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Kellerei Cantina Terlano Südtirol

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In my humble wine opinion, the country of Italy is the hardest wine country in the world to understand. There exist so many different wines, foods, regions, cultures and grapes including many unheard of indigenous grapes that are coming back into the wine scene both locally and internationally. An example of this is Südtirol, located in Italy’s northernmost province. It is a place on the map where Alpine peaks mesh with Mediterranean scenery, the German with the Italian language are spoken and centuries-old traditions still remain intact. It is a true melting pot to say the least where it is not uncommon to find someone called Hans Casiraghi.

Terlano is a wine-growing village located halfway between South Tyrol’s main towns of Merano and Bolzano where the Adige flows through a wide valley in a south easterly direction. The village and vineyards lie against the rock of Monte Tschöggl on the left side of the valley. Because of its climate and geology, the area around Terlano has qualified for a DOC designation of origin (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) the second highest Italian wine classification. It is the equivalent of the French AOC… In addition to “Alto Adige” as the geographic designation of origin for South Tyrol, the wines are additionally labeled “Terlano” in recognition of the special character of the immediate land and surroundings. The term “classico” is used for those grape varieties that typically grow in the traditional wine-growing area between Andriano, Nalles and Terlano.

Founded in 1893, the Cantina Terlano winery is now one of the leading wine growers’ cooperatives in South Tyrol, with a current total area of 165 hectares, that produce some 1.2 million bottles of wine a year.The vineyards at Kellerei cantina face south in order to receive full days of east-west sun exposure. Their vines are planted at altitudes of 820 feet and 2,953 feet. At the lower altitudes, red grapes such as Cab. Sauv. and Pinot noir are grown to attain a result of riper fruit. At their higher altitude vineyards, whites such as Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay are grown in order to produce grapes with fresh acidity. Here, the soil composition is of a sandy, stony limestone, just what vines like in order to keep themselves always working for their water intake.

On the tasting table today are two of Cantina Terlanos’ lovely wines. The first wine I tasted is the 2012 Terlaner Classico composed of Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. This wine is of a vivid star bright color with a light green rim variation showing signs of a young wine and medium legs (not too much alcohol). On the nose, there are lovely notes of limestone, citrus flower, lime, grapefruit and a slight thyme herbal note. The palate is of limestone, grapefruit and unripe peach. This is a very elegant, well balanced, easy drinking wine with a nice dry finish and medium acidity. With 13.5 % alcohol, a wine to definitely keep at home. Pairs really well with a grilled white fish topped with herbed compound butter… This wine shows no signs of oak on the palate, the nose or in the color. Pure stainless Inox steel.

The second wine I tasted is the 2012 Sauvignon Blanc Winkl. The color is of a star bright as well with a light green rim. On the nose, there are notes of green bell pepper, pineapple, green mango, passion fruit, limestone and a herbal component much like cut green grass. The palate gives flavors of green mango, green bell pepper, pineapple, tropical banana and a sage herbal note.

As well, this is a very balanced wine with no components out of proportion. The Sauv. Blanc. Winkl is a fresh, medium acidity, easy drinking wine with again, no signs of oak aging and 13.5 % alcohol. For a food pairing suggestion, try a grilled red snapper with tropical fruit salsa wrapped in the traditional French en papillote method… These are two exceptional wines made in an elegant manner from an amazing Northern Italian winery. In the USA, find the wines at http://www.wine-searcher.com. Cin cin and enjoy!

Blue Fish Estate Bottled Riesling 2010 Vintage

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How many of you remember the days when drinking German Riesling meant buying a bottle of the heavilly chaptalized sweet “Blue Nun”? Those days are officially over and German Riesling is now known by many critics as the world’s finest white wine grape variety.

The Niederkirchener Winery is a winery of large scale production. It is located in the wine district of the Pfalz and is the largest and most respected winery in the region. The Niederkirchen Vineyards are located close to the Rhine River but a bit southerly where temps. are slightly warmer. As you can see on the map above, the Pfalz Region is near the German border with Alsace, France.

I’m more into supporting boutique, small production wineries. Although, when the quality still is noticeable in a large production wine, why not drink it! Actually, Blue Fish won two gold medals at the San Francisco International Wine Competition in 2006 as well as achieving top rankings at the Cincinatti Wine Festival at the International Wine Challenge and at Mundus Vini. Blue Fish, which started importing into the United States in 2005, is now on the top 100 list of imported brands in the U.S.A. Pretty impressive I would say…

The 2010 Blue Fish dry Riesling is a clear wine with no sediment and a beautiful Golden color.
On the nose, this is a clean, unfaulty wine with medium intensity. The bouquet gives off elegant hints of ripe peaches, lemons, lychee fruit, butterscotch, petroleum and a chalky minerality.

On the palate the Blue Fish Riesling is a wine with a light mouthfeel and polished acidity. Tannins are at a very low level being that Riesling is a white, light skinned grape. This wine is very fresh and crisp with Apricot, lemon, peaches, slight hint of chalk and orange blossom. The finish is of a medium length.

Overall, I found the 2010 Blue Fish Riesling to be a very well balanced, elegant wine for the price. I would definitely keep a few bottles around for the summer to pair with spicy Thai, spicy Southeast Asian cuisine or Peruvian Seafood Ceviche and Rocoto pepper. With an alcohol level of only 12.5% this is an easy drinking enjoyable wine. Find this wine online for roughly $7.99-$10.00. A great summer wine. Serve chilled and enjoy! And yes, we are screwcap friendly at Cantinetta Vintners…

2011 Tenuta Cavalier Pepe Nestor Greco di Tufo DOCG

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Yesterday, I took an amazing master class hosted by Giovanni Ponchia at Vinitaly on Italy’s volcanic wines. Although I had already experienced the pleasure of drinking a volcanic wine from Italy, it was an incredible learning experience and one which I will go more into detail about in a later post… Did you know that Italy is the region with the most volcanic terroir in the world and that Mount Aetna is the highest volcano in Europe? It is the potassium in volcanic terroirs that give these wines their bitter qualities.

The volcanic wine (out of many different types existing in Italy) I will be talking about is the Greco di Tufo. The tufo wines come from the south of Italy from the Campania region where Mount Vesuvius is located. Tufo (in the province of Avellina) is the actual town in Campania where these Tufo or “Tuff stone” wines come from. Greco Bianco refers to the grape varietal used to make these wines. Next time when in Italy pay attention to the black stone used in their railway system. This is a very dark, black, volcanic stone.

The Greco Bianco grape is not indigenous to Italy and was believed to have been brought over by the Pelasgians, an ancient Greek civilization (hence the name). The vines from which Greco di Tufo wines are made are cultivated at an altitude of 1310-1640 feet above sea level. These cool, high altitude weather patterns and temperatures provide the grapes an excellent growing condition without overheating them. Cool nights and warm days provide these wines an optimal balance of acidity and fruit-forward qualities.

On the tasting table today, is the 2011 Tenuta Cavalier Pepe Nestor Greco di Tufo DOCG. (Wow! long name). This wine’s appearance is bright, clear, and hence no visible sediment. On an intensity level, I found the Nestor Greco to be a medium with a beautiful, lustrous straw color. The legs are medium plus giving visible signs of a good quality wine.

Moving on to the nose, I sense a sound and clean wine with no off aromas of corkiness etc. The intensity is a medium with a very youthful bouquet. The fruit notes are of lime, unripe grapefruit, unripe peaches, pear and honeydew melon. For earthy notes, it is hard to detect an actual sensory note other than dry stone being that Tufo is of volcanic terroir. I did not detect any signs of wood barrique instead I got orange blossom flowers, almonds, and a slight hint of creamy butter.

On the palate, the sweetness level was off dry with a light bodied mouthfeel. I can confirm the sensory notes of the nose on the fruit aspect of the Greco but the pear and honeydew melon were at a lower intensity. For the earthy notes I still only sensed dry stone with no forest flavors at all and again no wood aging. Since white wine is left in contact with the grape skins for a shorter amount of time, I found the tannins in this Greco’s to be medium low. Also the alcohol level is quite low with only a 13 percent and this is probably due to the cool nights in the region. The acidity level is medium and the complexity is a medium minus with a medium minus length in the finish. Overall, a young, racy, fresh wine meant to be drank today with a great seafood dish. For an average retail price of $11.00, I highly recommend this exotic, Italian volcanic wine!