Category: On the Road with the Grape Guy
(February 22, 2020) … My first evening in Umbria was spent with the Goretti sisters, Giulia and Sarah, with whom I had previously met the year before and was so impressed with their wines that I attempted to put them in touch with an agent in Ontario / Canada. I do not believe their wines are not here yet, but they are certainly working on it (I definitely need to be updated on how that’s going). The sisters are outgoing, personable and passionate about their wines. The property is on fringe of the Sagrantino area (it was a good 30-minute ride to get there). On another note, their mother is an amazing cook who has published a cookbook and teaches cooking classes at the estate … “Dinner” was simple but simply delicious, nibbles and finger foods, put together by mama - then we got to the wines.
2018 Grechetto … The nose is fresh with peaches and lemons while the palate balances sweet white fruit with acidity: citrus, under-ripe pineapple, lemon drop and even a hint of floral … fresh, lively and something I could have sipped on all night long (or better yet, on their terrace through the afternoon). Rating: ****
2016 Il Maggio, Grechetto … This is the more “serious” version of Grechetto, having spent six months in medium-toast French oak (where it is also fermented). The barrel regime is 50% new and 50% one-year-old … the acidity is still present, helping to balance the vanilla and apple notes while lemon zest and other citrus peels kick around on the finish. Even with the new oak there is still a freshness factor to this wine. Rating: *** ½
Then came the inevitable look at Sagrantino – a four vintage vertical flight that incorporated 2010 / 2012 / 2013 and 2014 … the interesting part is that midway through the flight there was a change in style to the wines – I was informed after all the tasting was done that a new winemaker had come on board for the 2013 vintage, this new style added elegance to these usually powerful wines:
Montefalco Sagrantino …
2010 … Red and black fruit combined on both the nose and palate with some vanilla, smoke and still very rugged tannins.
2012 … This younger Sagrantino had a more early-drinking profile than the 2010 – the fruit was rich and red while the tannins had a pleasant softness.
2013 … The switch in winemaker probably attributes to the silkiness of the tannins; the dark fruit and cocoa notes come to the fore while showing off an elegance (with power, the iron fist in a velvet glove analogy comes to mind here.
2014… A tough vintage, but one that was able to add a dimension of red fruit to a dark fruit core, and when compared with other years this Sagrantino came across a little lean and thin – but that could be mistaken for the “elegant” note discussed in the previous vintage – time will tell with this wine, but to me it seems more a drink-sooner than later kind of wine.
Now stay with me if you’ve heard this before … and if you are a follower of my International Video Series you might have … but the L’Arringtore, that I am about to introduce you to, is a wine I wish was always available to me and if you have not watched me wax poetic about it you can find it here – otherwise let me describe it to you in words below:
2015 L'Arringatore … The first vintage of this wine was back in 1991 and the name means “the orator” or “the speaker” … it comes from the notion that wine is a conversation starter. It’s a special wine made from 70% Sangiovese, 20% Merlot and 10% Ciliegiolo (a grape native to central Italy) of which only three-hectares are grown by Goretti. This wine truly has character: soft and round yet spicy with dark fruit, vanilla, dark cherry, chocolate and good tannin structure … it’s a wine worth talking about, and talking over. Sadly, it is sold primarily in Umbria, but also has a following in Japan, because of its name, which sounds similar to “Arigato” (“thank you” in Japanese) … by the end of our evening the finish leaned a little more on the sweet red fruit side but it was still a delicious bottle. I highly recommend this wine to anyone who can get their hands on it. Rating: ****+
Category: On the Road with the Grape Guy
This was to be a bi-monthly feature on Two Guys Talking Wine, but CoVid seems to have buggered up our plans ... but it's back: "Two Thumbs Up", an homage to film reviewers Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, where we simplify the wine reviewing process to a couple of thumbs, or in some cases just one single thumb up, as a way of scoring wines ... you can listen to the accompanying podcast here - or read the notes below (trust me they are different):
The Old Tun 2019 Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc - $12.00/ 375ml ... on-line
André - 👍 ... unfiltered and with lees - I wouldn’t call this conventional in any way shape or form - but sauvignon blanc with bubbles just isn’t something you normally see in the province. This delivered nice tropical notes and a slight bitterness on the finish - a perfect fish and chips wine.
Michael - 👎 … Andre I think you are making excuses for a funky wine here, I don’t want things floating in my Savvy B, I want crisp, clean and refreshing - this one does not deliver - and that “bitterness on the finish” of which you speak, you’re just being kind.
Kacaba 2019 Reserve Riesling - $20.15 ... at the winery and on-line
M - 👍 … this one has some of what I want and a shockingly subtle acidity: some pear sweetness, apple, tropical notes and peach and the long finish is based on that sweetness not the acidity.
A - 👎 ... there isn’t anything wrong with this wine - but from the cool 2019 vintage I was expecting to be clobbered with more acid on the finish. I’m on the line, but have to shift down because it just falls short of what I was hoping for.
The Old Tun Cider - $7.00 / 375ml ... on-line
A - 👍 ... this is a bone dry cider with honeyed notes - a little bit of honey was added to the cider adding a floral complexity. The apple notes are bruised and the finish is clean. Definitely sessionable.
M - 👍 … love this style of cider, dry to the bone. It’s a hard one to really get behind until you’ve had a few sips, and get the apple notes on the finish,but once you do you’re sold. Beauty.
Studio Gamay 2019 Chere Ella - $22.75 ... at Palatine Hills
A - 👍 ... Full disclosure: I helped new virtual winery owner Vladimir Skok design the labels on his inaugural wines called Studio Gamay. Another welcome addition to the Ontario landscape of high quality gamay. If you love the lighter side of this grape this easily stands shoulder to shoulder with village quality Beaujolais.
M - 👍 … not sure it’s the label that really sold me, sure it’s colourful but did nothing for me, the wine inside on the other hand was right up my alley. Delicate, cherry, sweet cranberry, white pepper and very satisfying. If this is the inaugural vintage I am looking forward to more.
Flat Rock 2017 Gravity Pinot Noir - $34.95 ... sold out at winery, coming to LCBO
M - 👍 … Holy Moly Ollie, or should I say Andre, this one kicks ass, pure Pinot Noir from nose to palate and it over delivers; this is the best Gravity Pinot I have tasted in a long time.
A - 👍 ... A very enthusiastic thumbs up. The aromas climb out of the glass with unbridled intensity and it hits all the right notes for pinot from Ontario - OH and if that’s not enough coming in under forty dollars we’re looking at great value too.
Fogolar 2018 Cabernet Franc - $22.20 ... on-line
M - 👍 … this is not what I want in my Franc anymore, but it certainly shows the vintage it is taken from, 2018 being cooler and it shows the savoury side of the grape with its bell pepper, raspberry and tobacco. It brings me back to Ontario old school Franc.
A - 👎 - I know that 2018 was a cooler vintage but I was expecting a bit more. There are nice red pepper jelly notes mingled with cranberry and raspberry on the nose but the texture was a little thinner than I was hoping.
Henry of Pelham 2019 Baco Noir, Bin 106 ‘Lost Boys Limited Edition’ - $29.95 ... at the winery
A - 👍 ... I don’t expect to see off-dry red wines in my cellar often but the masters of Baco Henry of Pelham have delivered something balanced, juicy, and tasty. Red fruit pops thanks to a hint of R/S (10 g/l) mated with heavy vanilla notes and nice acidity.
M - 👎 … I get the plum, vanilla, and black cherry and yes it is juicy, and I even get the comparison that Baco gets to Zinfandel from California … but ... but ... but ... this one is not the good kind of Zin from California, it’s the overly sweet kind and those I do not like.