Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Wine Reviews: Italian Grab Bag

The Sudtirol appellation of Alto Adige is home to some seriously good Pinot Grigio.
This post first appeared on the daily wine blog Terroirist.

A lot of wine-lovers are skeptical about Pinot Grigio, and rightly so. All of us have been thoroughly bored by insipid Pinot Grigios from various Northern Italian regions. But, like every large production category of wines, there are producers taking it seriously. For around $20, producers in Alto Adige are crafting some really bright and compelling wines —three such wines from the 2014 vintage appear in this report.

Add in an exciting Soave Classico for $20, the ever-reliable Veronese red blend Palazzo Della Torre, and a few others, and you have yourself a good spread of Italian bottles.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

2014 St. Pauls Pinot Grigio - Italy, Trentino-Alto Adige, Alto Adige - Südtirol
SRP: $24
Pale straw color. A bit more tropical aromatics here (papaya, guava) on top of limes, fresh flowers and salty air. Waxy feel on the palate but precise acid. Orange peel and papaya flavors, drizzled with lime, topped with honey and peanut shells. An underlying sense of chalk, jetty rocks and mineral. (87 points)

2014 Cantina Produttori Bolzano Pinot Grigio - Italy, Trentino-Alto Adige, Alto Adige - Südtirol
SRP: $17
Deeper straw color. Aromas of lime pith, green apple peel, cut flower stems, hints of cucumber water. Bold presence on the palate with a creamy texture but the acid screams across the palate, this is a very lip-smacking white but by no means lean. Crunchy green fruit, also very chalky and smoky with white tea, chamomile and cucumber. Long, zesty finish with lingering sea salt and lemon meringue. Amazing stuff for the price. (89 points)

2014 Muri-Gries Pinot Grigio - Italy, Trentino-Alto Adige, Alto Adige - Südtirol
SRP: $19
Pale straw color. Smells of clean laundry, bright limes, kiwi, green apple, breezy air and white flowers. Crisp and clean on the palate but a nice silky mouthfeel. Bright and zesty with nuanced kiwi, tangerine and lime fruits. Notes of quinine, white tea, saline and a smoky-mineral touch. Bright and zesty but enough texture and structure to make it pop on the palate. Medium-long finish. Exciting, versatile stuff. (88 points)

2014 Pieropan Soave Classico - Italy, Veneto, Soave Classico
SRP: $20
Medium yellow color. Refreshing and floral on the nose, I get cut flower stems, honeysuckle, crusty sea salt, lemon peel, green pears. Bright acid on the palate, a very clean and precise wine with a moderate amount of creaminess. Green pears and lemon/lime fruit abound. So delightfully gluggable but I’m impressed with the complexity. Lots of minerals, chalk, floral and spice potpourri, almond skin. Lovely stuff that is sure to please all kinds of palates (and wallets). 85% Garganega and 15% Trebbiano, 12% alcohol. (88 points)

2012 Inconceivable Wines Terre Siciliane IGT - Italy, Sicily, Terre Siciliane IGT
SRP: $25
Juicy ruby color. Smell of rich red berries and plums along with roasted earth, baking spices and tobacco. Medium-full bodied with some refreshing tartness and legit structure from the tannins, which all combines for a chewy but tangy feel. Tart black cherries and red currants mix with elements of green coffee, raspberry tea, sweet cocoa and some dusty, earthy accents. Impressive structure but also straight-up fun and tasted. A bit modern with its oak and velvety feel but plenty of savory Sicilian elements, too. 50% Nero d'Avola, 30% Nerello Mascalese and 20% Frappato, aged 18 months in half French, half American oak. (88 points)

2011 Allegrini Palazzo della Torre Veronese IGT - Italy, Veneto, Veronese IGT
SRP: $23
Bright ruby color. Aromatic right away with juicy black and red currants and plums, the fruit is tart but juicy and I get an interesting mix of eucalyptus, smoke, cocoa powder and balsamic aromas as well, and it all works together very well. Juicy red and black fruit on the palate, this takes a smooth approach with a dusty-fine tannic structure and medium-plus acid. Lots of spice elements to unpack (pepper, rhubarb, balsamic) with some sweeter notes of caramel and coffee. Always reliable, tasty and good for the money. 70% Corvina, 25% Rondinella and 5% Sangiovese. Great value, as is usually the case with this wine. (88 points)

2010 Allegrini Amarone della Valpolicella Classico - Italy, Veneto, Valpolicella, Amarone della Valpolicella Classico
SRP: $85
A compact wine out of the bottle, but air and time coax out all sorts of deep, roasted, dark essences — blackberry-currant jam, dark chocolate shavings, dried violets, cocoa powder. On the palate, this is a full and surly wine with tight-fisted concentration and strong dark fruit (roasted plums, tart black currants, dense blackberry). Sturdy tannins, medium-low acid, a bold and demanding presence on the palate. Despite the richness it maintains a velvety quality that is really attractive. I get dark chocolate and roasted nut notes along with some violets, smoke and tilled up soil. A long, warm finish, rich but so smooth. It’s very impressive at this young age, but the realization of its full quality is a decade away. 90% Corvina, 5% Rondinella and 5% Oseleta, 15.9% alcohol. (90 points)

<85 points

2014 Criterion Collection Friuli Grave Pinot Grigio - Italy, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Friuli Grave
SRP: $11
Pale yellow color. Nose of juicy white peaches, kiwi and pineapple, some baby’s breath. Medium-light bodied with a pleasantly creamy texture, medium-low acid. Yellow apple, sliced peaches, some mango, but not much else. Simple, pleasant, uncomplicated. (83 points)

2011 Criterion Collection Chianti Classico - Italy, Tuscany, Chianti, Chianti Classico DOCG
SRP: $14
Medium ruby color. Tart currants, cranberry sauce, rose hips and toast on the nose. Tart acid, light tannins, a bit crunchy and overly tart but shows a nice range of red fruits (red currants, Thanksgiving cranberry sauce) backed up with notes of tobacco, toasted nut and soil. Perfectly pleasant and shows well for the price, a simple wine to drink in the near term. (83 points)

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