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Posts Tagged ‘Campania

Alois and Eloi

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The only connection between the wines in the last flight was that both were bigger reds that had caught my attention, the Trebulanum because it is made from a grape I’d never heard of, let alone tasted, the Trévallon because it was reportedly excellent and I’d been giving the wine a pass since an unhappy encounter with the 2007. The wines were double-carafed about four hours before we tasted them.

Terre del Volturno 2011, Trebulanum, Casavecchia, Alois ($44.00, 12628604)
Contrary to what claims, this is not made by the Piedmontese Azienda Agricola Casavecchia but by the Campanian estate Vini Alois, which is based in Pontelatone. 100% Cassavecchia from organically farmed wines averaging 20 to 25 years old and rooted in the mineral-rich volcanic soil of the 1.5 ha Cesone vineyard. Manually harvested. Alcoholic fermentation and maceration on the skins with regular pump-overs took place in stainless steel tanks and lasted 20 days. Transferred to large botti for 18 months, during which time it underwent complete malolactic fermentation. Racked into large botti for 12 months’ further maturation. Aged in bottles for six months. Reducing sugar: 1.8 g/l. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Diamond Estates.
Wafting nose of ink, old leather, Chambord, “peat” and “smoke.” Dark and dense on the plate, rich in black raspberry fruit and slatey minerals. Tannins confer a velvet astringency, acidity a certain freshness. Finishes long. Spice and leather linger. Powerful, earthy and “too young” but not hot or harsh. Speaks of its place and, despite the modern wine-making, of an older time. (Buy again? Yes, and not just for curiosity’s sake.)

Alpilles 2013, Domaine de Trévallon ($85.25, 13269359)
Now in his mid-60s, Eloi Dürrbach began making wine in 1973, when he gave up architecture to manage a vacation property and a few vines his parents had bought. This, then, is his 40th vintage. A 50-50 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah from organically farmed vines rooted in limestone and clay. The whole clusters were fermented with indigenous yeasts with regular punch-downs and pump-overs. Matured 24 months on the lees in foudres (95%) and barrels (5%). Fined with egg whites. Unfiltered. No added sulphur. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: LVAB.
An initially disconcerting nose of peas, “ketchup maison,” “beets” and beef bouillon gives way to plum, cassis, blackberry and garrigue. Rich and satiny in the mouth. The balance between the layered fruit, fleshy tannins and racy acidity is something to behold. Overtoned with black olive and leather, the minerally, bitter-edged finish seems to go on forever. Accessible yet capable of long ageing. One of the great wines of Provence. (Buy again? If I can scrape together the bucks…)

MWG June 22nd tasting: flight 7 of 7

Written by carswell

August 10, 2017 at 13:10

White and red tears

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The July MWG tasting (yes, I’m way, way behind in posting notes, including some from as far back as April) was built around a conceit: six two-wine flights, each consisting of a white and a red from the same producer. As the wines were served double-blind, it gave the tasters a unique set of data on which to base their deductions and wild-ass guesses.

Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio 2014, Bianco, Mastroberardino ($21.00, 972877)
100% Coda di Volpe from sustainably farmed vines averaging 15 years old and growing on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius. Manually harvested. Low-temperature (15-16°C) alcoholic fermentation in stainless steel tanks typically lasts 15 days. Not allowed to undergo malolactic fermentation. Matured three months in stainless steel tanks and a minimum of one month in the bottle. Reducing sugar: 2.1 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Vinitor Vins & Spiritueux.
Discreet nose of ash, white fruit, citrus, chalky minerals and a whiff of pilsner hops. Smooth and fruity on entry, drier on the mid-palate and gaining a bitter edge on exit. There’s a lightly honeyed quality to the fruit, a dusting of minerals, an underlying stream of acidity and some herb flower overtones on the longish finish. Enjoyable if a little tame. (Buy again? Sure.)

Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio 2013, Rosso, Mastroberardino ($23.55, 972869)
100% Piedirosso from sustainably farmed vines averaging 15 years old and growing on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius. Manually harvested. Following a cold-soak maceration, fermentation with racking and pump-overs takes place in temperature-controlled (23°C) stainless steel tanks and typically lasts 10 days. Undergoes malolactic fermentation. Matured six months in stainless steel tanks and a minimum of one month in the bottle. Reducing sugar: 2.8 g/l. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Vinitor Vins & Spiritueux.
Initially odd cheese rind gives way to sour cherry and plum, a hint of spice and some smokey minerals. In the mouth, it’s medium-bodied and very dry. The ripe fruit is textured by light, raspy tannins and soft-glow acidity. What minerals there are are dark and in the background. The pleasantly bitter finish is not particularly sustained, though a lactic note lingers. If, on the one hand it’s kind of earthbound, on the other hand it’s got a kind of earthy appeal. (Buy again? Sure, especially to try with the winery’s suggested pairing of grilled swordfish.)

MWG July 16th tasting: flight 1 of 6.

Written by carswell

September 9, 2015 at 13:47

Aglianico × 3

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Irpinia 2011, Rubrato, Feudi di San Gregorio ($22.45, 12476680)
100% Aglianico. Macerated and fermented for two to three weeks in stainless steel tanks. Matured eight to ten months also in stainless steel tanks. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Italvine.
Cherry, slate, leather, spice, blackberry yogurt. Structured but medium-bodied and surprisingly fluid. The firm tannins and bright acidity are balanced by the dark, faintly juicy fruit. Volcanic minerals tinge the mid-palate and last well into the finish. Moreish though it needs an hour or two in the carafe to uncoil. Modern but in a good way. The SAQ used to stock several of Feudi’s wines and this bottling shows why it’s great to have them back. (Buy again? Done!)

Aglianico del Vulture 2009, Piano del Cerro, Vigneti del Vulture (Farnese) ($27.40, 12015470)
100% Aglianico from the Acrenza area. The grapes are gently destemmed. Maceration and fermentation in small wood vats with four manual pump-overs a day last 25 to 30 days. Matured in new oak barriques for 24 months. 14% ABV. Quebec agent: Montalvin.
Cassis liqueur, shoe leather, black olives and mocha. Full-bodied and, due to the combination of super-ripe fruit and heavy oak treatment, sweet (“the better to cover the rubber,” noted one taster). Spice and minerals are there but only if you look for them. The tannins are plush, the acidity downplayed. Creamy vanilla oak dominates the finish. Cloying and unrefreshing. The style may be popular – the Montreal allocation sold out fast and there’s very little left in the province – but it’s not one I find appealing in the slightest. (Buy again? No.)

IGP Basilicata Rosso 2012, Antelio, Camerlengo ($25.60, 11951961)
Contrary to what you’ll read on, this is neither a DOC wine nor the estate’s flagship (that honour falls to the eponymous Aglianico del Vulture, which is available through the private import channel). 100% organically farmed Aglianico from the Rapolla area. Manually harvested. Fermented with native yeasts and macerated for 25 days. Matured in 50-hl Slavonian oak botte. Unfiltered and unfined. Lightly sulphured at bottling to increase stability during transportation. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: oenopole.
With its vinegary aromas and sharp taste, the bottle at the tasting seemed off. That it was was confirmed by a pristine and delicious second bottle purchased and opened a few days later: a fragrant, medium-bodied wine whose black currant and blackberry fruit is veined with obsidian and Drum tobacco, framed by tart acidity and fine, drying tannins and sustained through the long, savoury finish. A perennial favourite in fine form in 2012. (Buy again? Done!)

MWG March 12th tasting: flight 5 of 7.

Written by carswell

May 7, 2015 at 12:50

MWG March 8th tasting (1/5): Four Campanian whites

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While this was technically a Cellier tasting, only two bottles from the March 7th release made it into the wine-up: Mastroberardino’s Falanghina and Umani Ronchi’s Verdicchio.

All four wines in the first flight were made similarly: fermented (for a couple of weeks) and matured (for a few months) in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. If the estate favours organic farming, uses native yeasts and avoids manipulation, fining, filtering and sulphur dioxide in the winery, they certainly don’t trumpet it.

Greco di Tufo 2011, Mastroberardino ($22.10, 00411751)
100% Greco di Tufo from c. 15-year-old vines. 12.5% ABV.
Muted nose of lemon-lime and chalk. Smooth and rainwatery on the palate, with stealth acidity and a bitter undercurrent. Wax and pear flavours linger though the tingly finish. (Buy again? Maybe.)

Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio 2011, Mastroberardino ($19.20, 00972877)
100% Coda di Volpe from c. 20-year-old wines. 12.5% ABV.
Straw, pear, hot stones and something floral. Slightly denser than the Greco, drier, more savoury. High in acidity and lean on fruit. Lemon-pithy, minerally finish. (Buy again? Maybe.)

IGT Irpinia 2011, Morabianca, Falanghina, Mastroberardino ($19.75, 11873026)
100% Falanghina from c. six-year-old vines. 13.5% ABV.
Fragrant nose: mostly lemon blossom with some faint candied pineapple and a whiff of what one taster pegged as “freezer ice.” Probably the driest of the four. Underripe stone fruit sprinkled with lemon juice and set on sea shells. Bitter, puckery finish. (Buy again? Maybe.)

Fiano di Avellino 2011, Mastroberardino ($22.10, 00972851)
100% Fiano di Avellino from c. 15-year-old vines. 12.5% ABV.
Lime leaf, green pear, sweet pumpkin, bath salts, hazelnut skins. Somewhat less acidic and bitter than the others but also more saline. Pear and a little honey. Sustained finish. Balanced and refreshing. (Buy again? Definite maybe.)

As a concept, this flight had enormous appeal: four mono-varietals from four different Campanian grape varieties from the same vintage and made in the same way (cleanly in stainless steel, with no interfering oak) by the same producer. In practice, the flight was a study in shadings more than colours. On the plus side, all the wines were technically flawless and quite drinkable. And yet a little more personality wouldn’t have been out of place. It’s not as if they have to be low on character: Feudi di San Gregorio’s Fianos, for example, have character in spades and Mastroberadino’s high-end bottlings may well too. But we don’t have access to those, do we? As it is, these impeccably made but somewhat nondescript whites will work as an aperitif or an accompaniment to simply prepared seafood.

Speaking of Feudi di San Gregorio, has the SAQ dropped their products from its catalogue? If so, it’s a shame. The monopoly’s current Campania selection is small and dominated by one producer (Mastroberardino) and by affordable but relatively insipid bottlings, especially on the white side. With more than 100 indigenous grape varieties and a couple of thousand producers, the region is a potential source of a wealth of authentic wines. Yet we’re limited to a handful of mostly innocuous reds and whites from an even smaller handful of producers. Why?

Written by carswell

March 15, 2013 at 11:04

MWG March 16th tasting: report (1/4)

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Sketchy notes on the first of four flights. All wines except the Falanghina are from the March 15th Cellier release.

Falanghina 2009, Taburno, Fattoria La Rivolta ($19.95, 11451851)
100% organically farmed Falanghina. Fermented at low temperatures, aged in stainless steel. Mercurial nose: chalk, lemon, minerals, flowers, then white coral, then nougat and shower curtain, then lard and banana. Light and rainwatery on entry but building as it goes along. Bright acid. Dry but full of sweet fruit. A little citrus pith on the chalky finish.  (Buy again? Maybe.)

Soave Classico 2010, Prà ($19.50, 11587134)
100% Garganega. Fermented at low temperatures, aged in stainless steel. Yellow fruit with chalk, grapefruit and lime notes. Very present: weightier and fruitier than the flight’s other wines. Fruit tends toward citrus. High acidity rounded by the fruit and a little residual sugar. Bitter finish with a hint of nuttiness. A Soave very much in the mould of Pieropan’s or Imana’s basic bottlings. (Buy again? Sure.)

Roero Arneis 2010, Mauro Sebaste ($18.55, 11579986)
100% Arneis. Fermented in stainless steel, aged three to four months in the bottle. Flowery bath powder, then sweet lime, then white peach and crushed leaves; that said, it’s not what you’d call exuberantly aromatic. Dry, smooth and suave on the palate. Initial white fruit turns more acidic and bitter toward finish. Improved as it breathed, gaining crystalline mineral notes. Would make a good aperitif or accompaniment to delicate pasta and fish dishes. (Buy again? Yes.)

Manzoni Bianco 2010, Fontanasanta, Vigneti delle Dolomiti, Foradori ($28.90, 11580004)
100% Manzoni Bianco, a cross of Riesling and Pinot Bianco. Aged 12 months in acacia casks. Sweaty funk on the nose and palate. Medium-bodied. Fruity but dry, with strongish acid and a bitter-edged finish. Fair length. Given the winemaker and the wine’s enthusiastic reception by critics, I was expecting more. Perhaps our bottle was slightly off? (Buy again? Only to give it a second chance.)

Written by carswell

March 23, 2012 at 10:58