Italian Immersion, Prima Parte

One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to get my samples pile under control. I am still woefully behind, but I am making progress (at least that is what I keep telling myself). For the next few weeks, I am going to delve into what is certainly my second favorite (and is pushing hard for the top spot, look out France) wine-producing county.

2015 Capezzana Carmignano Trefiano Riserva, Italy: Retail $38. 80% Sangiovese, 10% Canaiolo Nero, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. From a DOCG in Tuscany that is in the shadow of some of its more well-known neighbors, this wine was rather listless and not very interesting upon first taste but after some time open and extra time in the glass, the wine began to open up. It still needs considerable time (and a healthy decant), but there are promising signs here. Really dark fruit (plum, blackberry) with oodles of earth, a ton of depth, and plenty of spice. The palate is all of that plus some pretty tight and chalky tannins which suggest both the patience needed and the long life ahead of it. Excellent. 92 Points.

2019 Fontanavecchia Fiano Sannio, Italy: Retail $22. 100% Fiano. DIAM 3 closure. Over the course of the last several months, I have been tasting through a number of wines from the Sannio DOC in Campania, and I have thoroughly enjoyed the wines, including this one. Quite fruity on the nose with plenty of citrus and tree fruit. The palate is both tart and round with a distinct mineral note that is quite appealing and refreshing. Excellent. 91 Points.

2018 Abrigo Giovanni Barbera d’Alba Superiore Rocche dei Frisu: Retail $32. 100% Barbera. It would be fair to say that while I am far from an expert on Barbera d’Alba, I have had my fair share of the wine from the region. And this wine has to slot in near the best of those that I have tried. Medium color in the glass with an enchanting nose of fresh red berry fruit, wet rock, hints of vanilla, and a splash of black pepper. The palate bumps it up a notch with an intense tartness, followed by a wave of luscious fruit, and then a lengthy finish. Holy cow, this is good, just short of a Whoa. Excellent. 92 Points.

2016 Castello la Leccia Chianti Classico Riserva, Italy: Retail $35. 98% Sangiovese, 2% Malvasia Nera Lunga. I don’t think that it is going out on a limb to state that Chianti Classico is one of the best regions in the world when one is searching for “bang for the buck” and (usually) for only a few dollars more, one could up their game and opt for a Riserva. That is certainly the case here. I had just returned from a walk-a-round tasting of Chianti Classico at Hugo’s, a near-legendary spot in Houston for Mexican/Tex-Mex cuisine and I needed a bit more Chianti Classico love. Gorgeous in the glass with a nose of fresh black and red berry fruit, cassis, plum, even anise, sage, and forest floor. Yowza. The palate is quite delicious with plenty of fruit, spice, acidity, earth, and complexity. The lengthy finish is accentuated by some chewy tannins, even half a decade out. Yes, fantastic now, but I certainly think this will improve over the next five years. At least. Whoa. Outstanding. 93 Points.

2017 La Regola La Regola Toscana IGT, Italy: Retail $65. Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot. A bit different blend for a Super Tuscan as this has neither Cabernet Sauvignon nor Sangiovese. Dark in both color and aroma with plum, blackberry, black pepper, and dark earth. Yeah, it’s dark. Quite fruity on the palate, paired with some tartness and earth. There is some depth on the mid-palate and the tannins come through on the finish. Quite nice, albeit on the fruity side. Excellent. 91 Points.

2017 Cantine Sant’Agata Ruchè di Castagnole Monferrato Pro Nobis, Italy: Retail $30. 100% Ruchè. I do not have a ton of experience with Ruchè (being a Francophile, it just seems wrong using an accent grave there), the much lesser-known red variety from Piedmont, so it is a bit difficult to place this wine. Light to medium garnet in the glass with oodles of fruit, mostly red (cherry, raspberry), some black (blackberry, plum), some spice, and a mineral note. The palate is really fruity, particularly upon opening (it calmed down a bit on Day 2), with plenty of acidity, noticeable tannin, and a slightly bitter element on the finish. Very Good. 88 Points.

2017 Michele Satta Bolgheri Superiore Piastraia, Italy: Retail $50. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Sangiovese. A solid Super Tuscan from Bolgheri, fairly dark in the glass with brilliant dark fruit, dark, tilled earth, and distinct floral notes (rose petal, violet). The palate is borderline Outstanding with the fruit and acidity well-integrated. The tannins on the end are both significant and drying, clearly, this has a long life ahead of it. Fantastic. Outstanding. 93 Points. 

2018 Usiglian Del Vescovo Il Ginestraio, Italy: Retail $25. Chardonnay, Viognier. Agglomerated stopper with cork discs. Outside of the sparkling wine realm, one does not see many Chardonnay blends, but when they occur, it is often with Viognier. Why? I guess they have similar weights and profiles with Viognier adding an aromatic aspect and Chardonnay perhaps adding a bit more acidity. As expected, perhaps, quite floral and perfumed in the glass (thanks to the Vio) with a bit of citrus and tree fruit. The palate is quite harmonious with good fruit, a floral aspect, nice tartness, and a mouth-coating roundness. Very nice. Excellent. 9o Points.


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 Barbera, Cabernet Sauvignon, Canaiolo, Chardonnay, Fiano, Malvasia Nera Lunga, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Ruchè, Viognier, Wine and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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