[barrel logo] [oenoLogic]








[frequently asked questions]

home > articles

The boot of authenticity

The Italian (and French) wines of Louis/Dressner

by Thor Iverson

A tasting of (most of) the Louis/Dressner Italian portfolio, with winery representatives in attendance. Some of them extremely beautiful. That's just not playing fair.

Bera 2006 “Arcese” (Piedmont) – A field blend of cortese, arneis, and favorita. At first, it’s soupy and reductive, and when the next impressions are marshmallow and banana, I’m a little concerned. Thankfully, it veers back towards normalcy, showing soft white roses and a slightly firmer, more acidic finish. I’m not in love with this wine, though. (1/08)

Bera 2005 Dolcetto Monferrato Bricco della Serra (Piedmont) – Very floral, with good, chalky tannin and fine acidity that slices up black cherry skins. The finish is long and drying, with the dust and shells from freshly-ground peppercorns and other lingering floral suggestions. Good…only just…though there’s a potential future upside. (1/08)

Bera 2005 Barbera d’Asti Ronco Malo (Piedmont) – Pure red fruit with deeper nut and soil tones pulsing from the core. Long, structured, and beautiful. Really excellent. (1/08)

Bera 2007 Moscato d’Asti “Canelli” (Piedmont) – Not moscato d’Asti as it’s commonly understood, but an almost passito expression…and not gassed, but rather allowed to spontaneously referment. Plus – unlike the vast majority of similarly-labeled wines – meant to age. Its delicate bead is soft yet surprisingly persistent, and the palate is rich with melon and grape. None of the usual flower-truck-crashing-into-a-perfume-shop stuff here. The strength and, it must be said, seriousness of this wine are as surprising as they are profound. Absolutely terrific. (1/08)

[wines]Bellotti “Cascina degli Ulivi” 2006 Gavi (Piedmont) – An intense nose of tropical fruit that drifts away on a salty breeze, to replaced by white melon. The finish is, itself, fairly saline. There’s an interesting, twisted form to the wine that I can’t quite grasp. (1/08)

Bellotti “Cascina degli Ulivi” 2006 Gavi “Filagnotti” (Piedmont) – The nose is sour and leafy, perhaps a bit sauvage, but the palate shows great acidity washing over white minerals. Great presence. Long and solid, with a nutty, almost fino-like element to the finish. (1/08)

Bellotti “Cascina degli Ulivi” 2005 Monferrato Bianco “Montemarino” (Piedmont) – Reserved and tight, showing almonds and little else. It seems to be balanced, and it feels “big” under the clamping structure, with a long, chewy finish…though what one masticates is unidentifiably insubstantial. Highly ungenerous. Time? A lot of it, if so. (1/08)

Bellotti “Cascina degli Ulivi” 2005 Monferrato Dolcetto Nibiô Terre Rosse (Piedmont) – Nibiô is, essentially, what we might call an heirloom dolcetto in the States. Barky, sour, and wild; full of meadow flowers, charred forest, and dark soil. There’s a fascinating complexity here, with a long finish deep into its crescendo before it finally comes to a halt. Raw and untamed, for sure. (1/08)

Bellotti “Cascina degli Ulivi” 2005 Barbera “Mounbè” (Piedmont) – Soft but still somewhat wild, with huge red fruit married to shocking acidity. Long, gorgeous, and intense. A stunning throwback to an almost-lost style of barbera, but breathtakingly of-the-moment as well. In other words, neither traditionalist nor modernist could fault this wine. Wow. (1/08)

cascina ‘tavijn 2006 Grignolino d’Asti (Piedmont) – Small, tight, and slightly angry. Albino wine – all bones and shells – with white-pepper tannin. Quite acidic, too. Wants, needs, cries out for: food. (1/08)

cascina ‘tavijn 2006 Ruchè di Castagnole Monferrato (Piedmont) – Exotic florals and bitter candy. A strange combination. There’s a lot of lurid fun to be had, though it’s a little more structured than the last vintage I tasted (2004), with a long, spandexy finish. Hey, no one promised slavish conformity here… (1/08)

cascina ‘tavijn 2005 Barbera d’Asti (Piedmont) – Slightly medicinal, with big, fun acidity in the form of crisp apples fresh from the tree. It’s an acid that bites with the faintly bitter tang of underripeness. All red fruit on the finish. Old school! (1/08)

Occhipinti 2006 Il Frappato (Sicily) – Terrific soil aromatics, huge (but ripe) acidity, red strawberry-dominated fruit and red apple skins. Flowers, too. Long, building, and incredibly impressive. Great wine, and still in the first flush of its youth. (1/08)

Occhipinti 2006 Siccagno Nero d’Avola (Sicily) – Fennel fronds, crumbled tar, pomegranate, and layers of soil. I’ve never tasted anything like this. But we’re not done, either; there’s espresso bean, licorice, and gorgeous black fruit as well. Fascinating. Every time I go back to the glass, there’s something else to discover. This may have the best acid balance of any wine I’ve ever tasted, which gives the wine a soda-like intensity of tactility that marries perfectly with the rich tapestry of aromatics. It practically buzzes with electricity. Beautiful. Just beautiful. (1/08)

[vineyard]Montesecondo 2005 Toscana Rosso (Tuscany) – A field blend of sangiovese and canaiolo. Buzzy, light, semi-fresh strawberry and some meat. Simple. (1/08)

Montesecondo 2005 Chianti Classico (Tuscany) – Moderately intense strawberry stands out amidst otherwise violet-hued fruit. Structured, long, and authentic, with balance and purity. (1/08)

Montesecondo 2005 Toscana “Rosso del Rospo” (Tuscany) – Sangiovese, cabernet sauvignon, and some cabernet franc. Tobacco and blackberry with light red pepper. Long and balanced, with fine structure not yet divested of a lingering edginess. It’s not generous (though generosity is hardly a typical attribute of the cabernets anyway, except in the fucked-up New World), but it does lean more than a shade towards the tannic at the moment. Rather obviously it needs age, and plenty of it. (1/08)

[bottle]Roagna 2001 Langhe “Solea” (Piedmont) – A blend of chardonnay and nebbiolo. Yes, that’s right. And it’s a white wine, too. Exotic red fruit aromatics (plus strawberry and red cherry) and fat peach encased in a cylinder of acidity…there’s chardonnay at the exterior of this wine, but the core is all nebbiolo. It’s structured and a heck of a lot of fun, though I wonder if it might be more enjoyable for blind-tasting games than it is a surpassing use of the raw materials. (1/08)

Roagna 2006 Dolcetto d’Alba (Piedmont) – Acidic, lightly-fruited, and lightly tannic. I must note for the record that almost everyone around me loves this. I think there’s something off about it, but it’s not (obvious) TCA, so I keep fairly quiet. Based on other vintages, certainly, this is not what the wine’s supposed to taste like, so I’d suggest dismissing this note for now. (1/08)

Roagna 2000 Barbaresco Pajé (Piedmont) – Roasted nuts, flowers (mostly dandelions), and red fruit. Soft, gentle, and delicately complex, with precise but insistent acidity on the finish. Captivating, and partially so because it’s clearly not all there yet. (1/08)

Roagna 2003 Barolo Vigna Rionda (Piedmont) – Stunning aromatics of roses and old goat cheese rind (not ammoniated, just that beautiful melding of farmhouse and dairy). It is, however, strikingly tannic and imbalanced right now, though it’s long and full enough that I think there’s actually promise. It’ll be a long time coming, though. (1/08)

Roagna 2000 Barolo La Rocca e la Pira (Piedmont) – Beautiful and deep, with dark flowers, skins, and seeds forming both the aromatics and the structure of the wine, plus dark (unsweetened) chocolate melting on the finish. Yum. (1/08)

Roagna 1993 Barolo Rocca la Pira “Riserva” (Piedmont) – Lovely, leafy aromatics over nuts and grain. Softly structured and long, like a rich memory of autumn. (1/08)

Chinati Vergano “Americano” (Piedmont) – Grignolino d’Asti (from cascina ‘tavijn), vanilla, kumquat, abisinthe, and other stuff. Sweet and bitter, with starched cherries and great balance. Fascinating. (1/08)

Chinati Vergano “Luli” Chinato Moscato (Piedmont) – Moscato from Bera, plus cinnamon, coriander, vanilla, cardamom, quince, and more. Fascinating, exotic nose, white chocolate, and while its sweeter than most chinati I’ve tasted, the balance is good. Exciting and fruity. (1/08)

Chinati Vergano Chinato Nebbiolo (Piedmont) – Nebbiolo from someone in Barbaresco, cinnamon, cardamom, rhubarb, quince, and more. Finely-honed and bitter, with weedy ash and leaves…but in a good way…and showing medium-bodied dark fruit throughout. (1/08)

Cappellano 2005 Dolcetto d’Alba (Piedmont) – Big, rose-dominated flowers in the blackest soil, with a satiny texture. Long and structured, with a slight preference towards acidity. Dolcetto for the long haul, certainly, and quite accomplished without tasting like there’s “accomplishing” going on, if that makes any sense. (1/08)

Cappellano 2003 Nebbiolo d’Alba (Piedmont) – A touch of brett and a moderate amount of hard tannin eventually give way to fruity, seedy blackberry and a crisp finish of surprising lightness. Now that’s an outcome I didn’t expect from the initial impression. I think it’s good, but honestly I have no idea where it’s headed. (1/08)

Mayr-Nusser “Nusserhof” 2006 Blaterle (Alto Adige) – Or possibly Blatterle. There seems to be some disagreement between labels past and present, marketing materials, the web, dubious sources, and authoritative sources. I certainly can’t adjudicate. Anyway: papaya dominates a big, fat nose to which acidity and structure are joined much, much later. There are falling apple leaves, as well. This wine is all about cold-climate diffidence, and that’s pretty much how I feel about it. I’m still waiting for my blat(t)erle epiphany. (1/08)

Mayr-Nusser “Nusserhof” 2004 Lagrein “Riserva” (Alto Adige) – Quartzy minerality, cold verbena, and mint. Pretty, in a very Teutonic way, with a lovely finish (perhaps that comes after the Teutonic beauty finally warms up). (1/08)

Mayr-Nusser “Nusserhof” 2003 “Tyroldego” (Alto Adige) – If I gave out points (which I don’t), this one would get 100 of ‘em just for the label pun (for the less geeky, that’s the teroldego grape from the Südtirol, the name of the Alto Adige region amongst German speakers). Dusty and dark, with chewy cherry and fennel, plus a bit of peanut. Balanced, long. Perhaps a bit stiff, but otherwise solid. (1/08)

[grapes]Radikon 2001 “Oslavje” (Venezia Giulia) – Hugely complex, showing waxed almonds and other nuts, mixed Indian spices, corn…well, this is the sort of thing where I could go on all day. I won’t. Massively intense and intensely interesting, but still so, so young. (1/08)

Radikon 2001 Ribolla Gialla (Venezia Giulia) – Big, full and ripe. I see almost no way to not view this as a red wine, except…well, it’s white. Rainier cherries come at you amidst a solid wall of complexity, and there’s an endless, fairly tannic finish to deal with as well. This wine is not yet unthreaded from its tangled youth, either. (1/08)

Radikon 1999 “Oslavje Riserva” (Collio) – Even more than the ribolla, this is pure red wine in white form. Mixed chocolates and zillions of unidentifiable fruits coalesce into a huge, full-bodied, beautifully supple nectar. This is as rich as a wine can be without relying on either extreme residual sugar or oak (or both), but it’s far from heavy. Stunning. Stunning. (1/08)

At the end of the tasting, there’s a small collection of French intruders. They look slightly morose and out-of-place.

Roussel & Barrouillet “Clos Roche Blanche” 2006 Touraine Sauvignon “No. 2” (Loire) – Lightly sweet? “No,” says the importer. OK…rich, then. Fat and oily, even. There’s a foundation of chalk, and melon comes into play as well. It’s pure, a bit heavy, a bit short. A slightly perplexing performance. (1/08)

Luneau-Papin 2005 Muscadet Sèvre & Maine “Sur Lie” “L d’Or” (Loire) – Shells and grapefruit rind. Big. Elegant but insistent, and quite long. Really, really striking. (1/08)

Ollivier “Pépière” 2005 Muscadet Sèvre & Maine Granite de Clisson (Loire) – Strikingly mineral, even for Ollivier, but there’s more: blood orange rind, tiny white berries bursting with cold fruit, salt-infused sand. A touch distended on the finish, but otherwise wow-ish. (1/08)

JP Brun “Terres Dorées” 2006 Beaujolais Blanc Chardonnay (Beaujolais) – Salted gravel, lemon leaves, and orange blossom. Aromatically, this is approaching viognier territory at the moment, though it’s too light and lively to actually be viognier. (1/08)

Pinon 2006 Vouvray “Tradition” (Loire) – Melon and chalk. Upfront, pretty, and appealing. Macadamias on the finish. I find it hard to dislike, but I also wish there was more structure. (1/08)

Iché “Château d’Oupia” 2006 Minervois (Languedoc) – Very light mercaptans, funky and difficult throughout. Tannic, as well. I don’t think this is ready for the spotlight quite yet. Maybe the wine is in mourning for its creator, who died last year. I know I am. (1/08)

Michel Tête “Domaine du Clos du Fief” 2006 Julienas (Beaujolais) – Gently-spiced meat, orange rind, and beet. Fruity, then strong; this is pure fun with a serious side for the curious to discover. (1/08)

Desvignes 2005 Morgon Côte de Py (Beaujolais) – Difficult nose. Very intense on the palate, with hard structure and venison scented with mint, rosemary, and thyme. Thudding. Not at all for drinking now, except perhaps in one’s home dungeon. Later? Yes, definitely, but much later. (1/08)

Thomas-Labaille 2006 Sancerre Rouge “Authentique” (Loire) – High-toned rose hips and red licorice. Fruity and supple, easy to like. Too many red Sancerres choose between rough rusticity and an over-polished international sheen; this sits nicely in-between, with none of the excesses at the wings. (1/08)


Copyright © Thor Iverson.