Here is yet another quartet of interesting red wines from Italy…..
La Basia–here is a small, interesting, family owned winery whose vineyards are located up to 900 feet elevation in the hills on the western shores of Lake Garda in Lombardy. These wines are not grand, nor do they have any aspirations of grandeur. They are instead, thankfully, more about regionality, authenticity & typicity created by a very hard working family. We tasted 2 of their red wines, which are now proudly featured at our VINO restaurant, 1 by the glass & the other on the bottle list. The core of the Valtenesi “La Botte Piena” bottling is the indigenous Gropello grape variety to which some Barbera, Sangiovese & Marzemino is added. Eventhough it is heralded as a light, fruity wine, I think most every day palates would find the wine has a dark, masculine, hearty character, deceivingly intense & structured with a surprising grip & mojo & quite a bit of tannins/astringency, albeit fine, in the finish. I find this wine even more intriguing & compelling the more I smell & taste this wine. It has red fruit, blueberry, mulberry nuances with German licorice, bay leaf & some kind of Indian spice intricasies. There is also an underlying earthy component which is so very different from limestone or schist in nature……& very well integrated. Where there are so many “correct” wines out there, this one has much more to offer & is therefore worth seeking out to try! We readily serve this wine with our Roasted Organic Chicken with a Tuscan bean stew. This is really an interesting drink with or without food. The Marzemino “Le Morene” bottling, on the other hand, is 100% Marzemino (grape variety) & “Le Moraine” refers to the glacial soils the vines grow in. This wine is much darker in color, has more body & more viscosity. There is both red & black fruit, as well as a stoniness prevalent. I think it has a wider appeal than the previous wine, just because of its richness, wonderful texture which also hides the tannins more.
Nanni Cope Terre del Volturno “Sabbie di Sopra Il Bosco” 2012–from Castel Campagnano, in the upper region of Caserta of Campania. The roughly 6.2 acre Sopra Il Bosco vineyard is located at approximately 700 feet in elevation. The grape mix for this bottling is mainly Pallagrello Nero with some Aglianico & a dollop of very old vine, ungrafted Casavecchia. The 2012 is dark, black chocolate color with some browning on the rim. Chinese preserved plums, licorice, saddle leather nuances with a dark abyss core. A friend who specializes in plants once gave me what he called a “curry” plant. It smelled somewhat of curry but with a more vegetal edge. This wine has that same kind of scent. On the palate, this wine is masculine, mega concentrated & well structured with astringent, puckering though surprisingly refined rather than coarse tannins. This wine definitely has mojo & certainly needs some time to resolve itself. Still, it is an interesting drink nonetheless.
Oasi Degli Angeli “Kurni” 2009–this is a very fascinating red from Marche, Italy, one that took a bit to understand & appreciate. The main challenge for me intially was the noticeably sweet, ripe fruit, which reminded me of Amarone from the Veneto in style, but instead produced from 100% Montepulciano (grape variety)–50 or so year old vines. Still, the wine has balance, superb flow on the palate & lots to say, just in a VERY different way. The Oasi Degli Angeli estate dates back three generations, starting with a small farm in the Marche Cupra Marittima (Ascoli Piceno), 24 acres in size, 330-820 feet in elevation, southfacing, soils–loose, pebbly, sandy, silty, with chalk. The family does NOT use any chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides. the wine is fermented in 60% vertical barriques & 40% stainless steel (without temperature control) & then aged in French barriques (20% of which is new) for 20-22 months & then bottled unfiltered, unfined.