Posts Filed Under kick-ass wines

We Now Interrupt Our Regularly Scheduled Features To Kick Your Ass

Vinted on April 11, 2019 binned in kick-ass wines, wine review

Lately, I’ve been reserving this virtual space for featuring producers I have recently (ok, ok, more like not-so-recently) visited in-person, with my feet in tasting rooms, cellars, vineyards, dilapidated vineyard trucks, etc.

Today, however, I’m taking a short break from that feature run to turn your attention towards three items from the ever-expanding sample pool, all of which are exemplary examples of exquisite vinous fare, and all of which are perfectly capable of pulverizing your wine-guzzling ass in the best ways possible. Be forewarned, shiz is about to get very expensive.

Mouchao tinto 2013

2013 Herdade do Mouchão Tinto (Alentejo, $40)

One could make a very serious argument that this red is the finest produced in all of Alentejo, and maybe the world’s finest expression of the sometimes-maligned and almost-always-misunderstood Alicante Bouschet and Trincadeira grape varieties. I was converted to the chrch of Mouchão a couple of years ago, and happily have never looked back. Texture, tension, bramble, herbs, berries, graphite, and barely-tamed wildness are the names of the game (ok, that’s a long name but whatever). In terms of aging, this is a red that can easily go a decade without breaking a sweat…

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It’s Good To Be The Princess (Azienda Vitivinicola Condé Recent Releases)

Chiara Condello
Chiara Condello in non-princess mode

Chiara Condello grew up “ten minutes away” from Predappio’s Azienda Vitivinicola Condé, a place so picturesque – even by exceptionally picturesque Romagna standards – that it houses its own resort, which in turn houses its own restaurant in an area that’s nearly synonymous with Italian cuisine.

Condello’s father, Francesco, established this little slice of Napa-Route-29-in-the-heart-of-Romagna-wine-country in 2001, after retiring from real-estate finance brokering and consolidating nearly 80 hectares of vineyards (73 of which are devoted to Sangiovese, with a bit of Merlot and chardonnay making up the rest) from their previous owners.

Condé vineyards

The U-shaped Condé estate has 52 parcels, from which 7 wines are made, and boasts plantings dating back to the late 1930s on Spungone soils (sandy, sponge-like limestone rich in ancient seabed fossils) that date back a lot further (over three million years, to the Pliocene). In other words, it’s prime Sangio growing territory, with good winegrowing and winemaking talent behind it (including agronomist Federico Curtaz, eonologist Stefano Zoli, and Tuscan consultant Federico Staderini). Of course, they also have olive production. And, of course, they’re organic (“for me, it was crucial,” notes Chiara, “in terms of respect; I don’t want to change the balance that we have in the area”).

Chiara Condello has four acres of her own to play with on the estate, and has access to all of Condé’s winemaking resources. But before you write her off as embodying the stereotype of a modern European princess, you should know that Chiara studied Economics at Luigi Bocconi University in Milan; and got her CEMS Master in International Management; and is currently studying eonology; and seems to know what the hell she is doing when it comes to making Sangiovese (something that I learned firsthand when tasting these wines during a recent media visit)…

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If Wishes Were Horses… Or Dogs (Drei Donà Romagna Recent Releases)

Vinted on March 20, 2019 binned in kick-ass wines, on the road, sexy wines, wine review
Giovanna Drei Donà
Giovanna Drei Donà (& 1 of 10 dogs)

While Giovanna Drei Donà “hates” technical questions about wine, she is fond of horses; maybe more fond of horses than her children Ida Vittoria and Enrico, the fourth generation who have helped to run the winemaking operations at the picturesque Drei Donà estate now owned by her husband Count Claudio Drei Donà (who focused on its thirty hectares of land and its ‘La Palazza’ farmhouse, constructed around a fifteenth century watchtower, as a passion project after retiring from law in the 1990s).

Drei Donà’s wines are named after their several horses (after visiting during a media tour, I think that their ten or so dogs might be jealous, given their propensity for barking in seemingly coordinated protests), and she readily admits that she recalls the births of the horses “more than the birth of my sons!” Drei Donà’s horses earn their keep, apparently; they are one of the best litmus tests for proper grape ripeness: “when they start to eat the grapes, they’re ready.”

Drei Donà view 1
Drei Donà’s enviable “nestled” view

While “nestled” is an overused term bordering on cliche (both in the wine writing biz writ-large, and here on 1WD), if ever a vineyard was nestled, Drei Donà is it. The estate sits only about 150 meters high, located in the ancient hills between Forlì, Castrocaro and Predappio – on the other side of the hills from Montalcino. Its landscape is influenced by both the Adriatic coast and the Apennines mountains. As in ancient Romagnan times, Sangiovese is the focus here (“it’s maybe the oldest vine in the world” Giovanna proclaimed, though I suspect that’s true only in the world of Romagnan wine).

“Romagna is more known for food than for wine,” Giovanna admits, though Drei Donà makes a very good case for altering that global market perception. “This was a sort of peninsula in ancient times,” she notes, “with water running along the rocky soil beneath the clay and sand on which their vines are planted. Back to being nestled – bad weather tends to follow the hills and thus travel around their site, lowering disease pressure and enabling them to utilize organic viticultural practices. The results are wines about as bold – and with personalities nearly as strong – as Giovanna herself…

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And Then There Were… Five (Tenuta Casali Recent Releases)

Vinted on March 13, 2019 binned in crowd pleaser wines, kick-ass wines, on the road, sexy wines, wine review
Silvia Casali
Silvia Casali

What gives one the impetus to isolate yeasts, experiment with, say, cumbersome large barriques, and pursue crafting world-class Sangiovese in a region best known for bulk wine? Probably having regional winemaking in your blood.

That’s the sense that one might take away from a visit to Tenuta Casali, in Romagna’s Mercato Saraceno, where Silvia, Francesco and Daniele Casali now work with the previous Casali generation, Valerio and Paolo, who themselves took over in the late 1970s from grandfather Mario, who farmed their alluvial, stony, and white clay soils since the 1940s as a grower. So there are five family members now involved directly, doing all of the normal family-winery stuff while also attempting the aforementioned experimentation/fine-tuning, and yet I got the impression that things were running well enough, and personally did not notice anyone trying to kill one another while I was there…

Tenuta Casali view 1

Tenuta Casali sits astride the Savio Valley, which itself sits astride Italy’s Appenine hills in Romagna, with approximately twenty hectares of vines (all but twenty percent of which are devoted to Sangiovese) in effect bordered by Tuscany and the Adriatic.

Their vineyard placement – which also enjoys an elevation of between 500 and 800 feet – seems to work some mighty Romagna magic on their Sangio fruit; their reds were some of the best that I tasted during my media trip to the region last year. Not that their whites are slouching, as we’ll get into, well, immediately…

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