Sunday, April 18, 2010

Trends from VinItaly

Cristina Ziliani, Guido Berlucchi
(Photo ©Tom Hyland)

A brief summary of new releases from VinItaly:

2009 Whites
I tased dozens of impressive whites from 2009, especially from Friuli and Campania. Cool throughout most of the growing season, there was some much needed sunshine in August and September, according to Elisabetta Polencic of the Isidoro Polencic winery in Friuli. Luigi Maffini from the Salerno province of Campania told me that 2009, “was a very good vintage. The wines are very complex and offer excellent freshness. I prefer the whites from 2009 over 2007 and 2008.” Antonio Capaldo, owner of Feudi di San Gregorio, says that 2009 was “especially good for white wines.”

A short list of my favorite 2009 whites:

Gradis’ciutta Sauvignon (Collio)
Livon Sauvignon “Valbuins” (Collio)
I Clivi Malvasia (Collio)
I Clivi Verduzzo Friulano (dry) (Colli Orientali del Friuli)
Isidoro Polencic Sauvignon (Collio)

Feudi di San Gregorio Greco di Tufo (especially good value)
Feudi di San Gregorio Greco di Tufo “Cutizzi”
Colli di Lapio Fiano di Avellino
Mastroberardino Greco di Tufo “Novaserra”
Mastroberardino Fiano di Avellino “Radici”
Marisa Cuomo Furore Bianco
Terredora Greco di Tufo "Loggia della Serra"
Vadiaperti Fiano di Avellino
Pietracupa Greco di Tufo
Vinosia Greco di Tufo
Luigi Maffini "Kratos" (Fiano - IGT Paestum)

Cantine Lunae Vermentino “Etichetta Nera” (Colli di Luni)

Oddero Langhe Bianco (Chardonnay, Riesling blend)

Alberto Longo “Le Fossette” (Falanghina) (Pugila IGT)

Antonio Capaldo, owner, Feudi di San Gregorio
(Photo ©Tom Hyland)

Many of the newest releases are from the 2006 vintage, a very good vintage. The regular Tedeschi bottling is rich, spicy and gusty, but above all, well-balanced, while their “Monte Olmi” offers more weight on the palate with more pronounced ripeness. Similar notes for the Stefano Accordini “Acinatico” bottling, though fatter on the palate. Accordini has also released his exceptional "Il Fornetto" from 2004; a great wine from a great vintage. This will not be available until very late in 2010- this is a must buy for Amarone lover with its layers of fruit and intense notes of fig, date and red raspberry.

It’s also interesting to note how two exceptional Soave producers have now focused on Amarone as well. Leonildo Pieropan previewed his first-ever Amarone from the 2006 vintage; the wine offers beautiful ripeness and delicate spice and is as elegant as the man himself. Ca’Rugate has produced Amarone for a few years now and their new 2007 is their finest yet. Displaying black cherry and cranberry fruit wih notes of orgeano, the wine is driven by its fruit and not by oak and is quite elegant. Look for 10-12 years of improvement with this wine – complimenti to winemaker Michele Tessari.

Leonildo Pieropan
(Photo ©Tom Hyland)

2006 Barolos
I tasted a few bottlings of 2006 Barolo; the new wines will be released within the next few months. This is a big vintage and right now, many of the wines are quite tight and a bit tannic. While it’s difficult to fully appreciate these wines right now, one can clearly sense the excellent depth of fruit; this should be a long-lived vintage.

As usual, the finest bottlings display their terroir; take the three offerings from Vietti. The Brunate is wonderfully perfumed with velvety tannins, the Lazzarito is much more closed with firmer tannins, while the Rocche is more full-bodied with appropriate young tannins. The always lovely Vajra “Bricco dell Viole” is excellent, though more restrained than the 2005 was at this time last year, while the Luigi Baudana “Baudana”, aged in grandi botti, is quite elegant, while still offering excellent concentration.

My two favorite 2006 Barolos I tasted at VinItaly were from Oddero; the Rocche di Castiglione with sensual red cherry and orange peel notes and the Villero, a spicier and more powerful bottling that is no less elegant. I hope many more of the 2006 Barolos I will taste in May in Alba will offer the balance and finesse of these wines from Oddero!

2005 Brunello di Montalcino
I tasted a few dozen of these wines in February in Chicago and New York; this was my chance to try some of my favorites I missed. While these wines may be a slightly more difficult sell comig after the celebrated 2004 vintage, this is an excellent vintage overall, with beautiful varietal character and lively acidity. Among the very best I tasted were the Stella di Campalto, Talenti, Le Chiuse, Col d’Orcia, Innocenti, Ciacci Piccolomini, Fossacolle and these three I rated as outstanding: Il Poggione, Pian dell’Orino and Il Palazzone.

Finally, a few words about a sparkling wine I love, but don’t get ot try often enough and that’s Franciacorta. Only a few brands, most noticeably Ca’ del Bosco and Bellavista are imported into the United States, which is somewhat understandable (especially now during the worldwide financial mess), but still a shame, as the finest efforts are distinctive and very special. I mentioned the amazing 2002 Bellavista “Vittorio Moretti” bottling in a separate post on my other blog; a few other excellent bottlings include the 2006 Camossi Extra Brut (their first Millesimato) the 2006 Saten from Il Mosnel and two very distinguished bottlings; the 2004 Guido Berlucchi Palazzo Lana “Extreme”, a 100% Pinot Nero with a lengthy, persistent finish and the full-bodied Brut normale from Enrico Gatti, a wine that is better than many top bottlings from other Franciacorta firms.

Here’s hoping that we see more examples of Franciacorta come to the United States!

Giovanni Arcari, Camossi
(Photo ©Tom Hyland)


  1. Giovanni! The coolest dude in Italian wine today!

  2. He is a great guy! I can't wait to visit him at the winery.

  3. Thank you Tom for your visit at Vinitaly.
    I hope to see you soon at our winery in Franciacorta.

  4. Thanks Tom and Jeremy! Too kind! You look in Franciacorta!

  5. Thanks very much! What wonderful company we're in. I hope to show you the estate one day.

  6. Laura:

    Thanks for the comment, but I don't know what Laura this is! What estate?