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Calatroni, the Lombardese treat

Calatroni 2010 Oltrepò Pavese Pinot Nero (Lombardy) – Dirt and blackish fruit with a fair bit of space between its components. Slightly gritty but non-aggressive, structurally, yet with the balance to age for a bit. There’s even a bit of swagger. I’m intrigued. (6/12)

Waltzing Martilde

Martilde 2009 Barbera “Sportello” (Lombardy) – From what I call the “third way” of barbera vinification: neither an acid razor nor a floozied-up international travesty, but the crisp yet full-fruited version, here done in darker berry (even a bit of black cherry) tones, yet retaining the essential, food-desiring throb of crispness. Delicious. (6/12)

The end of a little story

Nera “La Novella” 2008 Terrazze Retiche di Sondrio Chiavennasca Bianco (Lombardy) – The last bottle of what was a full-case purchase, and I don’t regret my decision to finish it off. It was, in the beginning, as much of a “stump the drunks” bit of tomfoolery as it was a purchase based on quality; I liked it well enough, but what I really loved was the idea of pouring a white wine for my expert friends and having them try to guess what it was, knowing that they would never arrive at “nebbiolo” as the answer. What does it taste like? I believe I’ve covered that. (10/11)

Triacca back

Triacca 2007 Valtellina Superiore Sassella (Lombardy) – Razor-slashed violets and carnivorous wild berries. Yet despite the implied violence, this is a fairly restrained Valtellina…tame, even…which has both good and bad sides. The good, of course, is that it’s much more approachable for the Valtellina-suspicious. The bad is that its cultists may find this not Valtellina-ish enough. Neither suspicious nor a cultist, I find the wine quite pleasant and very amenable to food. (8/11)

Puppet show

Vercesi del Castellazzo Oltrepò Pavese Pinot Nero “Gugiarolo” (Lombardy) – That is to say, the white. There’s something tutti-frutti into which blanched pinot noir falls into rather easily, whether in a modern “blush” conception or in something more traditional. I have no idea what steps are necessary to avoid this, but they weren’t taken here. Without avoiding the candy store, this is reduced to a mere parlor trick, a “stump the drunks” blind item rather than a wine worth the puzzlement. Other vintages (this one lacks a year, though it may have been on the swiftly-disposed cork) have been much more interesting, and lovers of candied pinot noir – heaven knows there’s plenty out there – may find more here to like than I do. (7/11)


Ramazzotti Amaro (Lombardy) – Pleasantly bitter, but dominated by licorice-espresso caramel. This might be the best of the commonly-available brands (my opinion changes, often based on what’s in the glass in front of me), but there’s more complexity (and, you know, bitterness) in other brands. (9/10)


Vercesi del Castellazzo 2009 Oltrepò Pavese Pinot Nero “Gugiarolo” (Lombardy) – A white made from pinot noir. Extremely aromatic. Not lurid, just heady. Along with crushed flowers and squeezed fruits goes a satiny texture that drifts back and forth across the border between tactility and adhesion. Just manages to avoid be heavy. Quite attractive. (2/11)


Nera “La Novella” 2008 Terrazze Retiche di Sondrio Chiavennasca Bianco (Lombardy) – Still chugging along, mostly along the lines of all the other notes I’ve posted so far, though perhaps a bit more angular than most. I’m choosing to see that as slight slippage, but it’s entirely possible that I’m convincing myself of that rather than letting the wine say it to me straight. (2/11)

Lots o’castle

Vercesi del Castellazzo 2008 Oltrepò Pavese Pinot Nero “Gugiarolo” (Lombardy) – I have, of late, been drinking through rather a quantity of white nebbiolo. And so here those crazy folks in Lombardy are with a white pinot noir. Well, it’s probably more pinot noir-like than the white nebbiolo is nebbiolo-like, in that it hasn’t shed all the structural and aromatic clues that attend to its redder form. It’s quite floral, a little earthy, and a nice, round burst of mouthfruit. And…it’s white. It is, to be frank, a little odd. Also, I wonder if there’s been some closure-related degradation, because the finish arrives allofasuddenwhere’dthewinego quick. Other bottles, or a more recent vintage, could be better. (2/11)

Nera far

Nera “La Novella” 2008 Terrazze Retiche di Sondrio Chiavennasca Bianco (Lombardy) – I continue to plow through these at the fastest possible rate, given the eventually-certain failure of the closure. No changes evident in this bottle; see all previous notes and pretend I’ve retyped them. (12/10)

Nera “La Novella” 2008 Terrazze Retiche di Sondrio Chiavennasca Bianco (Lombardy) – Some brighter shadings here, as if there’s lens flare on the fruit. Combine that with a little sharper acidity than is the norm, but otherwise status quo. (12/10)

Nera “La Novella” 2008 Terrazze Retiche di Sondrio Chiavennasca Bianco (Lombardy) – Blossoming, by which I mean the floral element here is more prominent. And is that pineapple I taste? The emergent unpredictability of this wine is, unfortunately, predicted by its synthetic cork. (12/10)

Nera “La Novella” 2008 Terrazze Retiche di Sondrio Chiavennasca Bianco (Lombardy) – On the other hand, here’s a cork that’s obviously held its seal, because this one tastes much like my earliest bottles: a range of crisp fruits in the apple and melon category, some grapefruit, a lot of white crystalline stuff encrusting the underbelly, with life and liveliness to spare. Pure fun, and this is why I bought a case. (12/10)

Nera “La Novella” 2008 Terrazze Retiche di Sondrio Chiavennasca Bianco (Lombardy) – See previous note. (12/10)

Nera “La Novella” 2008 Terrazze Retiche di Sondrio Chiavennasca Bianco (Lombardy) – The most dramatic fade yet, and what’s being left behind is mostly acidity. I’m down to two bottles, and I don’t see those surviving the month. (12/10)