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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.

More Italian Varieties - June 13, 2012

We tried tonight (6/13/12) some More Italian Varietals: :

  1. Rosa d'OroVnyds Refosco Calif (13.5%) 2009: Very dark color; some vanilla/toasty/oak lovely plummy/ black cherry/licorice/bing cherry quite attractive nose; slightly tart fairly rich/lush strong black
    cherry/plummy/licorice bit herbal/rosemary some tannic/bitey bit toasty/oak flavor; long bit tannic/hard
    strong black cherry/bing cherry/plummy/licorice light floral slightly tart rather rich/lush finish; needs
    2-4 yrs; a bit too much oak on the nose but OK on the palate; an excellent expression of varietal Refosco character; really lovely wine. $24.00
  2. VivacWnry Refosco MimbresVlly/NM (106 cs; 5% Merlot/5% Dolcetto/5% CS; 13.5%) Dixon/NM 2007: Dark color; slight herbal/sagebrush/chamisa/plummy rather earthy light black cherry/plummy slight funky/volatile/ adhesive tape nose; rather thin/lean quite acid/citric/screechy  some sagebrush/herbal/chamisa earthy flavor; med.short thin/acidic/screechy earthy light black cherry finish w/ lighht tannins; speaks mostly of Paola d'Andrea/Deming red and little of Refosco; disappointing in how it's developed. $19.50 (KK)
  3. Venica Bottaz Refosco IGT: VeneziaGiulia (13%) Dolgena del Collio 2008: Med.dark color; slight pungent/bretty strong bing cherry/black cherry/licorice/spicy rather fragrant/perfumed some earthy attractive nose; soft/ smooth/lush some bing cherry/plummy/lush fruit slight unclean/earthy/loamy flavor w/ little tannins; fairly long strong plummy/bing cherry/licorice soft finish w/ little tannins; speaks strongly of Refosco but a bit on the soft side on the palate and lacks structure; very nice Refosco but overpriced. $43.00 (LCSWS)
  4. Rosa d'OroVnyds Primitivo ClearLake/LakeCnty (9 brls; EG/B; 16.1%) 2009: Dark color; attractive spicy/raspberry/Zin/ lush/blackberry slight herbal/earthy light pencilly/oak nose; soft bright/blackberry/ Zin/raspberry slight earthy/ dusty quite attractive flavor; bright/lush/blackberry/spicy/Zin/raspberry light pencilly/oak finish w/ slight alcoholic heat on the backtaste; a very attractive 4-Square Zin that shows no overripe character and very little of the 16+% alcohol. $20.00
  5. Cantele IGT: Salento Primitivo (13.5%; www.Cantele.It) Puglia 2008: Med.dark color; somewhat earthy/dusty slight blackberry/Zin bit overripe/raisened clean nose; soft bit thin bright/clean/blackberry/ Zin slight earthy bit overripe pleasant flavor; med.long bright/blackberry/Zin slight overripe finish w/ little tannins; a little on the overripe side but surprisingly clean and not a lot of hot-climate character you often get from Zins from Puglia; a pretty little Zin but not worth the price. $16.00 (KK)
  6. Rosa d'OroVnyds Montepulciano Mt.OsoVnyd/TracyHills/LakeCnty (4 brls; 13.8%) 2010: Dark color; strong grapey/plummy/ earthy bit smokey/pungent bit funky/unusual nose; fairly tart quite grapey/plummy bit spicy slight tannic flavor; med.long strong grapey/plummy slight tannic finish; a pleasant enough wine but not particularly distinctive; a bit like a Cabernet, a bit like a Paso Grenache; lacks pizzazz on the palate. $20.00
  7. QuattroMani DOC: Montepulciano d'Abruzzo (13%; www.VelenosiVini.com) GuidiCerreto, Winemaker: AttilioPagli 2010: Very dark color; rather earthy/plummy/grapey bit spicy slight hot-climate/overripe nose; somewhat lush/grapey/ plummy slight earthy/rustic/coarse flavor w/ light tannins; med.short slight tannic rather lush/grapey/plummy slightly overripe bit rustic/coarse finish; pleasant enough but not very distinctive. $13.00 (SFW&S)
  8. Rosa d'OroVnyds Aglianico Riserva ClearLake/LakeCnty (6 brls; 13.7%) NV: Very dark color; very strong plummy/ licorice/blackberry/boysenberry/Syrah-like bit pungent/toasty/oak some spicy really lovely nose; soft slight tannic rich/lush/blackberry/licorice/boysenberry/Syrah-like light toasty/oak rich/mouthfilling flavor; very long/rich blackberry/boysenberry/licorice/Syrah-like slight earthy bit tannic/bitey finish; a big/rich structured wine that resembles Syrah quite a lot but a bit more earthy/rustic; lovely red at a great price. $20.00
  9. Grifalco DOC: Aglianico del Vulture (14%) Fabrizio Piccin/Venosa 2008: Very dark color; some sour/lactic/milk of magnesia/Keopectate/strange slight earthy/hot-climate/goat pen bit volatile rather unattractive nose; soft rather unclean/goat pen/hot climate some lactic/sour milk underacid bit rough/coarse/tannic/rustic flavor; med.short coarse/rustic/tannic somewhat unclean/goat pen finish; w/ no redeeming features and overpriced. $21.00 (KK)
  10. Rosa d'OroVnyds Sagrantino OsoVistaVnyd/TracyHills/LakeCnty (4 brls; 14.4%; www.RosadOroWine.com) 2010: Light color; levely very spicy/perfumed/aromatic bright cherry/Pinotish beautiful nose; tart bit lean/tannic lovely bright/ cherry/spicy/Pinotish slight earthy light pencilly/oak flavor; very long lovely bright/vibrant cherry/Pinotish/spicy light pencilly/oak slight tannic finish; needs several yrs; lighter than expected and much like a Pinot in character; quite a pretty wine at a very good price. $24.00
  11. Perticaia DOCG: Montefalco Sagrantino (14%) GuidoGuardigli/Montefalco/Perugia 2004: Very dark color; quite unclean/ bretty/fecal/lactic/milk of magnesia rather earthy/sweaty sox some plummy/ blackberry/licorice/pungent bit toasty/ charred/oak complex nose; soft rather unclean/bretty/ fecal/lactic/sour somewhat tannic/hard bit plummy/licorice/ boysenberry somewhat charred/toasty/oak flavor; long hard/tannic/structured rather bretty/fecal/unclean/lactic some licorice/boysenberry/ plummy charred/oak finish; a big/structured wine more in an international style but way too unclean and lactic; like an empty carton of milk left on the counter for a month; way overpriced. $55.00 (SFW&S)

And the usual BloodyPulpit:

1. Refosco: One of my very favorite varieties. Mostly grown in Friuli & Slovenia. For many yrs, it was available in Calif as simply Refosco, but that variety distributed by FPS was later found to actually be MondeuseNoir. The recognized superior Refosco is called Refosco dal PeduncolaRosso (Refosco w/ the red pedicale).

According to Pietro's blog (www.rosadorowine.blogspot.com/), which contains a wealth of information, they have planted Refosco Nostrano (FPS Refosco 03), another recognized clone of Refosco. The Matthiasson's, which was the first Calif Refosco I've tried, supposedly have the Refosco dPR clone.

The Rosa d'Oro Refosco was easily the best of these three. It spoke strongly of Refosco and was nicely structured. I found the Venicia was a bit soft & unstructured, though there were some who claimed it to be much more tannic than the Rosa d'Oro. I simply didn't get that, though.

The Vivac was a big disappointment. I had it on release and thought it quite nice, one of the better Vivac reds I've had. But it has not evolved well in the btl. The grapes come from Paolo d'Andrea's vnyd down in the MimbresVlly near Deming. Quite a hot growing area. In addition, the sagebrush and chamisa plants in the area throw off an oil into the air, much like eucalyptus, that gives the reds from here a distinct musky taint. I am not sure of the authenticity of Paola's Refosco and he's not responded to my inqueries. The grapes from here are generally underacid and this wine was probably acidified, overly so, that gives it a rather screechy/ citric quality now with age. Not a good showing.
2. Montepulciano: Neither of these two Montepulcianos did much for me. They both had a pleasant simple grapiness to them, but not much in the way of really distinctive character. Preferred the Rosa d'Oro because of its higher acidity gave more liveliness on the palate. I've only had 4-5 Calif Montepulcianos, with the Mahoney Estate probably the best of the bunch. The wines seem mostly like "Oakland" wines....there's no there there. The Italian ones are not a whole lot better and often marred by unclean winemaking.
3. Aglianico: I've only had a few of these from Calif, but I've been, across the board, rather impressed. They seem to resemble Syrah somewhat, but w/ a more pungent, bt more brooding character w/o the high-toned notes that Syrah sometimes displays. The best I've had was the Ryme from KunaMataVnyd in Paso. This Rosa d'Ora, however, is right up there w/ Ryan & Magan's version. Not yet tried the Giornatta version. OTOH, I've never been impressed w/ those from Italy. They often show too much hot-climate/goat pen character and are often marred by unclean winemaking. But I hope to see more Aglianicos come from Calif. Would think it would make good wine in Lodi.
4. Sagrantino: I've only had a few Sagrantinos from Italy (Caprai, Coltrepone). They struck as pretty big/extracted reds, mostly in an international style designed to appeal to Monktown attourneys. This was my first Pertacaia. and seemed to be along those same lines.

This was my first Calif Sagrantino aand quite different from what I was expecting; not at all big & extracted. I was quite taken by Pietro's rendition of Sagrantino; very perfumed and fragrant and rather light and quite like a Pinot in character. It seemed to transcend the LakeCnty terroir. Quite a pretty wine.

The only other Calif Sagrantino I know of is the KevinHamel/AliceFeiring cooperative effort. However, I shan't be trying that wine. Alice watered back the must on that wine to keep the alcohol down and I refuse to drink any unnatural wines that have been spoofalated and manipulated like that. Plus she priced it at $60+. Uncalled for.


[Additional Wine Reviews from Tom Hill]


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