Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Attems

Count Douglas Attems founded the Wine Consortium of Colli in 1964 and today the winery that bears his name is part of the Frescobaldi “family” of wineries that stretches across Italy.

Located in Capriva del Friuli (in the far north east of Italy), barely 15 kilometres from the Adriatic (and less distance than that from the border with Slovenia) the 80 hectare Attems estate encompasses a number of the terraced slopes and woodlands that define the landscape in this area. Around two thirds of the estate is now planted to vines, with around 400,000 bottles produced each year.

Benefiting from the maritime influence in this area and the orientation of the hillsides (that protect the Attems estate from the cold alpine winds that would otherwise blow from the north) indigenous grape varieties such as Ribolla Gialla, Friuliano and Pinot Bianco thrive, with international grape varieties (namely Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Merlot) also enjoying the climate.

All Attems wines are pitched at “premium” prices and fortunately the quality of these wines very much lives up to their billing. For example, the Sauvignon Blanc and “Cupra Ramato” Pinot Grigio are both excellent examples of signature Colli styles and will not disappoint.



Summary of Scores (Updated April 2014)      

 
Vintage
 
2013
2012
2011
2010
2009
Attems Sauvignon Blanc
 
92
91
 
 
Attems Pinot Grigio
 
 
88
 
 
Attems “Cupra Ramato” Pinot Grigio
 
90
 
 
 

Reviews from 2014           

Attems “Cupra Ramato” Pinot Grigio, Venezia Giulia IGT (2012)
Because the grape skins of the Pinot Grigio grape variety are naturally copper in colour, if a winemaker leaves the skins with the fermenting grape juices (even for a brief period) a slightly coppery (“Ramato”) coloured wine is the result. This is an ancient technique in North East Italy and it is a technique that the team at the Attems winery in Collio are still utilising today!

Part fermented and matured in oak and part in stainless steel, this Attems “Cupra Ramato” Pinot Grigio is pale salmon colour in the glass, with fragrant notes of white peach, strawberry and hints of a pebbly minerality rising upwards as it is approached. Very subtle and long on the palate, this “Cupra Ramato” Pinot Grigio is lean and dry on the palate, with flavours of white peach, red apple and a subtle chalkiness persisting forever. The acidity that underpins this Attems bottling is beautifully integrated with the fruit flavours and the result is a thoroughly satisfying and complete wine. 90 points.

Attems Sauvignon Blanc, Venezia Giulia IGT (2012)
Attems’s Sauvignon Blanc was one of the top scoring Italian Sauvignon Blancs last year and this 2012 iteration is even better than the 2011 version that was tasted back then! Fermented and matured in a mixture of stainless steel tanks and oak barriques, this is a richer and more complex style of Sauvignon than many and it is all the better for it!

A lemon colour with some golden hints, this Attems Sauvignon Blanc is powerfully aromatic as it is approached. Signature varietal aromas of asparagus and nettle are joined by those of cloves and a hint of almond. Flavours of melon and cream lead the medium bodied palate, before notes of white peach and gooseberry emerge as this Attems Sauvignon Blanc evolves. Hints of spice enliven the dramatically long finish that is more balanced and less acid orientated than is the case for many varietal Sauvignon Blancs. This is a seriously good wine! 92 points.

Reviews from 2013           

Attems Pinot Grigio, Venezia Giuila IGT (2011)
Typically light and crisp with a fairly simple citrus fruit based flavour profile, this Attems Pinot Grigio (in the manner of many of the Friuli produced Pinot Grigio sampled this year in fact) offers a far more interesting regional representation of the grape variety. Yes the green apple and pear flavours remain from the nose and form the basis of this wine, but the mouth-feel is richer than typical (a product of partial oak fermentation and an extended lees contact time), with a growly minerality really driving and extending the length of this wine through its finish. This is not a “statement wine” of bold and attention grabbing flavours, but is instead characterful, long and extremely well balanced. 88 points.

Attems Sauvignon Blanc, Venezia Giuila IGT (2011)
Fatter and more fruit-led in style than some of the very highly acidic and under-fruited examples of Sauvignon Blanc currently popular in some parts of the world, this Attems Sauvignon Blanc is medium bodied and offers a really impressive intensity of fruit flavours, alongside the more subtle complexities that also set this wine apart.  Majoring in flavours reminiscent of green apple, white peach and grapefruit, as this 2011 Attems Sauvignon Blanc evolves on the palate hints of cream, vanilla and white pepper emerge. Descriptions featuring mango and a little apricot would not be far from the mark when it comes to the prolonged finish and the cleansing (but balanced) acidity that should be a hallmark of a great Sauvignon Blanc is also present. 91 points.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Terredora

Today the Terredora winery represents one half of the Mastroberardino family’s wine making efforts in the southern Italian region of Campania.   

Originally forming part of the main Mastroberardino winery’s estates, the 200+ hectares of vineyard that Walter and Dora Mastroberardino now cultivate under the Terredora name were split away from the family’s other holdings as part of a 1994 deal following a difference in opinion over how the family business should be run. Walter and Dora ended up with a large proportion of the existing vineyards, but were no longer permitted to trade under the family name. 

De facto one of the three most important quality orientated producers of wine in Campania (the others being Feudi di San Gregorio and “other” Mastroberardino winery itself) Terredora today produces more than 1 million bottles of wine a year using a range of indigenous and historic Campanian grape varieties. White grape varieties planted include Fiano, Greco and Falanghina, whilst the red wines of Terredora are based around the grape varieties of Aglianico and Piedirosso. 

There is no shortage of critical acclaim for the wines of Terredora, although perhaps the most impressive aspect of this winery’s success is the manner in which quality and quantity is combined.

Summary of Scores (Updated December 2013)           

 
Vintage
 
2013
2012
2011
2010
2009
Terredora “Terre degli Angeli” Greco di Tufo
 
 
90
 
 

Reviews from 2013

Terredora “Terre degli Angeli” Greco di Tufo DOCG (2011)
Terredora’s “Terre degli Angeli” Greco di Tufo is one of two Greco di Tufo produced at this impressive winery - the other being the “Loggia della Serra” - which is produced from grapes harvested in Montefusco (rather than Santa Paolina - which is where the grapes destined to become “Terre degli Angeli” were sourced). Vinified in stainless steel only, with some lees aging then employed, this Terredora “Terre degli Angeli” Greco di Tufo was then bottled and released. 

Fragrant and with open aromas of pear, guava and a hint of elderflower defining the nose, this 2011 Terredora “Terre degli Angeli” Greco di Tufo is soft and medium bodied in the mouth. Supple pear, white peach and guava flavours are emphasised by an underlying and ever-present chalk and saline minerality. There is enough acidity to generate refreshment, but overall this “Terre degli Angeli” Greco remains gently mouth-filling and slightly round in style, rather than linear and driven. Highly accomplished, this wine is a great ambassador for the Greco di Tufo DOCG classification. 90 points.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Pietracupa

The Pietracupa winery was established in 1993 by Sabino Loffredo in Montefredane (just north of Avellino) in Campania.

Today 5.5 hectares of vineyards produce around 50,000 bottles of Pietracupa labelled wine per year from only the indigenous Fiano, Greco and Aglianico grape varieties.

Frequently lauded as one of the most impressive “up and coming” winemakers in Southern Italy, Sabino Loffredo believes that it is the quality of his fruit that makes all the difference and his simply vinified white wines are a testament to this approach. Extended lees maturation and low temperature fermentations allow the purest characters of the Fiano and Greco grapes to shine!

Meanwhile a traditional approach to the vinification of Aglianico sees the Pietracupa winery’s top-end Taurasi age in large oak casks (rather than barriques) ahead of bottling.






Summary of Scores (Updated May 2014)       

 
Vintage
 
2013
2012
2011
2010
2009
Pietracupa Greco di Tufo
 
91
 
 
 

Reviews from 2014

Pietracupa Greco di Tufo DOCG (2012)
Pietracupa’s “classic” Greco di Tufo is one of the wines that have generated winemaker Sabino Loffredo’s reputation as one of the most exciting young winemaking talents in Southern Italy. Greco grapes were harvested from low yielding vineyards north of Avellino, before undergoing fermentation and sure-lie maturation in stainless steel tanks.

A luminescent lemon colour in the glass, this 2012 Pietracupa Greco di Tufo is one of the most expressive and exciting Greco di Tufo to be tasted for a long time. An open nose of pear, nectarine and white flower notes segues effortlessly into a medium bodied and textural palate that abounds with flavour. There is an initial mineral salinity that soon gives way to flavours of pears, guavas and honeydew melon, with hints of ginger and white pepper adding further complexity to the lengthy finish of this wine. A fresh and beautifully integrated acidity drives this Pietracupa Greco di Tufo along and offers the option of mid-term cellaring. This is a seriously impressive white. 91 points.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Montevetrano

Montevetrano is the single wine estate that is owned by Italian photographer Silvia Imparato. Having shot to international stardom in 1995, Montevetrano is now held in reverence by wine critics and consumers around the world.
 
Starting with just 4 hectares of vines inland from Salerno (in Campania), Silvia produced a small amount of a wine that was 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Aglianico with fruit from the 1991 vintage. Encouraged by her initial results, consultant winemaker Ricardo Cotarella was retained for the 1992 vintage and in 1995 the first three vintages of Montevetrano were sent to Robert Parker who offered almost unconditional praise. Suddenly Montevetrano was a wine in demand!
 
Now cultivating 6 hectares of vines and producing around 30,000 bottles of Montevetrano each year, Silvia remains at the helm of this iconic Campanian winery to the present day. The blend of Montevetrano may have changed slightly over the years (it is now 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 10% Aglianico) but the wine retains its unique identity and inherent complexity and balance.
 
Typically “international” grape varieties (such as the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot that now compose the majority of Montevetrano) don’t thrive in Campania, yet in her little piece of heaven amongst the Picentini Mountains and two kilometres from the coast, Silvia has found the perfect place to produce her Bordeaux inspired wine.
 
Each vintage of Montevetrano that The Independent Wine Review has tasted over the years has impressed and it is fair to say that rarely is a wine of this quality and this consistency of quality seen.
 
Summary of Scores (Updated March 2013)    
 
 
Vintage
 
2008
2007
2006
2005
2002
Montevetrano Collio di Salerno IGT
92
 
 
94
93
 
Reviews from 2013
 
Montevetrano Collio di Salerno IGT (2008)
An intense ruby red colour, this 2008 Montevetrano is aromatically more fruit orientated than the older vintages tasted here, with aromas of dark cherries, damson, clove spices and a restrained cedar nuance all making an appearance. Intense and full bodied in the mouth, this 2008 Montevetrano is beautifully constructed and impressively persistent. Ripe black cherry flavours are layered with complimentary flavours of damson, black olive skin and hints of liquorice, balsamic and a clear minerality. Some of the oak spice from the nose persists and this 2008 Montevetrano seems wonderfully distinguished as a result of the excellent balance of flavours, tannins and acidity. 92 points.
 
Montevetrano Collio di Salerno IGT (2005)
It is easy to imagine this 2005 Montevetrano as having been rather ripe in its youth, although now it is marvellously linear and long on the palate. Elegant foundations of black cherry and plum flavours support interlocking nuances of liquorice, black olive skin, roasted coffee and a subtle earthiness. The tannin structure is incredibly supple but amply supportive and much of this 2005 Montevetrano’s elegance is derived from a good level of retained acidity that cleanses and drives as this wine evolves in the mouth. Prodigiously long, this superb bottling lingers with earth dusted dark fruits long after it is swallowed. 94 points.
 
Montevetrano Collio di Salerno IGT (2002)
An intense garnet in the glass, this 2002 Montevetrano is clearly showing its bottle age now.
Aromatically wonderfully complex, developmental suggestions of coffee, earth and tobacco join aromas of dark fruit and crushed flowers. A relatively sleek and suave Montevetrano these days, this 2002 iteration shows the moderating influence of time on the palate. Spicier notes of clove and pepper that can be quite obvious in younger releases have been reigned in, yet bottle maturation has not appreciably affected the intensity of fruit or developmental flavours. Dark, earthy and beautifully balanced (the tannins of this wine are now in almost perfect harmony with the body and acidity), this 2002 Montevetrano is persistent and supple to a point that is rarely seen.  93 points.

Monday, 1 September 2014

DonnaChiara

It has taken less than ten years for the current generation of the Petitto family to get the Donnachiara winery recognised as one of the up and coming enterprises in Campania.

Whilst the vineyard holdings have been in family hands for more than 150 years now, a new winery that was completed in 2005 has really sparked substantial quality improvements, with the Ilaria Petitto leading a team that now produces around 150,000 bottles of high quality wine a year, from a combination of estate grown and purchased grapes.

The largest single vineyard planted to Aglianico in Campania is part of the Donnachiara holdings, with wines made from Coda di Volpe, Fiano, Greco and Falanghina also produced. The “Sante” Falanghina Spumante Brut is perhaps the most original bottling.

Whilst these wines are really quite hard to find in the UK, they do have a substantial following in Italy which more than keeps the winery in business!

 

 


Summary of Scores (Updated April 2014)      

 
Vintage
 
2012
2011
2010
2009
2008
DonnaChiara Greco di Tufo
 
87
 
 
 

Reviews from 2014

DonnaChiara Greco di Tufo DOCG (2011)
The Donnachiara winery’s Greco di Tufo might be produced from grapes that are bought in from other growers (rather than being produced from the grapes of estate owned vineyards) however that does not mean that any less care or attention has gone in to the selection of those grapes than would have gone into the tending of them. A slow and cool fermentation in stainless steel was utilised to preserve as many aromas and delicate flavours as possible, before this Donnachiara Greco di Tufo was then bottled.

Straw yellow in colour, this Donnachiara Greco di Tufo offers a subtle nose of melon and grapefruit before revealing a supple and medium bodied palate. Notes of melon lead as this Greco is tasted, with a typical chalky minerality emerging from the mid-palate. Hints of grapefruit carried over from the nose remain as this wine slowly fades. Overall this Donnachiara Greco di Tufo is a nicely balanced wine that show good typicity, even if the “X” factor required for a 90+ score is missing. 87 points.