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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 Wines - January 14, 2009


We tasted last night (1/14/09) Some Italian Wines:

  1. Blaso franconia blaufrankisch IGT Venezia Guilia (13%) 2006: Med.dark color; pleasant earthy/dusty some blueberry/black cherry/kirsch nose; tart some earthy/dusty light blueberry/licorice bit hard/tannic/ astringent flavor; med.long tart/astringent rather earthy/dusty light blueberry/licorice/cranberry bit tobaccoy finish; much like Austrian Blaufrankish but more earthy & dust; bit on rough/hard side. $12.00
  2. LaSibilla DOC: CampiFlegrei Piedirosso (12.5%) 2005: Med.color; rather earthy/pungent bit hot climate/goat pen smokey/oak/toasty interesting nose; soft rather earthy/dusty/funky somewhat smokey/pungent/oak bit metallic slight goat pen flavor; med.short metallic/hot climate/goat pen rather toasty/oak/smokey finish w/ light tannins; slammed w/ a lot of new oak that manages to cover up the slight hot-climate/goat pen character. $15.00
  3. Cantina Sant'Agata 'Na Vota DOC: Ruche di Castignola Monferrato (13.5%) Scurzolengo d'Asti 2005: Very dark color; rather fragrant/perfumed/strawberry rather spicy/spicy sausage/dried rose petal slightly floral almost Pinotish interesting nose; fairly tart/lean bit astringent lovely strawberry/floral/Ruchet bit hard/tannic flavor; long bit hard/tannic/acid/astringent very attractive strawberry/Ruche/spicy sausage bit earthy finish; more Ruche in character and lovely aromatics but a bit rough/rustic on the palate. $18.00
  4. Sant'Agata Genesi (60% Barbera, 40% Ruche; Clusters semi-dried for 2 mo; 3 yrs in small oak barrels; 15%) Claudio Covallero 2003: Dark color; lovely/complex light toasty/pencilly/ oak very spicy/spicy sausage light chocolaty slight floral lovely nose; tart fairly smooth/polished pencilly/oak quite spicy/spicy sausage light chocolaty rather tannic/hard very interesting/complex flavor; very long somewhat toasty/pencilly/oak fairly soft/lush very spicy/spicy sausage somewhat toasty/pencilly/oak finish; speaks more of Barbera and the Ruchet aromatics are only whispering; rather modern style Italian red; quite a good/interesting wine but rather overpriced. $50.00 (CR/KC)
  5. Proprieta Sperino Uvaggio DOC: Coste della Sesia Rosso (Nebbiolo/Vespolina/Croatina; 13%) Vigneti de Marchi/Lessona 2004: Med.color; slight tarry/violets/floral/lilacs/Nebb slight earthy/dusty rather perfumed/fragrant nose; slight tannic/lean some lush licorice/floral/violets bit grapey/fruity rather elegant flavor; med.long slight tannic light floral/violets/tarry some fruity/grapey finish; nees a few yrs; some of that Nebb fragrance but the grapiness fleshes it out on the palate; very nice rendition of Nebb. $28.00
  6. Proprieta Sperino Uvaggio DOC: Coste della Sesia Rosso (65% Nebbiolo, 20% Vespolina,15% Croatina; 12.5%) 2005: Med.color; more pungent/tarry bit tighter/closed some floral/spicy/violets bit perfumed nose; fairly rich more pungent/tarry/licorice some floral/violets/spicy flavor; long bit hard/tannic rather tarry/licorice/Nebb very slight grapey/earthy finish; needs several yrs; speaks more of the tarry Nebb character and less overt grapiness than the '04; quite interesting expression of Nebb. $30.00
  7. Proprieta Sperino DOC:Lessona (13%; Nebbiolo) 2004: Med.light color; more pungent/smokey bit WWII beacon/ozone somewhat tarry/licorice light floral/violets/lilacs very perfumed/aromatic nose; tart fairly floral/ perfumed slight tarry/licorice/pungent spicy/perfumed talc/aromatic bit tannic/bitey lovely flavor; very long/lingering floral/lilacs/violets/Nebb slight tarry/pungent/licorice bit tannic finish; needs 2-5 yrs yet; speaks of Nebb loud & clear; a beautiful rendition of Nebb; these aromatics are exactly what make Nebb such an exciting variety. Slightly pricey at $55.00
  8. Castelli Estate Sangiovese GreenVlly/RussianRvrVlly (13%) 2005: Very dark color; very strongtoasty/ smokey/pencilly/oak slight licorice/black cherry/bing cherry/Sangio nose; tart somewhat rich/lush very strong toasty/charred/oak/pungent bit hard/tannic some spicy/black cherry/Sangio flavor; med.long rich/lush strong toasty/charred/oak bit tannic slight cherry/black cherry/Sangio finish w/ some tannins; needs several yrs; hit a bit too hard w/ new oak that covers up much of the Sangio character; but shows some good potential for Sangio.
  9. Castelli Estate Nebbiolo GreenVlly/RussianRvrVlly (13%; MasanobuFukuoka) 2005: Med.dark
    color; lovely floral/aromatic/perfumed/lilacs some celery seed/herbal slight tarry/pungent bit spicy/ cinammon nose; tart some tannic/hard bit herbal/celery seed somewhat floral/perfumed/lilacs slight pungent/tarry flavor; long bit hard/tannic lightly floral/aromatic/perfumed light pungent/tarry lightly herbal finish; still needs several yrs; quite a nice expression of Nebb and shows lots of the potential Nebb has in Calif.
  10. ClendenenFamilyVnyds Nebbiolo BriccoBuonNatale BienNacidoVnyd/SantaMariaVlly (13.5%) 2000: Med.light color; rather pungent/floral/violets almost Pinotish/ABC light pungent/tarry bit toasty/oak slight earthy/dusty/Gattinara-like nose; tart light bit thin/lean/astringent tannic/hard light floral/lilacs/tarry flavor; med.long some toasty/oak light floral/Nebb/lilacs slight tarry bit hard/tannic/astringent finish; speaks some of Nebb but mostly of ABC winemaking; much like a Gattinara or NebbLanghe; bit pricey at $35.00
  11. ClendenenFamilyVnyds Nebbiolo BriccoBuonNatale BienNacidoVnyd/SantaMariaVlly (13.5%) 2001: Med.dark color; more lush/tarry/pungent somewhat toasty/oak some blackberry/grapey/boysenberry light Nebb/ floral nose; bit softer/less tannic rather hard/astringent somewhat lush/grapey slight floral/tarry rather toasty/ pencilly/oak flavor; med.long some grapey/blackberry slight floral/Nebb finish w/ bit of a tannic bite; only whispers of Nebb and rather resembles ABC Pinot. Prefer to the '00. $35.00
  12. Adelaida Nebbiolo Invecchiato GlenRose vnyd/PasoRobles (U/U; 205 cs; 15.5%) 2004: Med.light
    color; rather strong/toasty/oak somewhat alcoholic/PR jammy some licorice/chocolaty fairly overripe nose; soft rather overripe/PR jammy/alcoholic cherry/chocolate/grapey strong toasty/oak flavor; med.long overripe/ jammy/grapey pretty toasty/oak/charred finish w/ light tannins; speaks mostly of overripe Paso red and very little
    of Nebb. $35.00

More pontifications from the BloodyPulpit:

1. BlauFrankisch: I've had plenty of Austrian BF and a handful of WashState Lembergers, but
don't think I've ever tried an Italian version. This one certainly spoke of BF aromatics and had the earthy/dusty character you find in many Lembergers, but it seemed on the hard/austere side and more earthy character than I usually find in BF. Interesting grape.
2. Ruche/Ruchet: I was first introduced by this (then) nearly extinct Piedmonte variety by Darrell Corti when he brought in a bunch from Scarpa. The Ruchet and Freisa impressed me mightly because of their very fragrant/perfumed aromatics, redolant of alpine strawberries. And they didn't have that nasty character you find in most Piedmonte Nebbiolo. Both varieties are still rather scarce in Piedmonte. 'Tis a shame. They're virtually unknown in Calif (RandallGrahm grows/makes Freisa). 'Tis a deep shame, because Calif could make world-class Ruche and Freisa. It'd blow the sox off'n the PinotNoir market if they did. Assuming you did the marketing right and they did a movie on Ruchet.
3. Lesona: Never had any Lesona wines before, from up in the Piedmonte foothills just West
of Gattinara. I was directed to try this producer by DarrellCorti. I was fairly impressed by these wines. They don't have that nasty character you find in most Piedmonte Nebbiolo.
Maybe Nebbiolo is a variety that shows its best character when blended w/ another variety?
Yeah..I know...you're not supposed to blend Nebbiolo.
4. EmilioCastelli: I had met Emilio out here in CyberSpace some 4-5 yrs ago from his posts. He'd always chime in when the subject of Nebb came up. I knew he'd taken the crazy step to plant Nebb (we're assured by many wine authorities that Nebb is a failure in Calif and will never amount to a hill of beans) in Calif, which immediately picqued my interest. Anyone violating conventional wisdom is my hero. Emilio, who hails from the LakeComo area of Italy, has planted over 10 yrs ago a small Nebb/Lampia vnyd over in GreenVlly in Western SonomaCnty, just to the East of Occidental. Pretty cool (as in cold) growing area. So afore FamilyWineMakers last Fall, Susan & I made arrangements
to visit Emilio & Laura at their home where his vnyd is located. Emilio is not yet commercial, but is building (should be completed by now) a straw-bale wnry there on the property. His tiny Nebb vnyd
is right in front of their house. It is one of the ugliest/scrawniest vnyds I've ever done see'd in Calif. An advocate of MasanobuFukuoka (careful pronouncing that name after you've had a bit of wine!!) farming techniques, these vines look to be struggling for their life. And conventional wisdom tells us that the vines must struggle to make great wine. I liked both of Emilio's wines, though thought the oak covered up a lot of the Sangio character. But the Nebb rang true to Nebbiolo and better than most Calif Nebb.
5. Nebb in Calif: I've followed Nebbiolo in Calif from the very start; MartinBros in PasoRobles. Their first Nebb was in '82, made from a vnyd East of Paso in the SanJoaquin Vlly. Interesting/tasty red but didn't speak much of Nebb. Most of the Nebb then planted in Calif was the lesser NebbioloFino clone, in the SanJoaquinVlly. Not an ideal area for Nebb methinks. NickMartin put in the first planting of NebbLampia there on their property in EastSide Paso in '86, just to the North of their present tasting room. When I tasted w/ Nick in Spring of '98, I liked his first Estate Nebb quite a bit. It was the first glimpse that Nebb could produce great wine in Calif. Much like GaryEberle's Syrah
gave the first clue for Syrah in Calif ten yrs earlier. It wasn't great Nebb, but it indicated some potential for the variety. But it really wasn't for another ten yrs that there was really much in the way of Calif Nebb. And I've been impressed by some produced since then. The early IlPodere's (Jim
Clendenen) were unthrilling at release, but some aged into lovely wines, thank you. The
first Palminas were really quite good. And still are. SashiMoorman has done a great job w/ Stolpman grapes.

Alas, they've pulled most of the Nebb there at Stolpman. Tragic, it is. Adam first Novy Nebb, from Stolpman grapes, indicates he's definitely on the right track. Alas, MrParker has proclaimed Nebbiolo a colossal failure in Calif. Fortunately, there are some Calif winemakers who aren't buying into that. Nebb is somewhat like Pinot... it has some beautiful/wonderful aromatics. Alas, the tannin management seems a big problem. But I'm convinced that someday truly great/world-class Nebbs will come from Calif. Much like back in the early '70's (by crackey), when there was much weeping & wailing & gnashing of teeth that Pinot would never succeed in Calif because it lack the terroir of RedBurg and tastes different than RedBurg. Eventually Calif Nebb, once it's accepted that it doesn't have to taste like Piedmonte Barolo, will be recognized for making
great Nebb and clean the clocks of those Piedmonte guys. It will happen...trust me. An exciting future lies ahead.
6. As I like to say: Drinking Piedmonte Nebbiolo is like stuffing lilac petals up one nostril, violet petals up the other nostril, sealing both nostrils with a plug of flaming hot tar; then sticking out your tongue betwixt the jaws of a vice and torquing that sucker down... there's some pleasurable thing involved but also a lot of pain.


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