Category Archives: Italy

Macarico 2010 Serre Delle More Vino Spumante di Qualita

Alto Vulture, Vini da Vulcano, Basilicata, Italy
100% Aglianico; 13% ABV
North Berkeley Imports
$7 at the Richmond, CA, store at least a few months ago.  No longer there.

This sparkling rosé arrived probably about 6 months ago, with two other NBI wines.  A couple people told me this was awful, so I had just let this bottle sit around unopened.  However, tonight I opened it, expecting to dump it down the drain, with a backup ready.  But I was surprised: I love it!

The wine was pleasantly aromatic, showing fruity flavors of cantaloupe / quince, red berries, and a dark red cherry close to a savory, almost-meat flavor.  It was well-carbonated and pleasantly dry and crisp.  It kept well over the evening in a stoppered bottle in the fridge.  More light tangerine flavor came out over time.

Volpe Pasini 2014 Ribolla Gialla

Delle Venezie IGT, northeastern Italy; 12% ABV
imported by Diageo “Chateau & Estate” wines
$5 at the Richmond, CA, store on 12 April.  Still there.

The last Ribolla Gialla I reviewed was quite good, so I had to try this one, too.  It is even more tasty, IMO easily worth the dollar more.

I find the wine a little closed straight from the fridge, but warmed up a little, it shows good intensity of lemony pear, yellow melon, white and yellow flowers, slightly astringent minerality and grape skin bitterness, green lime, and a little orange on the finish.  In trying to help customers, I usually ask if they want something more fruity like a Chardonnay or more crisp like a Sauvignon Blanc.  To me, this wine is somewhere in between, more fruity than most SB, and more acid than most Chardonnay.  Yum!

The next day, the wine had smoothed out and integrated, and had a viscous minerality.  It was more mellow but still delicious.

Two 2014 Pinot Grigios from Volpe Pasini

for both wines:
Colli Orientali del Friuli DOC, far northeastern Italy; 12.5% ABV
$6 at the Richmond, CA, store on 13 April. Still there.

As these wines came from the same producer and region of Italy, in the same year, with the same % alcohol, at the same price, I wondered whether they were actually the same wine in different packaging.  I am now pleasantly satisfied that they are not.

The Gri Vo’ (photo, right) has the duller label, but who knows, maybe it’s just understatement?  But no, the wine actually is the more dull of the two.  It’s still quite good, showing a hint of apricot that carries through the whole taste of more typical flavors of yellow melon, bright yellow grapefruit, and lime, with a sort of musty (from wood?) minerality and slight bitterness of grape skin.  This is a good wine for the price.

On the first day, I preferred the “Zuc di Volpe” bottling (photo, left).  It is more nervy and subtle, showing integrated floral, lemony, and minerally flavors in close succession, reined in by a slight touch of wood.

The next day, the apricot flavor in the Gri Vo’ integrated with other flavors to resemble tropical yellow fruit with a weight that surprises me in Pinot Grigio.  Still quite tasty.

In contrast to the Gri Vo’, the next day, the Zuc di Volpe bottling was still interestingly, subtly complex, but was rather dull compared to what it had been.  Gone were the bright acid and minerally structure.  Depending on whether you plan to drink it over more than one night, you might prefer the Gri Vo’.  In contrast to other blending experiments I’ve done, I could not find a blend of these two that really improved on either wine alone.

Both of these wines show their age just a little.  Drink them up soon, and there is certainly no reason to wait in this spring heat.

Cantina di Solopaca 2015 Aglianico

Beneventano Indicazione Geographica Protetta, Campania, Italy; 12.5% ABV
imported by 8 Vini, San Leandro, CA
$5 at the Richmond, CA, store on 16 Feb

solopaca_2015_aglianicoI’ve enjoyed previous Aglianicos from the GO, so I thought this might also be interesting.  Turns out, not particularly on the first night.

The wine is a bit thin and tart, with flavors of ripe and tart red cherries, red / slightly purple plum, red table grape, and perhaps a hint of black olive.  It developed only a little more fruit with some time in a decanter, with maybe a little something floral.  So far, it’s neither interesting nor tasty.

A couple days later, however, the saved single-glass, screw-cap bottle was much better.  I guess at vintage 2015 it’s still a pretty young wine.  It was still on the acid side, but the fruit, of a zesty red raspberry and cherry, was more prominent, more full, and more complex.  It went well with cheese toasts with a layer of left-over red pasta sauce.  🙂

Giormani non-vintage Prosecco DOCG

Prosecco DOCG, Italy; 11% ABV
$10 at the Richmond, CA, store just before New Year’s Eve, 2016

giormani_prosecco_docgI bought this bottle because I’ve previously liked some Giormani offerings, and I wanted something to bring to a NYE party.  It turned out that my hosts were already quite well supplied, so I just brought this home, and opened it only this evening.  I find myself thinking it’s only okay.

On the palate, the wine is immediately pleasantly light-lemony, with perhaps some crisp white pear, but it then drifts into a sort of Sprite / 7-Up aspect of which I’m not that fond, finishing with some green grape skin..

I haven’t seen this DOCG offering since around the holidays, but a Giormani DOC Prosecco, $7 IIRC, is still around.

The next day, the wine was much the same, and I’m still not that excited about it as a way to spend $10.

Castel Pietra 2014 Pinot Grigio from Mezzacorona

Vigneti delle Dolimiti IGT, Trentino – Alto Adige, (northern) Italy; 12% ABV
$6 for 1.5L (magnum) at the Oakland, CA, store on 7 Nov

mezzacorona_2015_pinotgrigioI dimly recalled liking other white wines with the Dolomiti designation, so despite not really wanting a whole magnum of this wine, I finally got one toward the end of the recent fall sale.  It’s a fairly basic wine but a solid value in Italian Pinot Grigio.

At first, I found the wine a bit crisp and slightly bitter.  In addition to PG’s typical lightly dried straw, the wine tasted of less ripe lemon and skin of less ripe yellow grape, with assertive minerally structure.  After the second pour or so, some riper fruit of yellow pear and yellow grapefruit emerged to support the acid, but it was still fairly submerged by the crisp, minerally acid.

On the second night, after a couple more pours, this fruit emerged further to make the wine more balanced between fruit, acid, and minerality, and really quite enjoyable, especially as it warmed some from fridge temp.

On the third night, the wine is quite tasty and pleasant, adding a sort of orange-y flavor.  It’s not a particularly exciting wine, but it is well made and a good value for an every-day crisp white.

Ripanera 2009 Chianti Classico

Chianti Classico DOCG, Tuscany, Italy; 13% ABV
imported by Halby Marketing, Inc., Sonoma, CA
$6 at the Richmond, CA, store

ripanera_2009_chianticlassicoI had been interested in this wine, but was prompted to finally try one after Seedboy wrote that his bottle of this wine was literally vinegar.  My bottle, courtesy of Richmond GO owner / operator Sopheap Yin, was not vinegary at all, and was in fact a solidly good wine.

On the first day, it needed a couple hours’ air to show tart red cherry fruit that showed a good bit of orange and herbs, pretty good but unexciting wine.  On the second day, having just put the cork back in the top of the bottle, darker red cherry fruit came out, giving a pleasant impression of greater ripeness, but of less complexity.  On the third day, however, the fruit and the complexity came forth and integrated nicely, becoming really quite tasty.  It still was not an amazing wine, but it was good and well made for the price, and certainly not too old.

Colavita 2013 Verdicchio

Verdicchio di Matelica DOC, Marche, Italy; 12.5% ABV
imported by Terlato Wines International
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store on 3 Oct

colavita_2013_verdicchioI had been curious about this since it showed up, but it was only after Seedboy wrote that he really liked the Colavita Pinot Grigio that I thought I should try the Verdicchio.  That Wiki entry made it sound like a pretty uninteresting grape, but this wine is decently good for the price.

The wine has some yellow apple / maybe pear, but is mostly citrus juicy with yellow grapefruit and lemon, perhaps a touch of green lime, that is ripe and crisp with a bitter tang of citrus pith.  I’m not wowed, but it is interesting and good wine for the price.

The next day, the wine’s rough edges have smoothed over, but it’s still pleasantly tasty and minerally, with a little orange flavor I didn’t notice on the first day.  Quite good.

Castiglioni 2005 Chianti

Chianti DOCG, Tuscany, Italy; from Frescobaldi; 12.5% ABV
$6 at the Richmond, CA, store on 16 Sept

castiglioni_2005_chiantiThis wine looked potentially very good, but also potentially awful.  The color through the bottle was a dark, saturated red, but, hmm, an 11-year-old Chianti…

I let the sediment in the bottom settle for a few days before decanting it.  (The sediment seemed to be mostly fine-grained but not silty, i.e., it would quickly settle to the bottom of your glass, so decanting it off the sediment is probably not necessary here.)  From the rounded top of the cork under the capsule, I suspected some heat damage, but when I unwrapped it, the cork appeared to have just not been put in all the way rather than having been subsequently forced up by thermal expansion.

The wine was pretty tasty right away, showing richer, ripe, dark red cherry fruit with some darker bitterness of cherry pit, but I thought it needed about 1:15 – 1:45 of air to really open up.  Then, the wine shows more tangy dark red / black cherry, cherry pit, herbal or sappy wood / earth, and only a trace of Chianti’s usual dried orange.  The wine is not the most complex, but is quite nicely full-flavored and elegant for the price.  And not too old!  But do drink it up pretty soon, as it seems perfectly mature now.

The next day, the saved, single-glass, screwcap bottle was at least as good, maybe better.  The fruit was more rich and forward, integrated with other complexities, and didn’t need that much air.  However, I still think one shouldn’t wait long to drink it.

Collavini 2013 Ribolla Gialla

Delle Venezie IGT, Italy; 12.5% ABV
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store on about 15 Aug

Collavini_2013_RibollaGiallaThe grape varietal Ribolla Gialla sounded only vaguely familiar.  It turned out this site had only one RG review, and dluber wrote it.  This wine is interesting, and IMO very good for the price.

The wine’s color is of less intense golden yellow.  The nose of riper yellow and white fruit is immediately enticing.  On the palate, the wine gives medium-intensity flavors of yellow pear / melon, ripe (maybe slightly caramelized) yellow apple, white pear, green grape skin (with attendant slight bitterness), slight almondy nuttiness, supporting wood, and moderately crisp acid..  The taste has nice delineation and complexity for the low price.  While the wine does show its age a little, it is not at all over the hill, and makes for nice current drinking.

The next day, the wine has a more woody, getting-close-to-oxidized flavor, but the other flavors are still there, and the wine is still tasty and pleasant.