FROM THE VINODUO ARCHIVE – 2014
This article was originally posted in March 2014 then lost to a Go Daddy cluster *%%#. We just found a few articles in cyberspace and re-post them here.
The impressive studios of WGBH were the ideal backdrop for a mid-winter sampling of Italian wine and local cheeses. The stunning conference room was packed; no servants from Downton Abbey, no Muppets from Sesame Street but plenty of freeloading wine writers and trade reps were on hand to sample wines from four regions of Italy. Our tasting tour guide was wine columnist Michael Apstein, who led the group through an uneven selection of three white wines and six reds from Apulia (Southeastern Italy), Marche (Central, on the Adriatic), Tuscany (you know where that is), and Lombardy (North, on the Swiss border.) VinoDuo’s knowledge of Italian wines is also uneven: we go deep in a few areas (Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Chianti, Brunello), wide in others, like Prosecco. And then there’s a big blank. So we were excited to sample wines made from varietals we had never heard of (Pecorino, Marzemino) let alone tasted.
WHITE WINE TASTINGS
Pecorino Offida DOC 2010; Cantina Offida, Marche (100% Pecorino grapes)
A split decision from VinoDuo. Gary thought it had a pleasant floral character on the nose with hints of nectarine and fresh melon. He found the taste “Surprisingly lively with a good balance of melon fruits, acidity and minerality.” Lisa detected pineapple and coconut on the nose; would a Pina Colada be in the offering? Alas, no. “Highly acidic; undrinkable,” read her tasting notes. Gary immediately thought of the Pecorino being served ice cold with cocktail shrimp, Alaskan crab legs or even a cold lobster salad. Lisa thought of pouring it in the spit jar and moving on. $8-$10 retail but no US distribution yet. [2018 update: Still no US distribution]
Vermentino Toscana, Tuscany (100% Vermentino)
The Duo was Uno on the Vermentino: nope. This was more like what Gary remembered about Italian white wines that he had tasted in the past. Beautiful on the nose…Lisa picked up lychee and apricot, with a very clean scent. Then, bam! Gary said the overpowering mineral taste made it “more like an astringent than a consumable beverage.” [2018 update: No US distribution]
Selva Bianco Locorotondo DOC 2010; Albea, Apulia
(60% Verdeca, 35% Bianco d’Alessano, 5% Fiano)
Another split decision. This very pale, almost clear wine had a honeysuckle nose and, to Lisa, an acceptable acidity that made it the ideal deck wine. Gary said the nose reminded him of Welch’s White Grape juice and the palate delivered the polar opposite—full of sour minerality. [2018 update: No US distribution]
RED WINES TASTED
Primitivo Puglia IGP 2010 Amastuola, Apulia
Our first red was a Primitivo (the clone/kin of American Zinfandel) from Apulia. We’ve enjoyed many lovely Primitivos and were charmed by this wine’s nose of dark caramelized plums, blackberry, and vanilla. But the spicy black fruit flavors and a nice acidity/tannin balance were overpowered by an abrupt mineral finish. $15/bottle.
Chianti Classico DOCG 2009 90% Sangiovese, 10% Merlot MUST BUY
With its outstanding cherry-vanilla nose and food-friendly palate, this classic Chianti is a must-have-on-the-shelf buy at $17 – $20
Vigneto della Rana Chianti DOCG 2009 Castella di San Sano, Tuscany
(90% Sangiovese, 10% Ciliegiolo)
A “hot” nose with hints of blackberries, currants, and prunes. Presented well at first taste but the flavor did not hold up to the alcohol or the ever-present minerality. Gary called it “overbearing.”
Le Sincette Garda Classico Rosso DOC 2007, Le Sincette, Lombardy MUST BUY
This wine was the hit of the tasting! A smooth blend of Gropello Gentile, Marzemino, Barbera, and Sangiovese grapes. Velvety tannins coupled with notes of caramel, dried bing cherries, and butterscotch. The long finish goes on and on! At $35-$40, it’s outside of our usual “Must-Buy” limit, but we’ll make an exception here.