This week’s In Vino Veritas tasting took us through the beautiful wine regions of Italy and was coordinated by Jean-Emmanuel Simond, founder of Oenotropie, a wine consultant and Italian wine importer.
So here’s a quick Italian wine 101 …
The hard data as of 2004 placed France at the top of worldwide wine production with 5.7 million hectoliters and Italy in a close second with 5.3 million hectoliters. However, although I was unable to confirm with hard data, all recent articles project that after Italy’s abundant harvest of 2008, Italy will step over France as the world’s number one wine producer. Whichever way you look at it, Italy and France are the top two countries in production, consumption and exportation of wine. Culturally speaking, try to suggest to any Italian that French wine’s history and quality is superior to that of Italy’s and you may just get a slap in the face.
Italian wine is broken down into four quality designations. Vino da Tavola (VDT) is standard table wine. Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT) can be most closely related to France’s Vin de Pays. Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) and Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) are the equivalent of France’s AOC. DOCG is technically recognized as the highest quality Italian wine. Beyond this there are many other designations, the most common being riserva, which is basically equivalent to a French or American reserve wine, requiring additional ageing before release.
Below is a breakdown of the wine sub regions that were tasted last night …
Barolo : Barolo holds DOCG status and has been gaining international fame as one of Italy’s top quality red wines. Produced in the village of Barolo, south of Alba in the Northwest province of Piedmont, these wines are made exclusively from the nebbiolo grape varietal. Considered to be the most pure expression of nebbiolo in the world, Barolo’s are known to be very tannic, rich and alcoholic when young, but develop into very deep, fragrant, crisp and clean wines that can easily age for 20 to 25 years or more.
Bianco Venezia Giulia : Produced in the Northeast region of Friuli – Venezia Giulia, these white wines are fresh, fruity and clean. Around 20 white grape varietals can be used, although single varietal non-blends can be some of the best. Mario Schiopetto was the first person to successfully commercialize the wines of this region, in the late 1960s.
Dolcetto d’Alba : Dolcetto d’Alba holds DOC status and is produced in the village of Alba in the Piedmont. Made exclusively from the dolcetto grape varietal these red wines tend to be dry, youthful, fruity, and fresh.
Malvasia di Casorzo : Produced in the village of Casorzo in the Piedmont, Malvasia di Casorzo holds DOC status and is a sub-variety of the malvasia grape, originating from ancient Greece. Malvasia has been planted so widely for so long that many sub-varietals exist that do not even resemble each other. Malvasia di Casorzo is sweet, effervescent and ruby red.
Palistorti Colline Lucchesi : Located in Tuscany in the middle Northwest of Italy, Palistorti Colline Lucchesi holds DOC status, although these “Super Tuscans” experimenting with French grape blends, are typically downgraded to IGT status. But let it be known that many Super Tuscans are considered to be world-class wines, in a category all by themselves, that can go head to head with any DOCG. These red wines tend to be dry, soft, and harmonious.
Rosso di Montalcino : Rosso di Montalcino holds DOC status and is produced in the village of Montalcino in Tuscany. The wine is made exclusively from the Brunello red grape varietal, a local clone of sangiovese also known as Sangiovese Grosso. Rosso di Montalcino is the younger brother to the higher quality and more expensive DOCG, Brunello di Montalcino. The Rosso’s tend to drink younger than the Brunello’s, and they are typically lighter fruitier and less complex.
Teroldego Rotaliano : Produced predominantly in the Rotaliano plain within the northern most wine region of Trentino – Alto Adige, Teroldego Rotaliano holds DOC status and makes deep-colored, lively, blackberry-scented reds with a slightly bitter aftertaste, originating from the teroldego grape varietal. Although typically destined for early drinking, Foradori produces some age-worthy wines.
In order of tasting …
2007 Schiopetto “Blanc des Rosis”
Appellation: Bianco Venezia Giulia (IGT), Friuli – Venezia Giulia
Blend: 40% tocai friulano, 20% pinot grigio, 20% sauvignon blanc, 15% malvasia, 5% ribolla
Tasting Notes: Brilliant light honey color. A very hedonistic and beautiful nose, remiscent of green summer meadows with notes of lemon, and minerality. Dry and light-bodied with a vibrant acidity, and flavors of orange and lemon peel. The texture is smooth.
Price: $34 @ SRP
Wine Spectator 88 Rating (2006 vintage): Honey, apple and light caramel aromas turn flinty and complex. Full-bodied, with plenty of fruit and a long, minerally, lemony finish. I prefer the pure varietal wines from Schiopetto this vintage. Drink now. Tasted twice, with consistent notes. 2,555 cases made. –JS
Appellation: Teroldego Rotaliano (DOC), Trentino – Alto Adige
Varietal: 100% teroldego
Tasting Notes: Violet in the glass. Aromas of vanilla, blackberry, raspberry, leather, oak and violets. A dry, medium-bodied wine with a nice acidity and supple tannins. There are flavors of fresh red fruit, cranberry, and strawberry.
Price: $27 @ SRP
Wine Spectator 87 Rating (2006 vintage): There’s fresh flowers on the nose, with berry, cherry and a hint of vanilla. Medium-bodied, with fine tannins and a clean finish. A balanced, refined red from the Teroldego grape. Drink now. 11,000 cases made. –JS
2006 Roberto Voerzio “Priavino”
Appellation: Dolcetto d’Alba (DOC), Piedmont
Tasting Notes: Dark purple in the glass. The nose brings some heat with strong alcohol, dark black fruit and a gamy spiciness. This wine is dry, full-bodied and quite astringent, expressing strong tannins and a balanced and fruity acidity. There are flavors of black cherries, dark chocolate and coffee, all intertwined in the wine’s thick texture. Still too young. This wine should be held for a couple of years.
Price: $28 @ SRP
Wine Spectator 87 Rating: Round and juicy, this red has a good core of black fruit and mineral. Medium-bodied, with a silky mouthfeel and a clean mineral finish. Drink now. 1,200 cases made.
2006 Tenuta di Valgiano “Palistorti”
Appellation: Palistorti Colline Lucchesi (DOC), Tuscany, “Super Tuscan”
Blend: 70% sangiovese, 20% merlot, 10% syrah
Tasting Notes: Ruby red in the glass. An earthy nose with aromas of oak, blackberries, violets and leather. In the mouth this wine presents a beautiful fruit attack. It is medium-bodied and dry and has nice acidity, and balanced tannins. Bing cherries come out on the mid palate and leather lingers on the finish.
Price: $30 @ SRP
Wine Spectator 82 Rating: A little funky, but good berry and plum character, medium body and a fresh finish. Drink now. 4,160 cases made. –JS
2005 Fattoria Poggio di Sotto, Rosso di Montalcino
Appellation: Rosso di Montalcino (DOC), Tuscany
Varietal: 100% brunello
Tasting Notes: Light brick red in the glass. An unrelenting nose of Goop, Goop and more Goop (you know that rubber cement-esqe all purpose glue), also very suggestive of an epoxy liquid cement. The nose is actually rather interesting and after a few minutes the Goop opens up to a nice barnyard aroma. A medium-bodied, dry wine with a balanced citric acidity, controlled tannins and a silky texture. Fruit forward with flavors of sour cherries and Sunkist cran-apple juice.
Price: $30 @ Snooth
Wine Spectator 85 Rating: Aromas of dried cherry, with hints of bark, fresh mushroom and dried flowers. Medium-bodied, with intense flavors and a tight structure. Drink now. 1,270 cases made. –JS
2002 Luciano Sandrone “Le Vigne”
Appellation: Barolo (DOCG), Piedmont
Tasting Notes: Dark brick red in the glass. A strong, very elegant and well integrated nose, with aromas of brambleberry, vanilla, and spice, followed on the backend by very expressive notes of spearmint and wintergreen. ASS-TRINGENT texture and extremely dry tannins. There are flavors of vanilla, dark chocolate and blackberries. This wine is way too young; however, it has a great acidity and a full body, and is destined to develop into a very balanced and complex wine in years and decades to come.
Price: $120 @ SRP
Wine Spectator 87 Rating: A very good wine for the vintage, with a balance of blackberry, licorice and spice character. Medium-bodied, with silky tannins and a medium finish. Best after 2007. 650 cases made. –JS
2007 Giulio Accornero & Figli “Brigantino”
Appellation: Malvasia di Casorzo (DOC), Piedmont
Varietal: Malvasia Nera
Tasting Notes: Fizzy with floating particles and light violet in the glass. A very delicious nose with powerful pear aromas, followed by white peach and fresh raspberries drizzled in fresh heavy cream. A sweet, effervescent, light-bodied wine that is slightly unbalanced due to lacking acidity. The tannins are very distant and the flavors are delicious, again coming strong with pear, followed by raspberry. 5% ABV
Price: $15 @ Snooth