Posts Filed Under wine review

Pert, Plus (Perticaia Recent – And Not-So-Recent! – Releases)

Perticaia plow

The name Perticaia is familiar to lovers of big Italian reds, but its meaning – “plow” in the local dialect – likely isn’t as well-known. It is, however, an apt description of how Azienda Agraria Perticaia has forced its way through to the top of the critical food chain when it comes to Montefalco Sagrantino wines.

For that, Perticaia can thank both timing and focus. The brand was founded by Guido Guardigli towards the end 1990s, when Montefalco began a quality boon and a production boom, during which the number of wineries in the region nearly quadrupled. They now farm some sixteen hectares of vines, with not an International grape variety to be found among them, and more or less focus on yields that take produce about one 750ml bottle of wine per plant. Of their 125,000 bottle annual production, a whopping seventy percent gets exported, which means that their oenologist Alessandro Meniconi (working with consultant Emiliano Falsin) is a self-proclaimed jack-of-all-trades, handling (among other things) some export management duties, as well.

Perticaia view

Among Montefalco Sagrantino producers, Perticaia is one of the more fastidious when it comes to production techniques, and understanding those is key to getting a full grasp of why their Sagrantino releases are so appealing at such young ages. Only about fifteen percent new French oak is used, with the remainder in some cases being as old as six years, which is kind of like the dotage period in French oak barrel terms (they’re making a push to move towards higher use of older, larger barriques, too).

The big key, however, might be in their seemingly non-intuitive, ass-backwards decision to let their Sagrantino undergo longer than normal maceration. One would think that this would make those reds tougher-than-nails when it comes to Sagrantino’s already rough tannins, but one would be wrong, because Chemistry. The longer maceration actually polymerizes the tannins, making them more approachable at the expense of color (which, as Meniconi emphasized to me during a media visit, “Sagrantino has plenty of, anyway)…

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Kinky Sex Drinking, And “Educative” Viticulture (Back Through Time With Romanelli Montefalco Sagrantino)

Vinted on April 4, 2018 binned in kick-ass wines, sexy wines, wine review

Romanelli vines

Drinking Montefalco Sagrantino is kind of like having kinky sex.

I mean, there’s the juicy anticipation phase when you smell all of that ripe red fruit and spice on the nose; then there’s the sexy, feel-good phase when the wine enters your palate like silk; and then… WHACK! The tannins smack/bite/spank you.

Devis Romanelli

Devis Romanelli instructs us visitors on the proper use of cell phones in Montefalco. Or not.

This is not to say that you should assume that abyone drinking Montefalco Sagrantino is into kinky sex, it’s just to give you degenerately progressive and tolerant 1WD readers a frame of reference, and show you where my own head was during my recent media visit to the region.

During that trip, I decided to have a visit to the relatively small (eight hectares, about 45,000 bottles/year) and decidedly non-kinky (family-run) producer Romanelli, who’s vineyards sit in the northeastern corner of the region, and who I strongly suspect will not exactly be totally thrilled that I opened their feature here with a reference to kinky sex. Anyway… with the high winds there, it’s a great spot for passito style dessert wines (FTR, theirs is spicy, racy, and pure, and well-worth seeking out), but also (as is common in Montefalco) for several types of farming.

Devis Romanelli, who took over the winemaking reins in 2007, has been making a push to certify Romanelli’s olive oil and vines as organic, which isn’t easy in the sunny-but-continental Montefalco climate. “2013 was very… educative for me for organic viticulture” he quipped.

Devis’ grandfather purchased the farm in the late 1970s, during which it was also producing wheat, olives, and supporting cattle; grapes were sold to the once-ubiquitous Montefalco co-ops. Their Sagrantino comes mostly from their San Clemente vines, which grow on a limestone/clay mixture. It’s these that are in the 1WD review focus today, as Devis walked me through a tasting of their Sagrantinos going back to his first vintage… so buckle up, and get your safe words ready…

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High Tension Wires, Low Tension Views (Mas de l’Abundancia Montsant Recent Releases)

Mas de l'Abundància view

Jesús del Rio Mateu, proprietor of the Masroig-area Mas de l’Abundància – doesn’t just have an enviable name; he’s also got an enviably amazing vineyard view, enviably old vines, and sits enviably close to one of Spain’s critical-darling DOs, Priorat.

He also has an enviably-close relationship to a good importer, Folio Wine Partners, owned by the Michael Mondavi clan, who, Jesús is quick to point out, love to visit his hilly, llicorella-heavy eight hectares of aging vines.

Jesús del Rio Mateu

Jesús del Rio Mateu

“‘Can you fell the energy?’ That’s what they said when they were here,” he told me during a media tour visit to his Montsant DO estate. And while Jesús’ “house of plenty” certainly has its own energetic charm, my guess is that the tingling vibes felt by the Mondavis on their visit had more to do with the overhead high-tension power lines. Either that, or it was the pent-up tension in their shoulder-blades being released after taking in the glory of the scenery.

Anyway… the dramatic views of Priorat and the encapsulating Montsant mountain ranges from Jesús’ vines seem to have imbued him with senses of both literal and figurative perspective about the place; after all, this region of Spain has belonged to monks, aristocrats, Romans, and Arabs. Jesús puts it this way: “this doesn’t belong to me; I belong to it.”

The “it” in this case, coupled with ample sunlight, elevation, slope, and a continental climate, have combined to produce Montsant wines that are nearly as compelling, dramatic energetic, and “deep” as Mas de l’Abundància’s location…

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First Coffee, Then Tannins (Antonelli Montefalco Recent Releases)

Filipo Antonelli

Filipo Antonelli

It’s a wet, chilly, grey Winter morning in San Marco, a locality that sits just outside of Italy’s Montefalco and the ridiculously-well-named town of Bastardo. And I’ve had to wait in the damp cold for a short bit, because Filippo Antonelli is a bit late for our appointment at his family’s winery (hey, welcome to Umbria, right?). And that’s pretty much the only slightly-negative thing that you’ll read about Antonelli over the next few minutes… but let’s set the stage with a little bit more detail before we get into the effusive wine recommendation stuff…

Filippo opens up the Antonelli tasting room, which sits on a hill across from the old family house/cellar/former winery, and starts to bring the charmingly imposing place to life, switching on the lights, and asking me “would you like a coffee?”

I tell him no, grazie, I just had plenty of java at my hotel, so I’m good.

Antonelli cellarAfter a bit of a pause, he turns towards the espresso machine longingly, then back to me. “Do you mind if I have one, then, before we get started?” And that’s one of those moments where you just love Italy.

Anyway, Filipo then gives me the lowdown on the Antonelli biz. He co-owns (since 1986) the family company along with his cousins, with the Umbria property being from his father’s side (and formerly, for about six centuries, being the Summer residence of bishops – part of the fact that Umbria was a portion of the Vatican state until the Eighteenth Century). His great grandfather Francesco was a lawyer, who purchased the estate in 1881. At that time, it was typical Umbrian farming fare; a mix of vines, olive trees, pig farms, and wheat, with the wine being sold in bulk and crop-sharing being the norm. After the advent of the DOC in 1979, they began bottling their own wine, and now release about 300,000 bottles a year from 50 hectares of vines (and still farm olives, wheat, spelt, chick peas, and host agritourism (that is an actualy word, by the way) on roughly 170 hectares of land).

A new subterranean winery was built in 2001. And from it comes perhaps some of the most elegantly-crafted Sagrantino available on the planet…

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