Lageder 2009 Vigneti delle Dolomiti Pinot Grigio (Trentino) – Pinot grigio for those who don’t like pinot grigio, and this is only the basic version: firm, rock-infused, with restrained, polished fruit and just enough grip. (11/11)
La Valentina 2010 Trebbiano d’Abruzzo (Abruzzi) – One can, on occasion, ask much of certain variants of trebbiano and receive much in return, but in general it’s best to ask not what your trebbiano can do for you. The result is that you won’t be disappointed in wines like this: good, clean, green fruit in a tart, linear, narrow-gauge cylinder. Perfectly decent and undemanding, yet the wine geek in me demands more. (11/11)
Nalles Magré 2007 Schiava (Alto Adige) – Prettily fruited, marrying blackberry and quince with salmiakki. Simple but very appealing, with a winning lightness. (1/12)
Punta Crena 2008 Colline Savonesi “Cruvin” (Liguria) – For an hour or so after opening, this is surly and decidedly incomplete, its astringency scraping any notion of fruit or pleasure from the palate. Things change, though. While it’s never other than chalky, that quality becomes a lot more interesting when it’s a textural counterpoint to a richer mélange of black fruit and porcini. This is a wine of soil. (1/12)
Forsoni “Poderi Sanguineto I e II” 2009 Rosso di Montepulciano (Tuscany) – This wine continues to encapsulate a “lost” Tuscany for me, though to be fair I have been so cynical, for so long, about the region that for all I know I’m missing a viticultural counterrevolution and quality without excessive artifice is once more ascendant. But probably not.
What I mean by the preceding is that there’s a culinary succulence to the region’s reds in their envisioned form, especially the simpler ones, and that more than anything else it’s the loss of that appeal (in favor of spectacle) that has damaged so many wines. That succulence is in display here, though the wine isn’t really that simple. If the fruit’s purple, it’s a very light purple, and what’s red is a very dark red, so meet somewhere in the middle and call it magenta-tinted – we are still talking about the fruit quality here, not the color of the wine – with nice acidity, brittle but balanced tannin that breaks quickly down into a suppler particulate form, and a fine, poised finished. A wine to buy and drink in quantity. Cellaring? I’ve only ever stashed one bottle deep enough to find out, but I suspect most will – like me – find the immediacy too tempting. (12/11)
Occhipinti 2009 “SP68” Rosso (Sicily) – Nero d’avola & frappato. This is my favorite of all Occhipinti’s wines to show to people for the first time, due to a varietal pairing that offers qualities both affable and serious (and, it must be said, a much lower instance of random volatile acidity spikes). There’s fun, strawberryish fruit and there’s darker, moodier, silt-and-bark “fruit” carrying the structure along with it, and the combination is captivating. (12/11)
Dettori “Badde Nigolosu” 2007 Romangia Bianco (Sardinia) – 15.5%. Let’s get the volatility out of the way first: yes, there’s some, but it’s well-managed (and since I’m very sensitive to the stuff, normal human beings probably won’t even notice it). And to deal with the second plumptious elephant in the room, the alcohol is very perceptible as size but not as heat, which is – this is a pet theory of mine, but increasing experience bears it out – largely due to the orange wine-like structure of this particular beast, which seems to block or otherwise mask the booze. As for the rest, it’s sun-drenched, rich with kaleidoscopic flavors nudged in the direction of stone fruit, and texturally adhesive. This is a delicious wine, but far too powerful to just open willy or nilly; it needs the right sparring partner. (12/11)
Castello della Paneretta 2001 Chianti Classico (Tuscany) – So massively better than the 1999 Riservas (which are dead or dying) that I almost have to wonder if oak can be damaging. Oh, no. Couldn’t possibly be, could it?
Strawberry sharpness, with a lash of acidity and barky undertannins, yet perfectly cohesive. The fruit isn’t done maturing, yet I think the wine as a whole has gone about as far as it should; the structure has evaporated, leaving the shells and superstructures rather exposed, and I don’t believe further cellaring will improve the view. (12/11)
Occhipinti “Alea Viva” 2009 Lazio Rosso (Lazio) – There’s too much volatile acidity for me to really enjoy this wine, but for those less sensitive to nail polish remover as a beverage, there’s a fizzy sort of black’n’blue berry soda quality to the wine that’s a lot of fun. It’s intense, it’s in fact very nearly impossible to ignore, but it manages to play pretty well with food. Food slathered with a sauce based on ethyl acetate, though. (12/11)
Brovia 2010 Roero Arneis (Piedmont) – I’d say that this wine serves as a constant counterpoint to those who insist that the Piedmont doesn’t produce interesting white wines, but of course a handful of fine arneis (and the very occasional nascetta) do not a robust counterargument make. Dense, with just enough light and space to let the apple blossom and honey (dry, dry honey) through, as they ooze with white powdered minerality. (11/11)