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by Tom Hill

A self-admitted wine geek, Tom lives in Northern New Mexico and works as a computational physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory doing numerical neutron transport & large scale code development. He has been tasting wines since 1971, participates locally with a couple of large tasting groups in his area, and is practically a fixture at most California wine festivals, such as the Hospice du Rhône, Rhône Rangers, and ZAP. Other interests: Tom is heavily into competitive sport fencing (foil & epee), biking, cooking, basketball, skiing, backpacking, mountain climbing.

New "Italian" Whites/Reds - October 10, 2007


We tasted tonight (10/10/07) some Some New "Italian" Whites/Reds :

  1. Avanguardia SierraFoothills Cristallo WTW (12.5%; Rkatsiteli+PinotGrigio/PinotBlanc/
    Melon de Bourgogne; www.AvanguardiaWines.com) GrassVlly/NevadaCnty 2004
    : Light yellow color; strong minerally light floral/fragrant/gardenia/bit GrunerVeltliner-like nose; tart fairly rich some fennel/metallic stoney/minerally/lean slight floral flavor; med. short minerally/stoney slight fennel/floral austere finish; lots of austere/minerally character; very fair price at $12.50
  2. ScholiumProject Naucratis LostSloughVnyd/Clarksburg (100% Verdelho; 15.2%;
    www.ScholiumWines.com) 2006
    : Med.gold color; very strong floral/aromatic/perfumed/peachy
    exotic nose w/ a slight skunky/cabbagy component that quickly goes;soft very rich/floral/perfumed/ carnations/peachy slight earthy/minerally flavor; med.long soft/rich very floral/aromatic/ripe peaches/carnations slight earthy finish; a very exotic/fragrant wine w/all the Verdelho aromatics but not the usual steely character; very fairly priced at $24.00
  3. Avanguardia SierraFoothills Selvatico (12.5%; TocaiFriuliano +Peverella/Forastera +
    PinotGrigio/SauvBlanc) 2004
    : Pale yellow color; some earthy/minerally/dusty slight floral bit rustic nose; soft bit toasted coconut/Zagnut bar some earthy/minerally light floral flavor; med.short light earthy/minerally slight toasted coconut finish; a pleasant white but not a lot of fruit; some of the earthy/minerally character of AltoAdige PinotGrigio. $12.50
  4. Avanguardia SierraFoothills DueFiori WTW (12.5%; Flora[SemillonXGWT]+Moscato Fior d'Aroncio[OrangeMuscat]+ Semillon/CheninBlanc; semi-dry) 2004: Med.yellow color; very attractive/fragrant/perfumed light floral/minerally slight orange blossom very pretty/aromatic muscatty nose; near dry fairly rich light floral/muscatty/orangey some minerally/grapefruity flavor; med.short fairly rich off-dry light muscatty/pineapply/orangey/peachy light earthy/minerally finish; a bit on the soft side but very attractive light muscatty aromatics; some like an AltoAdige MuscatGiallo or a Friulian MuscatGiallo. Very reasonably priced at $12.50
  5. Avanguardia SierraFoothills Amatone (12.5%; GamayNoir +Corvina/Rondinella) 2004: Med.light color; rather overripe/AmadorCnty-like some earthy/grapey/cherry Kool-Aid/floral nose;
    soft very ripe/grapey cherry/floral/Nehi soda pop slight earthy flavor; med.short soft/grapey/cherry soda pop/very ripe finish w/ light tannins; a bit on the overripe side like a slightly raisened ShenandoahVlly Zin but w/o that intensity; strange wine that lacks the structure & interest of ElDoradoCnty GamayNoir. Don't know if the name is intended to suggest Amarone or not. $16.00
  6. Avanguardia SierraFoothills Ampio (12.5%; Refosco +Carmine[CarignaneXCSXM] + Negrara) 2004: Med.color; low-key/attractive floral/violets/licorice bit dusty/earthy very much a
    Refosco/varietal nose; soft rather earthy/licorice/violets/floral/perfumed some earthy/minerally Refosco flavor; med.soft/licorice/floral/violets/grapey/Refosco/black cherry rather earthy/minerally finish w/ light tannins; definitely speaks of Refosco and some of the earthy/licorice character of Friulian Refosco; easily my favorite of the bunch. $18.00
  7. Avanguardia SierraFoothills Sangineto (14.3%; Sangiovese [3 clones including Brunello],
    Carmine[CabernetXMerlot] + Montepulciano) 2004
    : Med.color; attractive cherry/Sangio/spicy
    slight earthy/dusty bit rustic nose; tart/lean/hard somewhat earthy/dusty light cherry/black cherry/Sangio flavor; med. tart/lean/hard light cherry/Sangio finish w/ some tannins; speaks of Sangio but a bit pinched/lean/tight on the palate. $18.00
  8. Avanguardia SierraFoothills Premiato (12.5%; Barbera + Dolcetto) 2004: Med.color; attractive spicy/Italian sausage/Barbera light earthy/dusty light vanilla/oak somewhat spicy/ perfumed nose; tart bit lean fairly spicy/Barbera/Italian sausage/meaty somewhat vanilla/oak flavor;
    med.long spicy/Barbera some dusty/Dolcetto bit hard/lean finish w/modest tannins; speaks of both spicy/Barbera and dusty/Dolcetto; an interesting Italianate-style red. $16.00
  9. Cidci Corte Bassa IGT Corvina Veronese (12%) 2005: Med. bit murky color; very ripe/overripe
    dusty/earthy/jammy slight licorice rustic/hot-climate/goat pen unattractive nose; soft/fat/flabby overripe/jammy hot-climate/goat pen/Apulian somewhat dirty/rustic flavor; (mercifully) short/flat/ flabby overripe/grapey finish w/ little tannins; tastes more of Apulia or Morocco than Verona; very unclean and hot-climate character; way overpriced at $7.00.
  10. Allegrini LaPoja Monovitigno IGT Corvina Veronese (14.5%) 2000: Very dark color; quite
    strong toasty/Fr.oak/smokey/charred some earthy/licorice/grapey/spicy bit floral/aromatic very attractive nose; tart/hard very toasty/charred/Fr.oak bit herbal/green olive/Cab-like somewhat floral/licorice/spicy bit tarry/pungent rather hard/tannic flavor; med.long hard/tannic light herbal/ Cab-like some tarry/floral/licorice/black cherry quite newFr.oak finish;needs another 2-8 yrs yet; attractive rather international-style red but hard to tell what Corvina is all about. Bit pricey at $76.00
  11. Ermacora Schioppettino DOC: Colli Orientali del Friuli (13%) 2005: Dark color; lovelyfloral/ violets/licorice/black pepper/white pepper slight meaty/tarry complex very attractive/interesting nose; tart very spicy/cracked black pepper somewhat floral/violets/licorice bit tarry/pungent some tannic flavor; med.long very black peppery rather floral/licorice/meaty/spicy light tarry finish w/ modest tannins; loads of cracked black pepper character; terrific/interesting wine for the price. $17.00
  12. Mastri Vinai Bressan Schioppettino IGT: VeneziaGiulia (13%) 2002: Med.color; big huge
    fruit/licorice/floral/grapey/very spicy very ripe/licorice/bit tarry/pungent complex nose;
    tart some herbal/Cab-like bit toasted/new/Fr.oak/international-style big/ripe/licorice/grapey/floral lovely flavor; very long bit tannic/hard strong toasty/new/Fr.oak bit herbal/Cab-like rather ripe/licorice/floray slight tarry finish w/ fair tannins; needs 2-6 yrs;bit international-style but huge licorice/floral fruit; very attractive price at $30.00
  13. Dorigo Schioppettino DOC: ColliOrientali del Friuli (13%) 2004: Very dark color; very strong black pepper/spicy bit licorice/pungent/tarry complex nose; softer rather floral/black cherry/cracked black pepper some tarry/pungent bit tannic/dusty flavor; very long very cracked black pepper spicy/floral/black cherry/violets some licorice/tarry/pungent finish w/ some tannins; needs 2-5 yrs; loads of cracked black pepper and lovely aromatics; great value at $25.00
  14. Holdredge Schioppettino MacBrydeVnyd/RRV (12.9%; www.Holdredge.com) 2005: Very dark color;rather toasty/smokey/roasted/Fr.oak/some Rhonish slightly reduced that goes away rather
    peppery/very spicy/pungent slight reduced/pungent/Rhonish quite complex nose; tart rather toasty/ charred/Fr.oak very spicy some pungent/licorice/peppery slight tarry complex flavor;very long very spicy somewhat toasty/Fr.oak rather peppery/very spicy light licorice/pungent/tarry finish w/ some tannins; needs several yrs; some spicy/peppery/RRV Zin in character, some roasted/Rhonish in character, definitely peppery/licorice Schioppettino in character. $50.00
  15. Moschioni Schioppettino DOC: Colli Orientali del Friuli (15.5%) 2001: Black color; very ripe/ licorice/grapey/floral/violets/huge fruit slight herbal/olive slight peppery some complex nose; soft very ripe/huge fruit/licorice/boysenberry quite floral/spicy/violets slight dusty/peppery flavor; very long soft very ripe/licorice/spicy some peppery/floral/violets/boysenberry finish w/ light tannins; huge fruit and close to being over-the-top in a MuckDuck sort of way but very interesting and still speaks of (very ripe) Schioppettino; some what pricey at $90.00; JP's contribution.
  16. Feudo Principi di Butera Nero d'Avola (13%) 2005: Med.color; rather strong strawberry/ raspberry/ loads of fruit floral/juicy very fragrant almost Muscat nose; med.tart very juicy/
    strawberry/raspberry/floral/loads of fruit slight earthy flavor; very long rather floral/ Muscatty/ raspberry/strawberry big fruit/juicy finish w/ light tannins; almost like a Black Muscat in aromatics; maybe the best Nero d'Avola I've ever had. KevAnd's mystery.
  17. LaSpinetta Ca'di Pian Barbera d'Asti (13.5%) 2002: Dark color;rather toasty/Fr.oak some
    meaty/spicy/Italian sausage bit earthy/dusty nose; tart/lean rather spicy/meaty some toasty/
    oak flavor; med.long rather toasty/oak fairly spicy/meaty/smokey bit lean/hard finish w/some tannins; seems to be drying out a bit but pretty interesting. Larry's mystery.

And the usual nonsense from TheBloodyPulpit:

1. Scholium: This is a rather strange "project" of Abe Schoener that I haven't quite figured out. The WebSite seems a bit...unfocused and not the slick/polished sort of Site you get from Mondavi or somesuch. It's got a lot of interesting stuff there but I can't find some sort of overarching view of this "project" or anything. It seems to have some sort of cult status, so I was fully prepared to dislike this wine on those grounds. So much for prejudices. It's a stunning example of Verdhelo, maybe one of the best I've ever had. And easily the best wine from the ClarksburgDelta, an area not known for anything resembling greatness, that I've ever had. Now my curiosity is picqued.
2. Avanguardia: I stumbled across this wnry whilst checking out NevadaCnty wine on the Web. The sparse info on the Site picqued my interest. The Site is currently being updated and
provides a bit more information. After a few e-mail exchanges w/ Rob Chrisman, I ordered
a mixed case to try. Rob's focus is (primarily) Italian varietals and blended wines. He uses a Sierra Foothills appellation on all his (Estate) wines, presumably because it may be more
well-known than NevadaCnty or that people might think the wine comes from Nevada instead
of Calif. I would go w/ the NevadaCnty appellation myself.

The wines all seemed to have an earthy/dusty character that I often find in ElDorado Cnty wines. Not sure if this is the NevadaCnty terroir or not; I don't have a whole lot of experience w/ NevadaCnty wines like I do w/ ElDorado. They all seemed to have a certain rusticity and a bit lacking in structure and grip. But, by and large, they did show good varietal character behind them. That being said, I found the wines pretty interesting wines. Not "interesting" in the sense I apply to the Coturri wines of searching for something nice to say about them; but genuinely "interesting" in that they appealed to my intellect and forced me to think about them. No "gobs of hedonistic fruit" here in these wines, to be sure. They'll probably not get big RP scores. I understand these wines were made at another facility in NevadaCnty and that Rob now has his own wnry and more control over the winemaking. I'm really excited by what he's doing in a lesser-known area and w/ lesser-known (mostly) Italian varieties. The wines are definitely worth trying, as long as you keep an open mind and try them for what they are. It's a wnry I'll definitely follow from the very start and fully expect the wines to only
get better.
3. Corvina: These two were the first varietal Corvinas I've yet had. The Cidci was sooo ineptly made as the obliterate any varietal character. The Allegrini was very good wine but pretty heavily slammed w/ new Fr.oak that it was hard to ferretout any Corvina varietal character. Jury is still out on Corvina in my mind.
4. Scioppettino: But the jury came in and responded w/ a clear "yes" on this variety. I'd had
maybe 6-8 Schioppettinos over the yrs, pretty much liked them all, but it'd never grabbed my attention as a variety. So this was the first $hitload (Kansas colloquialism for "a lot") of Schioppettinos I'd had the opportunity to try. I was, to say the least, very favorably impressed. The wines, across the board, were terrific; not the pleasant/little regional Italian wines I'd always thought of them. They black pepper and licorice character really made them interesting. These are serious red wines. Piedmonte and Tuscany oughta be quaking in their boots over this competition, methinks.
5. Tazzelenghe: The Moschioni Schioppettino was a contribution of JohnPaine, RockyMtn rep
for Neil Rosenthal wines and a very knopwledgeable local. He, too, is interested in these
weird Italian varietals. He related that he also had a Tazzelenghe, the "tongue ripper" from CollioOrientali, that he'd not yet tried. It's a wine I'm planning on searching out, it sounds like something right down my alley. The Collio/Friuli region is rather a hot bed for rejunivation of
indegenous/auctihenous (however the heck you spell that word). Some of them, particularly
those of EmilioBulfon, are pretty impressive and definitely worth seeking out. Both the whites and the reds from this area represent some of the most exciting new things from Italy
these days.
6. Holdredge: I stumbled across John Holdredge's wines when I was searching out Schioppettinos and saw that he was making one. So I ordered a mixed case and tried all his wines. I've been pretty impressed thus far w/ his Zins/Pinots/and Syrahs. Still have a dessert Viognier to try. His passion is clearly w/ Pinot, but the others are certainly no slouches compared w/ what's out there. But as the only producer (I gather) of Schioppettino, I think he should be doing more w/ Italian varietals as well; even Nebbiolo. The '06 crop was pretty much a wipe-out. Apparently the Schioppettino (at least in Calif, don't know about Friuli) is very prone to shatter. There will apparently be a commercial-level crop of the '07 Schioppettino, but from the pics I saw on the Web, them bunches of Schioppettino berries were some of the ugliest berries I never done see'd. How John's going to get a decent crop from them bunches will be a miracle. Alas, the '05 has long since sold out but some got out to retail and worth tracking down.


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