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Nativi di Lazio

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Based in Cori, founded in 1947 and named after Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, Cincinnato is a well-run cooperative that makes a wide range of red, white, sparkling and dessert wines from local varieties as well as grappa and olive oil. The 255 members farm 550 hectares, 100 of which are worked organically.

Lazio 2014, Cesanese, Arcatura, Cincinnato ($21.70, 13096689)
100% Cesanese from vines rooted in volcanic-clay soil. The manually harvested grapes are destemmed and soft-pressed. Fermentation on the skins in temperature-controlled (24°C) tanks lasted around 11 days. Underwent malolactic fermentation. Half was matured in French oak barrels (first, second and third fill) for eight months and half in stainless steel tanks for nine months. Filtered before bottling. Aged in the bottle for six months before release. Reducing sugar: 4.8 g/l. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Valmonti.
The first bottle is corked. The backup has an intriguing nose of “buckwheat honey,” cocoa, sweet spices, background plum, “copper, like pennies” and, eventually, leafmould. In the mouth, it’s fluid, medium-bodied and super smooth. The ripe fruit, soft acidity and round tannins. Decent finish. A little overshadowed by its flightmate, though that could be due to its being popped and poured. (Buy again? Sure.)

Lazio 2013, Nero Buono, Ercole, Cincinnato ($23.25, 12557754)
100% Nero Buono, a teinturier (red-fleshed) grape, from 15- to 20-year-old vines rooted in volcanic-clay soil. The manually harvested grapes were destemmed and soft-pressed. Fermentation on the skins in temperature-controlled (23°C) stainless steel tanks lasted around 15 days. Underwent malolactic fermentation. Matured in French oak barrels (first, second and third fill) on the lees for 12 months and in the bottle for eight months. Filtered before bottling. Reducing sugar: 4.8 g/l. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Valmonti.
Not carafed but allowed to breath for a couple of hours before serving. Dark – verging on black – in the glass. Extroverted nose of dark berries, “dried banana,” “old leather,” tobacco, “baking spices” and a hint of orange chocolate. Richer than the Cesanese. The intense core of fruit is overtoned with spice. Smooth acidity and velvety tannins are pretty sotto voce yet present enough to provide buoyancy and tone. The oak is obvious but not obnoxious. Orange chocolate returns on the credible finish. A bit New Worldish and far from deep, complex or subtle but authentic and likeable all the same. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG October 26th tasting: flight 4 of 6

Written by carswell

December 22, 2017 at 15:02

Mottura mouth

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Civitella d’Agliano 2015, Poggio della Costa, Sergio Mottura ($23.50, 10782309)
100% Grechetto from organically farmed 30-year-old vines grown in the Poggio della Costa vineyard. Manually harvested, soft-pressed, cold-settled, fermented with selected yeasts in temperature-controlled (18-20°C) tanks for 20 days. Matured on the lees in tanks for six months. Sees only stainless steel until bottling. Filtered. Screwcapped. Reducing sugar: 1.3 g/l. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Valmonti.
Subtle, wafting nose of minerals (quartz), preserved lemon, straw with some flowers in it, “fennel bulb” (per another taster) and a saline note. Lemony and “chalky” in the mouth, the zingy acidity balanced by the not inconsiderable extract. A faint bitterness marks the long, clean, minerally finish. Simpler than the Orvieto but ultimately more appealing. (Buy again? Yes.)

Orvieto 2015, Tragugnano, Sergio Mottura ($22.40, 11660830)
A blend of organically farmed, well, what? The winemaker says Procanico (aka Trebbiano, 45%), Verdello (25%), Grechetto (20%) and Rupeccio (10%, so obscure it’s not mentioned in Wine Grapes)., the Quebec agent and some online merchants say Grechetto (50%), Procanico (40%) and Sauvignon Blanc (10 %). Whichever variety they are, the grapes come from the estate’s oldest vineyard (35 years old) and are manually harvested, vinified separately and blended and filtered just before bottling. Fermented with selected yeasts and matured on the lees until the spring in stainless steel vats. Reducing sugar: 1.2 g/l. 14% ABV. Quebec agent: Valmonti.
Reductive, “skunky” aromas dissipate leaving fruit (“dried mango”) and floral aromas. Very dry and quite extracted. Rounder and a bit blander than the Poggio della Costa, showing a little less personality, though far from a wallflower. Citrus and minerals run into the long finish, where they’re joined by a hint of Sauvignon Blancy grassiness and that telltale bitterness. (Buy again? Sure.)

MWG October 27, 2016, tasting: flight 2 of 7

Written by carswell

November 14, 2016 at 12:56

Roberto’s Alagna

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Passerina del Frusinate 2014, Alagna, Marcella Giuliani (c. $25.00, private import, 12 bottles/case)
100% Passerina from sustainably farmed vines in a two-hectare vineyard located near Anagni (whose ancient name, mentioned in Dante’s Purgatorio, was Alagna), about 60 km due east of Rome. Manually harvested. The grapes are chilled to 5-6°C and macerated on the skins for seven to eight hours. Alcoholic fermentation in stainless steel tanks is at a cool 12-13°C and can last up to a month. (The idea behind the extended maceration and slow fermentation is to draw flavour and aroma compounds from what can be a fairly neutral grape.) Does not undergo malolactic fermentation. Matured in the bottle before release. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Mon Caviste, Côté Vignes.
Light gold with a bronzish core and yellow glints. A nose initially somewhat closed but opening as the wine breathes: “pumpkin,” “apples” and a “herby note” (quoting other tasters), a hint of lemon too, then freshly mown flowery meadow, then spicy honey and beeswax. In the mouth, it’s extracted and fruity, though dry. A soft spritzy tingle lasts maybe five minutes after opening. The unctuous texture is enlivened by soft, sustained acidity. Minerals abound, especially on the crescendoing, bitter-edged finish. Evolves wonderfully in the glass, gaining straw and anise notes. Long, savoury, unique, delicious. A winner. (Buy again? If there’s any left, yes.)

One of the standouts at the MWG’s Mon Caviste tasting in May was a Cesanese from the same producer. Agent Roberto De Lisi was so sure we’d enjoy the estate’s white, he comped this bottle with our subsequent order. He was right.

Written by carswell

August 7, 2016 at 12:52

MWG March 20th tasting (2/7): Flat whites?

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Vernaccia di San Gimignano 2012, Panizzi ($20.90, 12102821)
100% Vernaccia. Sees only stainless steel until bottling. Gently crushed, no maceration. Fermented in temperature-controlled (18°C) tanks. Transferred to other tanks for five months’ maturation. 13% ABV.
Straw, chalk and quartz, eventually offering up faint stone fruit and lemon. Clean and intense. Starts dry but sweetens as it goes along. Possessed of a certain richness – largely extract – that’s balanced by acidity. Long, minerally finish with a telltale bitter almond note. A second bottle showed better at table. The best Vernaccia sold at the SAQ in a coon’s age, though less accomplished than the private import Barzaghi tasted last year. (Buy again? Sure.)

Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore 2010, Il Coroncino, Fattoria Coroncino ($23.55, 11952138)
100% Verdicchio from vines in the Coroncino and Cerrete vineyards. Farming is organic, though uncertified, and no fertilizers are used. Manually harvested, gently pressed. Fermented with indigenous yeasts in temperature-controlled (20°C) stainless steel tanks. Whether the wine undergoes malolactic fermentation is left to nature. Matured in stainless steel tanks. Minimal sulphur is added at bottling. 13.5% ABV.
Oxidized butter, flowers, yellow apple, dried lemon, ash. Rich, smooth, concentrated but not heavy. Fruit is present but Heisenbergian: when you look for it, it evanesces. Layered, with substrata of tangy acid and dusty chalk. Long, bitter-edged, moreish. A bottle consumed a couple of weeks after the tasting proved even more compelling and made a surprisingly good match for asparagus gratinéed with Parmesan cheese and topped with a fried egg. (Buy again? Yes.)

IGT Civitella d’Agliano 2012, Poggio della Costa, Sergio Mottura ($21.75, 10782309)
100% Grechetto from organically farmed vines grown in the Poggio della Costa vineyard. Soft-pressed, cold-settled, fermented in temperature-controlled (18-20°C) tanks for 15 to 25 days. Matured on the lees in tanks for five or six months. Sees only stainless steel until bottling. Screwcapped. 13.5% ABV.
Inexpressive nose of lemon and quartz dust. Bland and inexpressive in the mouth. Clean, medium-bodied, with lowish acidity, a saline finish and no personality. I quite enjoyed Mottura’s Orvietto last year but this was simply forgettable. Closed and in need of time? Let’s hope that’s the explanation. (Buy again? Only to give it a second chance.)

I had high hopes for this flight: three monovarietals from three iconic Italian white grapes made by three highly regarded producers. But all three wines fell flat at the tasting, generating little interest, with no one inquiring about availability. Did the cavas neutralize our palates? Were the planets improperly aligned? Are these wines that, like many central Italian reds, need food to show their mettle? That the two revisited after the tasting were capable of providing pleasure (especially the Coroncino) has me leaning toward the food hypothesis. Then again, I thought both made a fine aperitif on their own before I sat down to eat.

Written by carswell

April 14, 2014 at 21:45

MWG April 18th tasting (7/9): Sangiovese shoot-out

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IGT Toscana 2010, It’s a game!, Bibi Graetz ($31.50, 11906140)
Formerly a Sangiovese-dominated blend known as Grilli del Testamatta (Testamatta being one of superstar Graetz’s flagship bottlings), this is now a 100% Sangiovese from 25-year-old vines planted in the hills of Fiesole. Fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks and lasted about ten days. The wine was matured in French oak barriques (35% new) for 18 months. 14% ABV.
Initial nose of banana bread gives way to red berries, ink and dried dill. Despite the alcoholic strength, comes across as medium-bodied with intense, clear fruit upfront. Bright acidity and round tannins provide some textural interest. Long with a light, drying astringency. Impressive in its fruit-driven way but short on depth and ultimately a meh. (Buy again? Not when you can get excellent Chiantis for less.)

Vino da Tavola 2011, Rosso, Le Coste ($33.00, oenopole, 6 bottles/case)
A blend of Greghetto Rosso (a local Sangiovese clone) with 5% Colorino, Cannaiolo, Ciliegiolo and Vaiano l’altro from organically farmed vines averaging 40 years old and planted in various parcels in Gradoli. Manually harvested. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Matured 12 months in 18-hl Slavonian oak botti and a few used barriques. Unfiltered, unfined and unsulphured. 13.5% ABV.
Forewarned that the wine was in a reductive phase, we double-carafe it well in advance. Yet two hours later, the nose is still dominated by struck matchstick and burned popcorn aromas. Push through them and you’ll find an array of red fruit (cassis, black cherry, plum) and a little kirsch. In the mouth, the wine is medium-bodied and satiny. The fruit is ripe, juicy and tart, structured by light if taut and drying tannins and shot through with minerals. A leesy note emerges on the long finish. Give this savoury, food-friendly wine a few months to deal with the reduction and it should be its usual loveable self. (Buy again? Yes.)

Written by carswell

May 1, 2013 at 16:21

Mystery white

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Orvieto 2011, Tragugnano, Sergio Mottura ($19.25, 11660830)
A blend of organically farmed, well, what? The winemaker and the Quebec agent say Grechetto (50%), Procanico (40%) and Sauvignon Blanc (10 %). Several retailers and reviewers, including the Gazette’s Bill Zacharkiw, say Procanico, Verdello (by which they surely mean not the Iberian grape but… what? Friuli’s Verduzzo?) and Grechetto. I’m going with the winemaker since I get whiffs of Sauvignon. Whichever variety they are, the grapes come from the estate’s oldest vineyard and are vinified separately and blended just before bottling. Fermented (with selected yeasts) and matured (on the lees until the spring) in stainless steel vats. 13.5% ABV.
Lemon blossom and stones with a hint of gooseberry, powdered mustard and dried pine needles. Soft, round, even a little sweet-seeming on entry: quite extracted though not what you’d call fruity. Citrusy acid and minerals surge on the mid-palate and are joined by a bitterness that lingers through the clean, dry, lemon leaf finish. The combination of richness and minerally bite is special – Zacharkiw talks about Chablis but I keep returning to certain Alvarhinos and Godellos.

Not a good match for bay scallops and blanched, chopped rapini sautéed together in olive oil with minced anchovy, garlic and chile. The rapini brought out the wine’s bitter streak while the anchovy and garlic did a number on the fruit. In isolation the scallops worked with the wine, indicating that simply prepared seafood might be the way to go. Or try the winemaker’s suggestion of fresh pecorino or mozzarella with tomato and basil.

Written by carswell

February 11, 2013 at 10:23

MWG November 22nd tasting (4/5): Tre rossi eclettici

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Sicilia IGT 2011, Frappato, Terre di Giumara, Caruso & Minini ($16.65, 11793173)
Caruso & Minini is a Marsala-based producer of a wide range of wines made from Sicilian and international grape varieties. Could find no technical information about this Frappato, which isn’t even mentioned on the winery’s website, nor have I learned which agency represents it in Quebec. The SAQ also carries one of C&M’s white varietals, the tasty 2011 Grecanico ($16.65, 11793181), whose constituent grape DNA profiling has shown to be the same as Soave’s Garganega. Both it and the Frappato are 14% ABV.
Dusty cherry, a hint of black licorice, faint herbs and not a lot else. Quite extracted but avoiding heaviness. The ripe fruit has a candied edge, though the wine is dry and savoury, with supple tannins and just enough acidity. Dried herbs mark the finish. Easy-going and affable if far from profound. Comes across as a warmer-climate take on the grape than Occhipinti’s and COS’s supreme – and, yes, much pricier – interpretations. A fairer comparison might be the Frappato from Tami, Occhipinti’s négociant label, which beats this on elegance and quaffability but not on fruity/juicy exuberance. (Buy again? Sure.)

Cesanese di Olevano Romano 2008, Cirsium, Cantine Ciolli (c. €20, importation valise)
100% Cesanese di Affile from a vineyard planted in 1953 and located about 40 km east of Rome. Manually harvested. Fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks with frequent punching down. Macerated ten days, then racked into barrels for malolactic fermentation. Aged in barrels for about one year, bottled unfiltered and aged another two years before release. 14% ABV.
Savoury, even earthy nose: horse, graphite, dried herbs, tobacco. Medium- to full-bodied, more silky than velvety, dry. The dusty red fruit is pure and intense if not remarkably deep. Rough-hewn tannins and bright acidity make for an angular structure. Good length. An appealingly rustic wine that tastes like it might benefit from a couple more years in the cellar. (Buy again? Yes, if I could.)

Barolo 2007, Fratelli Alessandria ($40.25, 11797094)
100% Nebbiolo from six vineyards. Manually harvested. Fermented and macerated from 12 to 15 days in temperature-controlled tanks. Matured 32 to 34 months in large Slavonian and French oak casks, two months in stainless steel tanks and six or more months in the bottle. 14.5% ABV.
A bit of bricking at the rim suggests quick evolution. Raspberry rose, old wood and a hint of tar on the nose; silky, savoury red fruit and dried herbs on the palate. Somewhat austere despite the ripeness, and the tannins are still a little rebarbative. The long, aromatic finish shows some heat. Relatively approachable for a Barolo of this age, though a few more years in the cellar will do it no harm. If drinking now, carafe it at least a couple of hours before serving. (Buy again? If I weren’t so distracted by the Produttori del Barbaresco single-vineyard 2007s…)

Written by carswell

December 3, 2012 at 23:07