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Thursday, November 29, 2012

A few Italians: complexity is thy right

Tasting through a variety of Italian wines this weekend, it yet again reminded me of how much there is to learn about the wines and grapes of this country.  De-coding Italian wine labels continues to require some effort on my part, and if people criticise German wine labels for incomprehensibility, then Italy has been hiding in the corner.  It took me nearly an hour of research just to get the appellation labels right (I always label each post with the appellation).

In the interests of economy of expression, here are three wines that I liked, one in between, and in the interests of balance, two that I wasn't so excited by.

The good

Cantina Santadi Villa Solais, Vermentino di Sardegna 2009, around $20 (current vintage)
I am not cool enough to drink a lot of vermentino, but this one's a pretty good one.  Bright apples and salt on the nose.  High acid, cereal, old wood and citrus on the palate.  Slightly lolly?  Medium length ties the wine together, leaving a balanced impression and a moreish sensibility.  A second bottle was oxidised.  If this is evidence that vermentino may not keep particularly long, on this tasting, I would certainly give the current vintage a go.  Good to Very Good

Castello di Querceto Il Picchio, Chianti Classico 2008, around $40 (current vintage)
Purple in colour.  Aromatics of struck match, straw and Christmas cake.  The palate is earthy, plummy, acid edged, a buttery lactic character if you look for it, and medium to long length.  What I am looking for in a Chianti Classico.  Very Good

Arnaldo Caprai Grecante Grechetto, Colli Martani 2008
Aromatics of chalk and old wood.  The palate has lemon citrus, between medium and full body, and nice length.  The sort of wine you could drink all day.  Good to Very Good

The in between

Morgante Nero D'Avola, Sicilia IGT 2009, mid $20s
I was in two minds on this wine.  Stems, sticks, dilute plums on the nose.  The palate is plummy and jammy - reminding me of motel packet plum jam, including the smell of the container itself.  But there's an acidity that holds the wine together, and it's quite drinkable.  Acceptable to Good

The not so good

Vivian Ripasso Valpolicella Superiore, Valpolicella Ripasso 2007, around $20 (current vintage)
Aromatics of oak, weeds, dust, capsicum and cloying plum.  The palate is smokey, dusty and capsicum like.  These flavours - sort of Leeuwin Estate cabernet sauvignon like (at least prior to their recent viticultural improvements) - will appeal to some, but not me I'm afraid.  Acceptable

Dei, Rosso di Montepulciano 1998, around $20
This wine may have been good, but it is well past its best.  The plateau of drinkability was ascended, descended and then had time to write its memoirs.  Only dried tea leaves, thin and old oak remain.  Acceptable

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