Browse Tag


A little novel

[vineyard]Nera “La Novella” 2008 Terrazze Retiche di Sondrio Chiavennasca Bianco (Lombardy) – 80% nebbiolo, 20% chardonnay, and very white. Aromatically dominated – one might actually say overwhelmed without exaggerating – by ripe pear…not the spicy, mineralistic kind found in Alsatian pinot gris, but a clean, poised expression of the pure fruit. Bright with acidity, lit from within, and doing a bit of an exuberant jig in the glass, this wine is burst-out-laughing enjoyable. It shares with nebbiolo an aromatic primacy, but I think it would be hard to call this nebbiolo in a fully blind (as in blindfolded) taste test, and the chardonnay does round things out a bit. Wow, is this a blast to drink. (12/09)


[label]Verdi 2007 Oltrepò Pavese Vigna Costa Riesling Renano (Lombardy) – Less riesling character than in any previous bottle, and while I love the grape I’m not sure the diminishment is to the wine’s detriment. Sea salt and melon, limestone, slightly decayed flowers, and a textural wetness…it gets more intriguing with each sip. Yet I’m also not entirely convinced by the wine, which seems to churn and curl away from clear statements and wholeness. Needs time, maybe. (7/09)

Sweatin’ to the Rainoldis

Rainoldi 2002 Valtellina “Superiore” Sassella “Riserva” (Lombardy) – Buttered toast with a slight char. Red fruit that’s been sitting in the sun too long, with a nice bite of amaro and barely-restrained aggression, but why does it taste like nasty old oak diluted with brackish water? Barely drinkable. (2/09)


[vineyard]Verdi 2006 Oltrepò Pavese Riesling Renano “Vigna Costa” (Lombardy) – Riesling turned far enough up on the volume dial that there’s feedback; the weight is similar to a very ripe Wachau, though the aromatics veer off in a different direction. Chalk dust on the wind, dried grapefruit zest, and glacial water. Finishes balanced but heavy. Quite enticing, but I admit I wasn’t quite prepared for the heft. (1/09)

The witch, Paul Gascoigne, and the poplar

[label]Martilde 2004 Oltrepò Pavese Barbera “la Strega e la Gazza e il Pioppo…” (Lombardy) – This is probably the most “difficult” barbera I’ve ever tasted, though not in a bad way; it’s simply ridiculously young, and impossible to get at through layers upon layers of puff-pastry tannin. There seems to be a core of intense, fierce fruit, and the acidity is considerable, but right now this is a wine of structure, length, and the promise of duration. (6/08)

Lugana beach

[bottle]Tenuta Roveglia 2006 Lugana (Lombardy) – Quite striking, Leaves, yellow and green fruit, light traces of herbs, perhaps some freshly-cracked bivalves; there’s a lot going on in this wine, all at the same time, and the confusion is rather delicious. (3/08)

Albareda after dinner

Mamete Prevostini “Albareda” 2003 Sforzato di Valtellina (Lombardy) – Big blueberry and blackberry. Fruity and showing surprising signs of freshness. Powerful, spicy, and a little bit hot, with a long finish. In its idiom, it’s actually somewhat balanced. Not for the faint of palate, though. (2/07)

TN: On Garda

Vezzola “Costaripa” 1999 Garda Classico “Campo della Starne” (Lombardy) – Long-aged red cherries and orange squeezings with suggestions of a once-bright acidity, but now settling slowly into a caramelized, old-oak miasma. Probably better a few years ago, it’s quite tasty for the first half-hour, then fades inexorably away. (8/06)

30% groppello, 20% barbera, sangiovese and marzemino, 5% cabernet sauvignon and merlot. To be honest, it’s probably only creeping internationalization – cab and merlot, plus new wood – that has preserved this wine for seven years, as the appellation is not known as a long-aging one. Alcohol: 12.5%. Closure: cork. Importer: Empson. Web: