Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Cheap, everyday Italian wine

Asked recently about the development of Marco Maci's IGT Salento "Luce Barocca" from the 2007 vintage, I realised I hadn't tasted this wine recently although I have had both the "Fra Diavolo" 2004 (Primitivo) and the Copertino "Duca d'Antene" 2001 (Negroamaro) from this estate in recent weeks and was impressed by both. The Fra is getting more interesting every time I taste it with its sweet, brambly fruit and underlying tar. The Duca is one of the best straight Negroamaros I have had at this price point, very stylish, sweet and sour and no hard edges at all.

So, what about the Barocca? The issue raised concerned a slight spritz in the glass when it was first released. Maybe, but (a) that is a sign of low sulphur use (unless, of course, the wine is refermenting which certainly is not the case here) and (b) that was two years ago so, surely, it has gone by now? The only way to answer the question is to crack open a bottle, of course.

Well, no complaints here. For a sub-£6 bottle of southern Italian magic, this is really very good. Remarkably fresh for such an inexpensive wine - really, I could see myself enjoying this in another five years, maybe more. The tell-tale fruit of the Negroamaro/Malvasia blend presents itself extremely well but, as always, it is the depth of the wine that never ceases to amaze me. At this price, most French wines would be too thin, Spanish wines too clumsy, Australian wines too blowsy and Chilean wines just plain nasty (I have been tasting a lot of cheaper wines recently!) but this pitches itself perfectly for a simple pizza or pasta dish.

Now to try the Rioja again...

Friday, 8 October 2010

Oz Clarke's 250 Best Wines, 2011 edition

Four in this year! Oz clearly has good taste (especially bearing in mind the majority of the 250 is reserved for wines available from supermarkets and multiples). Two in the top 100 and two in the specialist sections.

At Number 9 in Oz's Top 100 is Miguel Angel Muro's 2004 Rioja 'Amenital'. He writes "2004 is a classic vintage for Rioja: dark, ripe, rather closed in, promising long life. Well, this is dark but it isn't brooding and introspective. The fruit's darkness is the darkness of real ripeness, so ripe that a heady plum blossom scent shimmers on the surface of the wine. It does have some tannic toughness but not nearly enough to interfere with the pleasure and it's the fruit acidity that provides the backbone to the wine. You don't usually get that tingling acidity in modern Rioja but here they've used 20% of the Graciano grape in the blend (along with the traditional Tempranillo) to provide vivacity and verve. The acidity keeps the wine fresh while the waxy texture and mellow vanilla warmth wrap around the fruit and ooze over your palate".

Domaine des Anges' 2007 Côtes du Ventoux Rouge is at Number 90 on the list, "ripe and full but seductively scented with cool orchard air and the dark red fruit of cherries and strawberries flows effortlessly through the local landscape of rocks and herbs". At £7.65 it is listed as one of the very cheapest wines in the Top 100 but in fact we have been able to drop the price to £7.35 thanks to the improved exchange rate.

Jonathan Maltus' 2008 Bordeaux Blanc 'Pezat' also makes an appearance in the Keeping It Light section.

Finally, the superb 2007 Gaillac Doux 'Renaissance' from Domaine Rotier is "rich and fat, not hysterically sweet but waxy and dripping with quince, fresh figs and honey, with a funky mix of melon, pineapple chunks and marrow jam unexpectedly appearing on your tongue just before the wine drifts off into a delightful aftertaste of strawberry and honey".