Thursday, 17 April 2014

La Valentina Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC (2011)

More than a third of the La Valentina winery’s annual production is accounted for by this “entry level” La Valentina Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Produced from a selection of Montepulciano grapes harvested from across the La Valentina winery’s three main estates, this entry level bottling was vinified in stainless steel tanks, before being matured for 12 months in a mixture of stainless steel tanks and glass-lined cement tanks.

Nicely fragrant on the nose, aromas of dark cherries, violets and pepper spice float up to great you as you approach this La Valentina Montepulciano. Dry and pure in the mouth, this is a medium bodied Montepulciano that shows good flavoural intensity and balance. Not as ripe in style as some of the Valentina winery’s other Montepulciano, dark cherry and plum flavours lead, with hints of dark chocolate also evident. Slightly sappy tannins are joined by a juicy but well integrated acidity. 130,000 bottles were produced in 2011.

SCORE: 86 points. (£12 UK) STOCKISTS: All About Wine / Valentina Fine Wines / AG Wines

Tormaresca “Bocca di Lupo” Aglianico, Castel del Monte DOC (2008)

“Bocca di Lupo” literally means “mouth of the wolf” and this “Bocca di Lup” Aglianico carries this name as it is the flagship wine of the Tormaresca winery’s “Bocca di Lupo” estate. Located in Murgia (northern Puglia), the ripening season is longer here than further south (in Salento) and this (coupled with the tufa soils and old vines that are planted) means that the Aglianico grapes that compose this Tormaresca bottling are simply bursting with flavour by the time they come to be harvested each year.

Actually produced from a selection of the very best Aglianico grapes to be harvested from the “Bocca di Lupo” estate each year, this “Bocca di Lupo” Aglianico underwent a slow fermentation in stainless steel tanks, before being matured in small French oak barrels for 15 months ahead of bottling.

Now released (after a further 2 years in the cellars of the Tormaresca winery), this “Bocca di Lupo” Aglianico is an intense garnet colour in the glass and a rich and intense blockbuster in the mouth. Ripe (but not over-ripe) dark cherry flavours form the base of this bottling, with layers of liquorice, dark chocolate and clove spice flavours unfolding as it evolves on the tongue. Hints of vanilla, toast and plum jam lend this “Bocca di Lupo” further complexity. Time softened tannins still lend considerable support, whilst a persistent acidity cleanses the palate as the extremely long finish fades. This is a serious wine and is one Italy’s best Aglianico-based wines.

SCORE: 93 points. (£28 UK) STOCKISTS: Wine Direct / Exel Wines / AG Wines

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

La Valentina Pecorino, Colline Pescaresi IGT (2012)

Not many wines made from the Pecorino grape variety make it to the UK however often those that do offer good value and a good level of interest. An “unfashionable” grape variety amongst Italian vintners (partly due to the naturally low yields of Pecorino vines – a factor prohibits mass production) good plantings still exist in the regions of Marche (believed to be its native region) and Abruzzo. This La Valentina bottling hails from Abruzzo and it was simply vinified in stainless steel tanks before bottling.

Quite indistinct on the nose, this La Valentina Pecorino is dry and lean in the mouth, with pure green apple and gooseberry flavours joining clean mineral tones. Plenty of acidity lends a sense of drive and despite its light and direct style this La Valentina Pecorino persists nicely on the finish. A refreshing and mineral-laden wine, this Pecorino would pair perfectly with griddled bream or sea bass and should be drunk within the next year so that all of its freshness is captured.

SCORE: 87 points. (£12.50 UK) STOCKISTS: All About Wine / Exel Wines / Last Drop Wines

Tormaresca “Torcicoda” Primitivo, Salento IGT (2012)

Since the Primitivo grape variety’s genetic ties with the Zinfandel grape variety have become more advertised, there has been an increased level of consumer interest in this grape variety in the UK. This “Torcicoda” Primitivo is made by the famous Antinori family (at their Puglian outpost – the Tormaresca winery) and sees 10 months of maturation in Hungarian and French oak barriques and a further 8 months of maturation in bottle ahead of its release each year.

A ruby red colour of moderate intensity in the glass, this Tormaresca “Torcicoda” Primitivo offers a fairly restrained bouquet of dark cherry and clove spice aromas as it is approached. Richer and more forthcoming on the palate, this “Torcicoda” Primitivo is medium to full bodied and offers no shortage of dark fruit flavours that are inherently impregnated with hints of spice (that have been brought about by the period of maturation in oak). More structured than some Puglian Primitivo, this “Torcicoda” also shows greater persistence than many similar wines, with hints of coffee and smoked meat emerging on the finish.

SCORE: 88 points. (£17 UK) STOCKISTS: Fareham Wine Cellar / Cantina Caputo / Exel Wines

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

La Valentina “Bellovedere” Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC (2008)

La Valentina’s “Bellovedere” Montepulciano d’Aburzzo is nominally the flagship wine of this highly impressive central Italian winery. Only 6000 bottles were produced in the 2008 vintage from a small (2 hectare) plot of 30 year old Montepulciano vines in Spoltore (not far from the sea). Fermentation was in open topped oak casks, with the subsequent maturation occurring over a two year period in a mix of oak casks, barriques and concrete tanks. This 2008 iteration is the current vintage of this wine on release in the UK.

An extremely intense ruby red colour in the glass, this 2008 “Bellovedere” Montepulciano d’Abruzzo offers a pungent nose that is redolent of ripe dark cherry, chocolate and liquorice aromas. Full-bodied and densely fruity on the palate, it is here that this “Bellovedere” is fully revealed as an outstanding Montepulciano. Layer upon layer of ripe dark cherry, liquorice and dark chocolate flavours unfold, with hints of clove and vanilla lending further depth. A glycerine smoothness disguises and softens the bulky but gummy tannins and this “Bellovedere” Montepulciano simply takes an age to fade on the finish.

Certainly a modern interpretation of Abruzzo’s most recognised grape variety, this La Valentina “Bellovedere” Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is also one Abruzzo’s best Montepulciano.

SCORE: 92 points. (£38 UK) STOCKISTS: AG Wines