Friday, March 20, 2015

Something New From Zenato - Alanera


Zenato has been making wines in the Veneto since 1960; you may be familiar with their lovely Amarone and Valpolicella. Today they produce two million bottles a year from 70 hectares of vineyard land. Very recently they have added a new wine to there portfolio that fills I nice niche in their red wine line-up, Alanera.
As you may know, Amarone is produced by the appassimento method, where all of the grapes for the wine are partially dried prior to being pressed. This results in great concentration, wonderful complexity, and special spectrum of characteristics.It also results in a premium price point, since the net result is much less juice then you would get if you did not dry the grapes first; it's a trade off.


With the Alanera, they have applied the appassimento process to just half of the grapes, drying them for 45-60 days. A further twist, that makes it special, is the addition of a small amount of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon to the traditional Valpolicella grapes in the blend. Finally it is aged for 12 months in French oak, and then 3 months in bottle. The end result is an individual wine that brings a little from the world of Amarone, without bringing the price tag with it. Here is my tasting note from a sample I recently received from their US distributor, Winebow.

 

 

2012 Zenato "Alenara" Rosso Veronese IGT 13.5% ABV, $17

Rich, spiced, dark plum is prominent on the nose with a solid layer of shale and mineral Earth underneath. Also present are black pepper, olive, aromatic dried herbs,espresso notes, and black cherry liquor. The palate shows ripe blackberry with lean edges, dark chocolate, and nice acidity balancing things out.There is a definite "yummy" factor in the overall impression, but it has the structure to keep it from getting boring. The finish is long and dusty with a subtle grip and lingering notes of espresso and tobacco. 55% Corvina, 25% Rondinella, 10% Corvinone, 5% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. 90 Pts

Saturday, March 14, 2015

2009 Castello di Bossi "Berardo"

2009 Bacci Castello di Bossi "Berardo" Chianti Classico Riserva 14% ABV, $29


The nose is just plain beautiful on the Berardo. There's a delicate blend of sweet, dried strawberries, layered over black cherry skins, with dried flowers, sandalwood, a little sweet vanilla bean, and some forest floor leaves underneath.The black cherry forms a nice ripe core around which the other components gather. The palate is firm, but easy due to great balance, with dried black cherry, aromatic blackberry, a hint of sweetness, more sandalwood, and a little black pepper. There are elements of austerity and ripeness here that interplay to create alluring complexity. A joy to consume now, and certainly built to develop in the cellar.. 93 Pts

Castello di Bossi is located in Castenuovo Berardenga, in the southern part of the Chianti Classico zone, due east of Siena.
The Berardo is 100% Sangiovese, grown at 350m (1100 ft), with 20 days of maceratio, 24 months in barrique, and 12 additional months in bottle.


Thursday, February 26, 2015

1988 Monsanto "Nemo" Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon with a Purely Tuscan Heart


1988 Castello Di Monsanto  "Nemo" I.G.T. 13.5% ABV $40

Opened and immediately poured, the impression of maturity is distinct at first, with a little
funky Earth, mushroom, and sweet tobacco, but then the evolution begins. This developed wonderfully in the glass, over the course of two hours, with an elegant nose showing fine red cherry and red cherry dust, sweet brown tobacco, dusty ground herbs, cardomom, savory, and other spices. The palate is weightless, textured, and finessed with more dried cherry, aromatic sandalwood, hints of carmel, anise, and a fine grained chewiness on the finish. Perfectly balanced, and fully integrated, the acidity is lively and supportive with fine sweet tannins underneath. Later, the spice continues on the nose, with dried flowers immerging and some charred Earth, as it continues to impress. Apparently at it's peak, with plenty of detail and energy. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. 95 Pts

Castello Di Monsanto is one of the top producers of Chianti Classico, and always a reliable source for quality. Their Nemo comes from the Il Mulino vineyard from vines that are nearly 40 years old (today). After 18 months in barrique, it spends another year in bottle before release.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

2012 San Guisto a Rentennano Chianti Classico


2012 San Guisto a Rentennano Chianti Classico 14% ABV $29


Open and demonstrative, the nose shows spiced dried red cherry, dried violets, a subtle savory undercurrent, mineral Earth, and a little cocoa powder. The palate is layered with aromatic dried cherry
that is fresh and subtly sweet, pretty Asian spice, anise, a solid dark cherry core, charred rare
beef on the mid-palate, a nice tart bite, and a big dusty grip. The moderately long finish is quite firm,
but leaves the palate clean at the end. Forthright and satisfying. 95% Sangiovese, 5% Canaiolo. 91 Pts

San Guisto also makes Percarlo, an important 100% Sangiovses IGT wine. The estate is located in the southern part of the Chianti Classico zone, with vineyards at an average elevation of 270 meters. They are certified organic.

Friday, January 23, 2015

1994 Soldera Riserva Brunello Di Montalcino

A classic example of great wine making.

It is said that the best wine makers still make good wine in difficult vintages, they just make less of it. The 1994 Soldera is a classic example of that statement. I have tasted this wine at least eight times, and it has consistently shown as a truly great example of the qualities Brunello Di Montalcino can attain. 1994 was a less than stellar vintage, with a few challenges, but you can't tell that from this wine.


1994 Soldera Case Basse Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva 13% ABV $450

Tasted November 2014

Opened and poured, the '94 is still going strong. This bottle shows tart red cherry, cardamom, coffee, and a little orange rind on the nose.The palate has a plush texture that is typical of Soldera, with blended Asian spice, red cherry, penetrating acidity, a little brown sugar, and super-fine tannins.  It stands up well over the course of the meal, and develops notes of tobacco leaf, and charred Earth near the end of the bottle. Elegant and nuanced, but still powerful at is core. 94 Pts

Tasted May 2009

Popped and poured. More floral / perfume than previous bottles. Still complex but the fruit is, unfortunately, fading. Even as this star burns out, it produces new colors. Or maybe it just this bottle. We'll see.

Tasted June 2008

Garnet red with a hint of brown. Sour cherries at first, quickly blew off to a nice tartness, which also mellowed after twenty minutes. Incense, warm spices, mushroom, young cherries. Almost fully integrated tannins. This, once again, plays like a middle aged burgundy. Great complexity of nose and palate. Wonderful development in the glass such that the last sip is a regret. Seemed like it was fading, but then came back strong over the course of 2 hours. Opened 1 hour beforehand and sampled. Not decanted.

Tasted November 2007

Pretty, light ruby red with lovely clarity. All characteristics are elegant and subtle. Nose of bright cherry, fine shale and roses and a hint of charcoal grill. On the palette clean medium body with cherry, bramble, leather, anise, carmel and asian spice. Seamless. Great balance of sweet acid, fruit and fine tannins. Incredibly long finish. Once again, a fine Burgundy like Brunello.

One unfortunate element of the Soldera story is the financial impact of the 2012 vandalism attack the resulted in the loss of nearly all wine in barrel from recent vintages. Market prices have soared since that event. This particular bottle could be found for under $150 before the attack; today I see it priced between $425 and $625, making it virtually unattainable for many lovers of Brunello.  Given the very limited quantities of the 2007 thru 2012 vintages that remained after the barrels were drained, the prices won't be going down any time soon. Still, if you can, you should taste Soldera to experience the glory that Sangiovese can achieve at the hand of Gianfranco Soldera.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

1993 Biondi Santi Riserva

1993 Biondi Santi Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva 13% ABV $400?

From the producer that "invented" Brunello Di Montalcino, this is typical of the Biondi Santi style, built firstly for aging, and it does so at a glacial pace. Over 15 years after its release, it still takes focused attention, and time in the glass, to recognize the greatness here, but be assured it is great.Cologne, spice, and incense lightly coat the finessed nose that opened very slowly over time in the glass with mushroom, anise, and Earth showing later. The palate is dark and firm with black cherry skins, flint, charred Earth, and violets.The acidity and tannins are in harmony and balance perfectly with the fruit. Nothing is missing, and there's no indication of decline. Rather, it is clear that this wine is still opening, and developing in the bottle.

This is a style that has rare opportunity to be appreciated these days, as it is built to be consumed with many years of aging under its belt. That is something that few consumers are inclined to or able to do, especially since much of the wine loving population has been "raised" on wines designed to please immediately, and in a big, straight forward ways. If you want to enjoy Biondi Santi's Riserva Brunello's, be prepared to wait.

Monday, December 29, 2014

2004 Poggio Di Sotto

 

2004 Poggio Di Sotto Brunello Di Montalcino 14% ABV $240


The wines of Piero Palmucci are consistently outstanding, and this one is no exception. The nose starts off with roasted red cherry, mulling spices, and brown sugar overlaid with sweet tobacco leaf and sandalwood. It is very giving on the nose, but still quite finessed.The palate is full of textured red cherry, and Asian spice, with a gentle chewiness and a weightless feel on the palate. The fruit is pure and delicious, as the acidity and tannins complement but don't overshadow. This is a wine that disappears quickly; as it drinks effortlessly due to near perfect balance, and finesse.
Later the nose shows some forest floor, and more tobacco, but holds the amplitude of its components right to the end of the bottle.
The 2004 was made by Piero Palmucci, but this winery has changed hands, being owned by Collemassari for the last few years, and their full impact remains to be seen. One immediate impact was an increase in the price of Poggio Di Sotto Brunellos. This bottle was $90-$100 when I purchased it, three years ago; today it goes for $250 from the same source. 94 Pts

Read more on Poggio Di Sotto here.