Wine Lab: The Wines of Italy

Wine is a living liquid containing no preservatives. Its life cycle comprises youth, maturity, old age, and death. When not treated with reasonable respect it will sicken and die. -Julia Child

Welcome to 2018, we made it. It's a new year and a new semester has just started. As I've mentioned before, I'm currently enrolled in viticulture and enology program at the Southern Oregon Wine Institute. Part of the curriculum is geared toward exposing students, many of whom have scant knowledge about imported wines, to the broader wine world. I believe it's a good way to give perspective, via immersion into those regions many have only heard of before.

Part of the class involves the writing of a tasting note about the wines presented, in what I consider a rather perfunctory style, notes which are not in my typical inimitable tone and tenor found on my blog. That said I hope you'll enjoy this edition of wine lab, there is much more to arrive over the next month or so. Today's wine review features the wines of Italy, just a couple were a bit disappointing with the remainder receiving the coveted thumbs up recommendation. 

Cantine Colosi 2015 Nero D' Avola, Terre Siciliane IGP:
In the glass, this wine appeared medium in body, and the core was a ruby red. Clarity wise this wine was, slightly cloudy toward opaque.  On the aroma front, this wine reminded of an early disco sensation, "take a ride to funky town." This wine had some interesting aromatics, but not in a way that would invite revisiting its matchstick characteristics, wet, damp barnyard aromas, gamey notes of venison and freshly picked tobacco leaves masking the background fruit aromas of cherry and blackberry. After a few good swishes about in the mouth, the taste profile showed this wine to be dry, the acidity was balanced, the body was light, and the tannin level was a moderate plus. Flavor-wise, this wine reminded me of dark stewed plums, kicked open wet-earth, licorice, spice wrapped around a blackberry. The finish was a medium plus, not too satisfying at all. Not a bottle of wine I'd recommend for purchase.

G.D. Vajra Dolcetto D'Alba DOC 2016:
In the glass, this wine appeared deep in both depth and intensity, overall the color at the core was a deep purple to violet at the rim, gorgeous extraction. This wine had the typical aromatics associated with Dolcetto, bold, summer-ripe blackberries, roasted plum, balsamic, damp earth, and a pleasing background chalky characteristic, recalling bygone years of clapping the erasers after school. Flavor-wise, this wine reminded me of a densely packed winter vacation suitcase, brimming with winter accouterments. This wine was delightfully dry, the acidity was spot on in balance, threading the needle between fruit and acid. For the uninitiated, this wine could come off as mouth puckering dry or grippy, but I enjoyed the tapestry it painted. The tannin level was strong and chewy.  Flavor-wise, this wine reminded me of baked blueberry pie, earthy minerality, crushed limestone, darkly roasted plums, and blackberries. The finish was a medium plus; time spent in a decanter would make this wine much more enjoyable. Highly recommended.

Elena Walch, Pinot Grigio, Alto-Adige 2016:
In the glass, this wine appeared light in both color and intensity, the core was a dark straw to yellow, and the clarity was clear. This wine was aromatic, matchsticks, a reductive note via the screw cap, lemon oil dominated, citrus peels, honey and undefined floral notes. Flavor-wise, this wine reminded me of a day of dusting wooden furniture with the waft of lemon pledge in the air. This wine was dry, the acidity was crisp, the body light, and the tannins were a moderate minus. The overall flavor profile is a lemon-oil infused butteriness, it's leesy, vacant-eyed minerality, floral, citrus, with a drop of honey in the background.  The finish is long and lasting, exhibiting excellent body in the mouthfeel. The perfect example of contrast between domestic Pinot Gris and the Italian styled Pinot Grigio, same grape, completely different experiences. 

Casa Bianca Valdobbiadene Prosecco Brut DOCG NV:
In the glass, this wine appeared to have light to medium intensity and the core was a straw in color, while the clarity was clear. A wonderfully aromatic wine, sporting vibrant florals, lime splash, honey-crisp apples, underripe pears and a drop of honey. The taste was dry, the acidity was crisp, and the body was light and airy. The tannins were low to moderate. The overall flavor profile was underripe pears, lime peels, freshly cut honey-crisp apple slices, and wet-stone minerality. This wine made in the Charmant method and the style was Brut, and often a majority chain store Prosecco's are not Brut. The finish was long and lasting, vividly fresh.

Wow, so talk about 'sustainability,' Casa Bianca, a century-old producer, found in northern Italy between the areas of Asolo, Conegliano, and Valdobbiadene on a thirty-hectare plot. A bubbly producing house, the Palla family holds onto to its rich winemaking culture, while firmly embracing modern advances in winemaking science and viticulture. The tradition of the family lives on in each bottle, harvesting the best of what the terroir gives them, meeting the challenges of good and bad vintages on the steps of the Alps and overcoming them to produce wonderfully authentic wines from the Glera grape. According to Exploring Wine, these wines may equally be labeled as 'Conegliano-Prosecco' or 'Valdobbiadene-Prosecco.' The wine we tasted is just one among a variety of bottlings they offer; I would dare say, the majority them are not available stateside.


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