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Recent Italian Wines


Most of my posts recently have focused on the “table,” so here are a few Italian wines that have recently been in my glass.

Maculan’s Fratta is a Cabernet Sauvignon (65-70%) and Merlot (30-35%) blend from the Veneto aged for a year in new, French barriques. Vintage over vintage, it’s a consistent, tasty wine.

  • 2004 Maculan Fratta – Italy, Veneto (7/10/2009)
    Dark, opaque ruby/purple colour. Pretty, sweet nose of vanilla, blackberry, frutto di bosco, dark chocolate, coffee, and hints of mint, dill, and licorice. Full-bodied, rich, but well balanced with replays from the nose. Good acidity. Moderate-long finish, ~40s, with plum liqueur, blackberry, and vanilla notes. Continued to improve with air. Delicious! (92 pts.)

Giovanni Manzone in Monforte d’Alba has been producing Barolo since the 1920s. Solid reviews from critics in recent vintages have made their wines more sought after, but the quality was there long before. The nice thing is that the wines from Manzone continue to be quite reasonably priced even though Wine Spectator and The Wine Advocate have been very complimentary.

  • 1999 Giovanni Manzone Barolo Le Gramolere – Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo (7/11/2009)
    Ruddy burgundy colour. Cool/menthol nose with leather, earth/mushrooms, orange peel. Medium-full bodied, with replays from nose. Lovely length. Drinking fine right now. Consume over the next 3-5 years. (91 pts.)

Marchesi di Barolo is a very old produced located directly in the town of Barolo. While the Barolo and Barbaresco produced rarely reaches profound heights, they are usually quite well made. My preference is for the Riserva Grande Annata label only produced in exceptional vintages for Barolo. I find quality and finesse of these wines to be much higher than their single-vineyard offerings in Cannubi and Sarmassa as the blended wine can take advantage of each vineyard’s strength, allowing for the sum to be better than the parts. Think of it like a symphony in a bottle.

The Vigne di Proprieta label from Marchesi di Barolo is made exclusively from estate-owned vineyards (other labels also use purchased grapes) in the commune of Barolo, including Cannubi and Sarmassa, among others. Part of the wine is aged in large Slavonian and French oak botti (large casks) for two years, with the remainder in small, French barriques for a year. The wine is blended before bottling and then aged further in bottle before release.

  • 1997 Marchesi di Barolo Barolo Vigne di Proprietà – Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo (7/11/2009)
    Medium-dark garnet colour; a little ruddy. Aromas of prune, violets, spice, dried cherries, and hints of wild strawberries and leather. Medium-bodied, good grip, with spice, plum/prune, leather, licorice/anise on the palate. Moderate-long finish, ~35-40s, with violet, spice, and leather. (91 pts.)
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