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Tag Archives: Italy

Review: Tommasi Poggio al Tufo Rompicollo 2014

On a recent business trip, Robyn met a fellow conference attendee who gave her a recommendation for a new wine. Frank said this wine is one of he and his girlfriend’s favorites, and suggested Robyn and I give it a try. The wine is Tommasi Poggio al Tufo Rompicollo, from Toscana, Italy. Robyn texted me a picture of the bottle, and I went on the hunt. I didn’t have to look far. Our local Total Wine & More store just happens to carry this wine.

When Robyn arrived home from her trip, she had a little surprise waiting for her on the counter. We adore Italian wines, and some of our favorites are the Sangiovese-based wines out of Tuscany. So naturally, I had stopped at Total Wine on my way home from work the day after her text, and bought a bottle to try.

Tommasi Family Estates has been producing wine grapes since 1902. The family got their start in Valpolicella Classica, Verona, and has since expanded to other regions in Italy. They launched the Poggio al Tufo line of wines in 1997 with the acquisition of the Pitigliano Estate, 66 hectares of vineyards planted in volcanic soil, in the rolling Tuscan hills. The addition of two more vineyards, the 24 hectare Doganella Estate and the Scansano Estate, 80 hectares in the DOC Morellino zone, expanded the operation. The Doganella Estate is an organic production, producing high quality grapes due to the hot, dry Tuscan summers and cooling breezes from the Tyrrhenian Sea.

The Tommasi Poggio al Tufo Rompicollo is a blend of 60% Sangiovese and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon. Several vintages of this wine have won numerous awards and accolades, including 93 points from Vinous Media (2012), No. 31 in the Wine Spectator Top 100, with a 92 point score (2011), and 87 points from both Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast (2010).

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The current release, at least what is available in our local store, is the 2014. We opened it to enjoy with our meal of grilled filet mignon steaks, baked potato, and spinach salad with warm bacon dressing. Exquisite is the best word to describe it! Here’s my review posted on Vivino:

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Delicious Toscana blend. Dark purple and ruby colors. Aromas of bing cherry and soft cedar. On the palate, juicy cherry and blackberry flavors meld with notes of cola, vanilla, and oak. Soft, silky tannins and medium acidity balance the wine and make for great dipping or food pairing. Long, black fruit and spice finish. We had this with grilled filet steaks and it was outstanding!

I highly recommend this outstanding Toscana wine. And at $15.99 retail, it’s a bottle you can enjoy often!

Cheers!

  • By Kent Reynolds, with inspiration by Robyn Raphael
  • Photos by Kent Reynolds (unless otherwise credited)

 

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Review: Kupelwieser Lagrein 2013

I love variety. That is one of the things I like so much about wine. In a lifetime, it is humanly impossible to sample all the variety that exists in the wine world. Two wineries making wine from the same varietal in the same region can produce vastly different results. Beyond winemaking variety, there are the thousands of different varietal grapes out there; many of which the average wine drinker may never hear about. In my wine journey, I strive to seek out, find, and taste those lesser known varietals.

Kupelwieser Lagrein

Recently I purchased and opened my very first Lagrein, the Kupelwieser Lagrein 2013. Until about six months ago, I had never heard of the Lagrein grape, but it has certainly left a lasting impression on me! The funny thing about this wine: it made its way to my “Must Try” list, but I can’t remember how. Somewhere along the line, I must have read a review on Vivino or some other social media site, and thought it sounded good. I’d like to thank whoever it was who posted whatever review it was, because this is a darn good wine!

Lagrein is an Italian varietal, grown in the northeastern Italian region of Trentino-Alto Adige. According to wine-searcher.com, Lagrein is likely native to this area. Historical records mention the grape as early as the 16th century. The grape is known for rich, full-bodied wines of deep, dark color. As with many Old World varietals, Lagrein is best when paired with food.

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I found my first experience with Lagrein to be most pleasant. The Kupelwieser Lagrein 2013 carries the Alto Adige DOC designation. True to Old World form, there is bright, lively acidity that makes it great with food. Yet I found it to also have well-structured fruit, providing balance and complexity, and giving it a profile that will please many a New World wine drinker. Here’s my review on Vivino:

 “My first Lagrein. Deep, deep purple color. The aroma is of butter and red fruit. On the palate, ripe raspberry, blackberry, black pepper, cherry, and light oak, followed by a spicy, smoky, medium finish. Medium body, with sharp tannins and bright, lively acidity, making this a great food wine. Exceptional with our Steak Pizzaiola.”

  • Rating: 4.0 stars (88 to 91 points)
  • Price: $18.99 at Total Wine & More

 

If you have never tried a Lagrein, I urge you to head to your local wine shop, pick up a bottle or two, and take a virtual trip to this beautiful region in Northeastern Italy.

Cheers!

Review: Maurizio Castelli Merletto Sangiovese 2014

Maurizio Castelli Sangiovese

Old World versus New World. What does that even mean? For those accustomed to Californian or other Western Hemisphere, New World wines, many Old World (European) wines may seem pale and acidic. The stereotype is of ripe, fruity New World wines that are enjoyable on their own, versus dry, acidic Old World that are best with food.

Here we have a great example of an Old World Italian wine. Historically, wine is much more a part of European culture than it is in the U.S. Remember, it was we crazy Americans who passed the Volstead Act – Prohibition – the effects of which still linger today in the U.S. In Europe, a meal isn’t a meal without a glass of wine.

Exclusively from NakedWines.com, the 2014 Sangiovese by Maurizio Castelli is a classic Italian wine, meant for Italian food. Below is an excerpt from Maurizio’s bio on his NakedWines.com page:

A famous Brunello consultant – Maurizio had a hand in many of the region’s most  famous wines like La Ragnaie (100 point wine), Mastrojanni, Badia a Coltibuono,  Bastianich, Mastrojanni, Grattamacco and a long list of other delicious wines that are even more expensive than they are difficult to pronounce.

And on top of knowing how to make landmark luxury wines, he knows how to create remarkable everyday sippers like Integolo (the top-rated value wine in Wine Spectator’s Top 100 list)

Here’s my review, posted at NakedWines.com:

This is a young wine. Do yourself and Maurizio a favor and decant or aerate before drinking. You’ll enjoy it more. It’s also an Old World wine, leaning toward subtle fruit and food-friendly acidity. For some who only like California style smooth, jammy fruit bombs, that’s strike two. But if you are looking for a fresh tasting, complex wine to pair with some classic Italian cuisine, look no further!

The color is dark Ruby in the glass. On the nose, blackberry bramble and plum. Flavors of blackberry, cedar, and spice dominate, followed by subtle blueberry. Tannins are a bit harsh yet; as I said, it’s young; but smooth out with exposure to air. The acidity is brisk; not atypical for classically made Italian wines. This is a food wine. We paired it with spaghetti squash and marinara with Italian sausage. The wine enhanced the food, and vice-versa.

If you have a few bottles, lay them down a bit. This will be excellent in a couple of years.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 hearts

Price: Retail $17.99, Angel (member) price: $9.99

To get your bottles, click here to join NakedWines.com.

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Cheers!

 

The Other Montepulciano

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is an Italian varietal that is gaining in popularity in the U.S. Still unknown to many wine drinkers, there are great values to be found.

Not to be confused with Montepulciano the village in Tuscany, famous for its stellar Sangiovese based wines, Montepulciano is itself a varietal grape from the Abruzzo region of Italy. Tuscany is in central Italy, north of Rome, whereas Abruzzo is east of Rome, bordering the Adriatic Sea. Montepulciano, the grape, is noted for its deep, rich color and hearty character. Smooth tannins and relatively low acidity make these wines excellent for every day, yet they are bold and structured enough to complement a variety of foods. Their value pricing is an added bonus.

I’ve only just begun exploring this fantastic wine, and so far have sampled only two. The most recent was a 2013 Villa Rocca, purchased online for $9.99 from Wines Till Sold Out (WTSO.com). Here is what I thought of it:Villa Rocca

Rich and full bodied. Inky purple in the glass with aromas of dark berry, violet, and vanilla. A bit tannic at first, but this softens with time. Concentrated flavors of blackberry, black pepper, and black cherry with an earthy, spicy finish. Best with food; we paired this with Grilled Margherita Sandwiches, and it was a delightful combination. It would be great with pizza and pasta, also.

I look forward to many more Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wines as fall and winter set it. I highly recommend exploring this region of Italy.