Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Teroldego - A Big and Beautiful Italian Red

Vineyards in the Valle dell'Adige, Trentino Italy

The Trentino-Alto Adige Region of Italy

I recently attended a tasting event for the wines of Trentino, a province and wine making region located in the far north-east of Italy. While the area is known for producing outstanding white wines, and I tasted several, the highlight for me were the Teroldego wines. That is to say, the red wines made with the Teroldego grape. I hadn't experienced many of these before, or hadn't paid attention, but on this occasion I was impressed with the class and stature that they showed. As one who loves solid Italian reds, Brunello, Barolo, Amarone, etc. Teroldego was a natural addition to my shopping list. The examples I tasted showed chiseled power, with finessed nuances, distinct character, and good levels of complexity.
The Grape
The Teroldego grape is cultivated in Trentino-Alto Adige, and pretty much nowhere else. Typically it has solid, dark fruit, good acidity, and a bit of chewiness, along with plenty of strength and structure underneath.
Below are a few examples, tasted at the Trentino event, and elsewhere.
Paolo Endrici with his Gran Masetto

Endrizzi Gran Masetto 2009  IGT Vigneti delle Dolomiti
(15% ABV)
The Gran Masetto is fairly unique in its production method. As Paolo Endrici explained, 50% of the juice comes from a select vineyard, Masetto, where a careful green harvest, and thinning of the leaves takes place several times during the summer to ensure even ripeness. The Masseto grapes are harvested late and then dried for three months until a third of the water has been removed, then they are crushed. The other 50% comes from the communes of Mezzolombardo and Mezzocorona, with the grapes being harvested, and vinified, more typically. The two are combined to make one of the more unusual and impressive versions of Teroldego. My thanks to Paolo who shared his wine, and knowledge generously.

Tasting note: On the nose there is excellent complexity with earthy black cherry and spiced strawberry jam, aromatic wood and leather notes accent the fruit, along with a subtle perfume. The first thing I noticed on the palate was the texture, a fine chewy-ness. This is combined with more spiced strawberry, some dark cherry and brambles. The jamminess is beautifully balanced by good acidity, really making this both serious and easy to drink. The finish shows a nice balance of components, with easy tannins and good length. Robust and complex, it leaves you wanting more. A personal favorite. 92 Pts

Nusserhof "T......." (Teroldego)  Vino Rosso, L10 (2010) Erzeugerabfullung (Estate Bottled), Heinrich Mayr  13% ABV

This one is certainly its own wine; quite unusual in many respects. To start, the label does not state that this is Teroldego, but rather uses the description "T........". One source suggests that this is perhaps intended to avoid Teroldego Rotaliano DOC rules, although the grapes aren't grown whithin the DOC zone, so I'm not so sure about that theory . Teroldego is a very small portion of the grape crop at Nusserhof; they produce much more Lagrein and Blatterle, other native grapes of Trentino.The winery is certified organic. The 2010 starts off on the nose with finessed aromatic blackberry and violet notes. Underneath there is good earthy support. The palate is where the real distinction takes place for this wine, as it presents a very savory character showing beef broth, tangy black pepper, olives, and very subtle black cherry / cranberry fruit. The finish shows good structure with subtle tannins and acidity, and dried herbs trailing off. 86Pts  $30.

 Roeno Teroldego Vallagarina "I Dossi " 2010, 12% ABV, $15

Perfumed black fruit notes are the first impression on the nose, with black cherry skins and dusty violets. At the core there is a subtle earthy richness and a bit of funky earth. Fresh and dark at the same time. The palate shows lean blackberry fruit, charcoal, and shale, with a fine grained texture. The acidity is understated, but present, and the tannins are subtle and easy. With time, a faint suggestion of dark chocolate comes out.

It’s interesting how this wine presents as being firm overall, without the structural components standing out. I think it’s the overall dark character of the fruit that drives this, and is key to the satisfaction. I Dossi is the single vineyard from which this wine is sourced.
NEXT DAY... This wine really passed the “Overnight Test” with flying colors. After  24 hours, in an open bottle, the last glass continued to show nice aromatic fruit, along with a little more chocolate. Still complex, and fresh. Impressive. 90 Pts

Cantina Rotaliana Manuella Giovanni, Teroldego Rotaliano Clesurae, 2009 14% ABV, $30
Elegant perfumed nose with roasted black cherry, subtle floral notes, and flinty earth. The palate is dense and well structured with violets, black cherry, black berry liquor, and a bit of 75% cacao dark chocolate. Elegant with a powerful foundation. From 50 year old vines, aged in french oak for 24 months. 88 Pts.

You can learn more about the Trentino region and its wines at the Visit Trentino Web Site.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Il Palazzone "Lorenzo & Isabelle" IGT 2005

This wine was produced specifically to honor the parents of winery owner Richard Parson's. "Dick" has been the owner of Il Palazzone since 2000. The back label of the bottle describes the wine, and his parents, very nicely.
"Lorenzo was powerful yet elegant; Isabelle was heart and soul. As a couple, they brought out the best in each other."
I can say, without hesitation, that the wine reflects exactly such complementary characteristics.You won't find this wine just anywhere, but it can be found, with just a little effort, and it's well worth it.

 Il Palazzone "Lorenzo and Isabelle" IGT, 2005. 
13.5% ABV
Cabernet Franc / Sangiovese / Petite Verdot from Montalcino $60
Deep and dark at first on the nose, with plenty of fragrant earth and beautiful, aromatic blackberry and black cherry. There is a clean and fine grained character to the nose, with subtle strength beneath. The first thing to strike me on the palate was a wonderful freshness in the black fruit, with subtle perfume, flinty earth, and kirsch. The balance is excellent, especially in the way the components blend together seamlessly. The finish shows moderate grip, with fine grained, mouth coating tannins. There is plenty of vigor, and I believe there is a whole other set of qualities yet to come out, given sufficient time. This is a wine of stature, depth, freshness, and finesse. Quite complete and drinking very well at this time. 93 Pts.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Ciacci Piccolomini 2006 Brunello Di Montalcino

The Ciacci Piccolomini winery is located near Castelnuovo Dell'Abate, about 15 minutes south of Montalcino. As I recall from a visit a few years ago, the winery is lovely, and in a beautiful setting amongst low hills, just below Castelnuovo Dell'Abate. The vineyards are at an elevation of approximately 300 meters.The Pianrosso vineyard is the source for their single vineyard and Riserva releases. The "Annata", their normale Brunello, ages for 24 months in large Slavonian oak casks, and then for at least 4 months in bottle. The soil is typical for the Castenuovo dell'Abate area of the zone, primarily marl, which is a significant factor in the fine acidity in this wine.

2006 Ciacci Piccolomini Brunello Di Montalcino "Annata", 14.5% ABV , $50.00
Great aromatics of  charred earth and wood, with dark spice notes, clean red cherry, and a suggestion of roses. There is also a subtle richness in the nose. The aromatic behavior continues on the palate, with solid balance. Lean blackberry and black cherry fruit are supported by vibrant acidity and an active structure. Later on the palate, notes of sweet tobacco, cherry liquor and more spice linger on the fairly long finish. This wine is pleasantly angular, with charred Earth underscoring everything. A nice combination of strength and finesse. 90 Pts

Monday, July 8, 2013

2005 Il Palazzone Brunello Di Montalcino

Here's a bit of advice; buy wine from very good producers in less-than-great vintages. Why? Because the reputation of the vintage either impacts the price (lower) or reduces demand (increasing availability). This is to the consumer's advantage, because the quality of a solid producer prevails despite the challenging vintage. Here is a case in point. Il Palazzone, along with a number of other top wineries in Montalcino, makes solid Brunello in just about any circumstance. 2005 was a vintage that saw rain at harvest time, and has been described as a less than stellar year. Yet, in tasting their '05, you probably wouldn't suspect there were any major difficulties; at least that was my impression. Is it 2004? No. But it is still thoroughly satisfying, and of excellent standing.

2005 Il Palazzone Brunello Di Montalcino, 13.5% ABV
The nose has notable perfume and floral notes hovering over spiced cherry fruit. There's a subtle core of richness to the fruit. The palate is medium weight with a wonderfully textured dark red cherry that coats the mouth with finessed flavor. Again, Asian spice enhances the fruit, along with good aromatic action. The structure is subtle, but quite sufficient. Later, the fruit tends more toward aromatic blackberry. The finish is long and satisfying, with sweet tobacco and easy tannins. The amplitude is low, but the quality is high. 91 Pts

Monday, July 1, 2013

Santa Giulia Brunello Di Montalcino 2007

Here's one that you won't find state-side, at the moment, but it would certainly be worth bringing in. Azienda Agricola Santa Giulia is located in the northeast corner of the Montalcino zone, near Torrenieri. The vineyards are at 300 meters elevation and it is aged, traditionally, in large Slovonian oak botti.  The Torrenieri area is sometimes controversial because of the predominance of clay and the challenges that the soil presents, but the facts speak for themselves in this wine. As always, the proof is in the glass, and here is what I found there.

Santa Giulia Brunello Di Montalcino 2007, 14% ABV
Opened, poured, and enjoyed over a long dinner with two other Brunellos and four good friends. Pretty red cherry, leather, and finesse are the initial messages conveyed by the nose as it opened slowly and developed its full character. With a little time in the glass, earthy notes filled in underneath, accompanied by brambles and some Asian spice.The palate is on the elegant side with lean red cherry, more pronounced, and pleasant spice, followed by some astringency, meaty notes, and anise. The acidity is in good balance with the fine grained tannins. It finishes with a good, satisfying grip, and a bit more of the brambles coming through as well. Just 8000 bottles produced. 89 Pts.