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.
2018 Barone Sergio Eloro Nero d’Avola, Sicily, Italy: Retail $22. 100% Nero d’Avola. DIAM5. I am not going to lie, upon opening, I was not a fan as it was disjointed, astringent, and really a bit of a mess. But. It comes from Sicily, pretty close to my adopted home in Italy, it was closed with a DIAM (which shows that the producer thinks a lot of this wine), and (again being honest) it had been an exhausting day (my COVID reduced basketball team lost by 60). I am glad I did (to be clear, I am not glad I agreed to coach this team, I am glad I waited a bit on the wine). A complete transformation as it is now rather fruity, a bit bombastic, and a really fun wine. Not a wine to sell your house over, but a nice bottle to pop with pizza and a movie (as long as it is not film of my basketball team). Very Good. 89 Points.
2018 Valentino Butussi Sauvignon Blanc Genesis, Italy: Retail $50. 100% Sauvignon Blanc. Quite clear in the glass with bright citrus a vegetal aspect (celery?). The palate is quite tart and angular with a salinity aspect that is pretty close to off the charts. Listen, I am no fan of Sauvignon Blanc, no matter the region (with the notable exception of Sancerre), but this wine is pretty close to Gangbusters. Excellent. 92 Points.
2017 Madrevite Colli del Trasimeno C’osa, Italy: Retail $30(?). Big. Ass. Bottle. Gamay del Trasimero. After considerable research, it seems as though Gamay del Trasimero is actually a version of Grenache. What is not clear, however, is whether how this version of Grenache is similar to other versions. So I am at a loss. What is not difficult to figure out, though, is that this wine is pretty fantastic. Fairly light in color, with rich aromas of red berry fruit, dark earth, spice, and slight herbal quality. The palate is, above all else, deliciously tart, but also fruity and quite tasty. Close to a whoa. Excellent. 92 Points.
2016 Azienda Agricola Pietro Beconcini Reciso Toscana IGT, Italy: Retail $36. 100% organically-farmed Sangiovese. Medium garnet in the glass with a really rich nose of particularly ripe fruit (blackberry, plum), anise, clove, and black pepper. That richness translates onto the palate as well, with rather intense fruit which coats the mouth until the robust acidity sweeps on through. Whoa, this really is a fantastic wine, but certainly a departure from its Old World roots as this really focuses on the fruit (but far from a fruit bomb). Outstanding. 93 Points.
2018 Quercia Al Poggio Chianti Classico, Italy: Retail $30. 80% Sangiovese, 20% Ciliegiolo, Canaiolo, and Colorino. Virtually every time I pop open a Chianti Classico, I swear that I am going to start drinking more of it. Up until this bottle, that perpetual pledge never really go put into play. That might change with this bottle. No, it is not the “best” Chianti Classico I have had, but its luscious red and black fruit on both the nose and the palate, the dark earth, the hints of spice all point to the fact that there are some fabulous wines coming out of the region. And I need to fully embrace that. *Note: this wine was even better on day two–decant! Excellent. 91 Points.
2019 Azienda Agricola Terenzuola Vermentino Colli di Luni Fosso di Corsano, Italy: Retail $24. 100% Vermentino. Under DIAM5. Of all the white Italian varieties, I probably have tasted Vermentino more than any other. Why? Well, there is a fair amount of it planted in Provence (where it is called Rolle), as well as in the U.S. (and particularly Southern Oregon), and, quite frankly, I dig the crap out of it. This is a particularly tasty iteration with its star-bright straw color, lovely citrus, herbal, and savory notes in the glass. The palate is just as I would expect from a quality Rolle, er Vermentino, with fantastic, lush fruit initially, followed by a balancing shot of tartness, then minerality and salinity. And the finish? Yowza. Excellent. 91 Points.
Normally, I do not publish notes here for wines that are clearly flawed in some ways, but I think that I am considering changing that stance for at least a couple of reasons. One, there are usually other facts about the wines that are worth publishing (in this case, these are two ridiculously heavy bottles and I am determined to point out this complete lunacy whenever I can), or two, the “flaw” is rather avoidable (again, in this case, it seems like there are a couple of ways to severely limit the possibility of having a corked wine).
2017 Querceto di Castellina Chianti Classico Sei Gran Selezione, Italy: Retail $35. Big. Ass. Bottle. I have no idea how many Chianti Classicos I have tasted to this point, but it has to be nearing four digits. And I can say without equivocation that this is the first, without much doubt, that was…corked. Sad. Flawed.
2016 Il Conte Villa Prandone Lukont Marche IGT, Italy: Retail $50. Really Big Ass Bottle. 100% Montepulciano. Once I get over the fact that this bottle nearly ripped my shoulder out of its socket, I realize that it is stewed. More than “slightly” or “a bit” this wine is clearly either cooked or, well, not good. Sure, this is a 2016, but it should not smell like a 1986. On the palate, the fruit is but a rumor, but the acidity is still there, in spades. I am not sure what happened here, but I am going to go with “flawed.” Flawed.