Posts tagged ‘malvasia’
Collio Vineyards of Livon looking towards Slovenia (Photo ©Tom Hyland)
During my recent visit to the Collio district of Friuli Venezia Giulia, I was able to taste several recently released white wines from the 2012 vintage. 2012 was a warm vintage, but unlike 2011, which was also quite hot, growers received a break with rain in late summer, which allowed longer ripening on the vine, giving the wines better acidity and structure. The 2011 Collio whites are very nice, but different, as they are very rich on the palate, while the 2012s are a bit more delicate, but have better balance overall and the potential to drink well for a few additional years.
Of course, Collio is a marvelous growing district, especially for white grapes, as there are temperate influences with both breezes from the nearby Adriatic Sea and well as winds from the Julian Alps, situated not too far away. Combine that with beautifully sited vineyards (Collio means “hill” in Italian) and you have a perfect home for distinctive white wines. The best examples here are what I like to call vibrant, as they excite your palate; how nice to find white wines that aren’t simple or on the other hand, burdensome. Be it monovarietal, such as Friulano, Sauvignon or Ribolla Gialla or several others or a wonderfully crafted blend of several varieties, the white wines from Collio are among the finest and most distinctive in the world.
Here are brief notes on some of my favorite 2012 Collio whites to date:
Villa Russiz Pinot Grigio – Yes, Pinot Grigio has become a commodity and unfortunately, there are too many insipid versions from Italy. But when it is made from grapes in a cool climate from hillside vineyards, the results are often wonderful. Villa Russiz has been producing one of Italy’s finest examples for some time now; this 2012 has a slight copper color (the color of the grape is actually a mix of copper, gray and gold) with fragrant aromas of Bosc pear, apple peel and magnolia. Medium-full, this is refreshing with very good acidity and a long finish. Simply put, it is delicious and beautifully made!
Villa Russiz Malvasia – Malvasia (or Malvasia Istriana, as it is sometimes known in Friuli) is a beautiful variety with amazing aromatics and striking acidity. I love it and I hope that more producers will work with this variety and export it to the United States and other countries, so more consumers can experience the exotic pleasures of this wine. The 2012 Malvasia from Villa Russiz is excellent with gorgeous perfumes of papaya and hyacinth (how’s that for unique fragrances?), lovely acidity and impressive persistence. This is one of the best examples of Malvasia I’ve had, as this has a bit more depth of fruit than many versions that are “pretty,” yet lack concentration. Perfectly balanced, this has marvelous texture and could work with any number of foods, from Thai and Oriental cuisine to roast chicken with lemon and tarragon. Enjoy this now or over the next 2-3 years. Another beautiful examples of the strength and wide array of Collio whites!
Livon “Solarco” – This is a lovely blend of Ribolla Gialla and Friulano that Livon has perfected. Offering beautiful aromas of green apple, spearmint and lilacs, this is medium-bodied with very good acidity and balance. Refreshing and quite complex, this is a lovely wine at lunch with lighter seafood or pastas.
Livon “Soluna” – This is a Malvasia from Livon that displays excellent varietal character, especially with its lovely floral aromatics, with notes of quince and Anjou pear along with a distinctive notes of cinnamon. Medium-full, this has very good acidity and persistence and is simply delicious! Enjoy this over the next 2-3 years with Oriental cuisine.
Muzic Malvasia – Muzic is a small, but notable producer in Collio; this Malvasia is an excellent example of the quality at this estate. Aromas of yellow peaches, lemon rind and acacia flowers, this is a lovely wine with lively acidity and ideal ripeness.
Humar Friulano – Friulano, formerly known as Tocai Friulano, is a signature grape of Collio. This is a version that offers lovely aromas of Anjou pear and lilacs with impressive weight on the palate, very good acidity and impressive persistence. This can accompany many white meats as well as risotto or many vegetable dishes.
Russiz Superiore Pinot Grigio - There’s no great mystery to this wine; it’s just a well made PInot Grigio with rich concentration, ideal acidity and notes of white spice in the finish that give this wine added complexity. What a lovely wine for just sitting down and enjoying with good friends at an outdoor enoteca or garden, much as I did with Marco Felluga, proprietor of this estate, who is an energetic 86 years young. Here’s to many more great wines, Marco!
Livio Felluga Sauvignon – The Livio Felluga estate (Livio is the older brother of Marco; he is 99 years of age) produces wines from both Collio and the Colli Orientali del Friuli DOC zones. This 2012 Sauvignon is typical of the rich fruit and lively acidity one sees from this variety in Collio. Offering aromas of spearmint and white flowers along with just a hint of fresh hay, this is medium-full with lovely texture, good acidity and notable persistence. Beautifully balanced, this is a perfect partner with most shellfish; enjoy over the next 3-5 years.
Every industry needs new ideas – this is true no matter how large or small a business we are talking about. The wine industry welcomes new wines from emerging markets all the time, yet many of these wines are their country’s vintners’ take on recognized varieties seen around the world.
I recently tasted three wines from a project that is not only new, but one that is creative and very welcome in the wine world. The wines are three whites produced by Joseph Bastianich, who worked with several growers and producers in Istria, Slovenia and Friuli to craft these delightful aromatic wines. As the represented wine regions are all near the Adriatic Sea, Bastianich has given this project the name of Adriatico.
My tasting notes are below, but a few general notes on the three wines. They represent this area very well, each focusing on a different variety: Malvasia (from Istria), Ribolla (from Slovenia) and Friulano (from the Colli Orientali del Friuli zone of Friuli). They are from the excellent 2009 vintage and feature bright, tasty fruit and lively acidity, are beautiful food wines and are delicious. Best of all, each wine retails for $15! There are some gorgeous wines in these areas that retail for two to three times that and as some of those wines have received tremendous critical acclaim, it’s great that Bastianich and his friends in these areas have combined to give consumers such lovely wine values, which can only help focus more attention on these wine zones.
Here are brief notes on the Adriatico wines:
2009 MALVASIA (Istria)
Winemakers: Matosevic, Degrassi, Kozlovic
Bright yellow with a light effervescence. Yellow peach, pear and honey aromas – just lovely. Medium-bodied with good concentration. Lively acidity, good persistence in the finish and subtle notes of yellow spice. Very refined and delicate – enjoy over the next 1-2 years. Fine for lighter Oriental cuisine.
2009 RIBOLLA (Brda, Slovenia)
Estate bottled by Marian Cimcic, Ceglo, Slovenia
This variety is often identified as Ribolla Gialla; Bastianich is using the variety name as it is most often known in Slovenia. Straw-light yellow with lovely aromatics of spiced pear, jasmine and cinnamon. Medium-full with very good concentration. Rich entry on the palate and a lengthy, beautifully structured finish with vibrant acidity and notes of ginger and white spice. Gorgeous wine- enjoy over the next 2-3 years. (35-40 year old vines- stainless steel fermentation and aging).
2009 FRIULANO (Colli Orientali del Friuli DOC)
Ripe Anjou pear, cinnamon and mango aromas – just lovely. Medium-full with very good depth of fruit, very well defined texture, vibrant acidity and very good persistence in the finish along with a distinct streak of minerality. Perfect winemaking, excellent complexity and an outstanding value for $15. This wine is all about varietal purity, balance, complexity and best of all, pleasure! Enjoy this over the next 2-3 years. This is the richest wine of the three and offers the greatest complexity. This can stand up to most rich seafood and it would also work well with vegetable risotto or lighter poultry dishes.
As I wrote at the beginning of this post, every industry needs new ideas. The Adriatico wines at a $15 retail tag are especially welcome in this economy, but this is a concept that goes well beyond value. It’s also a project that sheds some light on a wonderful area of the wine world that receives much too little attention from the major wine publications. Congratulations to Joseph Bastianich and his team for their outstanding work on this initiative, from the beautiful label design and packaging to the remarkable quality of the wines!
Ancient variety of Calabria; black cherry fruit and firm tannins. A few producers, most notably Librandi are working with this grape.
One of Italy’s most widely planted white varieties, this found in several regions, including Tuscany, Lazio, Sicily, Umbria and Basilicata. There are several clones and subvarieties of Malvasia. Generally produces a lighter, high acid white, but it can also be used for sweet wines, as in Malvasia di Lipari in Sicily.
Red subvariety of Malvasia found in Tuscany and Pugila. Generally used in blends for acidity (Salice Salentino in Puglia, e.g.)
White variety of Calabria, used often to produce dessert wines. Notes of pear and honey.
Red variety of Tuscany used in Chianti and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. Deep color and good acidity. Almost always used as part of a blend.
Red variety of Trentino. Deep color and moderate tannins. Marzemino wine is mentioned in Mozart’s opera, Don Giovanni.
One of the principal red varieties used in the Valpolicella district. Brisk acidity and firm tannins are the key trademarks of the variety.
Red variety found in Sardinia with light color and tannins. Bottled on its own as a stand-alone variety and also used in blends.
The leading red variety of the Abruzzo region – Montepulciano d’Abruzzo – is the best-known example – the variety is also found in Marche and a few other regions. Deep color and plenty of spice – often notes of tobacco.
White variety found in several regions of Italy, perhaps best known in Piemonte for Moscato d’Asti (frizzante) and Asti Spumante (bollicine). Gorgeous aromatics of peach, apricot and honey.Usually fermented with a bit of residual sugar to make a lightly sweet wine. There are also excellent examples of Moscato found in Sicily, most notably in Pantelleria and Noto.
One of the most important subvarieties of Moscao, this is found in Alto Adige, where it is usually fermented dry.
Red subvariety of Moscato found in Alto Adige. Gorgeous aromas of rose petals, raspberry and strawberry. Wines are lightly sweet.
Found in several regions, from Trentino to Sicily (yes, a few producers in sunny Sicily work with this variety!), this has aromatics of pear, peach and apple and is usually made in a lightly sweet style.
The great red variety of Piemonte and one of Italy’s most important red varieties. The only grape used in the production of Barolo and Barbaresco, Nebbiolo has aromas and flavors of currant, red cherry, orange peel and tar. Quite tannic, so most wines made from Nebbiolo age quite well. Also found in the neighboring region of Lombardia, where it is planted in the Valtellina district and known there as Chiavennasca.
Important red variety of Puglia, literally meaning “black bitter.” Principal grape used in Salice Salentino; also bottled on its own. Deep color, big spice and firm tannins.
Red variety that is the lesser component (20%) of the Etna Rosso red of Sicily.
Red variety that is the principal component (80%) of Etna Rosso. Deeper color and more body that Nerello Cappuccio.
Arguably the most important red variety of Sicily, Nero d’Avola has flavors of marascino cherry with deep color, moderate acidity and tannins. Good examples of Nero d’Avola can be made at various levels; the more full-bodied examples offer more spice.
Red variety found in small plantings in the Valpolicella district. Masi is the leading proponent of this variety, which has more tannins than most of the other red varieties used in the production of Amarone.
Please see my companion website: learnitalianwines.com
To read my reviews of the latest wines from Italy, subscribe to Guide to Italian Wines.