Time to get caught up on new releases from Italy, beginning with a terrific dry Riesling:
2015 Ettore Germano Riesling “Hérzu” – For several years, Sergio Germano of Serralunga d’Alba, in the Barolo zone, has been releasing a dry Riesling from a vineyard near Dogliani. Why Riesling, you might ask? “It’s my favorite grape,” he says. It’s a favorite grape for a lot of us and we should all be very thankful that Germano has decided to work with this variety. Recent vintage have been excellent – the 2015 is outstanding with its aromas of golden apples, ripe Bosc pear and petrol. The aromas of the 2015 are a bit more pronounced than recent bottlings and there is very good acidity and excellent persistence. It’s a bit closer to a dry Riesling from Australia than Germany, but then again, it’s not a copy of an Australian Riesling. It’s a singular wine and one that displays how good Riesling from Piemonte can be when it’s worked with the right hands. Enjoy this now, or let it age for 5-7 years.
2015 Elvio Cogno Anas-Cetta – Another marvelous Piemontese white, this is from the producer, proprietor Valter Fissore, that rescued this variety more than a dozen years ago (Nascetta is a variety that is native to the town of Novello, where the Cogno estate is located). This is dry, with expressive aromas of passion fruit, orange zest and a hint of pineapple. The mid-palate is quite rich, there is excellent persistence and the wine offers great complexity. I’ve had several vintages of this wine and have loved them all, so I can’t say for sure this is the finest ever, but if not, it’s close (2015 was an exceptional year in Piemonte for much of Italy). This will easily age for 5-7 years and perhaps longer.
Off to Tuscany – via Park Ridge, Illinois – for this next wine. It’s the 2012 Villa Graziella Chianti Riserva, a graceful Tuscan red that is elegant and true to its source, unlike too many examples from this area. Villa Graziella is the brainchild of Park Ridge resident Consuelo Quattrocchi along with her partner in Tuscany, who have produced several reds and a white. This Chianti Riserva is made for consumption now and over the next few years and it’s very well made; this is not a wine that was styled for points, but rather for the table to pair with roast lamb or veal tonight. There is also an excellent 2014 Toscana Rosso, made from 85% Sangiovese from the Chianti Colli Fiorentini zone, along with 15% Colorino, an indigenous variety; this wine has more depth and complexity and should be able to cellar for a few more years. Both are fine values. To learn more about these wines, click here. (You’ll also learn about their excellent balsamic vinegar and olive oils.)
Lugana is a white from a small area at the southern end of Lago Garda; it encompasses parts of two regions: Lombardy and Veneto. It is produced from the Turbiana grape – not Trebbiano, as commonly believed, and it is generally made as a dry white with little or no oak aging. Generally the wines are medium-bodied with delicate aromas of pear, jasmine and melon; the wines are usually meant for short term consumption, within 2-3 years of the vintage date.
But there are exceptions, as with the 2012 Selva Capuzza Lugana Riserva “Menasasso”. This wine from one of the denomination’s finest producers, is made from grapes that were harvested a few days later then normal; a small percentage is then fermented in oak. The resulting wine has greater complexity, a richer texture and greater persistence than a typical Lugana (note: the white label 2015 Lugana from Capuzza, made in a more traditional style, is also excellent). There is a richness to this wine that makes you pay attention to this wine; rather than a delightful, dry white for dinner tonight with lighter seafood and poultry, here is a rich, complex white that can stand up to turbot, lobster or even veal medallions. It should also age well – I can see this wine being in excellent shape after another 5-7 years. A Lugana this distinctive – who knew?
Barolo and Barbaresco are often magnificent wines, but of course, you have to pay a fair price for them. If you can’t afford their costs, look instead to Langhe Nebbiolo or Nebbiolo d’Alba, both produced exclusively from the Nebbiolo grape, as with those other renowned wines. The 2012 Orlando Abrigo Nebbiolo d’Alba “Valmaggiore” is one the the best examples of reasonably priced Nebbiolo I’ve recently tasted. The grapes are from the eponymous vineyard in the commune of Vezza d’Alba in the Roero district; another producer that sources fruit from this plot is the celebrated Bruno Giacosa. Winemaker Giovanni Abrigo ages the wine in large casks of 30 hectoliters; a wise decision, as the wood notes play up to the Nebbiolo fruit, rather than overpowering it. Offering beautiful perfumes of red cherry, strawberry and currant with notes of cedar, this is medium-full with elegant tannins and very good acidity (2013 was an notable vintage in the Roero). The wine is drinkable tonight with roast pork, rabbit or most red meats, but it will offer greater complexity in another 5-7 years.