Wine Review: Modern Italian Traditionalists

11 10 2017

[These bottles were provided as samples for review purposes.]

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Reunited with Italy.

I don’t know why, but before yesterday I hadn’t had a bottle of Italian wine for a long, long time.  I’m not a hater or a New World purist; I have a bunch of Italy in my cellar and rank certain Italian bottles and regions among my favourites in the world.  I’ve just been through a phase where nothing has drawn me to that corner of my wine racks in a number of months…there has always been something more enticing to my senses that has kept the country in the press box.  Well, no more:  in order to restore equilibrium to my wine world and reacquaint myself with one of the two traditional cornerstone nations of viniculture, I cracked a pair of Italian bottles last night and reminded myself of why Italy is viewed so loftily by grape lovers everywhere.

On the surface, the two bottles seemed to have very little in common:  one was playful pink bubbles, while the other was a legacy Chianti crafted to centuries-old founder’s standards.  But both in their own way were asserting their place in the often-calcified lore of Italian wine history.  The pink bubbles hailed from the province of Treviso in northeastern Italy, just north of Venice, the world home of Prosecco; but it couldn’t be called Prosecco by virtue of its hue and its choice to forego the region’s Glera grape (which was previously also called “Prosecco” in an attempt to be as confusing as possible), which took the wine out of the threshold criteria of the Prosecco classification. Even though it was produced by a generations-old Prosecco house, it wasn’t Prosecco, and it was OK with that, ambling on its merry mission to bring joy to those who opened it.  The Chianti was a modern take on a wine made to the recipe of a 19th century legendary figure, the one who first set down what it legally meant for a wine to be a Chianti.  While the first bottle gleefully acknowledged its place on the parallel track from history, the second not only embraced its history but walked in its footsteps.  In their own way, I admire each for their paths taken. Read the rest of this entry »

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Wine Review: 2009 Il Palagio Casino delle Vie

14 11 2012

[This bottle was provided as a sample for review purposes.]

This is a pic of a real acrobat doing a real balance pose, albeit probably not on a bottle of wine.

Many celebrities have wine ventures.  For the most part, they are side hobbies at best and branding exercises at worst, usually making it hard to see what the famous name on the label has added to the wine inside.  Not so with Sting and the lineup of wines coming out of his old-made-new estate in Tuscany.  When he and his wife Trudie Styler first came across the historic Tuscan Il Palagio property in the late 1990s, it was dilapidated and poorly tended, in a vast state of disrepair.  After they purchased the estate and the 350 acres of land forming part of it, they spent an entire decade restoring the buildings and revitalizing the land, bringing on viticultural experts to convert the property to biodynamic growing methods (a pesticide- and herbicide-free holistic philosophy that focuses on ensuring the vine thrives in harmony with its surrounding environment and ties patterns of vine development to lunar phases, among other things) and giving vineyards that had been producing wine grapes since the 16th century a new lease on life.  Instead of rushing the fruits of the estate to market to capitalize on a well-known name and get cash flowing, Sting and Trudie waited until they and their team believed the land was sufficiently rehabilitated and the products of a high enough quality; 13 years after they first came across the property, they are releasing only their second vintage of wines.  In addition to a trio of vinous bottlings, Il Palagio is also the source of many other biodynamically-grown agricultural products, including fresh-made honey and cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil (I’ve been lucky enough to try the oil, and though I’m far from an EVOO expert, my layman’s opinion is that it was unbelievable).  The amount of time, effort and money that has gone into building Il Palagio back up is clear proof that this is a serious pursuit for Sting, one intended to create a lasting legacy.  I will refrain from making a “Message In A Bottle” joke here, but this is no mere vanity project. Read the rest of this entry »





100th Post Special Wine Review: 2006 Pieve Santa Restituta Brunello di Montalcino

14 09 2011

The name at the bottom of the label says it all: Gaja.

Back!

After a stellar trip to British Columbia that included visits to some excellent Okanagan wineries whose wares will be featured here soon, I am again at my computer in Calgary ready to bring PnP out of its brief hiatus.  A HUGE thank you to everyone who made sure this site didn’t lose any of its momentum while I was away — much to my surprise (and sincere gratitude), Pop & Pour actually set a record for daily views a few days after I left town!  Obviously I need to go on vacation more often.

The blog gets rebooted with a bang tonight, since my return post doubles as the 100th post I’ve written for PnP over the last six months.  The fact that I’ve found 100 occasions since the start of March where the baby was sleeping and the house was quiet and I was able to be at the computer for a consecutive hour is clearly cause for celebration, and your poll voting determined that PnP’s centennial would be feted by way of the 2006 Gaja Brunello, more formally known as the Brunello di Montalcino from Pieve Santa Restituta.  Even though I only got this wine three months ago, I’m very happy that it won the poll and that I get to open it, because it was my first ever Father’s Day present from my now-8-month-old son Felix (likely assisted in some substantial capacity by my lovely wife Heather).  Nothing like a proud milestone gift to celebrate a joyous event. Read the rest of this entry »





Wine Review: 2008 Rocca Delle Macie Confini Chianti DOCG

20 06 2011

Before I get into tonight’s wine, if you read my review of the 2007 Amavi Cellars Syrah from Friday, you’ll know that I was musing about why the 2005 Amavi Syrah tasted so different from the 2007 when so many of the variables going into it were the same, and I vowed to take to Twitter to get some answers right from the source.  Lo and behold, the Information Age is a wonderful place to be, and the good people at Amavi have posted a tremendous and thorough response to my Syrah-related queries in the comments section of the review.  So to recap, I had a bottle of wine in Calgary and then posted a blog article and a Twitter question, and then someone in Washington State who I’ve never met went and personally asked the head winemaker at Amavi Cellars what the difference was between his 2005 and 2007 Syrahs!!  There is very little cooler than that.  Thanks Amavi!

Warning: drink with food or face the consequences.

I wish I could say that tonight’s bottle has spawned Amavi levels of inquisitiveness and interest, but not quite.  I’ll get to that in a moment.  Chianti is a well-known wine region located in Tuscany, in west-central Italy, that has seen its share of ups and downs in recent decades.  Once regarded as one of the cream of the crop of Italian vinicultural areas, it then became the victim of shoddy production and overplanting and lost its reputation for quality, which it is only now starting to regain.  The problem with Chianti is that a lot of it is still pretty bland, although some of the higher-end renditions from the Chianti Classico region (the historic heartland of Chianti, which forms a smaller sub-zone within the larger area of Chianti) definitely can make you stop and take notice.  The main thing you need to know about wines labelled as Chianti is that they will be predominantly made using the Sangiovese grape, a varietal that shows best in Tuscany and isn’t usually seen that much elsewhere (though it WAS in the 2009 Abbot’s Table from Washington State, if you’ll recall…I doubt you’ll recall). Read the rest of this entry »





Wine Review: 2009 Owen Roe Abbot’s Table

7 06 2011

Great label, insane blend, great wine.

From delicate Old World white to bold New World red in the span of a day!  This wine gives new meaning to the term “red blend”: it’s comprised of (wait for it) 25% Zinfandel, 20% Sangiovese, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 7% Blaufrankisch, 2% Cabernet Franc, 2% Malbec and 1% Merlot.  I feel like that should add up to 250%…I can buy into the use of the first 5 grapes, but I think the last 4 are just for showing off.  Unsurprisingly, this info is left off the label, as it must prove abjectly terrifying to most consumers (including me).  The precise blend for the Abbot’s Table changes every year, and with this many grapes involved, the focus of the producer must be to create a wine that’s of a similar style and flavour profile every year rather than one that’s reflective of one or two particular varietals.  And I have to say, even if it takes nine different grapes from disparate world wine regions to make it happen, the end result is quite worthwhile. Read the rest of this entry »





Roving Wine Review: 2007 Gaja Promis @ Alloy

22 03 2011

If you haven't been to Alloy, go. Now.

I had an Important Business Dinner last night that took me to Alloy restaurant just off Macleod Trail on 42nd Ave. S.E…. my favourite restaurant in the city, and as it turns out, even better on somebody else’s tab.  There was remarkable food (I had a short rib appetizer with a roasted pepper and fenugreek chutney that should be illegal) and witty conversation, but most importantly, there was wine.  I was lazy and didn’t take contemporaneous notes, but this is the second time I’ve had the bottle we ordered, and it left enough of an impression that this review should still be fairly accurate.

The wine in question was the 2007 “Promis” from Gaja, made from grapes grown in the Ca’Marcanda vineyard in Tuscany.  Both the producer and the style of wine are rife with history. Read the rest of this entry »