As attendees arrived at the Faculty Club on October 21, 2014, they were treated to a wonderful reception wine, Tatone Montepulciano from Abruzzo, Italy, provided by Vinaio Wines of Toronto. It’s a medal winning wine carried by Vintages and labelled a Vintages Essential which means it’s available all-year round from Ontario’s Vintages stores and for the modest price of $15.95. Everyone who sampled it was very impressed with its full body, great depth of flavour and were stunned to learn the price. A few people even preferred this wine to those we tasted the rest of the evening! It’s from central Italy and so growing conditions are a bit different from the hot south from where our 8 wines originated. Thanks to Vinaio Wines for supplying such a fantastic wine to Toronto Vintners Club!
Over the course of the evening, TVC members and guests discovered how generally well-made all the wines were that we tasted from different grapes and a variety of areas throughout S. Italy. Summer heat is a big factor and so winemakers have now taken to making their wines in climate controlled conditions which has resulted in a vast improvement in quality. Our guest speaker, of Vinaio Wines informed us that a lot of juice used in making the more famous and more expensive Northern Italian wines actually comes from S. Italy!
2004 Odoardi Vigna Garrone, Calabria $37
Red blend. “Inviting from nose to finish, this dense red sports layers of sun-dried wild berry, plum paste and grilled fig notes wound with layers of espresso bean, rosemary and brick dust on the long, rustic finish. Gaglioppo, Nerello Cappuccio, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Drink now through 2020. Score: 93 (Nathan Wesley, winespectator.com, Sept. 30, 2012)
2006 Ceuso, Scurati Rosso, Sicily $35
“The 2006 Ceuso is 50% Nero d'Avola, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot. The international varieties dominate the balance in a powerful expression of jammy blue and black fruit, grilled herbs, chocolate and spices. This intense, dark wine is rather brooding at this stage, but it should come around nicely with another few years in bottle. Anticipated maturity: 2014-2026. Score - 92.” (Antonio Galloni, erobertparker.com, June 2010) "Deep ruby. Complex aromas of smoky dark berries, herbs and sexy oak, plus a suggestion of wet earth and ink. Then rich, sweet and ripe, with a slightly animal quality and a hint of dried herbs complicating the dark fruit flavors. Finishes with chewy tannins and good length, but with air became drier, showing more wood tannins." 89 International Wine Cellar
2007 Appolonio Terragnolo, Primitivo, Puglia, $19
Primivito grape is related to the Zinfandel grape. “This a very ripe, full, dense sweetish red with overripe almost baked cherry/plum fruit, plus leather and woodsy character. It's smooth, a touch sweet and raisiny; very dense and full, with very good to excellent length. Needs a winter stew.” August 2013. David Lawrason
2007 Azienda Vincola Rivera, Puer Apuliae, Apulia $37
Nero di Troia grape variety. “The 2007 Nero di Troia Puer Apuliae explodes from the glass with blackberries, blueberries, tar, smoke, licorice and violets. Mint and flowers wrap around the intense, building finish. The tannins are big and bold today, but should begin to melt away in another few years. Rivera gives the Puer Apuliae 14 months in new French oak. My sense is the wine could be even better with less oak influence given the striking purity of the fruit. Regardless, the Puer Apuliae is one of the handful of wines of southern Italy imbued with true pedigree. Anticipated maturity: 2014-2027. Score - 93+.“ Antonio Galloni, erobertparker.com, June 2011
2008 Elena Fucci, Aglianico del Vulture Titolo, Basilicata $49
“Elena Fucci’s 2008 Aglianico del Vulture Titolo bursts from the glass with an exciting, viscerally thrilling display of dark red fruit, tobacco, incense, bacon fat, smoke and tar. Soft and voluptuous on the palate, the wine shows off considerable personality and pedigree in a rich, textured style that captures tons of Aglianico character while taming some of the grape’s wilder tendencies. Chocolate, mocha, raspberry jam, licorice and dried flowers add complexity on the huge finish. This flashy, racy red will be even better in another few years. Anticipated maturity: 2013-2023. Antonio Galloni (June, 2011). 92 pts erobertparker.com
2008 Villa Raiano Taurasi, DOCG, Campania $24
Aglianico is a red wine grape variety native to southern Italy known to produce full-bodied red wines that show musky berry flavors with firm tannins and good aging potential. “Dark spices, black cherry and anise on the nose and palate. Full-bodied red with a tannic grip. Cedar brush finish. Give it some time in the cellar. Pair with steak. 90/100 90 pts” Natalie Maclean (August 17, 2013)
2009 Leone de Castris, Salice Salentino DOC, Riserva, Puglia $19
“This is a wine of intense red color with garnet-colored hints, made of [90%] Negroamaro and Malvasia Nera [10%]. On the nose, fruity sensations of blackberry and black cherry, notes of basil and sweet spices due to refinement in oak barrels. In the mouth, it is smooth and balanced with strong, but not intrusive tannins. It has a long, lasting finish.” Winemaker's Notes. 91 pt Wine Enthusiast
2010 Argiolas Perdera, Monica di Sardegna DOC, Sardinia $18
Antonio Argiolas and his twin sons, Franco and Giuseppe, have worked diligently to fulfill their commitment to become the leaders in Sardinian enology. “Grape varieties: Monica, Carignano, Bovale Sardo. Color: Intense ruby red with an undertone typical of Monica. Nose: Vinous, intense, characteristic. Palate: Round, final aftertaste almost tending to sweetness, a typical feature of erect-shrub grown Monica grapes. Food matches: Traditional pasta dishes dressed with tomato sauce, tasty fish stews, slices of grilled tuna fish, stewed lamb, pecorino cheese, medium matured." Producers’ notes. "The baking spice, smoked apple wood and briar notes are well-integrated, with dark plum and racy black cherry fruit. Medium tannins add weight to the licorice aftertaste. Drink now. (5/31/13)" 88 pts, Wine Spectator
We started our pouring order with wines from the islands of Sardinia and Sicily, the latter which ranked #3 over all by the group! Our guest speaker, Vince Liberatore of Vinaio wines found wine A, the 2010 Argiolas Perdera, Monica di Sardegna DOC from Sardinia to be an easy drinking wine and ranked it 5th. The group agreed also ranking it 5th; my table ranked it 8th but still found it to be a good wine with medium weight and finish, and smoky tarry flavours.
Wine B was the ’06 Ceuso for $35. I found there was a hint of oak and smokey tones on the nose; the wine itself was big, intense and had a long finish. Our table ranked it 4th, the group overall had it in 7th and our guest speaker ranked it 3rd.
Wine C, was distinctly different from all the rest in the lineup. The nose was a bit floral and it was on the lighter side both in colour and in style. Vince thought it unbalanced and not well made. It was the 2009 Leone de Castris from Puglia and the 2009 vintage was awarded Silver from the International Wine & Spirit Competition. Interestingly, Vince told us that this wine is rated [one of] the best price points for quality. Both Vince and I ranked it 8, our table ranked it 7th and the group had it in the middle at 4th.
The fourth wine poured, D, was another from Puglia - the ‘07 Appolonio Terragnolo, made from the Primitove grape which is related to the Zinfandel grape. The nose was very floral; there was lots of vanilla and it had gobs of fruit and a touch of sweetness on the palate; the legs were long. After a while, it got to be too much to drink because of its being somewhat unbalanced. While I, our table and the guest speaker all had this wine ranked 5th or 6th, the rest of the crowd really liked it and ranked it their Number 1! Perhaps this wine was the closest in familiarity to what we’re used to drinking in N. America (being related to Zinfandel) and maybe that’s why people like it. Anyway, if you loved it, it’s a bargain at $19!
Wine E’s nose was initially closed but I started to get a hint of dark plums which carried through on the palate. The flavour was complex and intense; legs were very long and it was a very well made wine. Here’s where the group and I differed; I ranked it 3rd and the group had it 8th – last place. Vince put it in the middle at 4th. It was the 2007 Azienda Vincola Rivera, Puer Apuliae, Apulia for $37.
The colour on the sixth wine, wine F, was almost black. It was very dry, intense and concentrated. Vince found it very elegant, with great depth, oak and dark chocolate on the palate. In fact, he loved this wine and ranked it his #1 as did my table. I really liked it too but found the dryness to be a little much to handle without food so I ranked it 4th. The group had it in 6th place. It was a wine that really cried out for food. It was the most expensive of the lot at $49 and was the 2008 Elena Fucci, Aglianico del Vulture Titolo, Basilicata.
Wine G had people all over the map. I loved this wine; it was complex with lots of flavours of dark fruits, inky dark colour. Vince on the other had found it unbalanced and he didn’t enjoy it that much. My table and our attendees overall ranked this as their 3rd favourite wine. It was the 2008 Villa Raiano Taurasi, DOCG from Campania for $24.
With Wine H, the last wine poured, we finally had some agreement on a wine! I, my table, our guest speaker and the group ALL ranked this as their second favourite wine. It was the oldest wine in the line-up – the 2004 Odoardi Vigna Garrone from Calabria for $37. While the nose had a slight stinkiness to it, the palate had plums, figs, leather, some stewed fruit and meat. It was intense and gorgeous!
Overall, this was a great tasting as it exposed many of us to wines and grapes that we would probably not have experienced otherwise. Some of these wines could be called the poor man's Barolo or Amarone because of their more modest prices. So it was great to find a couple of real bargains in the line-up. With thousands of grapes now being cultivated in Italy and an obscure labelling system, it can be very difficult to wade through Italian wines and decide which one to buy. This tasting certainly gave us all a better understanding of what to look for.
Thanks to all who came out for the evening. It was 2 short of a sell-out!! And a big thanks to Vince Liberatore and Vinaio Wines for helping to make our evening very successful!
HOW THE WINES RANKED