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Amarone, Amarone

Bussola 2005 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico (Veneto) – Clean, restrained prune and concentrated grape. Not a very complex Amarone (though it’s young), but surprisingly light despite its obvious dried, skin-dominated characteristics. Much freer of volatile acidity than these things usually are, and with no apparent botrytis influence, I’d be interested to see how this develops. Probably much like overdriven New World pinot noir, its organoleptic cousin… (9/11)


Pieropan 2007 Soave Classico (Veneto) – This has always seemed like drinking pure liquid essence of some gritty white-powder mineral, reserved to the point of austerity but with a certain majesty…a bit faded, but still proud. What “fruit” there is shows leafy and easily-blown by the wind. (8/11)

Horses in Nevada

Pieropan 2006 Soave Classico Calvarino (Veneto) – Chalk and powdered sugar minerality with dried leaves and not-minor oxidation, in the manner of this wine from many – not all – vintages. Experience says this will age, developing its minerality. On-the-spot assessment says it will not reward that aging. Which is right? Probably the former. (5/11)

Piane not-so-forte

Coste Piane Prosecco di Valdobbiadene (Veneto) – The dullest bottle from this producer that I’ve ever had. Let’s put that in context: it’s a saline dust devil, practiced in avoidance while jabbing its point home, layering fine particulate sprays of sand on the palate, then swirling away once again. But it’s muted, rectitudinous, even a little surly. Possibly a non-representative bottle. I hope it is, anyway, because when their wines are on form, they’re very special. (2/11)

Admiral Adami

Adami 2008 Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Vigneto Giardino (Veneto) – Among the best prosecco I’ve tasted (the prime example still being the house pour at Corte Sconta in Venice), with crystallized minerality and chalk swimming about a dryish memory-of-citrus froth. Not so much linear as helixed, but still unidirectional in the four-dimensional plane. (Translation of the previous nonsense: quite good.) (12/10)

La Perlara of the Orient

ca’Rugate 2002 Recioto di Soave “La Perlara” (Veneto) – 500 ml. Pretty much the perfect point for a recioto di Soave, with the smiling white stone fruit laced with makrut lime giving way to coppery minerality and ever-increasing density. Is it marvelously complex and lingering? No. But it’s quite good. (12/10)

Sole Custoza

Corte Gardoni 2006 Custoza (Veneto) – Oxidized. 100% oxidized. Not even useful as cooking wine, at this point. Undoubtedly a closure effect. (11/10)

Ain’t no Semonte high enough

Venturini 2003 Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripasso “Semonte Alto” (Veneto) – If someone poured this for me from an unmarked container and told me it was a slightly fresher take on Amarone, I would not be the least bit surprised. Ripasso flavors cranked past 11 to about 15, leaving a thick paste of licorice, strawberry, and quince of incredible density. It seems like it should be structured, but even the tannin can’t really rise to this level of density, and there’s no useful acidity to speak of. It’s actually not bad at all, and would be extremely appealing for those who love this sort of specific gravity in all their wines, but to say it’s more of a spread for toast than it is a wine would not be unreasonable. (11/10)

Nardini’s escape

Nardini “Bassano” Grappa (Veneto) – Dominated by its floral/fruity/nutty notes rather than its heat or gasaholic stridency, which is welcome and unfortunately not common enough with grappa. (5/10)