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 Come, Summer 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 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 (and, being the math geek that I am, “random sample” has a bit of a double entendre….
I start with three Gewürztraminers from Italy, not necessarily the first place one thinks of when they think “Gewürztraminer.” Notice the umlaut (the two little dots above the “u”)—Alsatian wines do not sport the accent mark (the Alsatians have a rather rough history with their neighbors to the east), but most producers otherwise influenced by Germany (such as these) all have that curious sideways colon in the middle of the word. As a variety Gewürz is a tough variety for me: when done right with the spiciness and floral notes in balance with the acidity and any residual sugar, it can be a beautiful wine. When one (or more) of those aspects are competing, though, it can get awkward. Those concerns never surfaced tasting this trio of wines from the Alto Adige region of Northern Italy though. They were all fantastic.
2015 Tenuta Kofererhof Gewürztraminer Alto Adige Valle Isarco, Italy DOC: Retail $30. Pale straw-yellow in the glass and by the first sniff I could tell that I would like it—it is not overly perfumed or spicy, the aromas reveal themselves calmly, almost waiting patiently in line to introduce themselves: citrus, pear, acacia flower. Lovely. On the palate, that harmony continues as the touch of residual sugar smooths out any rough edges nicely and helps to add some real weight to the wine. Fantastic. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2014 Tenuta Pacherhof Gewürztraminer Alto Adige Valle Isarco, Italy DOC: Retail $25. Just an ever-so-slight yellow hue to the wine with aromas of yellow peach, spice, and a touch of funk (and I do love the funk). Well, on the palate this is marvelous: fruity, tart, spicy, but all understated and harmonious. This might just get a Whoa as the finish lasts for minutes (I figure the goosebumps I got after swallowing were a pretty good indicator). This is a wine that new world producers of Gewürz need to emulate. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
2016 Kellerei Schreckbichl Cantina Colterenzio Gewürztraminer Südtirol Alto Adige: Retail $24. Another really pale wine, with just hints of yellow and green. Much more Elderberry on the nose here, and the spices are more pronounced as well. The pear also comes through, but I can tell this is once again in my wheelhouse. On the palate, perhaps spicier than the other two but also more minerality. Another home-run. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
The next two wines also come from Italy, from the Trentino region, directly to the West of Alto Adige. They are from the famed producer, Ferrari, who, perhaps more than any other Italian maker of bubbles, has proven that Champagne is not alone as producers of high quality sparkling wines.
NV Ferrari Rosé Trento DOC: Retail $36. 60% Pinot Nero, 40% Chardonnay. Salmon pink with wild strawberry and groiselle on the nose. On the palate this really is fantastic–good fruit, brilliant acidity and plenty of baked bread. No. It’s not champagne. But….I would dare say that this likely outperforms most (all?) rosé champagnes at this price point (yes, I realize there are very few rosé champagnes under $40, and that is kind of the point). Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2009 Ferrari Perlé Trento DOC: Retail $45. 100% Chardonnay. It is tough to beat Ferrari when it comes to bubbles (and not just Italian either). Lemon curd pie on the nose which continues on to the palate with oodles of flavor and depth. The only problem? I really think this needs more time–those delectable secondary sparkling wine flavors are lurking behind that rich citrus. In 5-10 years? Look out. Now? Whoa. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
The last wine comes from Sicily, the island at the southern tip of the peninsula. I plan on visiting this fall, so I might have more to say about it soon….
2016 Stemmari Rosato Terre Sicilliane IGT: Retail $10. 100% Pinot Nero. I was excited to try this wine for three main reasons: 1) It is a rosato and I have become even more of a rosé hound recently; 2) I believe it is a True Rosé of Nero d’Avola; and 3) It is from Sicily, which I will be visiting this fall. Well. Initially, all that enthusiasm fizzled as the wine was surprisingly closed and did not offer much at all. After some time open (and a slight warming) though, it shifted. Good raspberry and blackberry flavors with just a touch of sweetness. Good to Very Good. 86-88 Points.