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by Tom Hill

A self-admitted wine geek, Tom lives in Northern New Mexico and works as a computational physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory doing numerical neutron transport & large scale code development. He has been tasting wines since 1971, participates locally with a couple of large tasting groups in his area, and is practically a fixture at most California wine festivals, such as the Hospice du Rhône, Rhône Rangers, and ZAP. Other interests: Tom is heavily into competitive sport fencing (foil & epee), biking, cooking, basketball, skiing, backpacking, mountain climbing.

Some Italian Varietals - June 18, 2008


We tasted last night (6/18/08) some Italian varietals:

  1. Cesconi Olivar Bianco IGT: Vigneti Delle Dolomiti (13.5%; www.SummaVitis.com;
    PinotBianco/Chard/Traminer) 2004
    : Pale golden color; rather fragrant/floral some
    lychee/GWT rather minerally/chalky attractive nose; soft/lush very floral/perfumed/
    gardenias some minerally/stoney mostly spicy/GWT light oak flavor; long quite minerally/
    chalky some floral/GWT finish; speaks mostly of GWT w/ a nice minerality; quite a nice
    Dolomite wine at a very good price. $21.00
  2. Avanguardia Cristallo SierraFoothills DryWW (14.1%; 75%Rkatsiteli+Melon de Bourgogne/
    PinotBlanc/PinotGrigio; www.AvanguardiaWines.com)NevadaCity/NevadaCnty 2006
    : Light
    yellow color; lean very minerally/stoney/chalky/steely light floral nose; tart/lean very minerally/ stoney/chalky slight perfumed talc/floral flavor; med.long minerally/steely tart/lean very light floral finish; much like an AltoAdige PinotBlanc; a rather terroir-driven wine & definitely a food wine.
  3. Avanguardia Selvatico SierraFoothills DryWW (12.5%; TocaiFriulano+Melon de Bourgogne/
    Peverella/Forastera/PinotGrigio) 2006
    : Pale yellow color; attractive frgarant/floral some minerally/chalky/earthy slightly spicy nose; soft/lush somewhat floral/perfumed some minerally/ stoney slight earthy flavor; med.long minerally/stoney light floral/perfumed finish; speaks of Tocai w/ a minerallity you don't usually find in the Friuli versions; attractive Friuli-style white.
  4. Avanguardia DueFiori SierraFoothills DryWW (14.1%; Semillon+CheninBlanc/Flora/Orange
    Muscat) 2006
    : Pale yellow color; rather fragrant/floral/perfumed/aromatic slight minerally nose; soft quite floral/figgy/perfumed slight stoney/minerally flavor; med.long floral/fragrant bit spicy/ minerally finish; a pleasant white w/ lots of aromatics.
  5. Racemi Sum Torreguaceto VinoRosso di Tavola (13%) Manduria/IT 2003: Med.color w/ slight
    browning; rather earthy slight funky very ripe/overripe plummy/grapey rather clean nose; soft somewhat earthy fairly ripe/raisened/grapey slight funky/hot-climate flavor w/ light tannins; med.long soft plummy/very ripe/raisened/grapey finish w/ light tannins; clearly hot-climate but clean & well-made; some like a Lodi PetiteSirah. $18.00
  6. Palmina Mattia (13.3%; 55% Refosco/30% CabFranc/15% Merlot; www.PalminaWines.com) 2005: Med.dark color; rather strong Fr.oak big fruit/plummy/black
    cherry/Refosco/perfumed talc slight herbal/earthy nose; tart bit lean/hard/tannic light plummy/black
    cherry/Refosco rather toasty/Fr.oak flavor; med.long rather tannic/hard some black cherry/plummy/ chocolate fairly toasty/oak finish; very attractive nose but doesn't quite deliver on the palate; shows good Refosco character underneath the oak. $26.00
  7. Fuc e Flamis Jacuss Schioppettino DOC: Colli Orientali del Friuli (13%; RibollaNera)
    Az.Agr. Iacuzzi Sandro & Andrea/Montine di Torreano 2005
    : Med.light color; quite spicy/
    peppery/cracked black pepper almost Rhonish rather salami/perfumed complex nose; tart very cracked black pepper very spicy some cherry/fragrant bit minerally/earthy flavor; long some tannic/bitter strong cracked black pepper/Rhonish bit cherry/bright finish; needs several yrs; a very interesting & unusual Scioppettino that's rather elegant in character; some like a Pinot in elegance, some like a NorthernRhone, some like a Zin because of the cherry perfume. Very interesting wine. $35.00
  8. Emilio Bulfon Piculit Neri IGT Della Venezia (www.VinoTerra.Net; 12.5%) Valeriano 2005:
    Med.color; very perfumed/fragrant almost MoscatoRosa very spicy/perfumed black cherry/
    plummy some earthy/dusty nose; ripe/off-dry(?) plummy/black cherry/cherry/bright very
    spicy/perfumed flavor; long some tannic/bitter off-dry very ripe/plummy/cherry finish; almost like a Marzemino in style; absolutely delicious red at a great price. $20.00
  9. Masetto Endrizzi Groppello di Revo IGT: Vigneti delle Dolomiti (12%) 2003: Med.dark color; great foam on decanting; very strong grapey/Lambrusco-like/plummy/licorice quite strong/grapey nose; rather bitter/tannic very grapey quite Lambrusco-like w/o the sweetness flavor; med. short rather tannic/bitter very/very grapey finish; much like a dry/slightly frizzante Lambrusco; too bitter/tannic on palate unless you have food. $25.00
  10. Az.Agr. d'Uva Prosit IGT: Terre degli Osci (13%) 2005: Very dark color; very earthy/
    dusty some minerally very little fruit nose like some AltoAdige Pinots; tart very earthy/dusty rather hard/tannic no fruit flavor; med.long hard/tannic very dusty very earthy virtually no fruit finish; the definition of a terroir-driven wine I guess; needs age but have no idea where this wine will go; an amazing paucity of fruit. $14.00
  11. Endrzzi DOC: TeroldegoRotaliano Tradizione (12.5%) 2005: Very dark color; lovely fragrant/ floral/lilacs some earthy/licorice very interesting/attractive nose; tart light earthy/dusty rather licorice/plummy/pungent light floral/peppery somewhat rustic/ minerally flavor; long tannic/earthy plummy/grapey/black cherry/licorice slight floral finish; nicely done Teroldego at a very good price. $19.00
  12. Foradori Granato IGT: Vigneti delle Dolomiti Rosso RotalianoPlain Teroldego (13.5%)
    : Black color; very fragrant/perfumed strong toasty/Fr.oak rather black cherry/plummy some pungent/licorice slight earthy some complex nose; rich extracted some new/Fr.oak/toasty licorice/plummy/black cherry light earthy some tannic flavor; very long quite toasty/Fr.oak rather black cherry/plummy/licorice some tannic finish; needs 3-6 yrs; rather modern/tarted-up Italian red that tends to muscle aside the Teroldego character. $54.00
  13. Foieta IGT Lambrusco dell'Emilia (11%) Caprari Giuseppe e Ricciarda NV: Yoikes...unbeliveably/dreadfully corked; nothing but wet cardboard. $15.00
  14. Bruno Verdi Sangue Di Giuda Paradiso DOC: OltrepoPavese (7%; Sweet Red Wine) 2005:
    Dark color; very intense very grapey/huge fruit/juicy slight earthy nose; fairly sweet bit frizzante intense grapey/juicy slight earthy flavor; med.long very intense grapey/juicy fizzy rather sweet finish; absolutely delicious & frivolous wine. $20.00

More profundities from TheBloodyPulpit:

1. Avangardia: These are some wines I discovered over a yr ago after a MikeDunne article
on NevadaCnty wines. I looked at RobChrisman's WebSite and noted that he was growing a lot of obscure varieties that piqued my interest, so ordered his '04's he then had available. He bulked out all of his '05 vintage because of rains. These '06 whites he had sent me a few weeks ago to try, so I don't have any idea what their prices are. Of these three, I far preferred the Selvatico as being the most interesting. The Cristallo is a pretty lean/austere white that reminds me a lot of AltoAdige PinotBlanc in its minerality. The previous ('04) DueFiori was off-dry and much more muscatty/floral in character.

I preferred this more Semillon-dominated '06 version. All in all, I thought these three were a step up in quality over the '04 versions, cleaner in character, and displaying better winemaking skills. This is a wnry to watch...not because they're going to get big (probably won't get any) ParkerPoints, but because they're interesting wines, especially w/ food, and show the potential of the wines that can be made in NevadaCnty.
2. Racemi: This is a wine that comes from Apulia that DarrellCorti recommended to me last
time I was out there. It doesn't have that hot-climate/goat-pen character that I get in many of those wines and wasn't reeking of brett. Well-made red.
3. Fuc e Flamis: Not sure how you pronounce that name or what it means; I'll leave that
to Roberto. But it is surely one of the most interesting and unusual Schioppettinos of the 25-30 I've tried. A variety they should be pursuing more in Calif. JohnLoldredge make the only Calif version that I know of and it's quite good and more varietally correct than this F&F.
4. Piculit Neri: This is supposedly the black version of the Picolit grape that is usually
made as a (relatively undistinguished, IMHO) dessert wine in Friuli. I once wrote a
WineSpectator (back when it was a wine publication, rather than a life-style publication)
on Picolit. It was a variety that was very difficult to grow because it suffered from a malady known as "floral abortion" in which the flowers drop off and never develop into berries, resulting in abysmally low yields. Turn out, "floral abortion" is not a disease at all. Grapes are normally hermaphrodatic (self pollinating) in character. It turns out that Picolit is simply a variety that is sterile. To get good pollination, you simply interplant another variety, like Verduzzo, and ask the birds & the bees to spread that pollen around on their feetsies to get good pollination on the Picolit. But yet the literature is rife w/ the story of "floral abortion" in Picolit. Kinda shows how incestuous most of today's wine writing is. Don't recall where I got the info on Picolit being sterile....probably from DarrellCorti. Or maybe I just made it up.

The Piculit Neri (as distinguished from Piculit Rosso del Friuli) is a variety that was uncovered in an old vnyd by EmilioBulfon and brought back from the dead. His WebSite has a good discussion on it. I believe there is now another producer of PiculitNeri (Ronco Cenasi??) now. I've been tasting Bulfon's version over the last 3-4 yrs and have been very impressed with his rendition. Rather plummy & earthy, a bit like Refosco, a bit like Teroldego, a bit like a lighter Mourvedre. This '06 version struck me as a bit different in style from his previous ones; lighter, more perfumed, a bit more like Marzemino in character. Like many Italian wines, nothing profound or big ParkerPoints...just damned good drinking. What more do you want in a
5. Groppello: Another obscure grape variety from Italy. The first Groppello I've tried, from Roberto of course. A discussion of Groppello can be found on a very interesting Site I stunbled across: terroir.winelibrary.com/category/grape-varieties/
6. Prosit: This wine comes from the Molise region in the middle of Italy. One of the backwaters of Italian wines...and probably deservedly so...based on this wine. Not an area I have much familarity with. Not sure what grapes this wine was made from...if indeed it was made from grapes. For those who worship at the altar of terroir...this be your wine.
7. Granato/Teroldego: This wine was made from old-vine Teroldego by who many regard as the best producer of Teroldego. A lot of the people liked this wine, but I thought it was a bit too tarted up and think I like her regular Teroldego a bit better, at half the price. Teroldego makes some very interesting wines and is a variety that should be pursued more in Calif. With 10-day cold soaks, harvest at 28Brix, 200% new French oak, tweaking a bit w/ Reverse Osmosis; Calif could make the worlds's greatest Teroldego and charge big $$'s for it.
8. Sangue Di Giuda: Supposedly made from Croatina and UvaRara. Maybe some Barbera. I've
only had the BrunoVerdi version (NielRosenthal import) of this wine, but like it a lot. I was first turned onto this wine by PaulBertolli, who thinks it the ideal accompainment to salamis and charcuterie. Couldn't agree more. It's a wonderful/delightful/frivolous/gulpable wine and a bit like Lambrusco on steroids. It supposedly was given this name by friars who disapproved of its aphrodisiac effects. I'll have a follow-on report, maybe w/ TNs, as to this effect.


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