Yes, I love Italian wines. Chianti, Barolo, Brunello de Montalcino, Super-Tuscans, there is greatness in Italy. But to be perfectly honest, I never considered Italy as one of my go-to countries to find value wines… But maybe I need to reconsider that premise!
Once more the Italian wine was the favourite of the night. I had the privilege to direct our last five Tight Wad Oenophile tastings at KWM, and four times out of five, the Italian wine was the winner, often time by a large majority of votes. Umberto Cesari Moma Rosso , Cinghiale Governo , Fattori Gregoris Soave , and in our latest edition Giusti Merlot . The great thing is that this actually makes sense! These wines are all incredible and over deliver for the money, which is what our Tight Wad classes are all about. Italy may be famous for many very expensive wines but it is good to see that there are more and more outstanding values to be found. From many of Italy’s wine regions this can be seen – from the warmer South to dynamic regions like Veneto.
Maybe our next edition of Tight Wad Oenophile will be 100% Italy! Make sure to sign up to receive our electronic Wineline on our website and stay posted for the release of the winter tasting schedule and in the meantime, visit us at the store and ask one of us to recommend a few Italian gems from our selection.
The wines from our tasting:
NV Pares Balta Cava Brut $19.99
Parellada, Macabeo, Xarel-lo
Cava DOC, Penedes, Spain
A delicious sparkling wine, aka Cava, from Spain! Penedes is Spain’s Champagne region, a wine-growing region located in the northeast, close to Barcelona. The specialty here is sparkling wines. Pares Balta is a family-run business with more than 70 years in the industry. They are dedicated to quality and sustainable farming. Throughout the winter months, flocks of sheep graze the vineyards, naturally fertilizing the earth and eliminating any need for artificial fertilizers. It’s a lovely bubbly with aromas of fresh green apple and pear and a soft, moderate carbonation. Perfect Sunday morning brunch sparkling wine!
2014, Compañia Vinicola del Norte de España (CVNE) Monopole $18.99
Rioja DOCa, Spain
CVNE remains one of Spain’s best-kept secrets. It was one of the first established bodegas in Rioja and has cultivated a long-standing reputation for quality. The Monopole Blanco is the oldest white wine brand of Spain (produced since 1915) and is made from handpicked Viura grapes. 100% stainless steel fermented, so no oak, the result is a very fresh and flowery wine, with tropical fruits and a moderate acidity. One of our all-time best buys.
2015, Bodega Amalaya Blanco Altura Torrontes $17.49
85% Torrontés, 15% Riesling
Valle Calchaquí, Argentina
This Torrontes-Riesling blend comes from extremely high vineyards (1800 metres above sea level), which benefit from brilliant sunshine during the day, but cool nights that slow the ripening so that the grapes retain their crisp acidity while having time to develop flavour. Rose petal, apricot and peach and ripe grapefruit notes lead into a well-balanced taste of minerals laced with a touch of honey. Best pairing partners: seafood and spicy Asian dishes. 95 Points World Wine Award by Decanter Magazine!
2011, Beckmen Vineyards, Le Bec Blanc $25.99
42% Marsanne, 33% Roussanne, 19% Grenache Blanc, 6% Viognier
Santa Ynez Valley, California, US
After years as leaders and pioneers in the electronic music business, Tom and Judy Beckmen, joined by their youngest son Steve, set out to make wines as well-crafted and distinctive as the keyboards and synthesizers that built their successful careers as founders of Roland Corp. 100% Estate grown, this wine is a Southern Rhône-style blend of Marsanne, Roussanne, Grenache Blanc and Viognier that was aged 11 months in one- to seven-year-old French oak barrels. It is like a liquid version of orchard fruit, offering up ripe peach, apricot, and ripe Bosc pear, with a hint of dried pineapple, flower oil and honeysuckle on the finish. Rich, full-flavoured wine that stays lively and clean on the palate. A great example of what the new wave of winemakers from southern California can accomplish!
2013, Nobles Vines 667 Pinot Noir $21.99
100% Pinot Noir
Monterey, California, US
Those of us who love pinot noir are raving about its red-berry aroma, soft velvety texture and rich chocolatey depths, but also tend to moan a lot about its high price. Fine-quality pinot, especially from its spiritual home, Burgundy, can be expensive while and cheap, decent versions are hard to find. This pinot is a great example of a cooler-climate region in a warmer country, at a terrific price. Vine selection 667 is one of the “Dijon clones” of pinot noir vine that have recently come to California from the Cote d’Or in Burgundy, France. This vine stock forms tight compact clusters that generate deeper color and more layers of tannin than other Pinot Noirs previously grown in California. One of my go-to California wines in the shop!
2014, Rémy Ferbras Ventoux Terre de Mistral $16.99
Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Cinsault
Ventoux AOC, Southern Rhône, France
Great introduction to the wines of the Southern Rhône area. Côtes du Rhône is synonymous with great value red wines, known for their rich and fruity appeal, and the Rémy Ferbras might be amongst the best examples! Aromatic and complex, with bright red fruits, star anis, and an irresistible garrigue character. Full and harmonious palate, with a nice tannic structure and flavors of cherry and blackcurrant.
2015, Giusti Merlot $19.99
Veneto IGT, Italy
With a nobility title going back to the 1600, Ermenegildo Giusti, Noble of Conegliano (actual area of production of the highest quality Prosecco: Conegliano Valdobbiadene), revived in 2004 an old family tradition and restored from the ashes of time his cultural heritage. His journey started with the purchase of two-hectare property where Giusti Wine was to be established. This interesting wine is the perfect example of the new generation of producers that dare to explore the international varietals in places typically ruled by tradition. Smooth, silky mouthfeel, with very vibrant red fruit on the nose, cocoa powder and dried herbs finish.
2014, Verum Malbec $19.99
Alto Valle Del Rio Negro, Patagonia, Argentina
A very interesting Malbec wine at a price that can’t be beat, from the country that excels at making this grape varietal. Verum is a shining example of the awesome winemaking potential in Patagonia. An inky-dark red colour, it has notes of cherry, blackberry, violet candy and spice, with a very dry finish. Verum wines come from a small, family-owned boutique winery in Patagonia, Argentina’s southernmost tip. Unique!
#1 Giusti Merlot from Veneto, Italy
#2 Bodega Amalaya Torrontes-Riesling, Argentina
Interesting fact: The results were far from being unanimous and all the wines received between 2 to 6 votes each, which is very unusual! My personal opinion is that the wines were all showing very well and deserved a place in our top 2. I think that overall, our guests had a hard time selecting their two favourites. Many styles, many countries, but all great quality, value-oriented wines! Don’t hesitate to pick up some of them (or all of them!) for the cold months to come.
Thank you for reading,