Tag Archives: Italy

Italy 2017 – Florence

22 Nov

Saw these guys a couple of weeks ago. Great musicianship!

After 6 days in the Tuscan countryside and 5 days in Sicily, we hopped back up to Florence by air, took a short cab ride into town and bedded down there for 4 days.

I had never been to Florence before. Triple Wow! Wow One – Man, there are a lot of tourists. I thought that Athens, Rome, London were a bit touristed up. But Florence takes the cake. Not sure why that is. Maybe it’s a bit more compact than Rome or London. And, guys, the tourists are old. I was a relative youngster compared to many. Or, it just might be that I view myself as still in my early thirties. At least people tell me they think I look that young. Wow Two – Damn it’s a charming city. The River Arno, the architecture, the cobbled streets. It’s as if the only changes over the past hundreds of years are store fronts – I mean they couldn’t very well have had a flagship Ferragamo store or Desigual in 1700, could they? Wow Three – The Renaissance. The city just oozes art and culture. Some cities tell a story of joie de vie (Paris), royalty (London), nation-building (Washington). Well, Florence provides a short course in culture, period.

The urn outside a flower shop on our street. Yes, those are radishes! Uber cool and creative.

And, while I’m at it – the fashion! You know those fragrance commercials. You’ve seen them. The ones where there’s some kind of art film scene with a woman melding into the sky while a man stares at his watch. They end together partially naked? Well, people dress and look like that in Florence. It was best captured in a single moment. We were eating dinner in a street-side cafe. A woman rode her bicycle past us. An upright bicycle with a basket, the woman with a flowing mid-length skirt, fashion boots, glistening mane of dark hair. I mean styling’, baby. Audrey Hepburnesque – absolutely stunning.

The guys are the same – casually out of control manes of hair, scrubby near-beards, and jackets over open neck shirts. Truly beautiful men. We got neck cramps people watching. We witnessed this same phenomenon in Paris to some degree and even Montreal has a bit of a similar attention to style. It’s an added bonus for Florence and it made us want to shop, unfortunately.

Evening view from terrace. That’s the Duomo peaking up in the middle

We did Airbnb in Florence. Apartment on Via Santo Spirito close to Ponte alla Carraia. From the ground floor, walk up 25 steps to the elevator, take the elevator up three floors, get out and walk down two flights to the apartment. We had out own roof-top terrace which was accessed by walking up three flights of stairs past the elevator, of course. But, it was special returning to the apartment each afternoon and taking some wine, cheeses, bread, olives, etc. up and watching out over the rooftops as the city flips the switch from day to night. The apartment was a bit tired furniture-wise but we didn’t spend much time inside. Airbnb listing here.

So, what does a wine guy do in Florence? Despite impeccable research – my plans were pretty sketchy. So, I reached out to a fellow wine Tweep – TuscanVines, @JohnMFodera, to ask that very question.. John said, and I’m paraphrasing here, “Get thee to Enoteca Pitti Gola e Cantina. Guys really know their stuff. Rare wines!” That’s what we did.

It’s a small cantina and wine tasting shop with seating outside overlooking the Pitti Palace. Very scenic. What did I taste? Well, I asked the owner to just give us some different stuff that he thought was interesting (Stuff – a wine  professional’s term – do not try it at home). Here goes:

1980 Fattoria Salvapiana Chianti Rufina Riserva – I haven’t ever kept any of my Chianti, Riserva or otherwise, for 36 years (Remember: I’m barely 36 years old myself). So, I didn’t know what to expect. This wine was still packing a lot of flavour. Of course it had settled out much of the tannin but the acidity was still there – mature dried fruits, tobacco – subtle and pleasing. It was Old School. I think it could last for a number of years more. A huge and pleasant surprise. It has encouraged me to leave some of my better Chianti alone longer.

2009 Bucciarelli Chianti Classico Riserva This is made at Antico Podere Casanova in Castellina in Chianti and is organic. These two wines couldn’t be more different. To the point where you might expect that the grapes used weren’t the same variety – Sangiovese. This was in a more modern style – cherry fruit up front on the sniff and continuing right through to the finish. Not a huge wine but elegant and what we’ve all come to expect from Chianti Classico – it’s all-Italian wine.

The Director was treated to two whites. 2013 Gattaia Toscana Bianco from Terre di Giotto was a wine that wasn’t in our typical sweet spot. It is 70% Chenin Blanc, 25% Sauvignon Blanc and 5% Sauvignon Gris. It poured and looked like an orange wine. It was very aromatic and started out quite bitter. We asked if it was oaked because it reminded us of wines that take on a bitterness from the oak. But it hadn’t been. It did round out a bit and the bitterness subsided. But not a wine that we would gravitate to.

2015 Le Oche Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore – Now, this is what we’re talking about! Maybe it’s me (and, it’s my blog so that’s fair) but I think that Verdicchio is my favourite Italian white on balance. I love Grillo and Arneis but this stuff pushes all the buttons. This wine did not disappoint. It’s texture reminds me of a Riesling with some oiliness or weight – hard to describe. Almonds on the sniff and finish. Lemon zest and pears. Lipsmackingly good.

As we were speaking with the proprietor, Edoardo Fioravanti, he asked my opinion on a wine that an agent had dropped off for the cantina’s consideration. It was a label, from Piedmont, that I am very familiar with – their entry-level Barolo – 2013 – and I was excited to try it. In an effort to avoid blow back – I won’t mention the winery. Upon completion of a reasonable amount of time and study, I said, with much trepidation “It’s undrinkable.” And waited…1,2,3. Edoardo said, “You are absolutely right. I cannot believe that they can sell this for that price.” I suggested that, like most Barolo, it just might need time but Edoardo went on to say the he felt that time wouldn’t do much to improve this wine – it was hollow. What a great characterization – bang on.

They have a great esoteric collection of wine for purchase as well. If you get to Florence, Enoteca Pitti Gola e Cantina is a ‘wine’ must. Website here. Thanks, John.

Since I admire the Frescobaldi family’s enterprise (story here), I felt compelled to visit Dei Frescobaldi Wine Bar. This is a small bar attached to the bigger ristorante of the same name. Easy to find the risto (just off Piazza della Signoria) – harder to find the wine bar which is around the corner tucked up between two buildings. There’s a shady outside seating area where we enjoyed a couple glasses of the house wine. The place brings a whole new meaning to ‘house wine’.  My post on Bolgheri spoke of damning the price and just going for it. Well, same here. They carry all the Frescobaldi wines by the glass as they use a Coravin system at the table – no need to worry about fatigued wine. Time to dig in and enjoy,

2013 Mormoreto Toscana IGT from Castello di Nipozzano. This is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Sangiovese with a touch of Petit Verdot from a singe vineyard of the same name (25 hectares) – opaque ruby, beautiful looking wine. And looks matter, don’t kid yourself. Dark berries and espresso on the sniff. A very smooth wine despite its youth – rich, velvety mouthfeel. Some heat from the alcohol (14.5% ABV) and a little not unpleasant nip of bitterness on the finish. Complex and intriguing. If you enjoy deconstructing wine, this is a good one. Or, just enjoy it sans thinking with some pasta in a meaty tomato sauce.

2014 Montesodi Toscana IGT also from Nipozzano is Sangiovese from a single vineyard of the same name (20 hectares). Ruby red but not as opaque as the one above – more crystal and sparkly. This wine had a bit of a hard nose until it sat for a bit. Then it opened with dark berries and balsamic notes. The dark berries continue on the gargle and it finishes off with a nice hit of anise. Surprised by how dark this was – usually look for red cherry/berries with sangiovese. Oak evident but not a real factor – balanced.

2014 Beneficio Pomino Bianco Riserva DOC We enjoyed the Planeta Chardonnay in Menfi a lot. Well, this was full value against that white. Elegant, rich, deep, peaches and cream, lightly oaked – butter and a citrus snap, lively on the finish. Can I call a Chardonnay sturdy? Built for the cellar. Lovely wine.

There were loads more wines to talk about. I might do another post on Italy to cover those. But for now, we returned home with heavy luggage and heavy hearts. Plus, a commitment to return for a long stay in the future.

Cheers.

Bill

P.S. A quick Happy Thanksgiving to our neighbours. I will toast you all with a pitcher of beer as I watch my Lions lose…..again, I fear.

Italy 2017 – Menfi – Planeta

18 Nov

After 6 days in Tuscany, we took the short (90 minute) flight to Palermo from Florence. As ‘under development’ as Florence Airport was, Palermo’s airport (Falcone-Borsellino) was the finished product – shiny and clean. A beautiful atmosphere at the shoreline in the shadow of mountains.

We stayed 5 days at an Airbnb outside of the small town of Menfi – directly south of Palermo on the south shore of Sicily. Having never Airbnb’d it before we were a little nervous about how this might all end up. And, we had the recent experience of Wrong Date Dufton in Volterra to give us pause.

In Tuscany it seemed that most everyone you would  bump into spoke some English. In Menfi, the opposite may be true. Those involved in hospitality certainly speak some English but most other people don’t. Our host didn’t. Then there’s Sicilian which is a nothing like Italian. Ah, but there was Google Translate.

I had used Google Translate to find words or phrases for this blog or in a previous life – typing in the English to read the translation. I hadn’t used its spoken functionality on the fly though. Agostino, our Airbnb host (an absolutely charming guy) met us at a preordained spot with his cell phone at the ready. He greeted us with, “Hello, Beel.” and then proceeded to speak Italian quickly into his phone. Then turned the phone toward us where a lovely lilting UK-accented woman said, “I now take you to the house.” Got it. It was a discovery that was of great assistance on the rest of our journey. I like my new friend GT, she’s cool.

The home in Menfi

The accommodation was beautiful – a purpose-built home on a hill overlooking an olive grove that flowed down to the Mediterranean Sea – south-west facing for the sunsets (below). Four minutes to the shore.  There was an organic farm on the property where we could avail ourselves of fresh organic pomodoro, melanzana, basilico, etc. We harvested and ate several meals from the garden served along with the prior year’s olive oil from the grove surrounding the house. If you’re ever heading that way, the Airbnb link to this property is at the bottom of the post. Highly recommend it.

Sunset in Menfi

On the wine front, there were many options and opportunities to explore in the area. There is a huge and I mean yuuuge, Carolyn, wine co-op in Menfi. Settesoli is the biggest wine operation on the island.

Settesoli wines are marketed under the Mandarossa or Inycon labels and include: Pinot Grigio; Zibibbo; Grillo; Chardonnay; and, Nero d’Avola among many others. There is even a ‘life-style’ magazine put out by ‘Mandarossa’. A neat little boutique with knowledgeable staff at the winery property is easy to find in the southeast corner of Menfi town .

As we looked out at the sea from our house, there was a rolling grove of olives trees that led all the way to the shore. Those olive trees were part of Planeta’s operation. Planeta is a wine, hospitality, and olive oil operation. They have wineries throughout Sicily (Noto, Etna, Vittorio, Capo Milazzo), the olive oil farm (Capparrina) and a beautiful agriturismo (Foresteria) the latter two just outside Menfi town. And, it all started just outside Menfi below the town of Sambuca di Sicilia on the shores of Lake Arancio.

Planeta, the family, has been involved in agriculture for 17 generations beginning on the site near Sambuca. The ethos of the whole Planeta family of wineries is: (from their website):

Planeta at Ulmo – Vines leading down to Lake Arancio

“The ethics of production and the protection of the environment, the countryside and the culture of each place, through sustainable long-term viticulture, wineries perfectly integrated in the landscape and wines which perfectly represent each territory, are common to our presence everywhere. The spontaneous impulse to pursue beauty pushes us to seek ever new ways to be witness to them, not only with our wines and olive oils but also through the projects for hospitality, art and social responsibility in which we continue to invest.”

Strada del Vino Terre Sicane

So, we were off to Planeta at Ulmo below Sambuca di Sicilia. After but one turn around on the Strada del Vino, we arrived at the town of Sambuca di Sicilia – I never did find out if the anise-flavoured flaming digestif was named after the town but I somehow doubt it. Prior to setting out, The Director had asked if I needed to get ‘real’ directions to the winery. In a misplaced sense of confidence (and unfortunately being a man), I replied, “No worries. It’s a pretty big operation. There will be directional ‘PLANETA’ signs all over the place.” That would be wrong, Bill. To arrive there, I had to perform as a wine diviner sans rod – a virtual wine dowser, if you will. Because I can indeed find the wine is all I’m saying. I’m good. It’s intuitive. I have a gift. How can I monetize it?

Barrels of Chardonnay

At Planeta, we were met by a lovely woman (who’s name my notes don’t reveal. Damn). She apologized profusely as her English was a ‘disaster’.  Not at all. She was great! After a tour of the winery – in the midst of fermentation – which was cool, we toured the barrel room where we were treated to the small cave of Traditional Method Blanc de Blancs made from Menfi Chardonnay.

The road down to Lake Arancio flanked by vines

Then back to an al fresco tasting room for the main event. Well, here we go.

We started with a sparkling wine from Etna – Planeta Metodo Classico made from 100% Carricante. A big hit with us. Not really a food wine but an above grade bubbly for toasting, appeftif, or just sipping afternoons by the lake. Crisp, clean, mineral, apples and citrus.

Then followed the 2015 Planeta Cometa. The Cometa is made with  100% Fiano from the Menfi area. Fiano is pure Southern Italy. It shines predominantly in Campania but this Sicilian take is representative of the grape – herbal, floral nose – crisp at first sip (nice acidity) then rounding out a bit as it progresses – minerality, citrus vibe. Medium finish. Very nice effort.

The crown jewel of Planeta at Menfi is their Chardonnay. They make it at Ulmo, hence the barrel room above. It is the wine that put Planeta on the map initially and, I’d have to say it’s the best Chardonnay that I’ve ever tasted from Italy (notwithstanding the Frescobaldi offering I’ll talk about next post). We tasted the 2016 Planeta Chardonnay €20. Toast, lemon on the sniff. Oak evident on the palate – nice lip smack on the finish. Balanced, not overly oaky (French oak – 50% new), opens nicely in the glass. A very classy sip. Did not present as being from a hot climate as in the fruit wasn’t as ripe as you might expect – restrained. Well made wine.

On the red front, we led with the 2016 Santa Cecilia €20 from their Noto operation. This was a 100% Nero d’Avola wine. Wine Enthusiast gave the 2011 vintage a 94 and said, “Always one of the finest expressions of Nero d’Avola.” That’s a pretty good endorsement. The most evident thing in this wine was the chalky, minerality – both on the sniff and the gargle. It presented as a more mature wine taste-wise than it’s real age might have predicted – dried fruits, leather, raspberry. But, the tannins were still a bit hard and the wine needs some time down below to reach its full potential IMHO. We saw how that might work out when they popped the cork on a 2007 Planeta Santa Cecilia N/A. This wine smelled of stony prunes and tasted like blueberries – big time on the finish, pomegranates. Tannins well integrated. Verrrry nice wine. Truly Old School Nero d’Avola. Just typing this makes me wish I had brought a few bottles of the 2016 home.

The last wine tasted was the 2013 Planeta Burdese €18. This wine made from 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Cabernet Franc was intriguing. After my time in Bolgheri, I was interested in seeing how Bordeaux grapes translated further south. This smelled of earth, dark fruit with a hint of the 14.5% ABV wafting up. Full on cassis on the gargle – very fruit forward – international style dominated by the Cabernet Sauvignon. This was the only wine that we tried that didn’t really do it for me. It could have been the fact that it was late in the tasting. Or, my lack of enthusiasm at times for Cabernet Sauvignon. So, I’ll give this one another chance all on its own.

They make a 100% Syrah at Sambuca – 2013 Planeta Maroccoli Syrah €30. Our host was very insistent that I take a bottle home – spicy, toasty, ready now or hold for 7 to 10 years. I’m an easy target on stuff like this.

Planeta makes wines from other grapes at this site as well –  Grillo, Grecanico, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc.

We also picked up the 2008 Planeta Chardonnay €30. Our guide threw in a 375 ml Chardonnay, “Madam, you must”, and an apron. She was fabulous. We left with a stash that was going to prove problematic on the flight back to Florence. I long for the olden days when you could bring liquids on to the flight. Back then, that was me with the tinkling 85 pound carry-on.

Returned home for a glass on the terrace.

When we checked out after 5 days, our host came in to the kitchen, took one look at the empty wine bottles on the counter smiled and said, “Ah, Beel.” Not sure if that was meant as, “Ah Beel, you crazy bugger. You are my hero.” Or, “Ah Beel, time for an intervention.”

Southwest Sicily is truly amazing! If you do go, word of advice: bring along GT.

Cheers.

Bill

Settesoli website

Menfi Holiday House

Planeta website

 

 

Italy 2017 – Secondi – Bolgheri

12 Nov

 

That’s me striding with purpose (a raging thirst) into the town of Bolgheri

When we last met our intrepid traveller, he was sipping Vernaccia di San Gimignano and asking the universal traveller’s question, “What the hell are we going to do tomorrow?” Oh yeah, head to Bolgheri.

Day 2 – Bolgheri

The plan was to wander Bolgheri and then head to the beach at Marina di Bibboni. It was about a 50 minute drive from Volterra, Without a map or GPS – only 10 minutes longer. Yes, I’m the guy in the Fiat calmly driving the round-a-bouts twice. Did that ruin the day? Never. If you read my first instalment, you know that getting lost can be… not exactly fun, but interesting. Plus, it’s a character builder. First, I’ll tell you a little about Bolgheri as a wine DOC.

Guado al Tasso

DOC Bolgheri and DOC Bolgheri Superiore lie south of Livorno between the Tuscan hills and the coast, near the village of Bolgheri. The DOC isn’t big (1200 hectares – 40 members of the Bolgheri Consorzio) but it is mighty. Many of the first Super Tuscans came from Bolgheri with Sassicaia (first made as such in 1968) being the most famous. In fact there is a DOC Bolgheri Sassicaia which requires 80 % Cabernet Sauvignon, aging for 2 years, 18  months of which has to be in 225l barriques. Wow, that’s prescriptive!

The distinguishing thing about DOC Bolgheri red wines versus other Tuscan DOC’s/DOCG’s is the use of Bordeaux varieties (allowable % in brackets): Cabernet Sauvignon (0% – 100%), Merlot (0% – 100%), Cabernet Franc (0%-100%), Petit Verdot (0% – 30%) and Syrah (0% – 50%). they also continue to grow Sangiovese (0% – 50%). It’s hard to keep up but just think that most of these wines feature the Bordeaux Big 4 potentially supported by Sangiovese and Syrah. Of course, wineries can make wines somewhat outside these restrictions but they’d be IGT Toscana wines not DOC Bolgheri. Confused? Bolgheri labels that you might know include Guado al Tasso, Tenuta San Guido, Satta, Le Macchiole, Tenuta dell’Ornellaia, Podere Grattamacco, Campo all Sughera, Poggio al Tesoro, Gaja Ca’Marcanda, and the list goes on.

There is still a wee bit of controversy about the use of traditional ‘Bordeaux’ grapes instead of autochthonous (wine geek speak for ‘indigenous’) grapes in Italy – Sangiovese, Trebbiano, Barbera, etc. While I agree that there already is enough Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in this world, there are two compelling reasons that I’m a ‘yeah’ to Bordeaux in Tuscany: 1) the wine is really, really good; 2) everywhere else does it, so why dis Bolgheri. And did I mention, it’s really good?

Sassicaia

Although reservations to visit may, in fact, be needed in many wine regions in the world, reservations really are the exception. When we were in Napa, you needed reservations for Duckhorn, Quintessa, and Caymus, for example. But many other wineries accommodated you as a walk-in. Similarly in Niagara, Languedoc, and much of Tuscany. These wineries have adequate tasting rooms and sell much of their stuff from the cellar door. Well, Bolgheri don’t roll like that, baby. I guess Tenuta San Guido doesn’t want a busload of seniors from Goderich, Ontario working their way through a case of Sassicaia one taste at a time. Then buying a few sachets of lavender and staggering out to the bus.

In this environment, the one casualty of playing it ‘by ear’, other than a poor rendition of Smoke On The Water, is that you might not be able to taste at some wineries. Hell, you might not even get in through the automated gate. We did have a reservation at Le Macchiole but it cratered. So, we wandered around anyway – dropped in to Guado al Tasso, Relais il Beserno (unbelievable place), Tenuta San Guido – nice chats but nary a drop of wine. I was getting thirsty. In my Lonely Planet it talked about a wine bar in the little town of Bolgheri where you can taste just about anything that comes from Bolgheri. As if. So, we wandered into the town and found the sign below out front of Enoteca Tognoni! Seriously?

You are reading that right, wine peeps. Ornellaia and Sassicaia by the glass! And, you can get tasters of it too – 5cl or 10cl. Friends, there is a bit of a downside to having this type of selection and, in Italian, that downside is called il conto.

The inside of Enoteca Tognoni is crazy cluttered with wine bottles, stacks of half-opened wine cases and amongst all that, tables to sit, taste, and eat if you wish. It’s atmospheric. I’ll give it that. Service was exceptional. We had a very knowledgeable woman who took time to give us a selection that fit our palate, pocketbook, and understanding. She stood by us and explained each wine – who, what, particularities, vintage, etc.

A chaotic but thrilling wall of wine at Enoteca Tognoni. Glad I don’t have to do inventory

Here’s the thing. Is it expensive? Yeah. But, will I ever have another chance to taste these wines together? Probably not. So forget il conto and taste! One flight tasted out like this –  2012 Arnione €35 from Campo alla Sughera. Made from 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc, 20% Merlot, and 20% Petit Verdot – powerful, balanced and still early in its development. This carried the day for me. I know that the Merlot here was just one of many players but it shone through – cherry and mint. Smooth tannins, deep wine. Loved, loved this wine! The 2013 Castello Bolgheri €50 is 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc, 20% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot. It was strictly cellar material – fruit hiding behind tannin and acid. Nonetheless, it was powerful stuff which seems to be the theme here. I wish that I could figure out where it might end up. The last of this flight 2013 Aldone €48 from Terre dei Marchesato is all Merlot. It did have a real Pomerol feel to it. Dusty, tannic and needing a load of time in the cellar. It opened a bit over time. Well, 30 minutes. Another wine worth mentioning – 2011 Cont’Ugo €35 – 100% Merlot from Guado al Tasso (Antinori). And for the Cabernet Franc fiends out there, I tasted Le Macchiole’s 2013 Paleo Rosso €70 – 100% Cab Franc. Stunning! Still hiding out a bit but what a wine. These may all seem a bit on the expensive side but significantly cheaper than comparable Napa Bordeaux stuff.

The flight above-mentioned

So, what did the Sassicaia by the glass cost? €40 is all. A tasting of 5cl (1.7 oz.) was  €14. If you have to ask on the Ornallaia, you can’t afford it. I’ve had them both before – snobbish yawn. So, stuck to wines new to me.

Did we get to the beach? We did. This wine stained wretch snoozed in the shade (wonder why I was sleepy) and my Mediterranean companion soaked up the sun. And, then it was back to Volterra. We went a different way. By design? Not really. We just kept heading to Volterra by road sign and then visually. Hard to miss Volterra when you’re anywhere within 40 kilometres. Then back to Podere San Lorenzo for nibbles and wine.

Spring-fed pool/pond at Podere San Lorenzo

I learned something in Bolgheri. I rail against big wines that are too oaked, too thick, too fruit forward, and/or just too much. And yet, I loved the wines that I tasted in Bolgheri and they weren’t shy, subtle, restrained efforts. They weren’t blockbusting behemoths (quoting Parker here) either. Likewise the wines that I love from Priorat – they too are largish. I may have to just admit that the issue of size isn’t as important to me as I let on sometimes. Maybe, “Size doesn’t matter,” he says, always the contrarian. Thoughts?

Cheers.

Bill

 

Italy 2017 – Prima Parte – Volterra, Volpaia

3 Nov

We did a bit of a wander in Italy in September that had all sorts of little bits but also some wine. I’ll deliver the wine highlights in instalments. This is the first.

When we travel, we self tour. By that I mean that we don’t do ‘escorted tours’. We pencil a few things but that’s it. We get up in the morning and decide what we’re going to do. We drive ourselves, book all the stuff we need, including: flights; trains; accommodations; wine visits. So, I plan big time. I spend hours on-line checking out TripAdvisor, individual web sites, flight information, prices – taking a sip of wine, he goes on – Lonely Planet recos (love Lonely Planet but why is it?… Lonely, that is?), talk to everyone I know that has been where we are headed, and print out every relevant document that we might need; all inserted into a nifty blue plastic folder.

Last time we went to Italy, I left the folder at home (well-crafted story here). That time we arrived at Pearson without any flight information, hotel information, car rental information, receipts for things already paid for. We were essentially flying blind, pardon the pun. But, it all worked out. Lesson: you don’t need half the stuff you think you need for travelling. I found out all I need is your passport, a credit card, that damn smartphone, a fantastic memory for details, an understanding partner, and some other stuff that I can’t remember right now. But nonetheless, this time I left with full folder.

Fast forward to Florence airport – Aeroporto di Firenze-Peretola. Have you been? It’s a bit of a “site under development” right now. I’m sure when they’ve finished the updates and improvements, it will be great. As we left the baggage claim area, we wandered around in circles for a while until we came to what looked like it might be a security zone, We couldn’t figure out where the way out was. We finally corralled a security guy – “Dove è l’uscita?”and he pointed at  a very large sign over a set of automatic doors that read: Way Out. You know, the doors that people were streaming out of. Umm, that simple, eh? I guess the lesson is – it’s OK to be a follower.

Hopped in our little rental and sped to Volterra. Did the full trip sans maps and GPS. That’s right – no road maps for 2 weeks. An adventure every time we set out. Some times a What a great adventure! and others a Oh shit another adventure!

Volterra

Volterra is a walled town that is not a big tourist draw. I’m not sure why because we visited “must see” San Gimignano, which is almost next door, and it wasn’t any more beautiful, interesting or historical. In fact San Gimignano was a pain in the ass tourist-wise. Flooded with bus tours and picture takers. Selfies? Ya think?

Laneway in to Podere San Lorenzo

Arrived at our agriturismo – Podere San Lorenzo (picture above) – a beautiful smallish place with fantastic staff, food, quarters, environs just outside of Volterra. Highly recommend it. Remember how I studiously plan, check, re-check, etc. Well, we arrived at Podere San Lorenzo and met Simona, a wonderful woman who checked her register and said, “I’m sorry but we don’t have Dufton here.” There was a time when I would have become apoplectic, shit myself, and demanded to see the manager (perhaps not in that order).

But, despite the 20 hours lack of sleep and general travel angst, I quietly and slowly rifled through my folder and triumphantly pulled out an email that I had exchanged with them with confirmation of the 6 nights’ stay. I would be vindicated! After Simona reviewed the email, she slowly pointed to the dates that I had confirmed therein. They were the same dates when we were going to be in Sicily – starting 6 days hence. I had mistakenly booked two places a thousand kilometres and a 90 minute flight apart for the same 5 days later in the month!

Guess what? I was fine with it (not completely true). At least The Director didn’t have to bring out the defibrillator. But Simona checked through their bookings and said that she would move someone else later in the week and we could have an apartment as promised for the 6 days. Phew. I needed a glass of wine right then. Hmmm, what pairs with sheepish?

Of the 6 days in Volterra, only two were dedicated wine days – which isn’t nearly enough.

Wine Day One – Chianti Classico.

Chianti Map courtesy of http://www.italianwine.com

Wine regions are somewhat economically and politically devised and regulated (if you want to get a history on this, the book Wine Politics by Tyler Colman is a great read). And primarily for these reasons, there are several Chianti zones that you’ll see on labels. The most common ones are Chianti Classico which is roughly the original 1716 Chianti zone. The others are Chianti Rufina (elegant and ageworthy), Chianti Colli Senesi (value and fun), and Colli Florentini, among a few others.

The Classico zone began around the towns of Radda, Gaiole, and Castellina, with Greve added later. The towns of Radda, Gaiole and Castellina have the suffix ‘in Chianti’ added to their names now. Want to hear about the varietal restrictions, label nomenclature, regulated vineyard practices, required vineyard uniform, grooming restrictions, secret handshake, etc.? No?

Castellina in Chianti

Where was I? Oh yeah – a day in Chianti. We trekked to Castellina in Chianti. Remember – no maps or GPS – so only two times turning around. OK, three times. But no harm – no foul. On these explores, I am inclined to be definitive. So, when I think that we are lost – there’s no telling me otherwise. We are ‘absolutely’ on the wrong road. I mean absolutely! I want to turn around right then. And, if I think we are on the right road, I drive for miles before I can conceive that we are heading in the wrong direction. The good news? I know me and have come to grips with my fallibility. Just you don’t mention it.

2013 Brancaia Chianti Classico Riserva

Castellina in Chianti – a pretty village on the top of a hill looking out over a spectacular valley strewn with vines and olive trees. A cool little spot with loads of noshing, shopping, and sipping opportunities. There is a neat wine shop in Via delle Volte, a tunnel that runs under the village wall just as you enter from the car park. The shop specializes in Chianti Classico and Super Tuscans. They had a wide selection of tasting opportunities (they had a large WineKeeper dispenser) – Brancaia Il Blu, Veneroso, Oreno to name a few that I sipped. It was early but it’s never too early, yeah? I picked up a bottle of 2013 Brancaia Chianti Classico Riserva €21 just in case. Love Brancaia and this wine didn’t disappoint. Although drinking well now – could use another three or so years. For those of us in Ontario, there is the 2015 Brancaia Chianti Classico #519173 $24.95 a Chianti from Radda worthy of your consideration.

We left Castellina in Chianti and drove to Radda in Chianti. It’s another village on the top of a hill overlooking vineyards and olive groves? It never gets boring though. The headquarters of Chianti Classico. Lunched in a road side cafe by the big cock. Oh stop it!

The Chianti Classico Symbol to be found on the neck band of most Chianti Classico and at this piazza in Radda

Volpaia

On to Volpaia. Ah, Volpaia. If you had to go to only one Chianti winery, this might be the most impressive yet unsullied one that you can find. I’m not saying that the bigger, grander spaces like Passignano or the spectacular Livernano aren’t impressive. This just seems less ‘designed’, if you know what I mean. Volpaia is a village, not far from Radda, that is solely owned by one family. The whole village has been turned into a winery, a very small agriturismo with bistro and cafe. There are only 15 permanent residents who are tasked with care taking mainly. The reason I chose Volpaia as a destination was that it’s hard to get here and my only experience with their wine. I had a near flawless bottle of 2010 Castello di Volpaia Chianti Classico Riserva a couple years ago and was eager to see the operation – why was this wine so superb? Now, I know. The hills around the village are farmed either by the family or contract families who have been supplying the Volpaia winery for 50+ years. Many labels are organic and in Italy, I’ve found, organic does make a positive difference.

One of the many small barrel rooms

We wandered around the village to the deconsecrated church cellar (full of barrels), the many prior residences with either barrels, olive presses, or stainless steel fermentation tanks, there’s a wine duct that runs throughout the village. It was reminiscent of Gratallops in Priorat where doors opened on to narrow streets to reveal full-blown winemaking operations under residences. It is pretty cool. Forget the castles, chateaux, reception centres, this is what I love about wine – you can fancy the peripherals up but it doesn’t replace solid vineyard management, established vineyards, and expert winemaking. Our guide was superb. Suffice to say that she was very knowledgeable and conversant in several languages. And, she had a definite fashion sense that permeates all of Italy in my experience. I’ll talk about that vibe when I post on our time in Firenze.

The wines?

2016 Bianco di Volpaia €8 A great start to a tasting. Crisp, mineral on the palate. Made from Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay grown at 2,000 feet above sea level. Perfect early evening sipper.

2016 Prelius – Vermentino €8.50 A wine made from grapes grown near the coast in Bolgheri. Organic. Fresh, carrying the Vermentino fruitiness that we came to appreciate while in Italy. Solid wine for sipping and with fresh seafood.

Volpaia Library Wine Cellar

2015 Castello di Volpaia Chianti Classico €12.50 This is what we’re talking about. Pure Sangiovese fruit on the gargle and the medium finish. This is a fresh, pop and pour wine. From grapes grown 1,000 to 1,750 feet above sea level – perhaps some of the highest Sangiovese in Classico. At this price, it’s a steal.

2014 Castello di Volpaia Chianti Classico Riserva €20 This was my favourite wine of the whole tasting. Perhaps the vintage but I think that this is a well crafted Classico in a ‘classic’ style, if that makes sense. Aged for 24 months, the wine shows the effects of barrel aging in the leather and vanilla on the finish. Fruit supported by integrated tannins and a beautiful vein of acidity. Restrained and elegant. The 2010 vintage was Wine Spectator’s #21 wine in their Top 100 of 2014.

2013 Castello di Volpaia Balificio €36 This is a blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet from older vines (circa 60 years). Although this was perhaps bigger in mouthfeel than the Riserva, it was a bit more reserved (pardon the pun). International in style, it seemed a bit out of place for me. It clearly was a well made Super Tuscan but, in the midst of this magical village, I preferred the more ‘naturally’ Tuscan reds. Perhaps back at home it would have shone.

2012 Vinsanto del Chianti Classico €21 375 ml Since The Director doesn’t drink reds, our guide offered her some of this sweet delicacy. It was almost Port-like – nutty, spicy. From their web site – “The healthiest and most beautiful bunchers (sic) of Malvasia and Trebbiano were harvested in October. They were then hung up to dry on rafters in our Vinsantaia, a huge attic where the grapes are dried and the vinsanto stored, so it is effected by all the changes in temperature. By February the sugar content was high enough to press the shrivelled grapes. The highly concentrated must was then left to ferment in small oak casks where it was allowed to mature for a full five years.” I liked it a lot in spite of myself.

We returned to our Volterra abode with a stash of wine and sat out on our terrace overlooking the landscape below with some young Pecorino, local cherry tomatoes, crackers, and some Vernaccia di San Gimignano. All in all, a great day.

Cheers.

Bill

http://wine.volpaia.com

Rehabilitaion Lives – Buy Frescobaldi

20 Oct

I wasn’t going to do this but. I mean, it’s Gord Downie we’re talking about. “There’s no simple explanation for anything important any of us do”.

We’ll eulogize Tom Petty next time.

I was reading a recent Wine Enthusiast and lingered on the last article. It was a great story about a visit by Amiee White Beazley to the island of Gorgona off the coast of Tuscany. Gorgona is a penal colony. A real penal colony where bad guys are isolated from the Italian population to do penance for whatever crime they’ve committed.

Gorgona

The deal at Gorgona is that the Frescobaldi family has a vineyard and winery there. It’s built on the remnants of an historic vineyard. The vines and buildings have been rehabilitated with the manpower and support of the inmates of the island. Although the Frescobaldi family lead the whole operation, the article tells us how involved the guests of the state are in the day-to-day operations – training to become vineyard managers, winemakers. And, how the work has forever changed them. I don’t say that off-hand. I mean it. They are changed. People can and do change if given the opportunity and kept away from firearms, reality television, and FoxNews.

I’m second from right in back row

As some of you know, I used to work in the corrections system. I left. Offenders have since pleaded with authorities for a sympathetic ear and an empirically-based approach to their rehabilitation. Can we just get some love and mercy (channelling Brian Wilson)? Anyway, this article touched me – took me back to an early passion and a heartfelt belief.

We used to have correctional farm operations in this province. I worked at an institution that had a woollen mill, an abattoir (misplaced optimism that a murderer or someone who pulls wings off flies would benefit from killing cows?), vegetable, livestock, and grain operations. I didn’t stay long enough to see the kind of change that this article talks about. However, having worked on farms, I can attest that it does change you and for the better. It provides a connection to the land, your place in it, and the onus of stewardship on us all. It humbles you. Despite the hard work (or perhaps because of it) getting your hands dirty in a tomato patch or baling hay is damn near spiritual. And yes, somedays, I hated spiritual but am glad I experienced it.

So, to honour Fescobaldi’s commitment to and investment in change, I’m reviewing the available Frescobaldi products in our market today plus a few I tasted in Italy last month.

A little history first:
(From Frescobaldi website) “The history of the Frescobaldi family starts over a thousand years ago and is closely connected with the history of Tuscany. At the high point of medieval Florence, the Frescobaldis spread their influence as bankers, earning the title of treasures (sic) to the English crown. A little later, with the flowering of the Renaissance, they became patrons of major works in Florence, such as the construction of the Santa Trinita bridge and the Basilica of Santo Spirito.

The family has always looked to develop and celebrate the diversity of Tuscany’s terroir. Being proud owners of some of the greatest vineyards in this region they have always sought to maintain the identity and autonomy of each property.”

Basilica di Santo Spirito

Cool, that part about the Basilica of Santo Spirito. When we were in Florence in September, our flat backed on to the Giardino di Palazzo Frescobaldi. And was a stone’s throw from the basilica. We dined al fresco on the Piazza Santo Spirito in front of the basilica. Isn’t that the beauty of Italy? All the cool stuff around you all the time.

As mentioned above, the Frescobaldi holdings are wide and varied, and include: Tenuta Castiglioni; Tenuta Remole; Castello Pomino; Castello Nipozzano; Castello Giocondo; Tenuta Ammiraglia; Gorgona; among others. Iconic labels include: Mormoreto; Giramonte; Montesodi; Masseto; Ornellaia (with Mondavi); and, Luce della Vita (with Mondavi). We’ve probably all quaffed a bunch of their wines. Hell, you couldn’t go wrong stacking your Tuscan racks with just their stuff. So, let’s get to the tasting!

In no particular order (and, as always, these were not samples – no inducement provided by Frescobaldi or their agents – I do this just for you):

2015 Frescobaldi Campo al Sasso Rosso di Montalcino #429415 $21.95 Rosso di Montalcino is wildly variable in quality, in my experience. This had a mustyish nose which got my heart racing. Crystal clear ruby red – really pretty wine. This wine opens with a burst of acidity. It put me off at first but over time, it tamed down significantly and you get the pure cherry fruit, clean mouthfeel and a medium finish. This would be a great pairing with a simple tomato/basil pasta. But, let the air out of this for awhile.

2015 Castello di Nipozzano Montesodi (2012 is available in limited supply at LCBO #304501 $51.00Enjoyed this at the Dei Frescobaldi wine bar in Florence (a story for later). This 2015 was surprisingly mature for it’s age. It might have been the wine bar situation – being open for awhile. However, it oozes leather/tobacco both on the nose and on the swish and swallow. I love that vibe. Dried berry fruit reinforcing the aged quality – oak integrated. A big wine. A really big wine, actually.

2014 Terre More Ammiraglia Cabernet Maremma Toscana IGT €8 (N/A at LCBO) This is a Cabernet-based red wine from Maremma which is in the southwest corner of Tuscany, near the coast. I’ve always viewed Maremma as good value but also quite variable in quality. The rule for using the Maremma nomenclature means that the wine is at least 85% of the variety on the label. Well, you could definitely pick out that fact without instruction. Straight forward Cab. Faint nose (but tasted in a tumbler not proper glass)- cassis on the swish – no oak effects – light to medium body – some lingering hint of Tuscany but can’t tell you what – maybe style rather than substance on that point. Matched our early evening cheese board, olives, and bread.

2016 Albizzia Chardonnay Toscana €11 (N/A @ LCBO) Like the one above, first night in Tuscany wine. A light to medium weight Chardonnay. Definite citrus nose. Peach in the mouth with some slight butteriness on the finish. Very good effort. A great sipper – maybe you’d want something a little more dynamic for food.

2007 Castelgiocondo Brunello di Montalcino (2012 is available at LCBO in their Essentials program #650432 $52.95When you join CellarTracker, you’re asked to identify your dream wines. Brunello is one of mine. It just represents so well. It’s usually wise beyond its years, extremely food friendly or just fine being your friend, and always provides me an image of a seasoned (read: old) Italian gentleman standing at a cellar door with an inviting smile. I adore it. This 2007 was at a perfect age to create that image. Just starting to brown around the edges, tobacco on the nose with some cherry pie peeking its head out as well as some fumes indicating the power lurking. In the mouth, it replayed the cherry pie emphatically with some funk, liquorice, and leather. All in all a very elegant, balanced wine. I buy a few of these each year and wonder when to open. I’ve been too early (tannins really chewy and hard to get to fruit) and too late (flabby). I hit a home run with this one.

2014 La Vite Lucente #747030 $34.95 A Merlot, Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon bend this qualifies as a Super Tuscan. And before the purists ‘harrumph’, I agree that not all Super Tuscans are ‘Super’. And, many aren’t that ‘Tuscan’ either. Well, put away the daggers. This is both. And both in a big way. My notes on the 2013 suggest musty cherry aromas – solid replay of the cherry with cola and liquorice on the swish and swallow. Medium finish. The Tuscan part is the restraint. I feel like they could have hit us over the head with ripe fruit – heavens knows it’s warm enough to ripen the fruit pre-harvest. However, there’s a veneer covering the fruit component, it’s fruit last not first – the nice acidity which I associate with Tuscany.

2015 Castello di Pomino Bianco #65086 $19.95 This is a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Bianco. It’s a superb sipper. Think sitting on a piazza with a plate of charcuterie, fresh tomatoes (I know there are always fresh tomatoes with me), olives, bread and olive oil. Perfect match – enough weight to carry the meats and enough acid to cut the fat of that meat and olive oil. Enough fruit to battle the tomatoes and lift the flavours of the Chardonnay. I’m not a big fan of Italian white wines but the three profiled here are ‘mighty fine’ which is a wine professional’s term. And, I’m a professional, so don’t try it at home.

2015 Benefizio Pomino Bianco Riserva (N/A @ LCBO) Enjoyed this wine at the Dei Frescobaldi wine bar in Florence. Not sure what the price might be here but I’m thinking…….high. This is a small production Chardonnay blend. Moderately oaked, apples and citrus on the nose – butter and peaches on the finish. A very sophisticated wine. Very, very nice. We sipped it with nothing other than conversation. But, I’m thinking this is a food wine – chicken, pork, mild to medium cheeses.

2015 Marchesi de’Frescobaldi Tenuta di Castiglioni #145920 $21.95 OK. I’ve promoted this wine from the beginning of my on-line life. This is pure Italy at a reasonable price. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Sangiovese that leans toward a truly Tuscan wine. All that to mean that the Sangiovese is present enough that you’ll know where this wine comes from. The style is medium body, streak of acidity that provides a bit of bite on the first sip, and moderate tannins. Fruit is red – “No shit Bill, it’s a red wine’ – but what I mean is that it is cherries and strawberries. Some leather but no real evidence of major oak. Easy drinking, interesting wine.

I’m taking a deep breath here. Ok, on to the next. The 2013 Nipozzano Vecchie Viti Riserva Chianti Rùfina #395186 $29.95 brings a classic vibe to the path we’ve been on here. Put your hand up if you remember Chianti as the wine in the basket (candle to be applied later) that was weak, variable in quality and perfect for the third bottle of the night. I see some hands up there. Well, this isn’t your second year university Chianti. It exudes ‘old’. It screams ‘traditional’. There’s a solidness to this wine. It’s a wine for grown ups (wonder why I like it?)  – elegant, sophisticated, and settled. No one is going to take a sip of this and fall over in ecstasy. But give them a second and third sip and they will fall in love. I read a review of another vintage and they used the term ‘honest’. That pretty well sums it up. Great, great food wine.

I know that I’ve been absent from these pages. I will be posting a bunch of stories in the next few weeks on our Italy trip and about some great wines coming to the mothership.

Cheers.

Bill

#RememberThem – The Rainbow Daily Slosh

10 Nov

poppy

I want to mention tomorrow’s (November 11th) day of remembrance. Many people take this day to remember special selfless people important in their lives who served their country. My hero is Capt. F.R. Dufton of the Royal Canadian Engineers, 1st Army Survey Corps. Very, very proud of my dad – mentioned in dispatches BTW. #RememberThem The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Take a moment of silence wherever you are. I know I will.

The wine, Bill, the wine. This week’s release features ‘star’ wines. That means (and you might have to turn up your sound because I’m going to whisper), “Expensive wines.” But there are mid-priced and wines that better fit my usual recommendations as well.

Like many an evening, let’s start with bubbly. I often recommend Cremant de Bourgogne as a not quite substitute for Champagne. Last week we had friends over and started with a bottle of the Louis Bouillot Perle d’Or Cremant #51565 $24.95. As we cleaned up the next morning, The Director asked me what we had and said that although she doesn’t usually have more than a single glass of bubbly, she lapierreloved the Perle – as evidenced by the empty bottle. So, I bought a few more to store for the holidays and should have maybe waited until this Saturday to pick up the Bailly LaPierre Réserve Brut Crémant de Bourgogne #991562 $19.95 to get a little variety. This one is more citrusy than the Perle but the bubbles are tight carrying some acidity on the finish – tart but lovely. A great way to start any evening.

bisquerttSince I don’t get the invite to the LCBO tastings pre-release and unlike my blogpals to the south I don’t get samples sent to me by importers (we are nothing if not Victorian on such matters – not complaining – glad to live here at this moment in time – blog for another day), I have to bang on cellar doors, buy a bunch of wine on spec so to speak and hope that some day they will show up on the shelves so that I can talk about them. The 2014 Bisquertt La Joya Gran Reserve Sryah #325407 $17.95 is one of those last wines. I had this some time ago and my notes say, “Compares very favourably with the Montes Alpha Syrah – in style, punch (can’t remember what the hell I meant by that), and softness.” That’s high praise from me as I love Montes Alpha Syrah in most vintages. This Chilean Bisquertt wine is round and smooth. Lots of things to talk about – meaty, dark fruits, and just enough structure – not flabby. Great value and Syrah is a long, hard chase for value! But, then again, I love Côte Rotie, Hermitage, and Saint Joseph. Have I ever told you the Côte Rotie story when I …………..Never mind.

As I scan the release publication, I notice that there are a ton of great value Chilean and Argentinean wines – Susana Balbo Malbec, Perez Cruz Limited Edition Cab Sav, Laura Catena’s La Posta Pizzella Malbec, Kaiken Ultra Malbec. You can’t go wrong with any of those and most likely the in-store consultant will be aware of these and point you in that direction.

badiaBut….drum roll……since they are pimping pricier wines, I have to tell you about the 2010 Antinori Badia a Passignano Gran Selezione Chianti Classico #384552 $44.95. Ramble: I just re-arranged my wine cellar to accommodate a beautiful set of oak shelves graciously provided to me by a friend through his daughter and son-in-law – shout out to J & P. As I rearranged, I discovered that I was overweight in Tuscany, Bordeaux, and Spain. Now, that’s a high class problem to solve. So, why would I want to stock up on this particular wine? I mean, it’s Tuscan. It will contribute to a situation that offends my suspected OCD balance needs. Why? Because my tasting notes say that it’s and I quote here, “Good shit!!!”  I mean:  “sniff – good shit; swish – good shit; swallow and finish – really, really good shit”. Now, that description may not qualify me for WSET Level 4 status but I think you get the picture. This wine is one of my favourite cuvées, year-in, year-out. It might be the best mid-priced wine that I buy on the basis of consistent excellence. In this vintage, everything is ready, in balance, and just so expressive. T – E – double R- F – I – C! You know what this means? I will have to buy even more American, Canadian, and South American wines to balance things out. Damn! But you know what? They are releasing the 2012 Bethel Heights Estate Pinot Noir, the Hidden Bench Terroir Caché Meritage, and the 2013 Foxen Block 43 Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Noir this weekend too. I hate it when that happens.

zisolaI had the benefit of tasting through a bunch of wines from Sicily last month. They reminded me of two things: 1) I really want to go to Sicily; 2) Both white and red wines from Sicily are very rewarding. This week, there’s the 2013 Mazzei Zisola #303925 $18.95. This is a biggish, powerful wine. Loads of fruit – figs, raisins too. I think that you might want to let it sit open for a few hours or just give it to me and I’ll put it in my new rack (remember the new rack?) and I’ll keep it for you.

henryWe go through a lot of Chardonnay at our house. Chardonnay may not be the ‘style’ anymore, people might sneer and look askance but, what the hell, we like it – a lot – Burgundy, Central Coast, Lodi, PEC, Niagara………..One of the local Chardonnays we like is the Henry of Pelham Estate Chardonnay #268342 $19.95. This week it’s the 2014. This is a classic Chardonnay in that it has everything but not too much of anything – a streak of acidity, tree fruit and some creaminess and citrus on the finish. Powerful. Like it a lot.

That’s all this week. Just a reminder for those that I might see over the holidays. You are surely wondering what to bring to the house when you visit or perhaps a presssie for Yours Truly. I really like the Badia a Passignano. What I mean by that is I really, really like it. It seems a pretty appropriate gift to me. And that gift may encourage me to open something ‘better’ when you visit – just sayin’.

Cheers

Bill

Back Home and Unsettled

3 Aug

Love, love, love this song. It sums up my return home from the lake – needing a rest. Saw a great documentary called Spirit Unforgettable (on HBO Canada) about John Mann, the head writer, guitarist, and singer for Spirit of The West, and his early onset Alzheimers diagnosis – in his early 50’s for God’s sake. If you can stream it, watch – it’s gut wrenching and inspiring.

I’m back from the lake. It’s challenging to be cut off from everything except Toronto sports radio (making Leafs shit up to talk about) and my small screen iPhone. No internet, unless I drive half an hour to the local library – which I did but once in three weeks. Oh, I would wander to the woefully inadequate ‘general’ store for a copy of the Toronto Star once in awhile (New York Times crossword and Sudoku needs). And you won’t believe this – I didn’t hear the word ‘Trump’ once – which is, after returning home, impossible to conceive, yeah?

I was completely out of touch on world affairs. While up at the lake, my youngest informed me by email that there was a coup going on in Turkey and that he was, in fact, there in Istanbul right then. A coup? How’d I miss that?He’d be fine – now home safe and sound in Providence. But, the important thing?

How much wine did I have left? Could I make it to the end without a time sucking trip to the Gravenhurst mother ship. I didn’t. And, that wasn’t because I drank too much. Rather I hadn’t planned to drink that much, you see. It was the planning that was wrong. It’s always the planning.

Let me review a small sample of the beverages we had while away:

2015 Hecht & Bannier Bandol Rosé #450767 $24.95 Yeah, it is more expensive than many great rosés that I’ve recommended this year. But, you see it’s Bandol and that means structure and bang. This was chilled to perfection and served pre-dinner with junk food (children were involved – hence the junk – the little buggers loved the wine too). These guys (H&B) make loads of labels from the south of France and I’ve never been disappointed. This is primarily Mourvedre with some Grenache and Cinsault thrown in to perhaps soften the profile. Lip-smacking good.

2006 Marcarini Barolo Brunate (no record of cost but it is a true splurge) All the Piedmonte purists will he shouting at the screen now. Yes, I know it was a bit young to open. But, it was my birthday and I threw caution to the wind. And that didn’t mean that it didn’t eventually open up beautifully. Intense in the extreme with herbal and earthy sniffs, spicy tobacco in the mouth and some vanilla from the barrel, I assume, on the finish. A real privilege to drink this wine. This is why I love Barolo. Can’t afford a lot of it but…
lucente

2013 La Vite Lucente #747030 $34.95 Talking to a friend the other day and he said that he could sniff out Merlot from a mile away and he never truly appreciated it. I suggested that he try some Right Bank Bordeaux before he kicks poor old Merlot to the curb. And, this Italian Merlot blend might change his mind too. This is a joint enterprise of Mondavi and Frescobaldi located in Montalcino. This wine defines the term ‘smooth’. I mean if you look up the word ‘smooth’ in the dictionary, there’s a picture of this label. Seriously good Tuscan juice. Good news? I have more down below. Yahoo!
cambria

2012 Cambria Estate Julia’s Vineyard Pinot Noir #980482 $29.95 If you visit here often, you’d notice that there isn’t a whole lot about California Pinot Noir. I’ve been disappointed so many times that I don’t trust myself – “Do some f**ing research, Bill! Try some better CPN’s FCOL!” I know that would help me pick the winners. So, why this wine? ‘Cause, I get it all the time and really,really appreciate it. Sour cherry but like you’d taste in a pie – softened a bit but still the bite, the acid. Earthy but not dirty. Spicy but not hot. Almost a sin to have by itself but thats just what I did. No regrets. And, if there are any California PN freaks out there, give me a few suggestions. I just love research.
sancerre2014 Henri Bourgeois Les Baronnes Sancerre #542548 $25.95 Love this wine! Perfect for pre-dinner which in this case was BBQ’d fish with mango salsa. Not appreciated by all, I’m afraid. Not the wine but the fish. This is the counterpoint to SB from NZ, like Kim Crawford or Stoneleigh’s stuff. Subtle with great acidity. Gooseberry. Lovely wine and usually available at the mother ship.

2012 Seven Falls Wahluke Slope Chardonnay #385773 $19.95 A well balanced, light Chardonnay. Great sipper. Beginning to think that Washington State does all varieties very well.
blaignan

2010 Château Blaignan #416727 $25.95 It’s damn hard to find a solid Bordeaux under $30 or, to be truly honest, $50. This is a great Bordeaux for sipping or for a meal of something a little less fatty and sturdy than steak. Tannins integrated and supportive rather than front and centre. Fruit a little muted but lots going on to create enough stuff to enjoy fully.

lugnyCaves de Lugny Brut Rosé Cremant de Bourgogne #297846 $19.95 What’s a summer day without bubbly. We had a few Proseccos and Cavas too but this rosé was the beast that we kept coming back to. What an ethereal, tasty treat. Look at that colour. If you are tired of the same old cheap Proseccos and Cavas step up a notch to this classically made wine. Huge value!

 

pommiesPommies Dry Cider #244897 $12.95 (4 pack) I have a cider freak in my family. When we travelled England, he tried every local cider while I stayed with the lovely ales and porters. I never really liked cider. But, I was at my local – The Morrissey House last month and they had the Pommies Dry Cider on tap. Gave it a try and now I’m a convert. This is made in Caledon from Ontario heritage apples, whatever the hell that means. Regardless of the provenance, it’s damn tasty. Perfect for an early afternoon, pre-nap, sip. or, you could end the evening with it. Dry as a popcorn fart.

 

That’s enough for now. Suffice it to say, we had a few more good bottles than that. Well, a way lot more.

This week at the mother ship there’s a few to pick up. I’ve wasted enough of your time already so I’ll just list them here instead of providing a description.
2010 Cims del Monsanto Garnatxa/Carinyena #311894 $15.95 Visited this winery when I was in Priorat. You can read about my visit here Monsanto provides a glimpse into the style and power of Priorate reds.
2009 Hacienda López de Haro Reserva #357335 $17.95 – a Reserva for $17.95!
2013 Fattoria le Pupille Morellino di Scansano #455659 $16.95 – maybe I’m just a Morellino slut (maybe?). I like this stuff always – Italian to the core
2011 Villa Mora Montefalco Rosso Riserva #357079 $19.95 – an Umbrian classic like Monica Bellucci (who just happens to have been born in Città di Castello in Umbria)
2013 Brancaia Tre #164715 $23.95 if I’m repeating myself on this one, forgive me. I know that I’ve fussed over this before but it’s a beaut and worth every penny.

One more Spirit song before we go. ““Cause beauty’s religion and it’s christened me with wonder.” Love that line.

Cheers
Bill

Even A Bad Wine Deserves a Second Chance – #MWWC22

17 Jan

hockeybag

There is a strangely masochistic exercise that wine bloggers participate in each month – the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge. It’s a hotly contested fight between bloggers for bragging rights, a bump in site visits, the right to show an image on their site that they are a winner (if I could figure out how to put that on my site, I would – ’cause I’m a winner, baby), and an excuse to open something really, really nice to celebrate victory. Oh, there are a lot of losers and the losers do not, as is de rigueur these days, get a medal for just participating. The winner gets to choose the theme for the following month. Last month’s ‘challenge’ was won by Jill of L’Occasion and she chose “Second Chance” as a theme.

Now, I haven’t been entering an effort into these challenges lately. Not sure why………OK I do know why. I’m lazy, distracted, thinking that blogging isn’t helping me self-actualize and become the man I’m supposed to be. Question: what the hell will? Help me self actualize, that is. But, this theme hit a nerve. It woke up my creative juices, my imagination and two finger typing urge. Here I go.

MWWC

I used to organize and lead wine tastings with a bunch of work colleagues and friends. For each evening, we had themes – regions, varieties, just about anything that allowed for some semblance of order. I’d choose the wines based on theme, price point, and a little adventure.

For one such tasting, we had decided on a broad exploration of Italy. So, I trundled off to the mother ship and picked up the usual suspects – among others, a Prosecco, a Sicilian Grillo (love the Grillo! Can I convince you to try a couple?), a Verdicchio, a Chianti Classico, a Primitivo di Manduria,  a Valpolicella Ripasso, a Moscato d’Asti, a Barolo, and a Brunello. The last two I picked from my cellar. Now, here’s the risk all wine ‘guys’ run. We all think that there are wines that are better than others based on wine geek celebration, price, and cache. We fully expect other people, if left to blind taste them, will agree with our assessment- roughly at least. So, by bringing in one of MY Barolos (about a decade old I seem to remember) and one of MY Brunellos (probably about the same age), you run the risk of your snobby bias being exposed – ’cause I love those wines. No, you must understand that I truly love paying the price for these wines. And, who wants to be wrong when they have a cellar full of evidence of the fact of their error.

Well, we began with the whites. Moved on through the reds. When we started to experience and talk about the Brunello (we were to discover it’s identity later), the person next to me, after a quick sniff, said, “This is horrid. It smells like my son’s hockey bag.” I tend to dismiss much of what this woman says – apologies to JT – but……it did smell horrid and reminiscent of my son Nathan’s hockey bag. And, consequently, not a soul at the table took a sip.

timhortonNow, in Canada, there are universal experiences: weather is a classified topic of discussion (premiere eeew, duexieme eeew, etc.); we seemingly only hang at one coffee shop which we call by a dead hockey player’s first name; and, we have all smelled the inside of a hockey bag. It’s a right of passage for a parent who can afford to equip a young child with armour-like apparel, get up at 5:15 am to take his/her aspiring NHLer to a freezing arena (as if a machine crafted coffee is going to comfort you there), and struggle amid tears and protestations to get the skates that you thought were the right size on this bitchy reflection of yourself. I’m sure soccer parents, football parents, etc. have the same type of stories. But, they do not…..I repeat – do not….have the bag.

I’ve since checked out my numerous wine books, Jancis, Hugh, Karen, etc. but I haven’t found the term, “hockey bag”, in any of the tasting notes. That could be because it takes a highly trained and experienced nose to pick the nuanced notes of leather infused with the body odour of a teen male. Or, just because it’s only truly evident in a certain wine – a Brunello improperly stored too long? Or, a wine needing a bit of a breath before it says,  “Hello”?

So, wait. What usually happens at these events is that as a few people wander off (short hitters), the remaining folks keep talking and it becomes a bitch-about-work and drinking event. And, usually, there’s enough wine left to feed that beast. So, about an hour and a half after the wines were poured, some brave soul (probably mistaking it for the remaining Barolo which was friggin’ fantastic), took a sip from the glass that contained the Brunello. “Hey, folks……….” “(Louder) Hey, shut up and taste the Brunello.” Which we all did. The funk, if I can lovingly call it that, had blown off and the wine was exquisite – deep, leathery, cherry pie. OK, I lie about the cherry pie – I can’t exactly remember. Suffice it to say that the wine was a beaut. And if not the unanimous ‘fave’ of the night, the second ‘fave’ for sure. Lesson learned.

So, if you bought several bottles of a certain wine only to discover on opening the first that it was shitty – relegating the remaining bottles of it to sit scorned by the rest of your cellar. Or, you open a wine to discover that some aroma or taste is interfering with its enjoyability factor. Just be patient and give it a second chance. You have nothing to lose and you might learn something – I just hope it isn’t that you discover the o-dear of the hockey bag. Because that is not the lesson here.

Reality Shows And The Rainbow Daily Slosh

11 Dec

I have been horribly remiss in keeping up with the mother ship’s releases. I have an excuse but won’t bore you with it. There really is no excuse for not writing about wine.

But before I wade in on wine, let me rant for a bit. Totally unrelated.

“Hi, I’m Bill and I’m a recovering insomniac”. I used to get about 4 hours of sleep a night and sleep walk through work (hopefully none of my former paying clients read this). Over the past couple years I’ve been able to get a good night’s sleep. However, the other night, I just couldn’t get to sleep. So, I wandered downstairs and sat in the dark, which is my theory on insomnia – do not do anything that might interest you or keep you awake. The fact that I unsuccessfully applied this theory to a raging case of insomnia for 20 years leads me to believe that it doesn’t work.

weddingringsIt wasn’t working this night either and I turned on the tube with a commitment to not watch anything interesting. I rolled the remote until I got to A&E – nothing ever interesting there. What’s this? I thought the show I landed on was a comedy – a spoof. It’s called “Married at First Sight”. I fully expected Dana Carvey or Will Farrell to show up. But, it wasn’t an SNL parody – it’s a show about a ‘social experiment’ (their term). If you haven’t had the displeasure – here’s the premise:

  1. Relationship experts (who, it appears got their degree through night school from GetADiploma U) choose two people to get married. These people have never met each other. Seriously, never…..met….each other
  2. Then the two have a  full blown wedding with reception, family members, etc. attending.  I am not shitting you. They don’t see each other until they’re on the aisle – staring at each other and wondering, “WTF have I got myself into?”. The pastor actually talks about marriage being a ‘sacred bond’. But he neglected to add, “Brought to you by Ford.”
  3. Then after dancing the night away, the couple go away with a thousand cameras and live together for awhile with the help of marriage counsellors, I assume, as I just saw previews. And, we get to follow their completely dysfunctional life. Only highlight might be suggestive sexual scenes. ‘Cause folks, they kind of luv each other. Then wait, Tom likes his peanut better on top of the jam instead of underneath – and now, no, they don’t luv each other.
  4. They return to meet with the ‘experts’ that put them together and make a decision – with drum roll – what will Marie and Tom decide – commercial break – fingers crossed that they……oh damn, they’re staying married.

Seriously. Who thinks this shit up? I mean a cable channel is selling Palmolive – “Tough on Grease” on the backs of people who are so needy that they volunteer their time to be on a show like this. And, it seems, aren’t evenly mildly embarrassed. Plus, people watch it. Who are those people?

Well, when you wonder how people can be attracted to Donald Trump or line up on Black Friday for hours for the single 60 inch television that’s on for $50 and then stomp on old ladies to get to it, remember that the lowest common denominator is really, really friggin’ low. Unbelievably low. Lower than something that you might think is exceptionally low – think that low to the power of 10. Did I say it’s low? Not to mention the total waste of an hour of one’s finite life to stare at this train wreck.

Enough, Bill, Stop! Point made.

OK, wine. This Saturday, there are a number of good to very good to great wines. Let’s start with the whites:

cavespringI’ve had three Chardonnays from this release that I quite like. They are different from each other but that’s the point in drinking – well, other than the buzz. The first: 2013 Cave Spring Estate Bottled Chardonnay #256552 $18.95 I enjoyed at the cellar door in Jordan. Now, if you’ve never been to Jordan and you love (in no particular order) tasting wine, eating great food and tagging along with the woman you love while she shops (I’m two out of three), this is the place for you. The Restaurant, On The Twenty, is nothing short of spectacular in ambience, presentation and, most of all, the food. Back to this Chardonnay. This is what I would call typical Niagara Chardonnay – apples,  citrus, crispness and a very judicious use of oak. I think an afternoon (or morning) Chardonnay – clean, fresh. You should come home from work pop and pour this youthful Chardonnay. Enjoy it with stories of unpopular bosses and unreasonable demands. Skip the nibbles unless it’s salty.

featherstonecochardonnayThe next one is from up the street from Jordan. The 2013 Featherstone Canadian Oak Chardonnay #149302 $21.95. Did I say “Canadian Oak”? Yup. The first time I heard of this was with Lailey and their Pinots. The ‘Canadian’ addition didn’t seem to make a difference to me and I think that they’ve ditched the approach there. This one, however, has something different going on – it’s round, more tropical on the nose – hey, enough with the wine smack. Let me describe this wine in a different way. Say you’ve had the wine above – seductively lean and agile (Tatiana Maslany) and you swirl this in a glass. The first impression – Rachel McAdams – friendly, comfy, soft and…………well, I’ll let you make the connection. Very nice effort! Maybe Canadian oak is a keeper.

whillThe last Chard is the 2013 William Hill #437251 $19.95. This is pure California and is a hit at our house where The Director craves creamy, buttery Chardonnays against the flow of unoaked madness. It’s not sickly buttery – just enough to please those that like the cream. It also allows for some pairing with chicken stuff. If you like Chardonnays like La Crema Sonoma Coast, Charles & Charles, you’ll like this a lot.

santaemaRed wines? Oh yeah, I’ve had a few. But then again, too few to mention. Thank you verrry much Paul Anka. There are a lot of very good reds at a price point that isn’t exactly in line with “Daily”. However, if I were to pick one up that would surprise the big spenders it would be the 2012 Santa Ema Amplus Cabernet Sauvignon #076301 $19.95. This wine comes across as a long, complex wine. Why? Because it is. Long and complex, that is. Love this stuff! If you love wines that kind of blend the Old World funkiness with the New World fruit and power – this is it. I felt not so much relaxed as curious with this wine. Another sip brought another take – that makes  good wine. Buy a case!

franceNow, can I ask you to stretch the “Daily Slosh” budget? Go ahead and check with your significant other, I’ll wait………OK, are we clear now? Let’s wade in. Bordeaux is about the best thing that France has ever created. OK, there’s Brigitte, and “Liberté, égalité, fraternité” but that’s about all that surpasses Bordeaux. I’m not alone in this assertion. Every expert wine lover agrees with me. Note to those that don’t agree: keep it to yourselves.

This weekend theres a very nice Bordeaux from a great vintage – 2010 Château Escot #431767 $25.95. I had this wine a while ago and my notes reflect “BARGAIN”. At least that’s what I said then.. I’m not thinking it’s cellarable for long but that’s the attraction at this price – drink it now – or wait a couple years max! This is bigger and fuller than I expected. This wine brings the a vibe of a much more expensive, experienced Bordeaux – not as big on the funk – not a perfect Bordeaux as you have to pay for that – complete for this price, though. I give it 379 on my scale of 248 to 417. Wow.

bertrandI am going to sound like a broken record here but I take solace from my fellow wine bloggers. We all have our faves. So, I shouldn’t feel creepy recommending the same winery all the time. My faves are Susana Balbo and Gerard Bertrand. This week, there’s Gerard’s (can I call you Gerard?)  2011 Gérard Bertrand Grand Terroir Pic Saint Loup #376491 $18.95. I may have recommended this before but am too lazy to go back through my posts. Suffice it to say that there is something about Languedoc that just spells great drinking wine at a great price. Oh, there are some suspect Languedoc reds out there but when they’re done well, they are great. This appellation is one of my faves – so Bill faves times 2. This wine is a candidate for a case for the season. Hard to not appreciate, presents the flavours of the region – a little lavender on the nose – some stoniness on the finish. I have a man crush on Gerard. I’ll leave it to you to decide if you do too. Burn some pork with herbs and enjoy this one.

lucenteOK, let’s talk small splurge. Some time in life we need to feel special. I know that I do, every day actually. As much as I try to affirm myself a la Stuart Smiley, I usually need to open a better-than-daily-slosh bottle of wine to tell myself, “I’m good enough……..” This weekend, pick up a bottle of one of the best second labels that Italy has to offer – 2013 La Vite Lucente #747030 $34.95. This is a classic Toscana – loads of red fruit, smooth but with enough acid and tannins to say, “Let me breathe or put me down and step away from the bottle.” This one would be special with your mother’s spaghetti and meatballs now or decant for a few hours and serve with a simpler pasta – fettuccine con olio d’oliva e aglio. Better yet, cellar this guy for a few years. You won’t be disappointed.

Now, back to reality TV. What kind of reality show could we produce that’s about wine people? How about four wine bloggers live in a house together with four cases of wine? We’ll call it……….Big Blogger? No? OK, we follow a third generation extended family of migrant vineyard workers in California. Called Real Pruners of Napa Valley? Wait, I’ve got a better one –  cameras follow me around in my bathrobe as I sip, type, nap, and sip some more – Real House Wines of London – now, that’s the ticket.

Cheers

Bill

Duff’s Book Club – The Rainbow Daily Slosh

7 Aug

Well, what’s everyone been up to? Me? I’ve been off these pages for better than a month. I’ve been at the lake, doing man stuff (building things, beer, baseball on the radio), boating, swimming, sitting, drinking a shitload of wine (that’s a anthonydoerrmetric measurement for my friends south of the border), and reading a lot. Some great books. Some very disappointing ones. On that score, I’ve decided that I will never read another book with the word “Girl” in the title. And, if the book also tells its story through several different unreliable narrators, I am out of here. Did anyone read Gone Girl? It was pretty sorry, wasn’t it? Everyone is writing books that mirror Gone Girl’s tale, technique, and style. I made the mistake of getting The Girl On The Train and The Good Girl under the guise that The Director would like them. Brutal. Why everything the same again and again until no one buys it?

rawihagePlease no more ‘Young Adult’ books that involve wizards, vampires, and/or post apocalyptic young women. Everything the same again. Uncle. I give up!

I did read some great books. The best of which were: Rawi Hage’s DeNiro’s Game, Anthony Doerr’s All The Light We Cannot See, and a Carl Hiassen one that I probably read before – love him. I’m off to Spain next month so if you have some good reads to share, let me hear them.

This is a wine blog. So, on to the wine!

I thought that I’d just make this a mélange, a cornucopia, a bit of a mashup really of reds and whites.

Let’s start with Argentina. I was speaking with the son of a friend of mine and he said that every time he sees Susana Balbo’s Malbec, he buys it and then benmarcocswhen he takes it to an event, the host (if she/he even opens it- which is the peril of taking something that’s actually good to an event, isn’t it?), they remark that it’s great and posit that it cost a lot more than it actually did. The power of good winemaking is what that is. Well, this week, there’s another from Dominio del Plate (Susana’s home perch) 2013 BenMarco Cabernet Sauvignon #232637 $18.95. This is pure Cabernet Sauvignon. Cassis, structure, grip – a food wine. Hands up – how many people think California when they think Cabernet Sauvignon? Bordeaux? Chile? Australia (stay tuned)? Argentina? Now, if there is one person with their hand up, I’ll buy a new MacBook. I’m not sure if anyone thinks of Argentinean cab sav as ‘classical’. This may change your mind and it’s only $18.95! You may say that I’ve been a little too effusive about Susana in the past and you’d be right. Regardless of the past love, my eyes are open, this is good juice.

roscsStaying on the cab sav bandwagon, let’s travel to the Margaret River region of Australia. In Western Australia, they make the best Cabernet Sauvignon in Australia possibly with the exception of Coonawarra in some vintages IMHO. It’s warm, dusty, and crafty there. The 2012 Robert Oatley Cabernet Sauvignon #323741 $19.95 is one of those solid yet elegant reds. It doesn’t hit you over the head with tannins and acidity but everything nonetheless is yummy – subtley good. Restrained. I’d say this could be a sipper – as in, just pop and pour during the argument phase of the evening which happens at my place pre-dinner, post dinner or actually during dinner. Actually save the dinner for a bigger more flamboyant red. This carries redder fruits than other New World cabs.

eastonI always love a good zin and this week there’s a consistent one that costs a bit more but I’m good for it – the 2012 Easton Zinfandel (Amador County) #328377 $27.95. I first had this label at a zin tasting and it blew me away. A zin tasting is like a Bordeaux pre-release tasting. By the time I taste 10-15 wines, my palate is shot, if I was being honest. Oh, I still swish and spit and ooh and aah but it’s a farce really. My notes become more and more cryptic and vacuous (like my comments here?). Well, this wine in it’s 2010 vintage broke through the sock mouth and showed leather notes, red fruit, and an earthiness that I don’t always associate with Zinfandel. This vintage is similar. Not heavy, good grip, and a burst of red fruit. After you swallow, you get a nice finish with a smokiness or leatheriness. A very sophisticated Zinfandel at this price. I’d love to understand if it’s the winemaker or the vineyard or both that brings this experience. Maybe a trip to California for research?

closOn the white side, there’s a nice Muscadet. I do love Muscadet. This one, 2010 Clos les Montys Vieilles Vignes Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie #297911 $13.95 is a typical one. Salty, crisp, and full of pears. Love pears too. This is the perfect accompaniment to shellfish simply prepared and eaten al fresco under the stars. OK, you could have it in the living room too. I had a comment a long time ago. The troll wondered why I slagged Pinot Grigio but loved Muscadet. Well, 1. it’s my blog and I’m OK with you thinking I’m contradictory, and 2. They are not remotely the same wine! Go ahead PG lovers, pick this up and have with the aforementioned shellfish or fresh field tomatoes and tell me that reminds you of PG.

yEvery year I mention the 2014 Yalumba The Y Series Viognier #624502 $16.95. I had this vintage at a restaurant while I waited for a colleague. Yes, that’s right, I started drinking before he got there. I know I have a problem. This wine just bursts from the glass – peaches and cream. Such an invitation to gulp! But, don’t. You’ll miss the bright acidity and lovely mouthfeel. It’s smooth and spicy at the same time.

contradeSplurge alert – in winegeekdom, there’s a club called the Wine Century Club. The goal of the club is to drink wines made with 100 different grapes. I started to fill in the forms with every different grape I sampled. But, like every other endeavour I undertake, I ran out of steam. But, if I was still doing the note taking, the 2012 Contrade di Taurasi Grecomusc’ #418715 $32.95 would have to be included. This wine is made from the Roviello grape. I associate Taurasi with red wines. I hadn’t heard of the white Taurasi made with Roviello. This was a glass in a restaurant again so I’m going with memories only here. Anyway, this white wine is all citrus and spice and incredibly strong. Not strong as in medicine but strong as in it’s intensity. It has a big backbone of acidity and I bet needs a few years or some time in the glass and warmth to express itself. Very interesting and worthy of a pick up in your Wine Century Club pursuit.

Cheers.

 

 

 

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