Fans of Italian wine are having a good season. As well as a generic tasting this autumn, two prominent producers visited Dublin recently.
First up was Alberto Zenato of the famed Valpolicella estate and I can report that things are bang on form there again (following an underwhelming performance in years gone by). The 2007 vintage is described by Zenato as warm and advanced, and the Soave is quite robust with some tropical notes; although at a refreshing 12.5% alcohol, it’s a perfect aperitif or starter wine. Worked well with mozzarella and tomato.
Zenato’s Lugana 2008, based on trebbiano, is better than the previous vintage’s Soave, reflecting the long maturation to give well defined citrus fruits and very good length. The Valpolicella Superiore 2007 shows its warm vintage in some soft spicy notes but is well balanced by crunchy red fruit and cherry and berry flavours.
The quality of Ripasso 2006 is, according to Zenato, due to improvements in ripasso making introduced by his father; lovely colour and spicy cherry flavours make this a great wine for red meats. Finally, we sampled Amarone 2005, with its rich fruitiness and alcohol of 16.5%. Amarone should be thought of as an after dinner wine, although I’ve seen Italians crack it open to go with rabbit casserole!
No sooner had Zenato departed than Emanuela Stucchi, from Badia a Coltibuono, came to town. Her tasting focused on the historic past of Italy’s Chianti Classico region and took the form of a vertical tasting of seven wines. First, 1965 had an oxidative nose and was certainly dry, but with enough gentle plum fruit to suggest that this had been a very good wine indeed and it still made for pleasant sampling.
1970 was a revelation. Some primary fruit could still be tasted and there were subtle leather and spice notes. A little dry at the end, but it still had noticeable plummy depths to the flavour, supporting tannins, and good length. 1981 had clearly always been softer than 1970; there were some soft plum fruits still hanging about but the structure had faded and the finish was dry.
1995 is drinking nicely now, with decent structure for its age, rich plum and cherry fruit, and good length. It may not improve but will hold well for some years to come. 2004 showed excellent sangiovese grape character, with dense cherry notes, while 2005 was just a little over spicy and, I think, won’t age as well as the previous vintage. 2006 is in evenly paced, classic style with fresh cherry and plum, lovely texture and alcohol balance, and noticeable length.
Current releases from Badia a Coltibuono are available from Tindal Wines (contact firstname.lastname@example.org). Prices for Zenato range from around €10 trade and several special offers have been available for retailers this year (contact email@example.com).