; crisp and lively, with riveting acidity and a plangent limestone element; a lithe, almost sinewy texture with depths of fruit, spice and minerality bolstering a scintillating, transparent finish. Now through 2017. Excellent. About $20.
Imported by Quintessential, Napa Calif. The label image is one vintage behind.
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puyanche-blanc-sec
Chateau Puyanché Franc 2014, Cote de Bordeaux Blanc. 75% sauvignon blanc, 25% semillon. Pale straw-gold hue; assertive notes of dill and celery seed, caraway and lime peel, with pink grapefruit and ethereal back-notes of melon and apple skin; just a lovely wine in every way: slightly powdery texture, stone-fruit and citrus scents and flavors, bright acidity and limestone minerality; sleek, chiseled finish. Now through 2018. Excellent. About $15, a Real Bargain.
Imported by Twins America. Tasted at a wholesaler’s trade event.
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plotzner
St. Pauls Plotzner Weissburgunder 2015, Südtirol Alto Adige. 13.5% alc. Very pale straw color; spice pear and roasted lemon, hay and autumn meadows, chalk and flint; a little earthy, as if its toes were still in the vineyard; clean and incisive acidity and chiseled limestone minerality. An exhilarating pinot blanc for drinking through 2019 to ’20. Excellent. About $20.
Importer N/A.
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Tascate Buonora 2014, Sicilia. 12% alc. 100% carricante grapes. Pale straw-gold hue; a rich, Stampagolden wine, with spiced pears and yellow plums, sage and thyme, green tea, quince and acacia; scintillating limestone and flint minerality; sea-salt and meadow; spicy and savory. A great deal of charm. Now through 2017. Very Good+. About $20.
Dalla Terra Winery Direct, Napa, Calif.
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blanc
Two Shepherds Pastoral Blanc 2013, Russian River Valley. 12.9% alc. Roussanne 50%, marsanne 25%, viognier 13%, grenache blanc 6%, grenache gris 6%. Production was 100 cases. Pale straw-gold hue; peach, pear and quince, bee’s-wax, dried thyme and sage; apple skin and pear nectar; lilac and acacia; yellow plums and a bare hint of mango; all these elements inextricably encompassed in a package that feels irrevocably vital, vibrant, real, bound to the earth yet ethereally delicate and delicious. An extraordinary wine. Exceptional. About $30.
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grillo
Vento di Mare Grillo 2014, Terre Siciliana IGT. 12.5% alc. Made from organic grillo grapes. Pale straw-gold hue; savory and saline, with yellow plum and roasted lemon scents and flavors, notes of heather, dried thyme and sea-grass, clean-cut acidity and limestone minerality and a chalk-flinty element that increases through the herb-and-spice laden finish. Drink up. Very Good+. About $12, an Amazing Bargain.
Imported by Middleton Family Wines, Shandon, Calif.
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wakefield riesling
Wakefield Riesling 2015, Clare Valley, Australia. 12% alc. Pale straw gold color; peach and pear, lychee and jasmine, with a hint of zesty grapefruit and its pith; very dry, with a burgeoning limestone and chalk element, all wrapped in delightful vitality. Now through 2017. Very Good+. About $17.
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If you’re looking for a classic Chianti that’s not pumped up with toasty new oak and the vanilla and spice accents of French barriques, a Chianti that’s not lush and over-extracted, a Chianti chiantimade with traditional grapes and in traditional methods, well, this is your lucky day. The Selvapiana Chianti Rufina 2013 is a blend of 95 percent sangiovese grapes with five percent canaiolo, colorino and malvasia nera — no merlot! no cabernet sauvignon! — that ages in large oak casks of 25 and 30 hectoliters, that is, 660.4 and 792.5 gallons respectively. A barrique holds about 59 gallons, meaning that there’s more wood influence on the wine it contains. The color is a lovely transparent medium ruby-garnet hue; aromas of dried raspberries and cranberries are inflected with notes of orange zest, oolong tea, dried thyme and graphite, that after a few moments open to hints of rose petals and violets. The wine is quite dry, with a spare, honed texture that supports flavors of red raspberries and cherries offering a hint of cloves and almond skin against a light background of dusty tannins that do, however, dig deeply into the wine’s structure. 13 percent alcohol. The family-owned estate goes back five generations and almost 200 years. Chianti Rufina is the smallest wine-producing entity of Tuscany’s Chianti region, but probably the best-known of the sub-zones. It is also not contiguous with the rest of Chianti or Chianti Classico, lying to the east of Florence in an area singled out for mention by Cosimo III Grand Duke of Florence in his edict of 1716 as one of the zones of superior production. Shielded by the Apennines to the north but accessible to a maritime breeze, Rufina is cooler than the areas of “regular” Chianti to the west. Drink now through 2019 to ’21 with red meat or tomato-based pasta dishes and pizzas, roasted veal shoulder or pork tenderloin. Excellent. About $17, representing Good Value.

Dalla Terra Winery Direct, Napa, Calif. A sample for review.

The Alois Lageder Porer Pinot Grigio 2014, Sudtirol-Alto Adige, is to most pinot grigio wines as porer_labela Maserati is to a Ford Focus. Made from Demeter-certified biodynamic vineyards, the wine aged five months in a mixture of large old wooden casks and stainless steel tanks. The result is a pale gold-colored wine that exudes lovely aromas of spiced pear and roasted lemon, straw and heather, acacia and dried thyme, a wine of yellow flowers and yellow fruit, ripe and fleshy. On the palate, this is dry, spare, saline and savory, feeling as if it draws power from the limestone hillside sites where the vineyards lie and chiseled from chalk and flint. For all that, though, the wine does not neglect its complement of juicy, spice-inflected stone-fruit flavors. 12.5 percent alcohol. Drink now through 2017 with fresh oysters, grilled mussels, seafood risottos, many sorts of grilled or roasted fish. Excellent. About $25.

Dalla Terra Winery Direct, Napa, Calif. A sample for review.

We drank the Tascante Ghiaia Nera 2013, Sicilia, with Saturday’s pizza of sweet peppers and Ghiaia Nera 2013 FRONTtomatoes, basil and radicchio, hickory-smoked bacon, mozzarella, parmesan and pecorino. The wine is composed of nerello mascalese grapes grown on the northern slopes of Mount Etna, at just under 2,000 feet elevation. The vines are fairly young, planted in 2004 and 2007. The wine aged 12 months in 60-hectoliter oak barrels, that is barrels of a capacity of 1,585 gallons, considerably larger than the standard 59-gallon French barrique. Nothing elegant here, nor would we expect such from the grape, but rather an expression of directness, of the countryside and the year’s hot, dry summer. The Tascante Ghiaia Nera 2013 is robust without being bumptious and rustic without being rough-shod. The radiant transparent ruby hue is attractive, as are the aromas of ripe black and red cherries and raspberries permeated by notes of briers and brambles, pine resin and hints of mint and garrigue, that well-nigh indefinable aura of meadowy Mediterranean wild grasses, herbs and flowers. On the palate, the wine is juicy with black fruit flavors but quite dry, lively, lithe, bristly, turning shades darker with dusty tannins and graphite minerality. 13 percent alcohol. Drink now through 2018 or ’19 with grilled pork chops, roasted leg of lamb with rosemary and garlic, braised short ribs or hearty pasta dishes. Very Good+. About $20.

Imported by Dalla Terra Winery Direct, Napa, Calif. A sample for review.

Here’s a tasty white wine for the first day of Spring. Made all in stainless steel for a feeling of freshness and immediacy, the Alois Lagerder Pinot Bianco 2014, Dolomiti — the Dolomite pinot_bianco_labelmountain ranges in northeastern Italy, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009 — where vineyards in the upper foothills are carved from rocky terraces. The winery was founded in 1823 and now includes the sixth generation of the same family. The color is very pale straw-gold; delicate aromas of green apples and pears, almond skin and orange blossom, hay and heather segue seamlessly into a lovely, light, lithe wine that insinuates itself on the palate with notes of roasted lemon and spiced pear, a hint of thyme and mountain meadow herbs and a high wild peal of grapefruit and limestone. Gosh, what could be more spare, elegant or appealing? 12.5 percent alcohol. A splendid aperitif, or try with seafood risotto, grilled trout with capers and brown butter, fritto misto. Very Good+. About $14, representing Great Value.

Dalla Terra Winery Direct, Napa, Calif. A sample for review.

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