Posts Filed Under wine review

Less Is More (Marangona Lugana Recent Releases)

Vinted on June 2, 2017 binned in elegant wines, on the road, overachiever wines, sexy wines, wine review
Marangona's Alessandro Cutolo

Marangona’s Alessandro Cutolo

Alessandro Cutolo kind of looks like a viking.

Aside from close proximity to a body of water (in this case, the Italian Lake Garda), however, the heavy-handed Old Norse warrior comparison fizzles out completely. Because at the crossing of the Veneto and Lombardia regions, Cutolo, as owner and winemaker of Lugana’s Marangona, crafts elegant, svelte whites without even a hint of the roughshod among them; thanks in part to what could only be described as a minimalist approach.

Marangona vines“I want to do as little as possible,” Cutolo told me during a recent media-trip visit, “to [express] my idea of the wine.”

This don’t-touch-it-in-fact-don’t-eben-look-at-it-you’ve-already-seen-enough approach starts in his calcareous-clay soil vineyard, where the grass is high (“it helps with disease”) and the treatments are few. “If it’s possible to have less [impact],” he remarked, “than why not?”

Cutolo owns 27 hectares of ten to fifty year-old vines in Lugana, most of them planted to the deceptively age-worthy Turbiana variety. The estate’s buildings date from the late 1600s, and his family farmed grapes, corn, and cattle here since the 1950s. He now produces about one hundred thousand bottles of (downright delectable) Lugana wine per year…

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Once More, Unto The Breach (VinItaly 2017 Highlights, Part 2)

Vinted on May 24, 2017 binned in Italian Wine, on the road, wine review
Verona garden

A scene from Verona… or the opening of “The Prisoner”

Forthwith, we continue my highlights from the 2017 incarnation of VinItaly, held in Verona earlier this year, and to which I was lucky enough to have been invited as a media guest.

[ For background on VinItaly, details on the first batch of wines that grabbed my vinous attention at the event, and the format for these highlight reels, see Part 1. ]

We have many a wine to highlight in this second installment, so… a rush, and a push, and the land will be ours… let’s charge right into things. First, the bubbles:

Soave Durello VinItaly 20172016 Ca’ d’Or Lessini Durello Blanc de Blancs Selezione Vintage, $NA

Lessini Durello is an odd bird of a wine; it’s growing, for sure (from 3 to 26 producers in the last two decades, now pumping out about one million bottles per year), but its primary calling card, aside from the bubbles, is still acidity. And I mean, acidity. As in, face-ripping, blood-of-the-Alien-zenomorph kind of acidity.

What I liked about the Ca’ d’Or Selezione is that it offered aspects beyond the face-peeling and gum recession: tropical and exotic fruit notes, limes, white flowers, and pineapple hints that were more subtle than overt. This is Durello tweaked up a notch or two, with an emphasis on balancing all of that ample acidity with purity of fruit….

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Expo Be Crazy! (VinItaly 2017 Highlights, Part 1)

Vinted on May 19, 2017 binned in Italian Wine, on the road, wine review

VinItaly is… well… totally folle.

Held in Verona, Italy, bringing together hundreds of soon-to-be-inebriated members of the wine biz/trade/press/you-name-it, and functioning as a focal point for all (and I do mean all) of the wine regions of Italy, there is no other world wine event that combines quite the same blend of creativity, craftsmanship, and chaos.

Vintitaly crowd 1

Throngs of the soon-to-be-drunken at VinItaly 2017

That VinItaly has been held for decades and still isn’t quite what the Germans would consider as appropriately organized is less a statement about the event itself (which is, all in all, quite well-run), and much more an aspect of the reality that no one (and I say this as someone of Italian descent) is going to be able to successfully corral that many Italians in one place at the same time.

Joe @ VinItaly 2017

Cleaning up (apart from the shaving) for VinItaly 2017 in Verona

VinItaly, for all of its madcap madness, is actually an overwhelming surfeit of vinous pleasure for lovers of Italian wine. Weaving in an out of the complex of crowded, airplane-hangar-sized event spaces (organized by Italian wine regions), on the second day of the event I actually found myself wondering if I was going to be able to make it the full four days.  And I’m an extrovert.

But once everything was over, I found myself loving VinItaly. Not despite the madness, but because of it; because that unpredictable chaos is baked into the DNA of Italy, and, to some extent, its wines. So it’s fitting that some of my most memorable tasting episodes took place entirely by chance while I was there on a media invite earlier this year.

Because VinItaly is so, well, folle, I’m going to break up the highlights into two separate posts. As always with 1WD feature material, the focus is on the stuff that I fond most interesting; the wines that really blew my dress up for whatever reasons. There are a few too many highlights for me to give them the badge treatments, which I hope and trust that you’ll forgive. Not all of these wines are available stateside, and I’m hoping that some focus here can help rectify that.

So pour yourself a glass of something obscure from the Italian hinterlands, and let’s delve headfirst into the chaos…

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Butt Bugs And The Art Of Mellowing Out (Recent – And Not So Recent – Trabucco Rapicano Releases)

Vinted on May 11, 2017 binned in kick-ass wines, on the road, wine review

Trabucco vineyard

You wouldn’t necessarily know it when meeting him, but Nicola Trabucco‘s childhood nicknames (which in turn provide the fantasy names for two of his eponymous winery’s releases) included “bug up the ass” and “active.”

Maybe the former consulting agronomist/enologist (and, it could be argued, aging Michael Keaton doppelganger) has mellowed with age? That would be fitting, considering how his flagship Aglianico performs after several years of bottle rest. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves; context first, right?

Nicola Trabucco

Nicola Trabucco

Trabucco spent over ten years as a consultant to wineries in Campania’s Falernum region, helping some of his clients achieve high scores from the traditional wine rags, and bringing additional attention (some of it unwanted, apparently) to the Monte Massico area, and a small explosion of sorts in the number of wineries producing and labeling Falerno. In 2003, he opened his own winery in a former Carinola stable, with vineyards seated not far from the coast, among the cherry trees dotted at various elevations on Massico.

By his own account, Trabucco can thank the past for much of his success. Aside from the high Parker scores that helped ensconce his consulting gig, the name Falerno itself is a favorite of history buffs, being derived from the famous falernian wine of ancient Rome. As Trabucco puts it, “Falerno today has little to do with the drink of antiquity.” For starters, that wine, though made from Aglianico, was probably white. But, like modern Campania reds, it was powerful; as Pliny the Elder put it, falernian vino was “the only wine that takes light when a flame is applied to it.” [ Editor’s note: I’ll bet that they were sober when they performed that experiment, too. ]

It’s how Aglianco fares over time, however, that constitutes its modern reputation; to wit, here’s a little trip down Trabucco’s corsia di memoria del vino rosso

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