Saturday, June 21, 2008

Italian Summer Wines

As I mentioned previously, this past Thursday I visited Wine••Sense in Andover for a tasting of some Italian summer wines. Eileen Wright of Adonna Imports presented four different Italian wines, including two whites, a rose and a red. As usual, these wines from her portfolio were excellent choices.

First up was the 2005 Castel Noarna Nosiola ($18). I have had this before recently and it is an exceptional white wine. The Castel Noarna winery is located in the Trentino region of Italy. This wine is made from 100% Nosiola, an indigenous Italian grape that is the only native white grape remaining in Trentino. It is starting to see a slight resurgence as some good wines have been produced from it. And this wine showed that potential. This wine was fermented in stainless steel and then aged for nine months in neutral oak barrels. It has an alcohol content of 12%. It had a pale yellow color with an intriguing nose of spice and minerals. On the palate, it was crisp with a nice melange of flavors including grapefruit, mineral notes, and spice. It gave off an exotic feel and definitely tantalized my taste buds. This is a wine I would highly recommend.

Next was the 2006 Valle d'Aosta Petite Arvine, Institut Agricole Régional ($24). This wine is produced by a winery that is also a research institute. Petite Arvine is a white grape that grows primarily in Switzerland and the Valle d'Aosta region of Italy. Interestingly, the picture on the label is a small section from a much larger painting. All of their wines uses different sections of the painting, Eileen told us that it took them almost three years to get their label approved by the FDA because of the woman's breasts. Certainly seems rather silly when you consider some of the other labels out there, plus that this label is from a more famous painting. I enjoyed this wine. It had a nice citrus smell and those citrus flavors blossomed on my palate. A bit of grapefruit, lemon and orange peel. It was very crisp with touches of minerality as well. It had a long finish and definitely makes a nice summer wine. Another wine I would recommend.

We then moved in to the 2006 Massa Vecchia Rosato ($46). Fabrizio Niccolaini runs Massa Vecchia, a very small winery which is just 8.6 acres. It is planted with at least a dozen indigenous Italian grapes, both red and white. All vines are also at least 35 years old. In addition, they practice biodynamic agriculture. This Rosato is certainly very different. First, the color is a deeper red and not the usual pink that you would expect. By looking at it, you would not consider it a Rosato. The wine is made from 60% Merlot and 40% Malvasia Nera. It is also aged in chestnut barrels rather than oak, giving it a different taste. This is a wine you should let and breathe for a bit as it has a rather funky nose initially that mellows out over time. Initially on the palate, it is also a more brash wine, almost a discordant mix of tastes. Yet with some time, it smooths right out, presenting an appealing melange of dark fruit flavors, some earthiness and a touch of minerality. This is not a typical Rosato. It is pricey so it is more a special occasion wine.

Finally, we had the 2005 Mandino Cane, Dolceacqua Superiore "Arcagna," ($27). This wine comes from the Rossese di Dolceacqua DOC in Liguria. The winemaker, Mandino Cane, is elderly and he recently sold off this vineyard for this wine so this will be the last vintage. The wine is all organic and is made from the Rossese grape which generally makes savory, woodsy red wines. This is a light colored red wine with a fruity nose and packed with plenty of complex flavors. It has a delicious lingering finish and is light enought for a summer BBQ. It should pair well with many different foods. Another fine choice.

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