April 2012

North Shore Wine Tasting Group, Italy Meets Sicily

2010 Valle Dell'Acate Zagra (Sicily) - blend of 70% Grillo and 30% Inzolia grapes
The 2010 Zagra is an unoaked blend of 70% Grillo and 30% Inzolia that totally conquers the palate with its finessed personality. Juicy apricots, peaches and jasmine are just some of the nuances that linger on the multi-dimensional finish. When Sicilian whites are on they can be stunning, as is the case here. Rated 91 The Wine Advocate 

This is a superb set of wines from Valle dell'Acate. Not only are the wines delicious, the best bottles deliver incredible value as well. The estate uses only their best hillside plots for the Valle dell'Acate label, while the vineyards in the plains are used for the entry-level Case Ibidini range.
2010 Argiolas Vermentino di Sardegna Is Argiolas (Sardinia, Italy) - Vermentino grape
The 2010 Vermentino di Sardegna Is Argiolas is 100% Vermentino from the estate's oldest vineyards. It shows gorgeous clarity and nuance in a pointed, mineral-laced expression of fruit. The energy and vitality carry through to the focused finish. There is plenty of density to the fruit; in fact I am tempted to see how the wine might develop in the cellar. Rated 91 The Wine Advocate 

A renewed focus in indigenous grapes and a more refined approach to winemaking are some of the developments that are in the air at Argiolas.
2006 Donnafugata Mille E Una Notte (Sicily) - Nero d'Avola grape
The 2006 Mille e Una Notte boasts incredible concentration and richness in its super-ripe blueberries, blackberry jam, graphite, minerals, cassis and licorice. This is decidedly more voluptuous and opulent than the Tancredi, and the richness of the fruit helps to balance the tannins to a greater extent. Smoke, tar and new leather add complexity to the round, creamy finish. The exotic 2006 Mille e Una Notte is a terrific effort from Donnafugata. 2006 Mille e Una Notte is predominantly Nero d’Avola. This is a beautiful set of wines from Donnafugata, one of Sicily’s leading producers.  Rated 93 The Wine Advocate
2007 La Maialina Chianti Classico Riserva (Italy) - Sangiovese grape
"La Maialina's 2007 Chianti Classico Riserva is simply beautiful. Readers will find plenty of 2007 vintage character in this soft, expansive wine. Dark fruit, leather and spices inform the supple, creamy finish. This is already fabulous; the only question is how much it might improve in the coming years.Rated 92 The Wine Advocate
2009 Tenuta Delle Terre Nere Etna Rosso (Sicily) - blend of 98% Nerello Mascalese and 2% Nerello Cappuccio
Hard as it is to believe, proprietor Marc de Grazia continues to ratchet up the quality at Tenuta delle Terre Nere, his property on Mount Etna. Simply put, these are the most brilliant wines I have ever tasted from de Grazia. The 2008 reds will require patience, however. With one exception, the Don Peppino, the reds are 98% Nerello Mascalese and 2% Nerello Cappuccio and are aged in cask. My only regret is that I was not able to taste the Vigne Niche, the estate's top white. Rated 89 The Wine Advocate
The Terre Nere vineyards are located at extremely high altitudes, ranging from 2100-2900 feet above sea level. The weather at such high altitudes--hot direct sunlight but cool shade and cold nights--makes the wines of Etna extraordinarily fine and elegant, devoid of the heat and overripe sensations that overwhelmingly define "Southern" wines. (As a rule of thumb, the ripening of red grapes above 3200 feet is extremely uncertain; these are the highest altitude red grapes in the old world!) A portion of Terre Nere's vines are pre-phylloxera; the rest are about 40-50 years old. The trellessing is "en goblet" or self standing. The grapes are harvested at the end of October (making it the second to last harvest in all of Italy, after Aglianico), which is a risky in and of itself: the weather always breaks before the harvest, endangering the grapes at their most delicate stage. Winemaker

The 2009 Etna Rosso is a pretty if somewhat fragile wine laced with dried herbs, crushed flowers, tobacco and sweet red berries. The aromas and flavors are already a touch forward, suggesting the Rosso is best enjoyed sooner rather than later. 

2007 Corte Majoli Amarone della Valpolicella (Italy) - blend of Corvina, Rondinella, and Molinara grapes
Two years of aging in French barrique have helped to craft a layered, complex Amarone with syrupy richness in the mouth, sweet smoke overtones and aromas of bacon, cola, leather and dried fruit. Pair this hearty wine with game meat or stew. Rated 88 Wine Enthusiast