Saturday, 29 March 2008

Northern Italy - CWM Mill Rd

Northern Italy Tasting
Cambridge Wine Merchants - Mill Rd
27 March 2008

Tasting run by the Cambridge Wine Merchant team at Mill Rd, must say that the new tasting room / cellar in their branch is kinda cramped for 30 people in a tasting; ventilation wasnt very good either. Wine wise, there was a nice mix. Prices indicated are retail prices in the shop, insofar as I know, correct at time of tasting. Lets start.

Prosecco Extra Dry, Cantina Beato Bartolomeo £9 [B]

Lightly sparkling wine, with a nose of apple. grape juice and sweet pears, generally fruity and pleasant. This is a light-bodied, quite sweet, very drinkable wine; its a simple, uncomplicated, cheerful drink. Chill it for the summer months to drink on its own or with any light dishes.

Soave Superiore Classico 2005, Vigneto Montegrande £8 [B]

Nice nose of white peaches, nectarines, and the tang of grapefruits too. The acidity in this wine is quite pronounced, gives it an interesting zing and crispness to the wine on the fore of the palate, giving way to some tartness at the end. There is also a slight hint of creaminess, most probably from some oak treatment. Body wise, this wine was fairly two dimensional and just didnt have much to offer. Drinkable but not memorable.

Vinnae Servus Cella 2006, Jermann £18 [B+]

There is an unusual earthy / yeasty nose to this, a smell normally more associated with Champagne; also reminds me of burnt matchstick / sulphur and stony minerality. This feels like a cool wine grown in temperate areas, flavours are restrained and composed. The oak treatment enhances the wine, gives an extra complexity to it. The fruit, acidity and tartness is not integrated at this point, perhaps could do with a few years to see how it develops. I think its a good wine, but at the moment, not worth the price tag and not presenting itself well either.

Gavi di Gavi 2006, Fontanafredda £11 [B-]

Struggled to get any aromas out of this, taste wise, its fresh, crisp and leaves a drying sensation at the finish. Again, there is oak in this which lends some oaky / woody / vanilla touches. The body is understandably lean; flavour wise, its not giving up very much. I do apologise for the sparse tasting note, I really struggled with this one.

Barbera d'Asti 2002, Ca' Del Matt £7 [B]

Nice fruity nose, with a dash of sweet spices (cinnamon etc), there is also a sourish nose, like that of a berry compote (cherries, raspberries). This too feels like a cool wine, though rather dilute; the body is slender to weak, lacks structure. Dont get me wrong, I do think that this wine is well made, just that its rather too light and cheerful for my liking. Food wise, lightly / simply cooked game meats or even lamb might work well.

Barbera d'Asti Superiore Tere Caude 2003, Ca' Del Matt £11.75 [B+(+)]

Theres a nice warmth to this wine, its quite alcoholic on the nose, some burnt clay and earthy notes. Curiously, this wine has what I consider to be a hot nose but a cool feel / palate; fruit flavours include dary cherry, plums and chocolates, its quite exotic in a way that I cant quite pin down. The tannins needs time to soften and develop, coupled with the relatively high alcohol and balanced acidity, this will pobably age well.(~5yrs).

Dolcetto d'Alba Boschi de Berri 2005, Marcarini £11.75 [B-(+)]

Flavours here are very much dominated by the unripe, green and very astringent tannins; there are touches of licorice, perhaps prunes and dark cherries, but its quite hard to get beyond the tannins. This wine needs food and above all else, time to soften the tannins out. From the balance and intensity, I think there is more to this wine to be had, but not at the moment. Its like tasting a decent but very tannic Bordeaux.

Barolo Brunate 2003, Marcarini £25 [B(+)]

This pale-coloured wine has a strawberry, unripe cherry and cooked berries nose; a fellow taster commented that there was a sweet spices here too, like that of cinnamon and licorice perhaps. The alcohol levels can't be hidden, and neither can the unripe and harsh tannins; it is actually a rather powerful wine, with a good structure, balance and lingering finish to it. I have no doubts that this will improve with age, perhaps it'll open up more in 3-5 yrs. Excellent with hearty meat dishes, I suppose the kind you find in Northern Italy? Just a guess...

Bosan Ripasso 2004, Cesari £15 [B+(+)]

There is a red fruits, sour cherry and berry nose to this; on the palate there is a most satisfying burst of flavour on the fore, quite juicy in a way. The tannins again need to flesh out a little, but even now, there is a hint of sweetness peeking through. I think with time his could be a good maybe even great wine, theres just something about it that I personally like. Try game meats with this; keep ~5yrs.

Amarone della Valpolicella 2004, Cesari £22.50 [B+(+)]

Attractive nose to this wine: exotic spices, white pepper, maybe even a hint of incense? This wine is intensely-flavoured, concentrated whole flavours, something I really approve of in a traditionally styled and made Amarone. Ripe cherries, strawberry and plums are apparent fruit-wise; at the moment, sweetness is masked by the alcohol (not light at 15%) and the tannins, which need time to ripen and mellow out. Already, this wine displays excellent balance and smoothness; it just seems poised, ready to impress. I'm sure this wine will age supremely, developing complexity and layers of flavour as it goes along. 5yrs minimum to open up, perhaps peaking at 10-15yrs. If you have dark meats with cranberry sauce, this will fit like a glove.

Recioto della Valpolicella 2003, Cesari £18 (50cl) [A-]

Sweet desert wine, unfortified. Unsurprisingly, nose of dried fruits (the ones you sprinkle on cakes etc) and some raisins. Flavours are integrated and smooth; chocolate, cassis and dark grape juice Its drinking well now, there arent that much tannins that need time to flesh out, so I have no reservations drinking this young. The sweetness is not cloying, its balanced by the fruitiness and acidity, again, obviously well made. Mind you, this wine is not light (because of the sugar) but will go wonderfully with berry-containing desert dishes or chocolates (as was served during the tasting).

Overall report

An interesting tasting but quite disappointing in a way too. The whites didnt impress me, it just tasted rather bland and unremarkable; lets just say I wont be buying any of them for future personal consumption, bar the Vinnae Servus Cella perhaps. The reds were largely still very tannic, needing time to develop and just soften out; still, a couple of gems in there, particulrly the Bosan Ripasso and the Amarone, its a shame that they are just out of my budget for normal consumption.

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