jamie goode's wine blog: Real wine the Italian way

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Real wine the Italian way

So I returned to Cave des Pyrene's real wine tasting for the second day. After concentrating on France yesterday, today I devoted myself to Italy. I was pleasantly surprised: I've always had a slight suspicion that Italy is a perennial underachiever, failing to make the most of its diverse terroirs and grape varieties. However, the wines on show today were exciting, diverse, sometimes a bit funky, but almost universally interesting.

I'll be writing them up in detail, of course, but for now some quick highlights. Elisabetta Foradori's (pictured) Teroldegos from Trentino were dark and pure with real ageing potential. COS from Sicilia is making some characterful, rather rustic reds, plus a fantastically pure, smooth Pithos that is fermented and aged in amphoras. Also from Sicily, Marco de Bortoli fashions thrilling Marsalas as well as smart table wines. Podere Le Boncie Chianti Classico Le Trame tastes like Chianti should taste: expressive, elegant, spicy. Edoardo Valentini's Trebbianos are remarkable. Sottimano's Barbarescos are profound. Paolo Bea's Umbrian wines thrill. The La Stoppa wines are remarkable, too, including the Ageno white that spends 30 days on its skins. I'd continue, but I risk being boring.

Two wines tonight: both bottles are from cases of 12 that I bought from a recent Bordeaux Index stock clearance. I know the winemakers responsible from my various trips to the Barossa (here) and so I trusted my own reviews and took a punt. I often regret buying 12 of the same wine - with so many to try, I just seem never to get to the end of the case. Will I regret these purchases?

Torzi Matthews Frost Dodger Riesling 2005 Eden Valley is a crisp, mineralic Riesling with some citrus pith character and a bit of spice, together with some richer, more complex textural elements. Still quite tightwound. Finishes dry. With a long drinking window, we'll get through this case happily. Rieslings like this are versatile food wines. Glad I bought it.

Massena The Moonlight Run 2003 Barossa is a blend of Grenache, Shiraz, Mataro and Cinsault that weighs in at a heady 15% alcohol. It has a ripe, sweet liqueur-like nose of pure red and black fruits with a spicy edge that's rather exotic. The palate is sweet and ripe with a distinctive spicy presence. Quite pure, pretty alcoholic, but with some supporting minerality that makes me think of a really good amarone, or a supercharged Chateauneuf. The fruit drives this. I'm not sure how it will evolve, and I guess this is the key factor in whether I've made a good buy or not. If it develops well into a rich, spicy, earthy, sweetly fruited sort of wine, then I'll be very happy. If it falls apart into a mush, I'll be disappointed. I reckon the former is more likely, partly because the wine seems to be developing in the glass. Or is it just that the 15% alcohol is beginning to have an effect on my perception? I'm never quite sure about reports of wines really opening out with time because of this rather obvious confounding effect!

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