Archives for category: ICC TASTING

On Thursday 15th February the WING group met at the ICC for a Tasting of wines from Rioja. This theme came out top in the Group’s voting for what to cover this season. I wonder if this is – at least partly – down to the knowledge I was holidaying there last summer, and would personally source the wines. This of course renders a set of wines averaging over £20 at UK prices much more affordable. The prices, and value for money scores, are for the UK (if possible).

Here are my notes:

VIÑA GRAVONIA CRIANZA BLANCO 2006 (R López de Heredia)    –   12½%   –   UK £21 Oldbridge wines
This is from the height of the Alta near Haro, and is 100% Viura aged for 4 years in oak and 6 in bottle. A very sherry like nose, showing stewed apple, nutty and some pungent vegetal elements, a slight honeyed tinge… Palate has all this with sherry salty dryness and an undertow of passion fruit (aged Chenin?) honeyed richness. This has a sharp acidity contracting the palate at the end, a little more than the 2004 tasted in March 2015 (see below). A small sample remained which I tried as an aperitif the next day, before a good Soave. The acidity had slackened a little and the palate more rounded – so it may be a little young? The more interesting observation is that ignoring the sherry overlay, how similar the structure was to the Soave – with acidity and peachy fruit common to both! A very unusual style which radically divided opinions. But for me a great example of a nearly-lost style.
Ratings:        Quality:  17/20   Value:  15.5/20

OLARRA CERRO AÑON MAZUELO 2105        –    14%   –   n/a UK, about £16
This is from Mazuelo (Carignan) grapes from near the Alta/Baja border, and I suspect the fruit comes from both. It has 6 months in American oak, it has the redcurrant aroma common to low-cropped Carignan, with some oak in an identifiable Rioja weight. The palate has some acidity and is round, pliant but a bit simple.
Ratings:        Quality:  14.5/20   Value:  14.5/20

OLARRA CERRO AÑON GRACIANO 2014   –   13½%   –   n/a UK, about £16
This fruit for this is from Alta and Alava and has 14 months in French and American oak. This has a more complex nose – floral elements, some woody acidity and a spice hint. Powerful palate, with warm tannin but with lighter cherry fruit and a long line of flavour. The wine suggest a little of Mourvedre to me, power but subtlety and light aromatics… good!
Ratings:        Quality:  15/20   Value:  15/20

MAYOR DE ONDARRE RESERVA 2013   –   13½%    –    £24 Hallgarten
This (92 point rated) Reserva is 80% Tempranillo and 20% Mazuelo. It has 20 months in American and French oak and then 18 months in bottle before release. Bright sharp fruit nose – cherry? – with a woody but not vanilla hint, Palate has sweet and sour plum fruit with a mocha grainy creaminess, a lifting acid frame leading to long slightly spicy finish– quite lip-smacking and food friendly.
Ratings:        Quality:  16/20   Value:  15/20

CAMPO VIEJO DOMINIO 2015   –   13½%   –    £23 Ricard
This is 90% Tempranillo with 5% each of Graciano and Mazuelo. It comes from 5 or 6 Alta plots – vinified separately with 11 months in all French (Troncais and Bertranges) oak. This is a lovely wine, with a subtle but complex nose – suggestions of  non-fruit and savoury notes – leather came to my mind but others thought of liquorice. There is dark fruit, maybe blackberry and well-contolled oak. The palate echoes the nose but with great refreshment, structure and length. A lovely wine with a Bordeaux-ish inflection to Rioja flavours. Very good – but is it a bit International?
Ratings:        Quality:  17/20   Value:  15.5/20

COTO DE IMAZ GRAN RESERVA 2011   –   14%   –    £22 Liberty
This is 90% Tempranillo (mostly from Alta with 10% from Alava) and 10% Alava Graciano from near the winery in Oyon, on Agrilo-Calcaire soil. Voluptuous open nose with herbs, floral notes and blackberries. The palate is very recognisable GR Rioja showing everything from the nose with warmth and a chocolate-grainy body, very sensual – in contrast to the more cerebral Dominio. Lovely!
Ratings:        Quality:  17/20   Value:  15.5/20

A tasting showing good range of styles, grapes and oak use in Rioja. The Gravonia is very much an acquired taste I think, but I had it pretty close for top wine with the Dominio and the Coto de Imaz. If I had to pick one – I would find it difficult. I am tempted by the white for its sheer unorthodoxy, but in the end that counted against it – it is a great wine but only useful in a narrow set of  situations. The Dominio was the most popular for the group, is beautifully crafted and will be better in 2 or 3 years I think – but does it express Rioja specifically? So in the end my wine-of-the-night is the Gran Reserva.

À Bientôt


The ICC / WING group met on Thursday 18th January to taste wines on the double theme of Malbec and Argentina. We started the evening with a sparkling rosé made from 100% Malbec before moving on to a single varietal, single vineyard Torrontés from Cafayate in the northern province of Salta. Next, we tasted three varietal Malbecs from the three countries which produce the most Malbec: Chile, Argentina and France. We ended the evening with a red blend from Mendoza containing Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Bonarda and Cabernet Franc and produced in the style of Amarone, the grapes having been dried on drying racks following the harvest to concentrate flavours.

rutiniwines_Rose-de-Malbec Laborum_Torrontes-2015MontesAlphaMA10altos-hormigas-terroir-malbecvins-juin-pdt-05I0009028_milamore

Here are my notes:

Rutini Trumpeter Rosé de Malbec Extra Brut 2013 – 12.7% – Honest Grapes – £24
From Tupungato in Mendoza, this 100% Malbec sparkling rosé is made using the traditional method. Orange in colour, reminiscent of onion skin with small, continuous bubbles. Red fruits on the nose with some woody herbal notes. The palate has a frothy mousse and rather sharp red fruit flavours, predominantly strawberry with a hint of cherry. An enjoyable and slightly different celebration wine but a little over-priced perhaps.
Ratings:     Quality: 16/20     Value: 14/20

El Porvenir Laborum Torrontés 2015 – 13.5% – Honest Grapes – £15.70
The grapes for this single vineyard 100% Torrontés were grown at an altitude of 1,650 metres. The resulting wine is fresh and elegant with good acidity and a long finish. Roses on the nose, reminiscent of a gewurtztraminer. The floral character comes through on the palate along with refreshing citrus notes.
Ratings:     Quality: 16/20     Value: 16/20

Montes Alpha Malbec 2013 – 14.5% – Waitrose Cellar – £13.99
This Chilean Malbec is blended with 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Deep ruby-purple in colour. Lots of ripe blackberry on the nose with hints of vanilla. Very smooth and dense with clear oak influence. On the palate the flavours are blackberry and blueberry with some plum and vanilla and quite a lot of sweet spice.
Ratings:     Quality: 14/20     Value: 14/20

Altos Las Hormigas Malbec Terroir 2014 – 14% – Waitrose Cellar – £15.99
This Argentinian Malbec from Mendoza is lighter than the Chilean with more flavour complexity. Acidity and tannins are well balanced and the finish is long. Flavours include red fruits such as cherry and cranberry along with subtle herbal notes.
Ratings:     Quality: 16/20     Value: 16/20

Clos Triguedina Cahors Malbec 2012 – 13.5% – The Wine Society – £16
This Malbec from the grape’s native Cahors in South-West France, was the group’s favourite wine of the night. Well integrated flavours of intense black fruits with mint and liquorice on the palate. Plenty of acidity along with ripe tannins, flavour intensity and a full body, all made for a well balanced and very enjoyable wine.
Ratings:     Quality: 17/20     Value: 17/20

Bodega Renacer Milamore 2015 – 14% – N.D.John Wine Merchants – £17.95
An interesting wine made in the style of Amarone, with the grapes being dried after harvest until they lose about one third of their weight. The wine is a blend of Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon with 10% Bonarda and 5% Cabernet Franc. Deeply coloured with aromas of berries, plum and dried fruit. Ripe plum and dried fruit on the palate, but perhaps lacking the complexity and finesse of a good Amarone.
Ratings:     Quality: 14/20     Value: 13.5/20

All in all, an enjoyable tasting with some interesting wines and interesting comparison between the three varietal Malbecs. The French wine came out on top, with over half the group voting it their favourite wine of the evening.

Bye for now,

We have a double theme for our January tasting: Malbec and Argentina. These two things are, of course, a suitable pairing as in recent years, Malbec has become almost synonymous with its adopted homeland in South America.

In its original home of France, Malbec has long been a blending grape in Bordeaux and the southwest of the country but is the dominant grape only in its native Cahors. In France, Malbec goes by a number of different names, depending on where it is grown. Its synonyms include Cot, Pressac and Auxerrois. French plantings of the grape had seriously declined following the phylloxera epidemic of the late 1800s, the severe frost of 1956 and a general falling out of fashion in the twentieth century. However, the success of Argentinian Malbec has led to a new enthusiasm for the grape. France now has just over 4,000 hectares of Malbec plantings, mainly in Cahors, making it the world’s second biggest producer of Malbec behind Argentina which is by far the biggest producer with 40,250 hectares, an increase of almost 90% in the last decade! In third place comes Chile with 2,300 hectares, undoubtedly influenced by its neighbour’s success. On Thursday we will be tasting varietal Malbecs from all three of these top producing countries.

Malbec from Cahors could traditionally be described as ‘rustic’ or ‘gamey’, but some of the region’s producers are now looking to emulate the Argentinian style which is more spicy, rich and velvety. Compared to Argentina, Chilean Malbecs tend to be more tannic and may be blended with other Bordeaux grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon.

So, we know a bit about Malbec, but what are the important things to know about Argentina and its wine industry?

Viticulture in Argentina dates back to the middle of the sixteenth century but it’s only since the 1990s that Argentinian wine has been exported abroad. This isn’t surprising if you consider the fact that in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Argentinian wine consumption was annually 90 litres per capita! With such a strong domestic market, there wasn’t the need to export to the UK, where consumption was 3 litres per capita or the USA where it was even less. But changing political and economic factors, together with a fall in domestic consumption (it’s now about a third of what it was) has seen Argentinian winemakers improving the quality of their wine and targeting an international market with a growing thirst for good quality Argentinian wine, particularly its Malbec.

Argentinian vineyards lie close to the Andes in the west of the country and span over 1,500km from the northern province of Salta at a latitude of 24° down to Patagonia at 40°. A very significant factor in Argentinian viticulture is altitude. With the exception of those in Patagonia, most Argentinian vineyards lie at an altitude of 600m or more above sea level; the average elevation is 900m and some vineyards in Salta reach 3,000m, making them the highest in the world. It’s the effects of altitude that make viticulture possible in Salta, which would otherwise be too close to the equator to grow quality grapes. The elevation of Argentina’s vineyards does bring challenges for viticulture with colder temperatures, slower ripening and increased weather hazards but many of Argentina’s winemakers are keen to face and overcome these challenges in order to produce new and exciting styles of wine.


The climate of Argentinian vineyards is continental and being in the rain shadow of the Andes, rainfall is extremely low at around 150mm to 220mm per year. However, pure water from the Andes is available for irrigation. This, together with the warm dry summers, plenty of sunshine, and poor alluvial soils all means great potential for growing quality grapes. Organic viticulture is also easier in this climate as the lack of humidity means less risk of fungal diseases and reduces the need for spraying.

As mentioned previously however, the terroir does bring its challenges. Spring frosts can be a problem, as can a mountain wind known as the Zonda which is strong, hot and dry and can disrupt flowering. More hazardous than both of these however, is the threat of summer hail which has the potential to wipe out 10% of the crop in an average year. Netting is becoming more widely used to protect against this, but still the most commonly used insurance policy is to own vineyards in several different areas. This is very much the case in Mendoza, where varietal wines containing grapes from different areas of the province are common. These weather hazards still have the potential to severely affect output however, as was seen in 2016 when Argentina fell from its usual spot as the fifth biggest wine producing country in the world, down to the ninth, with a decrease of around 30% on the previous year due to adverse weather.


Mendoza is by far the biggest and most important wine producing region in Argentina, accounting for over 70% of production. Red grapes now account for over half of all plantings, with Malbec predominating and Bonarda, Argentina’s other speciality red grape, in second place. In total, 150 different grape varieties are grown in Mendoza.

San Juan is the second biggest wine producing region. It’s north of Mendoza and with lower altitudes, it’s hotter. Since the 1990s wine production here has started moving from quantity to more quality, with Bonarda and Syrah leading the way.

La Rioja is the third most important wine producing province and is also the oldest but its wines are mostly destined for the domestic market. The country’s signature white wine, Torrontés is produced here in a number of different styles.

The varietal Torrontés we will be tasting on Thursday however, comes from Salta which is the country’s fourth most important wine-producing province and its highest. At this altitude, vines need to protect themselves from extreme weather. The resulting low yields and thick-skinned grapes can result in wines that are concentrated, full-bodied and fragrant.

One final thing worth mentioning about Argentina is its sparkling wine. Moet et Chandon set up its first overseas venture here in Mendoza in the late 1950s, recognising the province’s optimum conditions for sparkling wine production. The arrival of Chandon Argentina started a culture of Argentinian sparkling wines made in the traditional method which have brought much acclaim. We will be starting the evening with one such wine on Thursday.

See you then!

On December 14th the WING ICC Group held its Annual Xmas Blind Tasting Competition. Six Wines were served blind, and each accompanied by three explanations of what they were; one each from Kathryn, Kim and Carrie.









The explanations were of three real wines – all available in the UK – however two were Bluff, one was True. The rest of the group had to guess which was true. After 6 rounds the person with most correct guesses won a (Xmas compliant) bottle!

The first Round was Unusual European Sparklers.
The Wine showed quite a recessed nose, citrus hints emerge but no “yeasty” notes. Palate has a slightly “gluey” note, some sweeter fruit elements and an light apple-tinged mousse… But was it:

  • Austrian Sekt from Grüner Veltliner and Welschriesling;
  • Blanquette de Limoux (100% Mauzac);
  • Fruili Brut from Collio – mostly (92%) Ribolla Gialla?


I’ve no idea how one would guess this –  darker than one would expect from Mauzac or GV, but the apple notes could have come from all three…

My Ratings:        Quality:  16/20   Value:  14.5/20


The Second Round was Alpine Whites
A light fruity nose with some floral elements. A grainy, surprisingly full bodied palate, with a pepper hint that turns to a mineral finish … But was it:

  • Rousette de Savoie;
  • An Alto-Adige blend from Terlano;
  • Fendant from Valais in Switzerland?


Again quite difficult, but I think the body and low acidity in the wine might have been the clue.

My Ratings:        Quality:  14.5/20   Value:  14/20


The Third Round was Alpine Reds
Light in colour, herby nose with cherry fruit. Herbs and red fruit on the palate too, quite short but some acidity and mineral giving some structure… But was it:

  • A Mondeuse from Savoie;
  • A Schiava from Alto-Adige near Bolzano;
  • A Garamet-Garanoir blend from Vaud, Switzerland?


I think the hardest of all to guess, partly because all three are rare, and the structure is quite good. I would have guessed the Mondeuse, I think…

My Ratings:        Quality:  15/20   Value:  15.5/20


The fourth Round was Italian Grapes on the Pacific Coast
Pungent nose at first, then spicy elements kick in. Palate has richness and drying tannins and a woody element. Quite a fresh fruit lift at the finish which is food demanding… But was it:

  • Zinfandel from Lodi, California;
  • Sangiovese from Alexander Valley, Sonoma, California
  • Nebbiolo from Baja California, Mexico?


This had the scale of a Zin, but heavier tannins – so that might direct one towards Nebbiolo?

My Ratings:        Quality:  15/20   Value:  15/20


The fifth round was Reds from South-West France
Slightly fruit-cake aromas, then fresher red fruit hints. The palate has even more (but slightly rounder) tannin than the previous wine, and later a supple red fruit comes through. There is a fresh herby acid line right to the end, and with food the tannins recede and supple red fruit emerges. My favourite red … But was it:

  • Gaillac – mainly Syrah and Braucol (Fer Servadou)
  • Irouléguy – a Basque wine made from Tannat and Cabernet Franc
  • Cahors – mainly Malbec?


The tannin levels, though not harsh, point towards Tannat, I think, so perhaps the easiest to guess.

My Ratings:        Quality:  17/20   Value:  15.5/20


The final Round was Dessert Wine
Complex nose, with peach, honey, passion fruit and quince. Some lightness on the palate and the same set of flavours are not overwhelmed by Noble Rot. A lip-smacking acidity adds a fine quality to this luscious wine … But was it:

  • Hunter Valley partly botrytised Semillon;
  • Jurançon, late-harvested Petit Mansang;
  • Sweet Chenin Blanc from Savennières, Loire?


This surely has too much complexity for even a good Australian, little botrytis and the passion fruit might suggest Loire but the lightness of touch and the quince hints surely suggest Jurançon!

My Ratings:        Quality:  16.5/20   Value:  15/20

Overall a tricky, certainly the most difficult so far, tasting. However the wines we actually tasted all showed quite well and the bluffs constituted an  interesting set of wines. The excellent prize was won outright by Catherine, with 4 correct! Congratulations and a bottle of 1986 Vintage PX DO Montilla-Moriles Gran Reserva (Alaba) to her!









This will be the last post before Seasonal Festivities begin, so it only remains to wish très bonnes fêtes de fin d’année to all my readers!

À Bientôt

On Thursday 16th November the ICC / WING group met for the second tasting of the 2017-18 Season. The theme for the evening was ‘Bordeaux Blends Abroad’. Concentrating solely on red blends, we tasted wines from six different countries, varying terroirs and a range of price points.


Here are my notes:

CHILE: Primus the Blend 2014  –   14%   –   Wine Society – £11.95
From the Colchagua Valley in Chile, this was the only wine of the evening to feature Carmenere in the blend. Its presence came through in some spicy notes on the finish, but the wine was primarily fruit-driven and dominated by baked black fruit flavours. Quite drinkable with its soft tannins and hint of spice on the finish, but a little one-dimensional. It wasn’t anyone’s favourite wine of the night, but 6 members voted for it as demonstrating best value for money.
Ratings:        Quality:  13/20   Value:  14./20

SOUTH AFRICA: Rustenberg John X Merriman 2014  –   14.5%   –   Waitrose Cellar – £14.99
More restrained with slightly more complex flavours than the Chilean. Hints of cigar box complement the core of dark fruit. Still quite young and would benefit from further bottle ageing to soften the tannins and develop more flavour complexity.
Ratings:        Quality:  15/20   Value:  15/20 

LEBANON: Chateau Ksara 2012  –   13.5%   –   The Wine Society – £16
Tannins dominated a little for me to begin with; would definitely be better with food (rare steak or beef) or in a few years’ time once the tannins have softened. Quite a powerful wine with good length and some more complex flavour combinations coming through on the finish – some spice and herbal notes to complement the rich red and black fruit.
Ratings:        Quality:  14.5/20   Value:  14/20

AUSTRALIA: Moss Wood Amy’s 2015  –   14.5%   –   Waitrose Cellar – £16.49
This wine seemed in better balance than the previous three, with more flavour complexity. The only wine of the evening to feature a significant amount of Malbec in the blend. Made to be approachable in its youth, tannins were not overpowering, but well balanced with the wine’s acidity and alcohol. Fresh black fruit flavours with white pepper, cedar and some floral notes in support made this a very enjoyable wine.
Ratings:        Quality:  17/20   Value:  17/20

USA: Lauren Ashton Cellars Cuvee Arlette 2013  –   14.6%   –   The Wine Society – £21
A ‘Right Bank’ blend from Washington state, with significantly more Merlot than the evening’s other wines, which was reflected in its softness. Very smooth, featuring flavours of vanilla and sweet spice along with the dark fruit. I found it to be well balanced and very drinkable, and it was the favourite wine of 7 members, but some found the oak influence to lack subtlety.
Ratings:        Quality:  16.5/20   Value:  14/20

ITALY: Fattoria di Magliano Poggio Bestiale 2012  –   14%   –   Lea and Sandeman – £27.50
This Super Tuscan was my favourite wine of the evening. A well-structured wine with aromatic black fruit and hints of liquorice on the nose. The fruit flavours and hints of spice developed on the palate which also showed a lovely slightly smoky mineral character.
Ratings:        Quality:  18/20   Value:  15/20

Overall, an interesting range of wines, showing the diversity of the red Bordeaux blend in its different manifestations around the world. The flavour complexity and balance of the Italian wine made it my favourite as well as that of the group. The Washington ‘Right Bank’ blend was the second most popular amongst the group, though, like the Lebanese wine, it did seem to split opinion. In terms of ‘value for money’ the Moss Wood Amy’s Blend from Margaret River came out on top.

Bye for now,

‘Bordeaux blend’ is a phrase sometimes used by winemakers and consumers to refer to certain wines, but what is its official definition? On hearing the term, most people probably imagine a red wine. That’s likely to be because nine out of ten bottles of Bordeaux wine are red and so too are the majority of non-French wines that copy or pay homage to the wines of this most prestigious region.

There is, however, such a thing as a white Bordeaux blend. Just over 10% of Bordeaux wine is white with just under one quarter of that being sweet, such as the world famous sweet wines of the Sauternes appellation. Whether sweet or dry, a white Bordeaux blend would consist primarily of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.

However, when it comes to ‘Bordeaux Blends Abroad’, the number of red Bordeaux copies far outweigh the whites and are produced in a far wider range of the world’s wine producing regions. For this reason, I’ve chosen to concentrate solely on red blends for this tasting.

So, what is a red ‘Bordeaux blend’? To be correctly labelled thus, the wine would need to consist of two or more of the following grape varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot and possibly Malbec and Carménère. ‘Bordeaux blend’ is not a legal or technical term and solely refers to the grapes used so there are no rules on the percentages, yields, planting regulations or winemaking practices.

In the USA, ‘meritage’ is a more official term that was coined in the 1980s for American wines made exclusively from two or more of the Bordeaux grape varieties. This trade-marked name is legally available only for use by winemakers who have joined the Meritage Alliance but it is a term used less commonly in its home of California now than it used to be.

So, why are almost all Bordeaux reds made from a blend of grape varieties and why is this style copied the world over?

The moderate maritime climate of Bordeaux with its variable weather and risk of high rainfall mean that to rely on one grape variety would be very risky. With the different varieties flowering and ripening at different times, there is less likelihood of an entire crop being ruined by adverse weather.

In addition, the soils of the Bordeaux region are also very varied and their different drainage and heat retaining properties determine which grape varieties can be successfully grown. The damper, cooler soils of the region’s ‘Right Bank’ (north of the Dordogne River) are suited to Merlot, whereas the ‘Left Bank’, with its gravelly, heat-retaining soil is the only area of Bordeaux where Cabernet Sauvignon can reliably ripen. Hence, ‘Right Bank’ blends tend to be dominated by Merlot (with Cabernet Franc in a supporting role) and ‘Left Bank’ blends have a higher percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon.

Bordeaux-BlendsBut it is not solely through necessity that almost all ‘claret’ is produced from a blend of grape varieties. Blending is a great skill which is of the utmost importance in producing premium Bordeaux reds. The percentage of each grape variety that ends up in the final blend will depend not only on the vintage but will also be the result of much deliberation, tasting, scrutiny and careful consideration of what each component will add to the blend. For example, Cabernet Sauvignon can be said to give tannin and a core of blackcurrant fruit; Merlot adds softness, richness and body; Cabernet Franc can contribute marked fragrance and Petit Verdot can add tannin, colour and exotic spice.

The ‘Bordeaux blend’ can create a very fine, structured wine that is built to last, so it’s no wonder that this style has been copied the world over, from the Super-Tuscans of the Bolgheri coast to the famed Bordeaux style blends of Gimblett Gravels in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand. But of course, it’s not just the blend of grapes that makes the wine, and with greatly varying climates, terroirs and vineyard and winemaking techniques throughout the world’s different wine producing regions, ‘Bordeaux Blends Abroad’ should all have something unique to offer, making them more than simply ‘Bordeaux copies’.

Hopefully the wines we taste on Thursday evening will offer interesting comparisons in terms of the components of the blend, but will also demonstrate a sense of place and offer a range of different characteristics and some interesting contrasts.

See you on Thursday,

Brigitte Bordeaux

On Thursday 19th October the ICC / WING group met for the first tasting of the 2017-18 Season. The new season will (roughly) have alternate presenters: yours truly, Corkmaster and – new to this blog – the extremely talented brigittebordeaux.  So I kicked off with the 4th most popular Theme: Italian White wine.

I decided, following the discussion in the previous post to further trim the candidates for the Tasting by omitting Fiano and Pecorino – as being too well-known or too obscure, respectively. This left me with two wines of rare quality in denominations known for plonk: Soave and Orvieto; two Piedmont specialties: Gavi and Roero Arneis; and two Campanian whites…

Here are my notes:

SOAVE CLASSICO CALVARINO (Pieropan) 2015   –   12½%   –   Wine Society – £18
Quiet nose – with blossom hints: acacia and elderflower, some herby hints and a start of fruit. The palate has very long citric acidity with a chalky mineral finish, later some peach hints develop on both nose and palate. This is a couple of years too young, but very classy, balanced and elegant.
Ratings: Quality:  15.5/20   Value:  15/20

ORVIETO CLASSICO “TRAGUGNANO” 2015 (Sergio Mottura)   –   13½%   –   Vini Italiani – £17
Immediate nose of floral and pear notes. Soft fruit on the palate, with a softer acidity too. Some warmth in the later palate and increasingly herby (thyme?), but fades quite quickly too. Rather one dimensional.
Ratings:        Quality:  13.5/20   Value:  13/20

GAVI DI GAVI 2016 (Tenuta Olim Bauda)   –   12½%   –   Virgin Wines – £15
This has a fresh nose…lemon and a hint of pear. Clean palate with a lovely acidity growing in warmth and extending the finish. Quite good typicity and a very satisfying food wine…
Ratings:        Quality:  14.5/20   Value:  14.5/20

ROERO ARNEIS “LE FAVILLE” (Brjnda) 2014   –   13½%   –    Vini Italiani – £15
Nose has some floral elements, and a hint of a darker – nutty? – flavour. The palate has saline and that darker note (fenugreek), some warm acidity and a thicker food-friendly finish but a bit short…
Ratings:        Quality:  14/20   Value:  14/20

GRECO DI TUFO, LOGGIA DELLA SERRA 2016 (Terredora Di Paulo)   –   12½%   –   Tanners – £17
Lovely nose of white fruit, citrus and sweeter fruit notes. Palate is very well balanced with evolving acidity that energises fruit elements and some richness. A poised wine with great food capacity, and close to peak, and the groups’ favourite!
Ratings:        Quality:  15.5/20   Value:  15/20

FALANGHINA “PRETA” (Capolino Perlingieri) 2015   –   13½%   –   Vini Italiani – £17
Very pungent menthol / Eucalyptus first nose… Other herby notes mount but never overwhelm the mint dimension… Palate has grapefruit acidity and a sweeter fruit – doughnut peach (?) – gaining ground. Quite rich and unusual, and pretty good.
Ratings:        Quality:  15/20   Value:  14.5/20

Overall a tasting showing the range of white styles in Italy. With strong, food-friendly, acidity present in most – even from the warmer climes. All had some attractive elements and clean acidity…That freshness is most apparent in the Soave and the Greco, and although the Greco has persuasive charm, I liked the Soave as much and felt its restrained elegance would better reward cellaring. On the other hand, the Orvieto was slightly dull, and I have sometimes found the slightly sweet Amabile style shows more depth at lower price points…

À Bientôt

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