Vallee D'Aosta and Piemonte
- 2007 Grosjean Petite Arvine Valle d'Aosta - Italy, Valle d'Aosta
Soft on the nose, with hints of honey, toffee, and basil, this was an acidic and "green" wine. Tasters noted some minerality along with lemon/lime rind, pear, pepper, and herbal flavor notes. Some thought the wine out of balance, hot (alcohol), and clumsy, others liked the finish, and it may need more time in the bottle.
- 2006 Ermes Pavese Morgex et de la Salle - Italy, Valle d'Aosta, Morgex et de la Salle
A favorite among the 42 bianchi tasted, this had a lot of citrus notes. Slightly effervescent with a floral, intense nose, its medium acidity was readily apparent. Soft, viscous, and nicely balanced, there were pronounced orange (blood orange for some), grapefruit, and peach flavors for most tasters, as well as canned apricot, mango, pineapple, tangerine, “early green hay” (hey, we’re in central Texas), and tropical flavors. Tasters thought this an excellent summer food wine.
- 2007 Gianni Gagliardo Favorita Fallegro - Italy, Piedmont
Madeira and some honey and nut on the nose, a caramel color, with slight oak and firm acidity, some stone and mineral characteristics, a clean finish. Had green pear, almond, citrus flavor s. Went from being a bright, refreshing, candied drink upon opening to an off-putting Madeira after an hour.
- 2007 Azienda Agricola Elvio Cogno Langhe Nascetta Anas-Cetta - Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Langhe DOC
A weighty wine, high in acid, this wine was slow to develop. Initially it was salty and "super-trocken," with slate and resin notes and interesting components but out of balance. It developed some tropical flower, lily, and candied papaya/mango notes, was fleshy with a long finish. Some detected an apple cider, juniper character to the wine. Food helps this wine a lot.
- 2006 Vigneti Massa Timorasso Colli Tortonesi Derthona - Italy, Piedmont, Colli Tortonesi
A bit controversial, some tasters didn’t like sulfur and rubber characteristics of the wine; to be fair, the wine had been open for more than an hour when they tasted it. But those who had the wine fresh out of the bottle found much to like. “A can of Shasta (soda pop) just opened” was a 1968 moment shared by a bianchi enthusiast. This because it is creamy and lemon-lime on the front end, then has almond, hazelnut, pineapple, orange pith, and much sweetness, with a long finish. “A mid-afternoon pick-me-up,“ said an inveterate reporter. “Better with food,” replied our host (reporters just drink?). “Nasty” they said an hour later……..
- 2007 Ferrando Erbaluce di Caluso La Torrazza - Italy, Piedmont, Northern Piedmont, Erbaluce di Caluso
Another oxidation challenge, but this opened and improved with time. Initially with a nose of moss and slight oak, here was much acidity and hints of honeysuckle, almond, citrus, and petrol, and much tartness. After an hour it developed a rich nose, almost a Sancerre quality, with good balance, ripe fruit, and refreshing pear and citrus flavors. Grapefruit, lemon-lime, herb, and nuttiness were also observed.
Liguria and Lombardia
- 2006 Bisson Ciliegiolo Golfo del Tigullio - Italy, Liguria, Golfo del Tigullio
Fairly easy to drink with some sweetness, this drank a bit like a Vermentino, was mineral-driven and oily, and developed bitter orange, citrus rind, and honeysuckle notes. Some thought the wine too acidic and with a rubber character, others found it pleasing and easy to drink.
- 2006 Bisson Pigato Colline del Genovesato IGT - Italy, Liguria, Colline del Genovesato IGT
A light, low-acid wine which was enjoyable and interesting for tasters, with lots of peach and floral notes. Lightly oxidized and nutty in a good way, with a light copper color, tasters found peach jam, apricot, white peach, nectarine, green grape, light lemon, canteloupe, nectar, pear, and dried fruit flavors. Several commented on its low acidity among our many Italian bianchi. Did someone really write “gym toes,” then “under-ripe” crossed out into “over-ripe”? U betcha! Yum.
- 2006 Bisson di Piero Lugano Cinque Terre Marea - Italy, Liguria, Cinque Terre
A blend of several traditional local grape varieties (Bosco, Vermentino, and Albarola). With a hint of petrol on the nose and front palate, some crisp acidity, and a short finish, this was rather non-descript. The wine had good structure and some melon, pear (pear-peel), and marzipan flavors but over-all was flat on the palate.
- 2006 Bruno Verdi Oltrepò Pavese Vigna Costa - Italy, Lombardia, Oltrepò Pavese
A "Riesling Renano," (an Italian sub-variety of riesling), this wine was quite enjoyable and a favorite among the 42 "under-the-radar" varietal wines in our salon. Like a warm weather riesling, which we like in Texas, it had a purple flower, vanilla, spicy nose, a medium body, and sweet and bitter orange fruit, as well as peach, flower, and nectar on the palate. It improved as it sat in the glass, though it retained a bit of the glycerin, kerosene character of a German riesling.
Veneto, Emila-Romagna, and Trentino-Alto Adige
- 2006 Fama Winery Breganze Fiororange - Italy, Veneto, Breganze
"Yes!" Well, that was one taster’s notes. “Taking the fifth,” was another’s. The Fama Fiororange (Maculan Dindarello) initially seemed a classic, simple moscato, with some light, lemon meringue, peach/pear/honey notes. But it gained complexity with air and might develop into quite an interesting wine with some age. After the wine had been open for more than an hour, it had a sauterne character, floral, lush, and round, and went great with the Gorgonzola—the flight favorite of the Yes group.
- 2008 Lini Lambrusco di Sorbara 910 Lambrusco Bianco Secco "Labrusca" - Italy, Emilia-Romagna, Lambrusco di Sorbara DOC
A light, effervescent aperitif wine, salty and lean with peach and green apple notes, no finish. It has some earth and citrus, maybe some lemon zest and nuttiness, but the lightness suggested it might be best for a brunch or light lunch.
- 2007 Branchini "1858" - Italy, Emilia-Romagna
With a buttery quality reminiscent of chardonnays, it had noticeable yeast and butterscotch, medium acid, and some tartness. With a woody sweetness and dustiness, the acid was a little off but it carried flavors of caramel, apple, crab apple, grapefruit, pineapple, sandalwood. It didn’t improve with food, probably because of the acidity problem.
- 2007 Umberto Cesari Albana di Romagna Colle del Re - Italy, Emilia-Romagna, Albana di Romagna DOCG
Light and simple, tight and a bit one-dimensional, with light tannins, good acidity, soft aromatics, light minerality, flavors of honeysuckle, citrus lemon, white grapefruit, and light pineapple flavors, and a dry finish. Did I write light?
- 2006 Cesconi Vigneti delle Dolomiti IGT - Italy, Trentino-Alto Adige, Vigneti delle Dolomiti IGT
The least favorite of one group, after it had been open for an hour. Upon opening it smelled of wet wool and slate, had a stone minerality quality, and had some herbal tea, green apple, and light citrus notes, and was a bit musty and funky—not bad. After time the nose got funkier and tasters found burnt hair, gun flint, sulphur, and “rat pee,” and accordingly down-graded it.
- 2006 Abbazia di Novacella (Stiftskellerei Neustift) Kerner - Italy, Trentino-Alto Adige, Alto Adige, Valle Isarco / Eisacktaler
Very floral and watery, it has orange blossom, peach, apricot, dried white flower on the nose and some bitterness on the palate and finish. One taster recalled lemon sweet tarts, another vanilla wafers.
- 2005 La Tunella Colli Orientali del Friuli Ribolla Gialla Selenze - Italy, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Colli Orientali del Friuli
Most tasters were under-impressed with this wine, thought it past its prime, maybe tasting like an aged New Zealand sauvignon blanc. “Must taste quickly,” leaves the palate, low and “confusing” acidity were some comments. But a few others enjoyed the wine, and noted confit lemon, passion fruit, stewed apricots. apple, and pear flavors, with medium alcohol and some vibrancy.
- 2002 La Castellada Collio Ribolla Gialla - Italy, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Collio
Developed into a yummy drink over time. Initially it had a nice, golden color, a brandy cask oak and toast nose and taste, and good acidity. Over time the initial oxidation character turned and the wine gained richness and developed complexity, with noted flavors of grapefruit, peaches, apple, plum, honey, flower,waxy melon, tobacco, spice, cream, and marzapan. A hit!
- 2002 Gravner Ribolla Gialla Anfora Venezia Giulia IGT - Italy, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Venezia Giulia IGT
Was not much liked by our tasting group of ten. Has an oxidized style that seemed tired and out of balance, and fell apart at the finish. With some oak and herbs on the nose, maybe honey and nuts on the palate, somewhat tannic, we thought it past its prime.
- 2003 Azienda Agricola Stanislao Radikon Ribolla Gialla Venezia Giulia IGT - Italy, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Venezia Giulia IGT
One of the most controversial wines of this 42-bottle bianchi salon, one group declared it oxidized and swamp water, and didn’t go further—this was after it had been opened for more than an hour. But the first tasting group, who opened the bottle, had different thoughts: “oxidized in a good way,” and off went the appreciators of Sherry. With a black herbal tea quality (and the comment, “probably not most people’s cup of tea”), it went great with our braised venison dish. Copper-colored, the wine had a strange nose of sweet gherkin pickle, some called it “home-canned” and “bread and butter” pickle. The palate fruit was baked and oily, with lemon-lime zest, orange peel, baking spice, cardamon, and cinammon. Oxidation in a good way, and in a bad way for some. Orange and white, down here in Austin.
- 2004 Bressan Friuli Verduzzo Friulano - Italy, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Friuli
Upon opening it had an off-putting petro-chemical smell, but it tasted much better than the nose. The wine had bright acidity and tasted of candied almonds, cotton candy, leche, lemon cream, and peach pits. After time the nose retained the petrol, and the wine took a more herbal note, with celery, dry herbs, vegatal, and slight citrus flavors. An interesting, nice wine with an undelicate nose.
- 2004 Vodopivec Vitovska Solo Venezia Giulia IGT - Italy, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Venezia Giulia IGT
This was a rich and slightly oxidized wine that most of us enjoyed. An exotic wine, it changed a bit every few minutes. Some oak on the nose, with a tobacco, ashtray, mineral character for some, it was a bit muted (yet unctuous) but developed dessicated orange and almond, dried apple, butter pastry, and old fruit notes. We liked it.
- 2004 Az. Agr. Vigne del Leon di Tullio Zamo Vola Vola - Italy, Friuli-Venezia Giulia
A dessert wine, with a deep gold, aged-sauterne color, it had a pencil lead and almond nose, tasted of aged oak (Bourbon) and honey, some plum and hazelnut, and had white pepper on the back end. It gained some caramel, apricot, and mandarin orange on the palate, had much syrup but lacked acidity.
- 2005 Zidarich Carso Malvasia Bianca - Italy, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Carso
How about “old, dried juicy fruit gum?” As good a description as many. A fairly acidic wine, the fruit on this goes on and on, the finish is good. Cloudy and caramel, with pronounced nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamon, and baked spice flavors, this wine was yummy for some and started to dry out and become one-dimensional for others. The grape for this wine is actually labeled Malvasia Istriana. The Malvasia grape is of Greek origin and was brought to nearby Istria and adapted well to the Carsic territory.
Umbria, Le Marche, Lazio, Abruzzo e Molise
- 2004 Paolo Bea Arboreus Umbria IGT - Italy, Umbria, Umbria IGT
An initial sense of oxidation, the nose was intense and deceptive with a sanitizer smell: “glade floral” one taster named it. It was light and floral, had no mid-palate, and some notes of dried apple, herbs, lemon, honey, spice, and nuts.
- 2007 Rio Maggio Falerio dei Colli Ascolani Falerio Telusiano - Italy, Marche, Falerio dei Colli Ascolani
A blend of trebbiano d'abruzzo and pecorino, the wine was light and initially had an isopropyl alcohol nose, which carried a bit on the palate and then lessened. It gained fruit with air, was low acid and stony dry, and had floral and citrus notes, apricot nectar, nuttiness, spice, and some complexity.
- 2006 Tenuta di Pietra Porzia Frascati Regillo - Italy, Latium, Frascati
This wine was fading and needs to be drunk up, was sweet with mandarine orange, rosemary, pear, lemon curd, and cooking herbs on the palate. It had a nice, clean finish.
- 2007 Cantina Tollo Pecorino - Italy, Abruzzi, Terre di Chieti IGT
Very floral, not complex but enjoyable. This might still be young, it seemed to need time to calm down. With noticeable acid and a tropical nose, it had a melon and grassy element, minerality, nuttiness, and some flavors of yellow apple and yellow pear, tangerine, dry nectarine, and orange rind. Enjoyed by all.
Campania, Calabria, Apulia
- 2005 Marisa Cuomo Costa d'Amalfi Furore Fiorduva (30% Fenile, 30% Ginestra, 40% Ripoli) - Italy, Campania, Costa d'Amalfi Furore
An enjoyable wine, with minerality and stone fruit on the nose, good body, a nice mid-palate and length. Flavors included lemon, menthol, slight cinnamon and ginger, persimmon, mango, some oak, and simple syrup. Good with a slightly spicy meal.
- 2006 Pietratorcia Ischia Vigna del Cuotto Superiore - Italy, Campania, Ischia
A blend of four varietals, mainly biancolla and forestera, this is a wine probably to drink up. Soft with slight oxidation on the nose, smells of gunpowder and lemon, and a wet minerality, it had a lot of pear, apple, plum flavor, along with banana, lemon pith, lemon pith and apple. This was a favorite of the crowd.
- 2007 Azienda Agricola Tenuta San Francesco Costa d'Amalfi Tramonti - Italy, Campania, Costa d'Amalfi
Reminiscent of a sauvignon blanc, this is a blend of biancolella, pepella, and falanghina. A nose of green herbs and citrus was initially reticent but with air became apparent and nice. Light-bodied, it was quite floral on the palate, with melon, honeysuckle, lemons, grapefruit, grass, and hay flavors, and a very satisfying, mineral finish. A wine for a shellfish lover.
- 2006 Statti Mantonico Calabria IGT - Italy, Calabria, Calabria IGT
Perhaps the most oxidized wine of the tasting, and that is truly a prize. The wine was compared to apples sitting (standing?) in a barrel too long, tasted much older than 2006, and some tree bark and cantaloupe rind flavors were detected...... barely. Maybe the wine really was oxidized.
- 2006 Vinicola Resta Martina Salento IGT - Italy, Puglia, Salento IGT
A blend of Verdeca and Bianco d'Allesano. Nice and easy, but dropped out in the mid-palate and had a bitter finish. It improved after awhile and had noticeable low acid. Tasters thought it might go with fish as there was a saline/sea quality and it was rather light, with some noticeable flavor of apricot jam or candied apricots.
Sicilia é Sardinia
- 2005 Firriato Bianco Altavilla Della Corte Sicilia IGT - Italy, Sicily, Sicilia IGT
“More like punch than wine,” several tasters declared, some called it juicy fruit wine, others Hawaii punch. Initially this was a lot of sweet citrus on the nose and red fruit on the palate, a tropical fruit salad. It seemed one-dimensional, though several liked the wine; others didn’t like the “industrial fruit” they discerned. Add some flavors of lush apricot and dried banana, this “bantam weight” wine was cloying and perplexing.
- 2004 Benanti Etna Bianco Superiore Pietramarina - Italy, Sicily, Etna DOC
Choose your gum: spearmint, juicy fruit, wintergreen. When the wine calmed down, we could smell honeysuckle and gardinia and taste flavors of leche, citrus, lime pulp. It had high acid and was almost chewy. Went well with our (rich) shrimp pasta salad.
- 2005 Feudo Principi di Butera Insolia Sicilia IGT - Italy, Sicily, Sicilia IGT
A bit dirty with a muted tropical nose, the flavors were complex and tasters found it complex and liked it much. It was “oily” with floral, jasmine, pineapple, apricot, and white peach flavors with an excellent finish. A favorite.
- 2007 Donnafugata Anthìlia Sicilia IGT - Italy, Sicily, Sicilia IGT
A strange, chalky nose, with a sharp note of citrus and pineapple, slightly oxidized and maybe fading, the palate was candied, with citrus and melon fruits, minerality, apple, pear, and lime notes. The exotic nose was its best feature.
- 2004 Donnafugata Passito di Pantelleria Ben Ryé - Italy, Sicily, Passito di Pantelleria
The overall favorite in this tasting flight, it had a nose of tropical fruit but initially was bitter, with dried prunes, dried fruit, and balsamic notes. Well-balanced with good acidity, it may have been slightly oxidized (to the discerning) but developed flavors of ripe plum, wild strawberry, dried apricot, clove, golden raisins, and pineapple.
- 2007 Frank Cornelissen MunJebel Bianco 4 - Italy, Sicily, Sicilia IGT
Wow! What a reverse. Usually with these off-varietal Italians we’ve had an oxidized or petrochemical nose and then discovered various fruit and nut flavors on the palate, but this wine was the opposite. This has a spectacular nose, of peaches, apricot, oregano, nutmeg, and, especially, of clove, and then the wine’s acidity and flavors through you: “nail polish,” “paint thinner,” “chemical” were the palate descriptors. You expect, from the bouquet, that the wine will be sweet, but it falls into a chemical pine-ness that might only be Siciliano. A blend of Grecanico Dorato, Carricante, and Coda di Volpe.
- 2007 Tenuta delle Terre Nere Etna Bianco - Italy, Sicily, Etna DOC
A blend of carricante, catarrato, inzolia, grecanico, and chardonnay, this was a weird and complicated wine. Initially it was effervescent and the nose and palate seemed out of sync. It was called “the red of the whites,” with herbal notes and lot of body. A nose of dust, earth, herbs, grass, and stinky cheese, it had a limestone minerality, surprising flavors of dry apple pie, cherry ganache, and some peach, and a very rich finish. Delicious after awhile, and a favorite of one group of tasters.
- 2007 Argiolas Nuragus di Cagliari S'elegas - Italy, Sardinia, Nuragus di Cagliari
Another favorite in our tasting, it had an intense floral nose, some bite, noticeable tannins, and good acidity and balance. Honeysuckle, hibiscus, spice, vanilla, "fresh starch," dried apricot, caramel, and peach flavors were noted.
- 2006 Sella & Mosca Torbato Alghero Terre Bianche - Italy, Sardinia, Alghero
Slightly effervescent and watery, it lacks acidity and is somewhat refreshing. It had a petrol nose, some richness and sweetness on the mid-palate, with flavors of bubble gum and pear, ripe apple, melon, and tropical fruit
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