Thursday, 26 February 2015


With vineyards stretching from the foothills of the majestic Dolomites to the shores of Lake Garda, it should come as no surprise that the 3,500 hectares of vineyards that Mezzacorona sources its grape from experience a wide range of different climates. What is surprising though is the level of care and attention that a winery producing 30 million bottles of wine a year takes to ensure that each and every grape variety selected for cultivation is only grown in a location where the micro-climate is near perfect for it. Such is the Mezzacorona way.

Transported to a state of the art winery, the grapes from Mezzacorona’s 1500 associate growers are vinified in controlled conditions before being crafted into the extensive range of single varietal wines that are made under the Mezzacorona and Rotari labels.

Unfortunately the range topping “Nos” Teroldego Rotaliano Riserva is not currently imported into the UK, but Mezzacorona is (according to the winery’s PR) the largest “estate producer” of Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay in Italy and significant quantities of both these grape varieties do arrive in the UK.

The two Mezzacorona “Riserva” wines lead the winery’s range in the UK, with both the Teroldego and the Pinot Grigio offering an impressive level of quality (that becomes doubly impressive once you realise the price of these wines). The non-vintage “Rotari” Brut is also worthy of a mention thanks to its admirable sophistication and keen price.

Aside from making high quality wine Mezzacorona is also a leading exponent for reducing the environmental impact of wineries in Trentino – Mezzacorona’s own programme for reducing environmental impact focuses on reducing the winery’s use of chemical treatments; improving water management; energy management; waste management; and vineyard location.

Summary of Scores (Updated July 2014)       

Mezzacorona “Castel Firmian” Pinot Grigio
Mezzacorona “Castel Firmian” Chardonnay
Mezzacorona “Castel Firmian” Sauvignon Blanc
Mezzacorona “Castel Firmian” Lagrein Rosato
Mezzacorona “Castel Firmian” Merlot
Mezzacorona Pinot Grigio Riserva
Mezzacorona Teroldego Rotaliano Riserva
Rotari “Cuvee 28” Brut
Rotari Rosé

*indicates that a wine is non-vintage and that the date shown relates to the year in which it was tasted.

Reviews from 2015

Mezzacorona “Castel Firmian” Pinot Grigio, Trentino DOC (2014)
Ever reliable this “Castel Firmian” Pinot Grigio is yet again a characterful an accomplished wine this year. A waft of camomile leads you on, before a dry and linear palate offers up flavours of nectarine and just a hint of lemon. A freshening acidity never becomes too much. 85 points.

Mezzacorona “Castel Firmian” Chardonnay, Trentino DOC (2014)
Bright and un-oaked this “Castel Firmian” Chardonnay should be a good option for those that like their Chardonnay fresh and without overtones of vanilla. However, whilst this is generally a dry, pleasant and apply Chardonnay there is a hint of bitterness to the finish this year which detracts. 81 points.

Mezzacorona “Castel Firmian” Sauvignon Blanc, Trentino DOC (2013)
Produced from Sauvignon Blanc grapes that are cultivated on the hills that run alongside the Adige River, this “Castel Firmian” Sauvignon Blanc from Mezzacorona has been one of the company’s most popular wines in recent years. Varietally typical aromas of grass and asparagus define the nose, whilst the palate is more subtle in its greengage and green apple flavours. All this wine needs is a tad more flavoural intensity. 83 points.

Mezzacorona “Castel Firmian” Lagrein Rosato, Trentino DOC (2014)
Rarely are rosé wines made from Lagrein seen in the UK, however this “Castel Firmian” Lagrein Rosato is imported alongside the rest of the Mezzacorona winery’s substantial range of wines. Quite restrained on the nose, when tasted this Lagrein Rosato reveals itself to be one of Mezzacorona’s more accomplished “Castel Firmian” branded wines with subtle flavours of raspberry and gooseberry persisting across its relatively impressive length. 85 points.

Mezzacorona “Castel Firmian” Merlot, Trentino DOC (2013)
Omnipresent on London restaurant wines lists this “Castel Firmian” Merlot is exactly what you would expect from a Trentino Merlot. Dark cherry and plum fruit flavours define this simple wine that also combines gentle tannins and a good length. 85 points.

Mezzacorona (Star) Pinot Grigio Riserva, Trentino DOC (2013)
60% of this Pinot Grigio Riserva from Mezzacorona saw 12 months in oak and the result of this (and the use of Mezzacorona’s best Pinot Grigio grapes) makes for a characterful and accomplished wine. Hints of toast emerge on the nose, before a dry and textured palate unfolds to reveal plentiful flavours of nectarine, almond and more subtle brioche notes. Medium bodied and impressively long this bottling is again one of Trentino’s more impressive Pinot Grigio. 86 points.

Mezzacorona (Star) Teroldego Rotaliano Riserva DOC (2011)
Teroldego is one of Trentino’s most serious red grape varieties and this oak aged version from Mezzacorona is amongst the most impressive that the region has to offer. Dark cherry and bitter chocolate aromas greet you, before hints of vegetal development begin to segue through on the palate. This is a dry and structured red of considerable class. 88 points.

Rotari “Cuvee 28” Brut, Trento DOC (NV)
Metodo Classico sparkling wines tend not to come cheap and good, but this Rotari “Cuvee 28” Brut (made under the Trento DOC) fulfils both of those criteria. Primarily Chardonnay, this bottling matures on the lees of its secondary fermentation for 28 months before disgorgement – hence the name. Wonderfully perfumed as it is approached, this Rotari “Cuvee 28” Brut shows classic apple and peach flesh flavours, alongside hints of almond and rusk. A bright mousse and acidity keeps it lively. 85 points.

Rotari Rosé, Trento DOC (NV)
Formed of 75% Pinot Nero and 25% Chardonnay, this Rotari Rosé is subtle and accomplished sparkling wine that belies its relatively modest price point. Flavours of peaches and red apples form the basis of this beautiful salmon pink sparkling wine, with hints of brioche also nestling amongst the restrained effervescence. 86 points.

Reviews from 2013

Mezzacorona Pinot Grigio “Riserva” Trentino DOC (2011)
Medium weight and offering a rounder, denser mouthfeel than the “typical” Trentino Pinot Grigio, this 2011 Mezzacorona Pinot Grigio “Riserva” leads with flavours of pear, white peach and a hint of citrus zest, before segueing into a more mineral and lees-influenced mid-palate and finish.  Almost deriving more of a texture than a flavour from extended lees maturation and time in oak, this Mezzacorona Pinot Grigio “Riserva” is impressively balanced and offers good length. 88 points.

Mezzacorona “Castel Firmian” Pinot Grigio, Trentino DOC (2012
Clean and medium weight in the mouth, this 2012 “Castel Firmian” Pinot Grigio must be considered a benchmark for Pinot Grigio from Trentino in this price range. Bright flavours of lemon citrus are nicely balanced by a suggestion of peach flesh and together these flavours combine with a subtle minerality to produce a wine of good length and harmony. Good acidity is present but does not cut across the tongue as the fruit intensity is enough to offset it and this 2012 “Castel Firmian” bottling ends lithe, with lingering hints of citrus. 86 points.

Mezzacorona “Rotari” Brut, Trento DOC (NV)
Aside the fact that this Rotari Brut is made in substantial quantities and to a certain price level this Rotari Brut is an accomplished wine in need of no context or apologies when it comes to tasting. Initially offering a creamy and well resolved mousse, this Metodo Classico sparkler offers a deftness and subtle class that belies its relatively low price. Lemon and apple fruit flavours fill the mid-palate with a cleansing streak of acidity brightening the finish which is a good length itself. 86 points.

Reviews from 2012

Mezzacorona Teroldego Rotaliano Riserva DOC (2009)
An intense ruby colour in the glass, on the nose of this 2009 Mezzacorona Teroldego Rotaliano Riserva restrained but complex dark fruit characteristics predominate. Blackcurrant and black cherry fruit lead, with a hint of prune and clove spice also featuring. Dry and verging on full bodied in the mouth, this Teroldego Rotaliano Riserva manages to balance austere tannins, snappy acidity and relatively savoury dark fruit flavours really rather well indeed. Imbued with an impressively well resolved mouthfeel, this Teroldego Rotaliano Riserva is perhaps not a ripe and crowd pleasing style, but it is a wonderful expression of a traditionally vinified Teroldego. 89 points.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Kellerei Andrian

The Kellerei Andrian co-operative was first established in 1893, thereby making it one of the oldest co-operative wine producers in South Tyrol. Named after the town of Andriano (which is located just to the north west of Bolzano, in Northern Italy) in 2008 Kellerei Andrian merged with Terlano Wine Cellars (another benchmark local producer) and today the fruit from the 50 hectares of Kellerei Andrian vineyards is vinified at the state-of-the-art Cantina Terlano winery.

The wines of Kellerei Andrian reflect the full spectrum of winemaking in Sudtirol and the Alto Adige, with wines produced under no fewer than 13 different DOC designations. Whilst the “classic” range of wines are produced with the aim of drawing out the character of this small part of the Adige Valley, the “Selections” range are produced with the aim of bottling the character of individual vineyard plots.

Traditional white grape varieties (such as Muller Thurgau, Pinot Bianco and Gewurztraminer) are grown alongside more “international” varieties (such as Chardonnay and Suavignon Blanc).

Equally traditional and indigenous red grape varieties (such as Lagrein and Schiava) are cultivated next to more “international” grape varieties (such as Merlot).

Summary of Scores (Updated January 2014)  

Kellerei Andrian “Finado” Pinot Bianco

Reviews from 2014

Kellerei Andrian "Finado" Pinot Bianco, Sudtirol Alto Adige DOC (2012)
Kellerei Andrian’s “Finado” Pinot Bianco is one of 11 wines produced as part of Kelleri Andrian’s “Classic” range of wines. Hailing from the southern end of the Adige Valley, this is a varietal wine that was fermented in stainless steel tanks, ahead of six months of maturation on the lees of that fermentation. Originally the product of a genetic mutation in Pinot Noir vines, today Pinot Bianco (also known as Pinot Blanc, or Weissburgunder) is typically produced as a still and dry white wine in Northern Italy, but is also occasionally used in sparkling wines.

A pale lemon colour in terms of appearance (with a few greenish tinges emerging towards the rim of the glass), this 2012 Andrian “Finado” Pinot Bianco is overt and pure on the nose, with piercing green apple notes complemented by hints of wet slate and wild white flowers. Lean and driven by a keen acidity on the palate, it is intense green and cider apple flavours that remain to the fore, with a growing salinity and a hint of pear becoming more evident as the wine evolves on the tongue. Longer, more intensely flavoured and more characterful than many examples, this Andrian “Finado” Pinot Bianco is a great example of this grape variety. 89 points.

Friday, 22 August 2014


Gianni Masciarelli founded Azienda Agricola Masciarelli in 1978 with 2.5 hectares of land and a determination to prove that top quality wine could indeed be made in Abruzzo – a wine region that was widely regarded as backwards, introverted and incapable of producing high quality wine.

The much maligned indigenous grape varieties of Montepulciano and Trebbiano were the centre of Gianni Masciarelli’s ambitions. Montepulciano (the second most planted grape in Italy) was at the time widely considered a grape that could offer no more than the roughest of “table wines”. Offering high yields and offering nondescript flavours when allowed to grow unchecked, many producers of Montepulciano were happy to make just such wines. Much of the same was true of Trebbiano.

Gianni Masciarelli however, saw a different future for Montepulciano and Trebbiano. A future where Montepulciano and Trebbiano grown within his beloved Abruzzo would have their own identity and could indeed be considered “fine wines”.

Meeting Marina Cvetic in 1987 (who later became Gianni Masciarelli’s wife) spurred him on and by the time of his death in 2008 (aged 53) Gianni Masciarelli’s wines were indeed considered “fine wines”, some the best wines to be made in Abruzzo and indeed the wines of Azienda Agricola Masciarelli are today considered amongst the finest in all of Italy.

Now cultivating more than 400 hectares of vines across all of Abruzzo, today Azienda Agricola Masciarelli produces 14 labels, within which Montepulciano and Trebbiano retain prominence. The Azienda Agricola Masciarelli “Villa Gemma” range of wines represent the absolute best that Azienda Agricola Masciarelli can produce each year and these wines are tended to with a loving care rarely equalled. This truly is “quality over everything” winemaking.

The “Marina Cvetic” range (named by Gianni Masciarelli after his wife who survives him and continues to run the Azienda Agricola Masciarelli winery) offers a similarly high level of quality, albeit the wines contained within the “Marina Cvetic” range are styled somewhat differently to the “Villa Gemma” range.

Across the spectrum of more youthful wines produced, enviable quality is maintained at a production level that is astounding (more than 1million bottles of Azienda Agricola Masciarelli’s “Classic” Montepulciano are produced each year).

Summary of Scores (Updated December 2013)           

Masciarelli “Villa Gemma” Montepulciano
Masciarelli “Marina Cvetic” Montepulciano
Masciarelli “Marina Cvetic” Trebbiano
Masciarelli Trebbiano

Reviews from 2013

Masciarelli “Villa Gemma” Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC (2006)
Full-bodied and powerful on the palate, this ‘06 “Villa Gemma” Montepulciano nonetheless maintains a sense balance that is second to none. Leading with dark fruit flavours and developing through meatier and spice notes as the wine evolves in the mouth, this bottling delivers a huge intensity and complexity of flavour across its prodigious length, rather than delivering all the flavour in one initial burst. The time-softened tannins of this wine are now gummy (but retain their firm support) and this ‘06 iteration of the Masciarelli’s flagship Montepulciano is slightly better at this stage of its development than the hugely impressive 2005 was when it was tasted around 8 months ago. 95 points.

Masciarelli “Marina Cvetic” Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC (2008)
On the palate, this 08’ “Marina Cvetic” Montepulciano is long and densely flavoured. There is a real richness of dark fruit notes that are perfectly offset by intensely flavoured nuances of clove spice, vanilla and chocolate as this wine evolves on the tongue. Released later than much Montepucliano (this 2008 iteration has already seen three years in bottle) the tannins of this ‘08 “Marina Cvetic” Montepulciano  are much more approachable than some heavily extracted Montepulciano in their youth and these gummy tannins are combined with a good level of freshening acidity which cleanses the flow of this wine into its lengthy finish. 92 points.

Masciarelli “Marina Cvetic” Trebbiano d’Abruzzo DOC (2010)
Richly flavoured and a million miles away from some of the more anodyne examples of Trebbiano that are produced in Abruzzo, this 2010 “Marina Cvetic” Trebbiano  is supple, harmonious and long. Rich fruit flavours of guava, white peach and lemon are joined by more developmental nuances of toast, honey and a restrained cinnamon spice. Typically there would be a substantial risk of even a short period of oak maturation overwhelming the delicate flavours of the Trebbiano grape, however in the case of this “Marina Cvetic” bottling the low yields of high quality grapes have not only stood up to the oak maturation that this wine has experienced, but have been dramatically enhanced by it. Taking an age to fade, this really is one of Abruzzo’s best Trebbiano and indeed one of Italy’s most impressive whites. 94 points.

Masciarelli “Marina Cvetic” Trebbiano d’Abruzzo DOC (2009)
Having been matured in oak barriques for 22 months there would be scope for this “Marina Cvetic” Trebbiano to be overwhelmed by flavours of vanilla and buttery (malolactic-induced) notes, yet instead of overwhelming the rest of the wine, these flavours form part of a balanced and compelling array of sensations. A bright golden colour (reflective of both maturation in oak and bottle now), this ‘09 “Marina Cvetic” Trebbiano is more richly textured than almost any other Trebbiano and combines pure fruit flavours of peach and apricot, with more developmental tones of honey and toast. There is sufficient acidity to lend drive, although perhaps not the overall freshness that made the 2010 iteration so compelling. Drink this in the next 2 years.  90 points.

Masciarelli Trebbiano d’Abruzzo DOC (2012)
Vinified in stainless steel only, this “entry level” Masciarelli Trebbiano offers a pure and fresh nose of green apple, pear and a clear pebbly minerality. As focussed and pleasingly well defined on the palate as it is on the nose, this Masciarelli Trebbiano is light and bright in style, with a good level of acidity lending refreshment. Again it is green apple and pear notes that dominate, with the minerality hinted at on the nose growing in prominence from the mid-palate. This is an elegant and classy white. 87 points.

Reviews from 2012

Masciarelli “Villa Gemma” Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC (2005)
Dry and full bodied on the palate, the sheer intensity of the characteristics of this 2005 Masciarelli “Villa Gemma” Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is carried across from the nose. Savoury dark cherry flavours are perfectly set against riper damson and blackberry notes. The wonderful spice of oak and maturation runs throughout with liquorice, cloves and cocoa running through the beautifully layered fruit of this wine. Increasingly tertiary in character towards the finish (but never over-run by its oak) this ’05 “Villa Gemma” ends with a teasing ripeness of fruit and a sense of tobacco, pencil shavings and lingering spice. This is a gorgeously well resolved wine. 94 points.