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)  

 
Vintage
 
2012
2011
2010
2009
2008
Kellerei Andrian “Finado” Pinot Bianco
89
 
 
 
 

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

Masciarelli

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)           

 
Vintage
 
2012
2011
2010
2009
2008
2006
2005
Masciarelli “Villa Gemma” Montepulciano
 
 
 
 
 
95
94
Masciarelli “Marina Cvetic” Montepulciano
 
 
 
 
92
 
 
Masciarelli “Marina Cvetic” Trebbiano
 
 
94
90
 
 
 
Masciarelli Trebbiano
87
 
 
 
 
 
 

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.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

La Valentina

The La Valentina winery was established in 1990 and is now run by Sabatino, Roberto and Andrea Di Properzio. Located in Spoltore (with vineyards also found in the higher altitude Scafa and San Valentino locations) the winery produces a selection of wines from grape varieties that are indigenous to Abruzzo and produces a total of around 350,000 bottles each year.

All of the La Valentina estate vineyards are farmed to organic principles (even if they are not certified organic) and all energy required by the winery is supplied from renewable sources. The idea is to produce wine in such a way that shows a respect for the environment and to allow the natural healthiness of the vines to produce high quality grapes that fully express the characteristics of the environment that surround them.

Four different Montepulciano d’Abruzzo are currently produced (plus a couple of Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo rosé wines – also made from the Montepulciano grape). Both the “Spelt” and “Bellovedere” are highly impressive examples of Abruzzo’s most recognised grape variety, with the “basic” La Valentina Montepulciano also offering impressive quality despite its entry level billing. Fiano, Pecorino and Trebbiano are also produced.

Generally fairly modern in style (but retaining the identity of their constituent grape varieties and region) the wines of La Valentina are fantastic ambassadors for the region of Abruzzo and are always well worth seeking out. 
 

Summary of Scores (Updated April 2014)      

 
Vintage
 
2012
2011
2010
2009
2008
2007
2006
La Valentina “Bellovedere” Montepulciano
 
 
 
 
92
 
 
La Valentina “Spelt” Montepulciano
 
 
 
 
 
 
88
La Valentina Montepulciano
 
86
 
86
 
 
 
La Valentina Pecorino
87
 
83
 
 
 
 

Reviews from 2014

La Valentina “Bellovedere” Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC (2008)
Nominally the flagship wine of this highly impressive central Italian winery, only 6000 bottles of this Bellovedere” Montepulciano d’Aburzzo were produced in the 2008 vintage from a small (2 hectare) plot of 30 year old Montepulciano vines in Spoltore. Redolent of ripe dark cherry, chocolate and liquorice aromas on the nose, this is a full-bodied and densely fruity wine on the palate. 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 the bulky but gummy tannins and this “Bellovedere” Montepulciano simply takes an age to fade on the finish. This is a modern and complete interpretation of Abruzzo’s most recognised grape variety. 92 points.

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” Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Nicely fragrant on the nose, aromas of dark cherries, violets and pepper spice float up to great you as you approach this bottling. 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. 86 points.

La Valentina Pecorino, Colline Pescaresi DOC (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. Quite indistinct on the nose, this La Valentina Pecorino is nonetheless 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. 87 points.

Reviews from 2013

La Valentina “Spelt” Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC (2006)
Dry and full bodied on the palate, this ‘06 “Spelt” from La Valentina shows ripe dark fruits, an attractive earthiness and mineral nuances. Darker cherry and plum flavours are layered to form the basis of the palate, with cocoa, earth and cloves becoming more prominent as the palate develops. Once muscular tannins are still supportive but have been softened by bottle age and a good level of acidity offer further options for bottle maturation should you so desire. 88 points.

La Valentina Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC (2009)
Sabatino Di Properzio has been producing Montepulciano d’Abruzzo for 23 years now at the La Valentina winery in Spoltore, Abruzzo. Modern in style, the wines of La Valentina have done much to help partially change the image of wine from Abruzzo from one of rusticity to one of a more polished expression of the grape varieties upon which a wine is based. This is more ripe and densely fruited than many entry level Montepulciano, with dark cherries and plums the defining flavoural cues.Hints of liquorice and clove add nuance. 86 points.

La Valentina Pecorino, Colline Pescaresi DOC (2010)
Dry and a little fleshy in the mouth, this light white shows delicately poised white peach and green apple notes in the mouth. Relatively simple, but elegant and stylish, this 2010 La Valentina Pecorino sees a wash of water-over-stone minerality cleanse the mid-palate and linger in to the finish. A well-integrated sense of acidity is not as prominent as in some Pecorino, with a fresh yet balanced finish the result.  83 points.