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.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Colli di Lapio

The Colli di Lapio winery was founded by Romano Clelia in 1994 in the hamlet of Arianello (near to the small town of Lapio) in Campania. Assisted by her husband Angelo and her children Carmela and Federico (as well as being inspired by her grandchildren Chiara, Andrea and Alessandro) Romano now produces around 50,000 bottles of wine per year from the grapes harvested from her 5 hectares of vineyards.

Situated at around 550 metres above sea level amongst the hills of this area, the climate is dry and windy – conditions that have proved perfect for the production of high quality and aromatic white wines and powerful, austere reds.

Greco and Fiano are the indigenous white grape varieties that are planted, with Aglianico the indigenous red grape variety that is used in the production of the Colli di Lapio labelled red wines.

A fully organic regime is followed in the Colli di Lapio estate vineyards (more because wine has always been made this way in Lapio rather than because of a conscious choice to eschew modern fertilisers and pesticides).

Small batch production technique and limited production quantities mean that every wine is tended to personally by the hands of Romano or Angela and the results are quite simply stunning.

Summary of Scores (Updated March 2014)    

 
Vintage
 
2012
2011
2010
2009
2008
Colli di Lapio Fiano di Avellino
 
93
 
 
 

Reviews from 2014

Colli di Lapio Fiano di Avellino DOCG (2011)
Colli di Lapio’s Fiano di Avellino is the wine for which owner Romano Clelia and the Colli di Lapio winery has become known since it’s establishment in 1994. Fiano vines planted in Romana’s estate vineyards on the hills that surround Lapio naturally produce low yields of intensely flavoured grapes and then fermentation in stainless steel and an extended period of lees aging produces the finished product.

Quite a rich golden hue in the glass, this 2011 Colli di Lapio Fiano di Avellino offers a magnificently expressive nose redolent of ripe white peaches, the smoke of cordite and an obvious chalky minerality as it is approached. Medium to full bodied and impressively mouthfilling, this Fiano really must be considered to be one of the benchmarks in the Fiano di Avellino DOCG zone of production. Showing intense flavours of ripe white peaches and guava to begin with, notes of honey, liquorice and lemon zest emerge as the palate develops to produce a wine of real complexity and interest. Underpinning it all is the chalky minerality carried over from the nose and a persistent but beautifully integrated acidity. This Colli di Lapio Fiano di Avellino finishes long, lean and with the merest hint of salinity.

As good as this Fiano di Avellino from Colli di Lapio is now, it should also reward mid-term cellaring by showing ever greater developmental complexity. 93 points.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Erste + Neue

The Erste + Neue winery was established when the Erste (“first”) wine producing co-operative (founded in 1900) and the Neue (“new”) wine producing co-operative (founded in 1925) were combined to form one of Sudtirol/Alto Adige’s larger wine making ventures in 1986. 

With a stated aim of combining tradition and modernity (as in the name), the Erste + Neue winery now produces around 1.1 million bottles of wine each year from more than 300 hectares of vineyards. 

Grouped in to three ranges, the 30+ different wines produced by the Erste + Neue winery span from the more accessibly priced and mass produced “Classic Line”, through to the “flagship” wines that bear the “Puntay” label. 

Numerous grape varieties are cultivated, with wines produced from international grapes varieties (such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay) sitting alongside wines made from grape varieties indigenous to Italy and the Alto Adige (such as Vernatsch/Trollinger, Lagrein and Muller Thurgau). 

All Erste + Neue wines carry strikingly modern labels that some would suggest denotes the modern approach to winemaking and business at this important co-operative.


Summary of Scores (Updated November 2013)           

 
Vintage
 
2012
2011
2010
2009
2008
Erste + Neue Pinot Grigio
86
 
 
 
 

Reviews from 2013

Erste + Neue Pinot Grigio, Sudtirol Alto Adige DOC
Some Italian Pinot Grigio (rightfully) has a reputation as being somewhat bland and uninspiring, but that is not an accusation that can be levelled at this Erste + Neue Pinot Grigio from the north of the country. Produced by a sizeable co-operative producer that uses grapes from more than 500 growers, this Erste + Neue Pinot Grigio was fermented in stainless steel tanks, ahead of an extended period of maturation on the “lees” of that fermentation. 

A pale and green-tinged lemon hue in the glass, this 2012 Erste + Neue “Classic Line” Pinot Grigio might be one of the least expensive wines in the Erste + Neue range, but offers a real intensity of pure fruit and mineral flavours as it is tasted. Punchy pear, greengage and pineapple notes give this wine a direct character, with a hint of saline minerality and a well judged level of acidity lending balance and class. 86 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)  

 
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.