Random Samples–Old World Edition

It is time for another edition of “Random Samples”–I occasionally get samples from marketing agencies and/or producers, and these can often be grouped together into some sort of over-arching theme: Drink Them and It Will ComeSummer is Here, So That Means (More) Rosé, If It Doesn’t Sparkle, It Doesn’t Matter.

Other times, I get just a bottle or two though that do not have any apparent connection or link. Instead of holding on to those bottles until the “right” combination comes along, I decided to link all these “random” bottles together, making their own category.

For whatever reason, I do not get a lot of wines from the Old World (France, Italy, Spain). I am not sure why that is, since, as many of you know, I am pretty much a French wine snob and I think a wine’s place is on the table where Old World wines typically belong.

CuneSeveral weeks ago, I received a few bottles of wine from Italy and another from Spain, and I thought I would group them all together here. The first wine comes from one of the more recognizable producers in Rioja, CVNE (Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España). What makes it a bit confusing is that one of the lines in the company’s portfolio is called “Cune”, which is the name of the winery where the company began in 1879.

2009 Cune Rioja Reserva: Retail $17. 100% Tempranillo. Honestly, a bit bland on the outset, but as the bottle continued on, more and more intrigue. Certainly great fruit, but this needs a good decant. In the end, a solid wine, with great flavors, with more depth coming after some time. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
LIBERTA-2012-fotoThe second wine comes from Tuscany, and like many Tuscan wines, is a blend of several grape varieties. The winery is in the middle of the Chianti DOC, which has strict regulations about the use of varieties in the production of the region’s wine, mandating the wine contain at least 80% Sangiovese. Instead, like scores of other producers in the region, Collazzi felt that they could make a better wine using different blends, containing other varieties. So, even though the wine is produced in the Chianti region, it carries the IGT designation (Indicazione geografica tipica), one of the “Super Tuscan” designations.

2012 Collazzi Liberta Toscana: Retail $24.  55% Merlot, 30% Syrah, and 15% Sangiovese. Dark red fruit with a bit of vanilla and black pepper. On the palate, the vanilla comes through with oodles of black raspberry. A bit thin on the mid-palate, but it makes up for it on the finish. A fine quaffer for beef to pasta. Very Good. 88-90 Points.

The second set of two wines were sent to me based on a comment that I made on the über-wine site, Snooth. I was asked my opinion on Pinot Grigio, and I stated that I found “the Italian style I find rather thin and devoid of much flavor or character.”

elenawalchpinotgrigioA few weeks later, I received an email from a marketing agency that represents Elena Walch, a winemaker in the Alto Aldige region of Northern Italy who asked me if they could send a couple of samples of the Walch Pinot Grigio to try to “change my mind” about Pinot Grigio.

Sure, I will play your little game….

2013 Elena Walch Pinot Grigio Alto Aldige: Retail $17. At first, I tried this and it was far too cold and it showed—rather listless and lacking flavor. But. And that is a big but, once it warmed to 55-60 degrees, this really came to life. Pineapple and guava with a remarkable minerality—all had been absent under the chill. The finish? Well above average. Very Good. 88-90 Points.
2000011-elena-walch-castel-ringberg2013 Elena Walch Pinot Grigio Alto Aldige “Castel Ringberg”: Retail $25. From a single vineyard in Alto Aldige. Similar, yet more concentrated nose than the first, with less guava and more stone fruit here. On the palate, clearly a step up as it was both rounder and deeper, while maintaining a razor-sharp focus on the acidity. The finish, however, was the most remarkable aspect of the entire experience, lasting for what seemed like minutes. If all Pinot Grigios were this good, I might consider becoming a convert. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.

So, in the end, I mighthave been swayed a bit by theWalch PinotGrigios–they were crisp and focused and had impressive flavors and depth. On the other hand, it could just be a fluke, and I think Imight need to investigate further, which was clear when I saw a picture of theCastelRingberg vineyard:

Yeah, I think I need to make a visit to get a better understanding....

Yeah, I think I need to make a visit to get a better understanding….


About the drunken cyclist

I have been an occasional cycling tour guide in Europe for the past 20 years, visiting most of the wine regions of France. Through this "job" I developed a love for wine and the stories that often accompany the pulling of a cork. I live in Houston with my lovely wife and two wonderful sons.
This entry was posted in Pinot Grigio, Tempranillo, Vermentino, Wine and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Random Samples–Old World Edition

  1. talkavino says:

    2009 Rioja Reserva is an absolute baby ( and 2009 was a very good year) – give it a good 10 years in the cellar, then try again 🙂 And Elena Walch makes wonderful wines, one of the best producers in Alto Adige… Glad you are stepping outside of your beloved France…

    Liked by 2 people

    • One of the reasons I find samples difficult–the expectation is to taste the wine immediately regardless of when it might be best to drink it.


      • talkavino says:

        you know what – you are absolutely right. You kind of don’t have a choice with samples, as review is expected right away – you can’t really treat them as the regular wines… yeah


      • I got a really nice bottle sent to me the other day (if price is any indication) and if I had bought it, I would not think about drinking it for around 10 years. Instead, I will likely drink it next week….


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.