Today’s theme is… confusion.
Where to start…
Ok, firstly, earlier this year I attended VINO2017 in NYC, the annual exposition of Italian wine, during which dozens of producers pour there wares. And so naturally, I am only going to talk about three of those dozens of producers.
Secondly, my highlights reel includes a sparkling… Gavi.
Thirdly, one of the producers I am about to mention has the word Grillo in the title, but hails not from Sicily in the south, but from Friuli-Venezia Giulia in the north. And they don’t produce a wine made from Grillo.
Oh, and for some of these wines, I don’t have prices or vintages. But I felt compelled to write about them anyway, because of their deliciousness.
See, it’s all perfectly clear, right?
No? Crap. Ok, look, just run with it an get these wines on your jaded little radar already, okay?…
2009 Mesma Gavi Spumante Metodo Classico (Gavi, $NA)
What a head-scratcher of a wine. Blind, you could have convinced me that it was Franciacorta, given its heady, yeasty, floral-filled nose, and all of that elegant, toasty goodness on the finish. Creamy and delicious, I kept coming back to this wine several times over the course of my two days at VINO2017, and kind of marveled at the craftsmanship of it each time. Some minor proof that there’s more to the Italian bubbles pudding than Franciacorta and Prosecco.
2014 Mesma Gavi Riserva “Vigna della Rovere Verde” (Gavi, $NA)
La Mesma Gavi is a family outfit headed up by three sisters; three sisters who apparently, given the range of expression in their wines, have varied views on how to use their 60-some-odd acres of Cortese grapes, and all of them are right. Of their still wines, this was my personal favorite; vibrant, expressive, mineral, but almost nutty. Beautiful, but serious, as though she was packing a dagger and was not afraid to exert deadly force if needed.
?? Caiaffa Vibrans Nero Di Troia Bio (Puglia, $NA)
Ah, Puglia… where “centuries-old agricultural techniques” is both a boon and (too often, I think) a bane. Much more the former than the latter in this case; in fact, this was such an intriguing red that, despite my inability to track down vintage and price, I decided it worth mentioning. This is another family-run outfit, located in Cerignola, and whatever they are doing with Puglia’s third-place red grape. There are violets galore here, and while it’s not lively in terms of acidity, it’s no flab-monster, either. And those irascible Nero di Troia tannins? They’ve been quite tamed here, thankyouverymuch.
2015 Tenuta Grillo Friulano (Colli Orientali del Friuli, NA)
Guess what… another family run biz, since the 1970s, operating out of a manor house that dates back to the 1700s, the confusingly-named Grillo has crafted a very winning and winsome Friulano here. Almonds, citrus, white flowers, you get the sense that this wine is quite young, and will blossom even more fully in time. But those petals are opening up now, and they look fantastic.
2014 Tenuta Grillo Prepotto Schioppettino (Colli Orientali del Friuli, $22)
When I taste reds like this, I start to wonder why Schioppettino – in a way, Northern Italy’s answer to Beaujolais – isn’t somehow a thing. Well, at least, isn’t somehow a bigger thing. And yeah, I know that it was practically wiped out a couple of times… But still… the red berry fruitiness, peppery goodness, fields-of-violets friendliness… Get on this grape, people, get on this grape…
2013 Tenuta Grillo Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso (Colli Orientali del Friuli, $28)
Now, Refosco’s troubles hitting the wine mainstream, I have much less trouble understanding. In careless hands, these wines are almost undrinkable; bitter, tannic, pruny, bitter, and, well, bitter. But Grillo has stepped up the game here, methinks; there’s plummy fruit, deep structure, but a sense that the whole package is settled down, comfortable in its own skin, and is ready for a big hunk of lamb.