The Vancouver International Wine Fest of 2016 is creeping up slowly – already? I distantly remember my tongue-related worries about trying Shiraz after Shiraz after Shiraz, so a duplicate worry replaced with the acidic Sangiovese grape was the first thing that came to mind when I found out that the theme for 2016 was Italy. And originally I wasn’t super stoked to find out Italy was the featured region, but recent bottles of inspiration have reminded me of grapes and regions I, for some reason, forgot to consider. I’m secretly hoping there will be a seminar on something fucked like a long flight of artisanal Pinot Grigio or “You Won’t Believe These 8 Pinot Grigios That Pair Well With Shitty Buzzfeed Videos”. FINGERS CROSSED, YOU GUYS. If I ever get to lead one of these things in the future you’ll know exactly what to expect.
Also: a series of tastings with a group of friends, and we’ve started with Piedmont. Yay!
Francesco Cirelli 2014 Trebbiano d’Abruzzo (Abruzzo, Italy) $31
Admittedly not the biggest Trebbiano fan – though who is, really? This gold-tinted version is chock-full of personality, scented with honey, wet wool, hay, mushroom, ripe citrus, Golden delicious apples, and white flowers. Pillowy mouth-coating mushroom on the palate and faint grapefruit zest on the finish. Quite thick and creamy. A cross between the anodyne pillows of Grenache Blanc and the reticent mushroom and dried hay of young Loire Chenin. This is Sansa Stark in season 6, you guys.
Masi 2011 “Campofiorin” Ripasso (Rosso del Veronese IGT, Veneto, Italy) $23
A dusty combination of something ripe, green, and dried, like sage or oregano. Spicy red fruit and black cherries on the nose. Medium-bodied on the palate, with mouthwatering stewed red cherries. Slightly chalky structure with a bitter almond finish. Pretty satisfying, I must admit.
Tommasi 2013 Valpolicella Ripasso (Valpolicella, Veneto, Italy) $30.50
Playfully subdued bright cooked red fruit on the nose along with hints of stemminess: something like desk lamps and shadow puppets. The spice and black pepper evolves into unapologetic sweet cherry on the palate, and then onto something meaty and piquantly green. Ballsy – maybe lacks a hint of grace.
Umani Ronchi 2013 Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi (Marche, Italy)
Mostly white peach and wet rocks, with a faint scent of petrichor and smoke. Crisp without being too feathery, and hints of green bean and seashell on the palate.
Vinosia 2014 “L’ariella” Greco di Tufo (Campania, Italy) $33
Tasted this slightly warm, but it’s definitely heady with potpourri supported by apricots and banana. I swear: something reminiscent of pumpkin spice on the palate. Warming and slightly oily. Very autumnal with a balancing amount of acid.
Vinosia 2009 “Santandrea” Taurasi (Campania, Italy) $52
Potent scents of leather, forest floor, and soy; showing obvious signs of age but with a nice amount of punchy black fruit. Hints of something dried and green. A hug of black fruit on the palate, and then cooked black cherry with finely-etched tannin and rounded acid. Something a bit medicinal. Rustic vibes.
Terre del Barolo 2014 Langhe Nascetta del Comune di Novello (Piedmont, Italy)
Smattering of pear, apple, white peach, and fresh vague herbs. Similar on the palate, with a refreshing fleshy herbal ending.
Canapi 2014 Grillo (Sicily, Italy) $17
Honeysuckle, orange, nectarine, and baked grapefruit. Lots of white flowers on the palate and a hint of grapefruit sweetness that unbuttons its shirt, which then grades back into rind. Unambitious acid makes it seem just under off-dry, at first.
Yeah I get it – there’s a lack of Italian Pet-Nat from this current list: throwback or whatev
Ricossa 2013 Barbera d’Asti (Piedmont, Italy) $17
Black cherry, dried herbs, and some dried red fruit. Rather lithe with an easy-drinking quality despite high acid; lots of joyful and juicy cranberry fruit. Surprisingly fleshy. Really good value.
Azelia 2013 “Bricco dell’Oriolo” Dolcetto d’Alba (Piedmont, Italy) $26.50
Dusty. Dark fruit and bitter almond; soil, blackberry skin, and dried herbs. Medium-bodied and brooding. Slightly bitter ending with modest structure and something vaguely stemmy and pine-flavoured. Shadowy.
La Spinona 2010 Barbaresco Bricco Faset (Piedmont, Italy) $65
Dried flowers and hints of vanilla. Fresh raspberry compote with some ripe stemmy greenness, a little bit of leather, and some tar. Definitely some potpourri on the palate with a fair amount of body and very elegant tannin despite its classic Nebbiolo-driven presence. Hint of cherry cloy on the finish. Petra from Jane the Virgin.
La Spinona 2000 Barbaresco Bricco Faset (Piedmont, Italy) $70
Much more truffle-primary, along with leather and mushroom, which take center stage among the aged red fruit. The tannin is more classically chalky, here, and with plenty of balanced acid. A hint of tomato leaf among the leather and nuts. Still quite fresh-tasting despite the age. Good value.