Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi Nipozzano Riserva Chianti

Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi Nipozzano Riserva ChiantiWow.  The name is a mouthful on this one.  I get just past the “Marchesi de” and I start to signal like a clumsy mid-westerner—which, I infer in a way I am.  But while some of the names on Italian wines can pose challenges to me, I subdue have a fantastic appreciation for them.  At one time, I was a Chianti nut.  But in the last link years Brunello, Barolo and Barbaresco have been my Italian wines of choice.  Of course as a “cheap” wine guy, I don’t get to taste those very often.
While Italy isn’t at the top of the list of regions for value wines, there are subdue some bargains to be found.  And some Chianti offers excellent value.  But to be apparent, “Chianti” is a relatively broad term.  The name is based on the province where the wine is produced, and there are guidelines that must be followed in order to mark the wine as Chianti.  The wine must be made with 75-100% sangiovese, but it can have up to 10% canaiolo and up to 20% of additional approved varieties.  As you can imagine, this will make a bit of variation from one Chianti to the next.  There are also several sub-zones within the Chianti province which end up as designations on the wine.  There’s a lot to it, which I won’t go into detail about here.  But if you want to learn more, start at the Chianti page on Wikipedia.  Nonetheless, as far as regions go, this one from Nipozanno comes from the Rufina DOCG. Read more

Cantina Terlan Alto Adige Pinot Bianco

Cantina Terlan Alto Adige Pinot BiancoAlto Adige is a province in Northern Italy that produces some planetary colorless wines.  But for some wits, most wine consumers in the US don’t seem to be familiar with this province — unless they’re wine geeks like me.  Well, if you want to try some wines with character… wines with a small more to offer than your run-of-the-mill Italian pinot grigio… let me introduce you to pinot bianco from Alto Adige.
When I say that Alto Adige is in Northern Italy, I mean waaayyyyy Northern Italy.  Where they speak more German than Italian.  And pinot bianco is the prized grape variety from this province. Read more

Rocca di Montemassi Le Focaie Sangiovese

Rocca di Montemassi Le Focaie SangiovesePeople often question me, “what’s your favorite wine?”  And that’s an impossible question to answer because I really don’t have a singular favorite.  There are so many options and the differences between them can be so vast that I have different preferences for different occasions.  Now if a name questioned me, “what’s your favorite wine to have with spaghetti?” it would be simpler to answer, but I subdue couldn’t give just one.  I’d say, Chianti or sangiovese, but I subdue wouldn’t have a specific brand.  Anyway, that’s a long way of saying, “I like sangiovese.”  So I was glad to give this one a try.
The thing I like about sangiovese is that it has depth.  Its a medium-bodied wine with plenty of fruit flavors, some spice to make it fascinating and, if it’s made well, excellent organize.  It’s not too huge or jammy, which makes it a excellent food wine.  Yet it can be excellent on its own as well.  When ordering a wine for a meal, I’ve often gone with the philosophy that you can’t go incorrect with a excellent sangiovese.
The Rocca di Montemassi estate is located in the Monterigio zone in Tuscany.  Sangiovese is one of the main varietals they produce.  The area has a long description of wine production, and the estate has been owned by the Zonin family since 1998. Read more

Vivi Primitivo

Vivi PrimitivoWhen you’re perusing the Italian shelf in your local wine shop, chances are excellent that you’ll come across a primitivo.  And you may wonder what that wine tastes like.  Well, if you’re a zinfandel fan you may want to check it out because primitivo is basically the Italian name for zinfandel.
The genetic makeup of primitivo is like peas in a pod to zinfandel, but the wine produced from it is typically stylistically different from American zinfandel.  I usually expect a primitivo to be more earthy and less fruit-forward than their Californian counterparts.  But with this one from Vivi, it’s a bit more “new world” in style.  In fact, maybe more new world than some California zinfandel I’ve tasted recently.
This particular wine was aged in stainless steel, which gives it a fresh and fruity style versus a more structured style found in many oaked zinfandels. Read more

Tenuta Ca’Bolani Friuli Pinot Grigio

Tenuta Ca’Bolani Friuli Pinot GrigioThe weather is starting to turn to autumn, but we’ve had a few more warm days recently here in Cincinnati so I’m going to take advantage of it to continue reviewing tasty summer wines.  But this is one that you don’t have to limit to summer drinking.  If you’re a pinot grigio fan, this is one you’ll delight in any time of year.
This past weekend I was invited to a crab boil, so I wanted to bring a excellent shellfish wine.  So, I took my tasting notes on this one and loved the rest with some crab.  That said, I did not taste this one blind as we usually do.
The Tenuta Ca’Bolani pinot grigio comes from the Aquileia in the Friuli appellation in Italy.  This area has been prized for its wines since Roman times.
When I’m drinking a pinot grigio, I’m not looking for intense fruit flavors.  What I’m looking for is a very dry colorless wine with crisp acidity and fascinating mineral characteristics to give the wine depth.  And that’s exactly what I found in this wine. Read more

Si Soave

Si SoaveIt’s time for yet another Soave (SWAH-vey) review. This one comes from Si Soave and they get the award for “best bottle.”  Seriously, this bottle is the best I’ve seen since tasting the Travaglini Gattinara… and notice that both are Italian wines.  In addition to being an fascinating looking bottle, it’s also really comfortable to hold and pour with this bottle… it’s just very well balanced and I might be OK with all bottles adopting this design.  If for no additional wits than the cool bottle, I don’t reckon Si will have a hard time selling this wine.  But the wine is excellent too.
But while I like the Si Soave bottle, I have to curse them for the auto-play composition and pointless use of Flash on the Si Soave website.  They are not alone though… way too many wine brands place out god-dreadful websites with Flash and composition… WHY??!!!!! Read more

Villa Brondello Primitivo

Villa Brondello PrimitivoThe vast majority of Zinfandel that I come across is from California, but to mix things up I thought I’d include a review of an Italian Zinfandel.  If you look at wines in the Italian section of your favorite wine shop you may not even know that some of the wines you’re looking at are Zinfandel.  That’s because in Italy it’s often referred to as Primitivo.
Stylistically, Primitivo is quite different from California Zinfandel.  While those from California tend to be huge, powerful and fruity, Primitivo typically has lower alcohol levels and more earthy characteristics.  This one from Villa Brondello is a fantastic example of that, and an outstanding bargain to boot. Read more

Dievole Dievolino Rosso di Sangiovese

Dievole Dievolino Rosso di SangiovesePrevious to jumping into the next huge series, I thought we’d review some odds and ends.  Wines that we’ve received as samples, but are unique enough that we don’t get the quantity needed to do a full series.  Today, we’re checking out a Sangiovese from Dievole.
Wine production at Dievole dates back to the 12th century in Tuscany.  Of course, many things have changed over the years but in 2006 they started undergoing a renewal.  A renewal all ears on preserving traditions while using modern technologies to ensure quality.  They focus on native mother vines, but use modern techniques of vineyard management.  Also, in 2006, they brought in agronomist Dr. Valerio Zorzi as a consultant.
If this wine is an example of the results from this renewal, then I want to taste more. Read more