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Tag Archives: Italian wine

Wine of the week: Caposaldo Chianti 2012

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Caposaldo ChiantiWho thought the Wine Curmudgeon would ever have anything nice to say about an Italian wine made with merlot? But that was before I tasted the Caposaldi Chianti.

This Italian red from the Chianti region in Tuscany is a brilliant example of traditional Italian style combined with modern winemaking techniques. The Caposaldi ($10, purchased, 12.5%) is dark, earthy, funky, and full of delicious sour cherry fruit, yet it isn’t too heavy or too harsh in that old-fashioned and not missed way. And much of that is because it’s a blend, with the traditional sangiovese complemented with 10 percent cabernet sauvignon, 10 percent merlot and 5 percent malvasia, a white grape. The cabernet adds some heft, the merlot adds freshness to the fruit, and the malvasia softens the sangiovese. The result is amazing.

In one respect, this isn’t new, since blended Chianti, even with white grapes, has been allowed for decades. But this style of blend takes a different approach from those who use the cabernet and merlot to make a wine more New World in style — fruitier and less dark. Here, though, the two grapes reinforce the Caposaldo Chianti’s Italianness. This makes it perfect for any food that has pork, tomato sauce, beef, noodles, cheese, or any combination thereof.

Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2016 $10 Hall of Fame — another example of what a winemaker who wants to offer the best value can do when value and quality are what matter most.

Wine of the week: Cusumano Insolia 2012

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Cusumano InsoliaThe Wine Curmudgeon, for all the chips on his shoulder, is always wiling to admit when he’s wrong. Hence another mea culpa for Cusumano, the Sicilian producer whose qualities I have doubted, and this time for its Inosolia white wine.

The Cusumano Insolia ($11, purchased, 12.5%) is made with the insolia grape, native to Sicily and mostly used to make marsala until the Sicilian wine revolution of the past decade. This is an unusual white grape, even for Sicily, and I’m not sure there’s a white quite like it anywhere else in the world — almost tannic, but also softer than chardonnay and crisper than viognier.

This vintage, which is apparently current despite its age, isn’t as long in the finish as when it was younger, but it still shows why Cusumano is one of the best producers on the island. Look for the qualities that make me so excited about Sicilian white wine — melon fruit, white pepper, an herbal aroma, and all in balance for a very fair price.

Drink this chilled, and pair it with grilled fish or chicken finished with olive oil and herbs. In this, one more reason why we don’t need to drink badly made chardonnay.

Mini-reviews 69: Marchesi di Barolo, Bibi Graetz, Clos du Val, Bolla

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wine mini-reviewsReviews of wines that don’t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the final Friday of each month.

Marchesi di Barolo Barbera Monferrato Maràia 2012 ($10, purchased, 13%): Very nice price for a barbera that is mostly fun to drink. Look for dark berry fruit in this Italian red, plus a little earthiness. But there’s just enough oak to get in the way, and there’s hole in the middle that the oak doesn’t cover up.

Bibi Graetz Casamatta NV ($13, purchased, 12.5%):  Nothing really wrong with this Italian red, made with the solera method, in which grapes of different vintages are blended. Simple and well-made, with cherry fruit and some acid, but it needs more than just that at this price.

Clos du Val Pinot Noir Carneros 2010 ($32, sample, 13.5%): Nothing at all wrong with this California red wine. It’s almost polite — with proper weight, fruit, tannins, and alcohol. But I want more than polite for $32.

Bolla Soave Classico 2011 ($8, purchased, 12.5%): This Italian white, which is what we drank if we wanted Italian white wine in the 1970s and 1980s, was surprisingly Soave-like given its age. Thin, but varietally correct and still drinkable.

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