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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.

Some Unusual Whites - November 17, 2010

We tasted last night (11/17/10) Some Unusual Whites:

  1. EmiliaBulfon Cividin VdT Bianco (13%; www.VinoTerra.Net) NV (2007): Dark gold color; very ripe/ baked apple/rotted apple some cherry blossom/apple slight earthy/metallic nose; rather ripe/baked apple light floral/cherry blossom/piney rather acid/edgy appley light earthy fairly interesting flavor; med. long appley/angel food cake/baked apple/ripe some piney/earthy finish; lots of very ripe character but rather lean on the palate; seems much different from previous ones. Made as orange wine, perhaps? $10.00
  2. EmilioBulfon Sciaglin IGT: VeneziaGiulia (12.5%) NV (2007): Dark gold color; very strong musty/corked/TCA slight piney/honeyed/very ripe/baked apple nose; soft rather musty/TCA-tainted/cardboardy slight very ripe/piney/baked apple somwhat bitter flavor; too corked to tell much about it. $10.00 (LM)
  3. Domaine Jean Vullien et Fils AC: Roussette de Savoie (Cepage Altesse; 12.5%; MeBalP) Freteniva/
    Savoie 2009
    : Light yellow color; lovely floral very perfumed/apple blossoms/fresh talced baby's bottom/
    angle food cake/cotton candy/honeyed some mineral/earthy very perfumed/aromatic nose; soft/lush very
    aromatic/floral/cotton candy ripe slight mineral/earthy flavor; long rather ripe floral/cotton candy/tangy
    finish; one of the most exotic Savoie whites I've had; almost like Viog or GrenacheBlanc in aromatics and
    not the usual stoney/earthy character I get in many Savoie whites; lovely stuff. $20.00
  4. Arnot-Roberts OldVine WW Campagni-PortisVnyd/SonomaVlly (2 brls; 13%;  www.ArnotRoberts.com) 2009: Light yellow color; light toasty/oak some waxy/figgy/earthy slightly bland nose; soft slight tangy/grapefruity some waxy/figgy/Semillon-like rather earthy flavor; med. figgy/waxy/earthy somewhat tangy/grapefruity somewhat interesting finish; a pleasant old-timey Calif white but a bit undistinguished. $30.00
  5. Arnot-Roberts RibollaGialla VareVnyd/NapaVlly (2.5 brls; 12.5%) 2009: Pale yellow color; rather fragrant/honeyed/apple blossom somewhat spicy/candied quite interesting nose; very tart/lean apple blossom/floral/ honeyed somewhat tangy bit earthy/metallic flavor; med.long earthy rather floral/apple blossom/grapey/ honeyed/honeyed finish; rather Friulian rendition of Ribolla; nice white but just that. $30.00
  6. Vodopivec Vitovska IGT: VeneziaGiulia (Classica; 12.5%; www.DomaineSelect.com) Zgonik/Italia 2005: Med. dark orange/burnished bronze color; very strong orange blossom/fragrant/perfumed aromatic slight oxidative/ old Rhone slight vanilla/oak/honeyed quite complex nose; tart/lean/acid some tannic very perfumed some orange blossom slight oxidative bit earthy/honeyed very complex incredible flavor; very long/lingering slight oxidative/old Rhone very perfumed quite complex bit tannic/hard/lean finish; a bit more oxidative than the Amphora; a bit like very old Oz Semillon; a very exotic/very complex wine. $74.00   
  7. Vodopivec Vitovska IGT: VeneziaGiulia (Amphora; 12.5%; www.Vodopivec.It) Zgonik/Italia 2005: Med.dark orange/burnished bronze color; beautiful aromatic/perfumed/orange blossom slight pungent/ gunpowder very slight oxidative very complex nose; very tart/lean bit tannic somewhat cleaner/less oxidative rich/intense/ earthy/honeyed very complex flavor; very long/lingering  clean/floral/earthy/ orange very complex rather tart/lean bit tannic very complex finish; somewhat cleaner/floral and a bit less oxidative than the Classic; very exotic/complex stuff; my favorite of the two. $74.00
  8. Arnot-Roberts Trousseau LuchsingerVnyd/ClearLake (3 brls; 12.5%) 2009: Light red color; lovely perfumed/aromatic Pinot-like/chalky some earthy/apple fairly complex nose; some tannic/hard very cherry/aromatic/Pinot-like earthy/dusty/mineral exotic/complex high-toned flavor; very long bright/cherry/aromatic slight bitey/tannic rather earthy/dusty/mineral finish; very unusual/exotic red and a dead ringer for a Puffney/Tissot Pinot from the Savoie. $30.00
  9. WindGap Piccolo Bastardo RW TrousseauGris Fannuchi-WoodRdVntd/RRV (14.2%; #72; 33 cs) 2009: Somewhat brown/burnished bronze color color; very strong very exotic nutmeg/cloves/cinammon toast light oak/toasty very perfumed/aromatic nose; very dry/austere some tannic slight bitter/apple peel minerally/earthy very exotic/cloves/cinammon slight oxidative flavor; long bit oxidative exotic/cloves/nutmeg some tannic/bitter finish; rather bizarre/weird/exotic wine that really needs food to show much; curious as to how it will age. $32.00

A wee BloodyPulpit:

1. Vitovska: One of the rather rare grapes in Friuli. A ProseccoTondo x MalvisiaBianca Lunga cross. Can't recall that I ever had a Vitovska before. Since these are made as orange wines, I doubt that these two Votovskas are any indication of the varietal character of the grape. The wnry is run by the two Vodopivec brothers, Paolo and Valter. Started in 1997. They liked the Vitovska so much that they ripped out all the others to focus on that grape. Interesting article on Paola
(http://livewineblog.com/2009/09/25/paolo-vodopivec-the-votary-of-vitovska/). Their WebSite (www.Vodopivec.It) is pretty woo-woo, with no real concrete information. These wines are fermented on the skins for 6 months in large amphorae buried in the ground. They think the best amphorae are produced in Georgia. They story of having to deal w/ the Georgian mafia to get them back is entertaining. The Classico is put to large/old Slovenian barrels when pressed off the skins, whereas the Amphora bttlg is returned to the amphorae for further aging.

These two wines were extremely complex/exotic wines. Not everyone in the group liked these wines as much as I did. Gotta think a bit outside the box. Not sure they were great sensual experiences as much as they were intellectual experiences. Surprisingly, the Classico showed a bit more oxidative character than did the Amphora. Not sure they're worth the $74 tarrif, but they're an experience everyone should add to their bucket list.
2. Bulfon: The wines of Emilio Bulfon are some of my favorites. They're imported by a Denver importer (Vino Terra) and are fairly available up there. Bulfon's passion is to make wine from obscure Friulian varieties, some of which he's brought back from near extinction. For some reason, these two whites were quite cheap at Boulder's LiquorMart. They usually sell for the low $20's. I've had the Cividin & Sciaglin before, from earlier vintages. These two struck me as a bit different...as if maybe they were made as orange wines (skin-contact before & after fermentation). They didn't have the stony/earthy/mineral character I recall them as having. And much darker in color. His WebSite (www.bulfon.it/eng/vini.html) is a particularly well-done
Site, w/ very soothing music as well. Lots of info on his grape varieties. His labels are very ornate
and most beautiful. One of the better Friulian producers.
3. Roussette: An indigenous variety to the Savoie; where it is also known as Altesse. Oftentimes a wine labeled as Rousette will have a significant amount of Chard blended in. If it's labeled as Altesse, then it's generally 100% Altesse, as this one was. Jacquere is the other/common white variety in the Savoie. No DNA info on Altesse that I could find. French ampelographers say that it looks identical in growing conditions to Hungary's Furmint. This wine was far better than any dry Furmint I've ever had, much more floral & aromatic. To add to the confusion, Roussette is another name for Roussanne in the Rhone. More confusing, there's Roussanne planted in the Savoie and it's often labeled as Bergeron.
4. Arnot-Roberts: I've been pretty impressed by the wines Duncan & Nathan have been making, particularly the Syrahs. The two whites I liked, but just that. Interesting. But I really liked the Trousseau; very exotic red; very much like the Puffney or Tissot Pinots and Trousseaus from the Savoie that I've had. I presume the grape they used was Trousseau Noir, rather than TrousseauGris. Can't imagine why anyone would be planting Trousseau up in ClearLake unless it was an old GrayReisling vnyd.
5. Bastardo: As Pax characterized this wine in his mailer..."weird". But in a good sense. Very spicy/aromatic/ perfumed almost like a Muscat in intensity. Bastardo is the name for TrousseauGris in Spain/Portugal where it goes into Madeira and Porto. There used to be a fair amounted planted in Calif where it was vinified into GrayReisling, a rather quotidian white wine. Because it was from Fannuchi/WoodRd vnyd; I assumed it was an old planting of GrayReisling. But, according to MikeOfficer, it's not that old a planting. But pretty interesting stuff, anyway.


[Additional Wine Reviews from Tom Hill]


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