Sunday, April 3, 2011

Message in a Bottle – Italian wine tasting

Tim and I recently managed to find ourselves at this press tasting of Italian wines put on by Thompson International Marketing. We tasted through a range of some 16 producers. The emphasis was on red, and while Prosecco and some still white were also on offer, I focus most of my attention below on the red wines.

I only note the producers that seemed to stand out but the standard was very high overall. From Lombardy there were good wines from Cascina La Pertica and Guido Berlucchi and co. These producers were working with indigenous Italian varieties as well as with Bordeaux-style blends with the Caccia al Piano Bulgheri Superiore DOC 2006 standing out. Also good was a 2008 Merlot and Cabernet Franc blend from Villa Sandi of Veneto.

Tuscany was extremely well represented (perhaps at the expense of other regions). A Rosso di Montalcino DOC 2009 from Casanova Di Neri (€30) was just wonderful, beautifully integrated and with clean fruit. Of the two Brunello di Montalcino’s from this producer the 2005 (Tenuta Nuova 2005 - €60) was excellent but too young to appreciate and the 2004 (Cerretalto 2004 €90) was if anything too overcooked for me. The Rosso was far more drinkable. Castellare Di Castellina had two good wines, the Sangiovese, Cab Sauvignon and Merlot blend Rocca di Frassinello IGT 2007 and the 100% Sangiovese I Sodi di San Niccolo IGT 2006. These were tannic wines though so a bit difficult to approach. An unusual blend of Merlot, Syrah and Sangiovese (Liberta Toscana IGT 2009) by Fattoria I Collazzi was delicious and a great price at €4. The same producers ‘Super Tuscan’ (Collazzi Toscana IGT 2007) was intense and interesting.

It was interesting to find out more about the DOC of Bolgheri which seems to have been set up to allow producers to experiment with Cabernet Sauvignon or blends centred on non-Italian varietals and still stay in the DOC system. There were some nice wines from this area by Podere Sapaio. The Sapaio 2007 was especially interesting, with loads of fiery cedar and fruit. Bit pricey at €30 but this is Super Tuscan territory. I was very impressed with the San Fabiano Calcinaia producer, and also by Bruni, who had a great value blend in their Marteto Morellino Di Scansano DOCG 2009 at €6. Their Perlaia Vermentino Maremma Toscana IGT 2009 (€12) was also good.

So, to sum up, there were some fantastic wines on show here, with some good value options as well as high end DOCGs and Super Tuscans. The only issue really is just how available these wines will be in the UK. Many of them were smaller producers and the tasting did seem to be targeting the restaurant trade in particular. If anyone comes across any of these producers elsewhere then do let me know! In any case I would certainly suggest keeping an eye out for the ones I mention above.


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  2. My dad told me, years ago, that if there's one thing the Italians do well it's produce wine. He also told me never to say no to an Italian wine.

    I wish he were here today, just so I could tell him he was right.