to top

WSET Diploma – Unit 3 – Week 10: Piemonte and Veneto

Back to reality. It seems like everyone around me is getting post-holiday ailments but I’m doing my best to survive. The holidays were fun but thankfully, they’re never really over-the-top for me (besides last year’s Soave incident). I swatted all New Year’s Eve plans out of my view in favour for cooking myself a meal, drinking a bottle of wine, and sleeping at around midnight: and you’d think that would end up totally bumming me out, but I had a satisfying sleep as the planet fully rotated into 2015, and I woke up at a decent hour to do some wine reading.

I’m riveting. I know. No hangover: that was a thing, though!

I’m not the biggest fan of New Year’s resolutions, mostly because I don’t plan that far ahead, and because I think it’s weird to make weird and shallow decisions at some quasi-arbitrary time of the year. I tried to stop being an asshole in late August, and I mean – it didn’t work, but I also didn’t have to wait until January 1st, y’know? Plus, it’s not like I’m one to remember anything I superfluously claim at the beginning of the year, let alone most of the things I’ve done in 2014. I’ve looked through my calendar and journals, and holy shit: there were way too many things I did in 2014 that I can’t believe I don’t remember in a quick snap. But perhaps most of my instant memory is dedicated to remembering regions of Italy, or whatever.

That being said, I can’t help but think about changes to make in 2015, and I did this whole sappy review-the-year sort of bit during the eve of 2o15. And it was great, really. At the risk of sounding like a shitty Hallmark card, I’m legitimately excited to see how 2015 will trump 2014. 2014 was truly a good vintage for the grapes of my soul.

It’s dawned on me that the diploma exam is in 6 months, which will most certainly fly by quickly. It takes dedication and time to review material and blog about it every week, so I’ve decided to condense my posts instead of squeezing each bottle of wine onto its own page. It cracks my tepid heart in a stupid way, but hey: that’s life. January is the temporary calendrical haven for the retail person, but then the wine fest will roll around in February like there was nothing to rest on. Gotta take it chill.

We come back to school this week in a class about Piemonte and Veneto. The instructors likely thought we needed a slap of acidity on the first week back just to wake us up from post-holiday doldrums, and so we did: we had two whites, the first which was a marzipan-scented Soave (Inama 2012 Soave Classico, $30) with creamy texture and intensity, appropriate to pair with a 90s slow jam; it led to the juicier and more lightweight Gavi (Fontanafredda 2012 Gavi, $26), which was more of a bright citrus dagger with flavours of lemon zest, apple skin, and lemon tea.

We then had two flights of three: I completely blew the first flight, which were three different Valpolicellas that we had to judge in terms of quality: I thought the Amarone della Valpolicella was a Ripasso della Valpolicella; I thought the basic entry-level Valpolicella was a Dolcetto; and I thought that the last – which was the actual Ripasso della Valpolicella – was a Barbera d’Asti. Great. Perhaps my palate is off because both a classmate and I took notice of an intense acidity in the Amarone (Monte del Fra 2007 “Lena di Mizzo” Amarone della Valpolicella Classico, $80) that was apparently softer than we had perceived, though there was a lot of textbook dried fruit and chocolate character, all wrapped up in an evolved savoury and tarry leathery blanket. The basic Valpolicella (Masi 2013 “Bonacosta” Valpolicella Classico, $17) almost seemed off, with this sort of stinky decaying leaf sort of character but in a less charming way, and subdued black fruit and a lighter body also had relatively low intensity on the palate with tart fruit and a short finish. The actual Ripasso della Valpolicella (Musella 2011 Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso, $30) had a bit brighter acidity than I expected, with thunderous sour cherry, raspberry, and cranberry on the palate, which sounded like Barbera d’Asti to me, in theory. I thought that it needed, perhaps, slightly more concentration to balance the structure. Then again, I am just waking up.

The second flight was much more straightforward, and we were told that each of the three wines were of different grapes but were from the same region: and so, deductively, it was easy to guess the Dolcetto as Dolcetto, the Barbera as Barbera, and the Nebbiolo as Nebbiolo. The first (Elio Grasso 2013 “Dei Grassi” Dolcetto d’Alba, $35) was an intense purple colour with plummy black fruit with bits of earth and an agreeable stemminess. All rather textbook on the palate with moderate acidity and chalky structure, with similar fruits on the palate and a slight lack in length. The Barbera (Ricossa 2012 Barbera D’Asti, $16) even vaguely reminded me of the wine in the previous flight that I thought was Barbera, with similar crunchy cranberry fruit and a fistful of acidity. Good value. My mouth is falling apart, at this point, and I can tell that the last wine belongs to the soul of a Nebbiolo, with aromas of forest floor, leather, dried red fruit, and wet leaves. Aromas and flavours are only beginning to shine through the thick tannic stained glass, though it’s still pleasurable, and still quite young (Vietti 2012 “Castiglione” Barolo, $98).

Next week: central Italy. The acidity continues.

Lastly: what do cats drink in Piemonte? Meows-cat-o d’Asti. I literally laughed out loud when I made that joke. More puns for 2015!

meowscato

Inama 2012 Soave Classico – WSET Tasting Note:

Inama 2012 Soave ClassicoEyes: clear, pale lemon, legs
Nose: clean, youthful, med intensity, nuts, almond, citrus, lemon zest, lemon curd, hint toastiness, hint caramel, hint nectarine, marzipan, hint floral, flaky pastry
Mouth: dry, med body, med+ acid, med alcohol, med+ intensity, nuts, almonds, ripe citrus, ripe lemon, marzipan, almond, hint savoury character on the finish, med length, creamy
All in all: Good (to very good) quality: the Soave has a well-balanced acidity that complements the nutty marzipan flavours. Average length and complexity, but fantastic intensity and concentration for a wine that can often be insipid. Drink now: not suitable for ageing or further ageing.
Identity Guess:
High-priced Soave from Veneto, Italy; 3 years old.
Is really:
High-priced Soave from Veneto, Italy; 3 years old.

Producer: Inama
Designation: 
“Vin Soave”
Region: 
Italy
Sub-Region:
Soave DOC (Classico)
Variety:
 Garganega
ABV:
 12%
Vintage:
 2012
Tasted:
 Jan 5, 2015
Price:
 $30

Fontanafredda 2012 Gavi – WSET Tasting Note:

Fontanafredda 2012 GaviEyes: clear, pale lemon-green
Nose: clean, youthful, med intensity, citrus, citrus zest, lemon zest, lime seed, mineral, apple skin, green apple, wet stones
Mouth: dry, med- body, med+ acid, med- alcohol, med+ intensity, citrus, lemon, lime, lemon zest, green apple, mineral, med+ length
All in all: Good quality: the crisp Gavi is quite simple but has lemony power. Persistent on the finish but rather uneventful past the citrus notes.
Identity Guess:
Mid-priced Gavi from Piemonte, Italy; 3 years old.
Is really:
High-priced Gavi from Piemonte, Italy; 3 years old.

Producer: Fontanafredda
Designation: 
N/A
Region: 
Italy
Sub-Region: 
Gavi DOCG, Piemonte
Variety:
 Cortese
ABV:
 12.5%
Vintage:
 2012
Tasted:
 Jan 5, 2015
Price:
 $26

Monte del Fra 2007 “Lena di Mizzo” Amarone della Valpolicella Classico – WSET Tasting Note:

Monte del Fra 2007 "Lena di Mizzo" Amarone della Valpolicella ClassicoEyes: clear, med+ garnet, legs
Nose: clean, developing, med+ intensity, earth, forest floor, dried red fruit, spice, hint vegetal, earth, red cherry, black cherry, hint chocolate, plum, tar, cola
Mouth: dry, med+ body, high acid (? – the instructor said medium minus), med ripe/soft tannin, med+ alcohol, med length, med+ intensity, red fruit, dried cherry, earth, very savoury, leather, med length, dried red fruit, hint chocolate
All in all: Very good quality: despite high acid (?), flavours showed through structure, showing great balance and integration; the flavours were complex and concentrated but could use longer length and intricacy on the palate. Can drink now, but has potential for ageing.
Identity Guess:
High-priced Ripasso della Valpolicella from Veneto, Italy; 6 years old.
Is really:
Premium Amarone della Valpolicella from Veneto, Italy: 8 years old.

Producer: Monte del Fra
Designation: 
“Lena di Mezzo”
Region: 
Italy
Sub-Region: 
Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG (Classico), Veneto
Variety:
 Corvina and Corvinone (80%), Rondinella (20%)
ABV:
 15%
Vintage:
 2007
Tasted:
 Jan 5, 2015
Price:
 $80

Masi 2013 “Bonacosta” Valpolicella Classico – WSET Tasting Note:

Masi 2013 "Bonacosta" Valpolicella ClassicoEyes: clear, med+ ruby, legs
Nose: clean, youthful, med+ intensity, black fruit, blackberry, earth, wet leaves, hint nuttiness, hint jam, sulphur?
Mouth: dry, med- body, med- acid, med green tannin, med alcohol, med- intensity, black fruit, blackberry, hint licorice, blueberry, earth, med- length
All in all: (Acceptable to) Good quality: appropriate intensity on both the nose and palate with fruit and some earthy components. Lacks a substantial finish and balance, where lots of simple tart fruit are the main flavours. Drink now: not suitable for ageing or further ageing.
Identity Guess:
Mid-priced Dolcetto from Piemonte, Italy; 3 years old.
Is really:
Mid-priced Valpolicella from Veneto, Italy; 2 years old.

Producer: Masi
Designation: 
“Bonacosta”
Region: 
Italy
Sub-Region: 
Valpolicella DOC (Classico), Italy
Variety:
 Corvina, Rondinella, Molinara
ABV:
 12%
Vintage:
 2013
Tasted:
 Jan 5, 2015
Price:
 $17

Musella 2011 Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso – WSET Tasting Note:

Musella 2011 Valpolicella Superiore RipassoEyes: clear, med ruby, legs
Nose: clean, youthful, med intensity, red fruit, red cherry, hint dried fruit, earth, raspberry
Mouth: dry, med body, high acid, med- chalky tannin, med alcohol, med+ intensity, red cherry, red fruit, strawberry, med length
All in all: Good quality: the wine has a piercing acidity that shares intensity with the bright and straightforward fruit. Average length, and the wine misses a hint of concentration to match the acidity. Drink now: not suitable for ageing or further ageing.
Identity Guess:
Mid-priced Barbera d’Asti from Piemonte; 3 years old.
Is really:
High-priced Ripasso della Valpolicella from Piemonte; 4 years old.

Producer: Musella
Designation: 
N/A
Region: 
Italy
Sub-Region: 
Valpolicella Ripasso DOC, Veneto
Variety:
 Corvina+Corvinone (80%), Rondinella (10%), Barbera (10%)
ABV:
 13.5%
Vintage:
 2011
Tasted:
 Jan 5, 2015
Price:
 $30

Elio Grasso 2013 “Dei Grassi” Dolcetto d’Alba – WSET Tasting Note:

Elio Grasso 2013 "Dei Grassi" Dolcetto d'AlbaEyes: clear, med+ purple, legs
Nose: clean, youthful, med intensity, earth, hint stemmy, black fruit, blackberry jam. plum, hint mint
Mouth: dry, med- body, med intensity, med acid, med+ chalky tannin, med- length, med alcohol, tart black and blue fruit, blueberry, blackberry
All in all: Good (to very good) quality: intense black and blue fruit meet balance and concentration; typicity shows with moderate acid and present tannin. Relatively simple (but I guess that’s Dolcetto), and needs a longer finish. Drink now: not suitable for ageing or further ageing.
Identity Guess:
Mid-priced Dolcetto from Piemonte, Italy; 3 years old.
Is really:
High-priced Dolcetto d’Alba from Piemonte, Italy; 2 years old.

Producer: Elio Grasso
Designation: 
“Dei Grassi”
Region: 
Italy
Sub-Region: 
Dolcetto D’Alba DOC, Piemonte
Variety:
 Dolcetto
ABV:
 13%
Vintage:
 2013
Tasted:
 Jan 5, 2015
Price:
 $35

Ricossa 2012 Barbera D’Asti – WSET Tasting Note:

Ricossa 2012 Barbera D'AstiEyes: clear, med+ ruby, legs
Nose: clean, med intensity, youthful, red fruit, cranberry, red cherry, hints of earth, dried cherry
Mouth: dry, med body, med+ intensity, high acid, med chalky tannin, med alcohol, cranberry, tart red fruit, cherry, med length
All in all: Good quality: simple flavours and idle on the finish, but the wine has great intensity and some form of balance despite cheeky acid. Drink now: not suitable for ageing or further ageing.
Identity Guess:
Mid-priced Barbera d’Asti from Piemonte, Italy; 3 years old.
Is really:
Mid-priced Barbera d’Asti from Piemonte, Italy; 3 years old.

Producer: Ricossa
Designation: 
N/A
Region: 
Italy
Sub-Region: 
Barbera d’Asti DOCG, Piemonte
Variety:
 Barbera
ABV:
 13.5%
Vintage:
 2012
Tasted:
 Jan 5, 2015
Price:
 $16

Vietti 2012 “Castiglione” Barolo – WSET Tasting Note:

Vietti 2012 "Castiglione" BaroloEyes: clear, med garnet, legs
Nose: clean, med+ intensity, developing, forest floor, wet leaves, cola, dried red fruit, leather, ripe red fruit, spice, sweet spice, strawberry
Mouth: dry, med+ body, med+ intensity, high acid, pronounced chalky tannin, med+ alcohol, cola, dried red fruit, leather, wet leaves, earth, med+ to long length
All in all: Very good (to outstanding) quality: Expressive, persistent, and beginning to show its complexities. Needs time, but balance and concentration are evident despite tight youth. Can drink now, but has potential for ageing.
Identity Guess:
Premium Barolo from Piemonte, Italy; 8 years old.
Is really:
Premium Barolo from Piemonte, Italy; 5 years old.

Producer: Vietti
Designation: 
“Castiglione”
Region: 
Italy
Sub-Region: 
Barolo DOCG, Piemonte
Variety:
 Nebbiolo
ABV:
 14%
Vintage:
 2010
Tasted:
 Jan 5, 2015
Price:
 $98

 

 

Josh

  • Mireille Sauve

    This was a great read, Josh! You’re making me wish I had an open bottle of Valpolicella with me right now…
    Cheers!

    January 13, 2015 at 10:57 am
%d bloggers like this: