Browse Tag


Ulivi green

Cascina degli Ulivi 2007 “Montemarino” (Piedmont) – NB: this is technically a Vino da Tavola and non-vintage, but as the footnote to the wine’s name is “duemilasette,” I’m going to go ahead and en-vintage the name. There’s also a pretty involved declaration of practices on the back label, which I love to see (at the least, I wish most producers would put this information on the web somewhere if they don’t wish to clutter up their packaging in this fashion). The wine? Not for everyone, and even more so than it has been of late. Like layers of bronzing around an ambered core, there’s so much burnishing and abandonment of “fruit” as a primary oenological concept that it’s hard to put this in the context of anything but other wines of this type, many of which come from places where more oxidative wines (the Jura, certain stretches of the Loire, Friuli) are more common. But to this, I ask: who cares? The wine’s delicious. It tastes like very little else, but it has soul streaming from its discontinuities. It’s labeled in such a way that one can’t say they weren’t warned. And it’s really, really interesting. (2/11)


Sella 2005 Lessona (Piedmont) – Completely unapproachable right now. The finish is long, there’s clearly-evident power, and the structure is intact, but there’s no way to get at anything more generous or interesting at the moment. (2/11)

Ccia pet

La Casaccia 2007 Barbera del Monferrato (Piedmont) – Presents itself with a smooth slickness, but soon gives its true self away: vibrant acidity, dark and rough-necked minerality, and a fair bit of churn and motion. It finishes as pristine and poised as it started. Experience suggests that this is a wine that rewards aging, and it is quite primary right now. (11/10)

Ruché Martin

Montalbera 2008 Ruché Castagnole Monferrato “La Tradizione” (Piedmont) – Actually restrained for a ruché, though threatening to burst from its containment cell at any moment. I’m not sure I’ve ever successfully described the aromas of a ruché, and I doubt I’ll start now. There’s a whole bouquet of flowers, various fruit syrups (though the wine’s not the least bit sweet), berries, citrus – both juice and rind – and some other stuff that I couldn’t even begin to describe. Yet here it’s veiled, a bit, letting the rough-cut structure take over more of the leading actor’s lines. I can’t quite decide if I like it or not. I think I do, but I keep expecting more, so maybe I don’t. (11/10)

Don’t it make you wanna Colla?

Poderi Colla 2006 Langhe Pinot Noir “Campo Romano” (Piedmont) – A recent closeout, purchased for very few dollars due to the retailer’s belief that it was of dubious quality. Dubious is not inaccurate, but I’m not quite sure how to characterize the qualitative state of the wine as it is now. First, I’m not sure whether or not I’d peg this as pinot noir without knowing same…smelling it while looking at the label, there are some obvious signs in the form of gentle, sweetish-berry and leaf aromatics, but the color (despite a quick fade at the rim) is a bit darker than the already-progressing nose would indicate, and there’s a spiky, very slightly volatile stridency to the aroma that elevates a pineapple-ish stowaway as it evaporates. Structurally – and again, knowing what the wine is when I say this – it speaks more of the Langhe than the grape, with a not-green-but-far-from-soft tannin more reminiscent of dolcetto, or even nebbiolo in its simplest forms, than of pinot noir. There’s no lack of acidity, either…one’s palate is awash in reactive liquids from the first moment this wine is sipped. I can’t say I have much confidence in this bottle’s future, though of course as a closeout its provenance has not been assured, but I don’t know how much I embrace its present, either. Since I didn’t have it at release, it’s hard to say much about it’s trajectory, either. As it stands: a zippy mouthful of conflicted influences, recognizable as what it is and where it’s from, but also challenging those notions, and while tasty enough in need of a calming and/or masking food companion to tame its more brazen inconsistencies. (10/10)


Bricco Mondalino 2007 Barbera del Monferrato Superiore (Piedmont) – Bright red-berry acidity, apple juice, gravelly minerality, and all the freshness married to light complexity one could want. Why do more barbera producers not make wines like this, instead churning out anonymous inanities lathered with oak and size? (9/10)


Vajra 2005 Dolcetto d’Alba “coste & fossati” (Piedmont) – This is the one wine in the Vajra portfolio that I just can’t quite figure out, and yet I keep buying bottles expecting some sort of revelation that never quite arrives. Dark fruit, chewy and structured, with a brace of acids and a long tail of razored feathers. A little lacking in the midpalate. Good, but not (at least for me) one of Vajra’s more joyful efforts. (9/10)

Colla cab

Poderi Colla 2007 Langhe Freisa (Piedmont) – Freisa comes in a fair range of styles, though it’s almost never clear which one is going to get without actually opening the bottle. Here’s one of the tight-frothed, almost slushy versions, reminiscent of its spiritual (if not actually related) peers among the lambrusco set. The vibrancy and intense pong of the violent purple churn – as intense as any fruit bomb but with light and verve rather than weight and tedium – is astew with violets and exotic pepper dust. Really, really fun. (9/10)


Cascina Roera 2004 Barbera d’Asti Cardin (Piedmont) – The first barbera I’ve been able to convince myself to drink since tasting zillions of them in the Piedmont, and just about the only reason I’m able to do so is the importer (Adonna), whose wines don’t traffic in the misplaced ambition and sloppy internationalization that plagued so very many in that tasting. This is one of the pushed-fruit examples – not traditional and crisp, but not sloppily internationalized either – and handles both that fruit and a listed 15% alcohol (I wouldn’t be surprised were the actual number a bit higher) very well, with dark-berry fruit dominating the lighter, redder elements, but still keeping that fruit firmly in the realm of berries rather than something more luxuriant. There’s a bit of soil, some pepper, even some nearly licorice-like concentration that does put me in mind of similar genre-straddling wines in Valpolicella. It’s very good. Not cheap, but doing its best to live up to its price without extravagance, and there’s every indication that it might age for a little while. (8/10)