Wine Talk

Snooth User: JonDerry

Italian Wine Dinner

Posted by JonDerry, Apr 6, 2014.

Had some neighbors over Friday for an Italian themed potluck. Good thing I have neighbors who can cook and who appreciate my wine...makes for a nice group effort.

Not much time to go over everything in detail, but I continue to enjoy 2011 Barbera d'Alba, and also the 2011 Tommasi Soave that I picked up last minute was a real surprise. I'll be buying more of that if I can...the store I got it at doesn't show up on Wine-Searcher, which is nice. Finally, just an affirmation that a few years of bottle age really helps Chianti Classico, even in these modern times as a 2008 Fontodi Chianti Classico outshined the '10 Monsanto CC Riserva.




Reply by dvogler, Apr 6, 2014.

Yes Jon...patience is a virtue.  Even for lesser things than Amarone.  Speaking of which, it was conspicuously absent from your line-up!  That's a sin.

What did you have for dinner? :)

Reply by JonDerry, Apr 6, 2014.

Thanks DV,

Rest assured I'm one of the few who's experienced an Amarone dinner (do a quick search and you should find it here on the Snooth forum) but at least I was able to rep Veneto with a Soave which was excellent, and defied its sub $20 price level.

We had homeade pizza's which were superb, pork roast, a pasta dish, caprese, fresh bread and spreadable  ricotta cheese. 

Reply by GregT, Apr 6, 2014.

Jon - that Monsanto ages quite well - I've had them going back to the 80s and they do themselves proud.

Reply by JonDerry, Apr 7, 2014.

I'm definitely a believer in the power of Sangiovese...will be interesting to see how long this one will go. Should be able to go 15+ years. Will revisit in a couple.

Reply by EMark, Apr 7, 2014.

I have also been on the Monsanto CC bandwagon, but a few weeks ago I opened the '10 and it did not meet the expectations that I had based on some previous vintages that I had tasted in previous years.  Maybe I just need to be a bit patient.

BTW, Jon, it sounds like your dinner was a lot of fun.

FWIW, I picked up a couple bottles of a low-dollar Sangio called Casamatta at Costco the other day.  It appears that the maker is Bibi Graetz.  $7.97 and WS gives it a 90.  My guess is that I should not have to let this one rest particularly long.

This is an edit 20 minutes later.  I just saw an advertisement for the '10 Monsanto.  As is not unusual, the advertisement points to several reviews of the wine rating it 92, 92 and 91.  

Shows what I know.



Reply by EMark, Apr 8, 2014.

I went back to Costco, today.  The Casamatta is sold out.  :-(

Reply by William Djubin, Apr 8, 2014.

Most, if not all Monsanto Chianti Riserva is 90++% Sangiovese. Full-throttle and cellars properly if bought by a vendor or importer or at Monsanto.

I was fortunate to have 5 vintages in 4 years as a Wine Consultant.-- the 1975 "Il Poggio" is still being poured at Castello Monsanto for friends and fans.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Apr 9, 2014.

I'm a fan of the Monsanto CCR as well--been drinking the '08 and '09.  I purchased a bunch of '10 and I think the consensus is that it needs more time than the others.  I've also got a magnum of the '08 that I will be leaving alone for a long while.  For under $20, it's a steal IMO.  If you look around, you can find some of the older ones still kicking around, I think.  But I'm willing to wait out the '10s.  I wonder how long they can produce wine at that QPR, especially as it seems to be growing in popularity.

 DVogler, I think it's difficult to say any one wine is conspicuously absent in a one-meal Italian adventure.  What about Lagrein? Dolcetto? Nebbiolo? Even little Schiava?  That's the thing about Italy:  We know Chianti and other sangio wines, barbera and some others, but there's so many amazing varieties.  As the winemaking and viticulture improve, some of the less heralded grapes will start expressing themselves even better.  Gaglioppo, frappato, you could go on with grapes that might be the next hot thing.  It's why, if I could only drink wine from one country, I'd go with Italy. 

Reply by JonDerry, Apr 9, 2014.

I definitely meant to include Nebbiolo Fox...the only thing I had lying around was a 1999 Aldo Conterno Bussia, so I decided to hold on to that for another day. Also snuck in an Anna Maria 2012 Dolcetto a couple weeks ago that I liked, but that '11 must have been the best of the last few vintages even though I skipped it (have had the '10 and '12).

2011 is looking to be something special in Piedmont and Tuscany for that matter. With all the hype in '10, I'm not sure I'm not more excited about '11



Reply by Richard Foxall, Apr 10, 2014.

JD, I'm going to keep my eye out for AMA's Maioli bottling from 2011, although I am not sure she made one.  It's a couple bucks more expensive but still right around $20.  Solano Cellars also still has her 2011.  I think the cat's out of the bag on that one and the wine will get increasingly hard to find--she's a tiny producer making what I now think is the best dolcetto (better than Chionetti, where the older generation is no longer pushing the quality forward, although that's still terrific wine) and getting well known outside Piedmont.  I'm grateful to la donna at Cambusa wine shop in Stresa for introducing me to it, but now I'm kind of paying the price!

Come to think of it, I might have to make a stop in Stresa on my way back from the Langhe. One night, pizza at Papagallo, ship some wine home...

Reply by JonDerry, Apr 10, 2014.

Another Dolcetto I'd like to experiment with is Elio Grasso's, and really any good Piedmont producer who makes one.

I'm doing the same with Barbera. So far Marcarini is the QPR super star, but Giacomo Conterno makes big and structured Barbera worthy of aging, but also at a much higher price. Bartolo Mascarello's was a hedonistic delight, but also higher priced - around $40

Reply by EMark, Apr 14, 2014.

Attention O.C. shoppers.  I found the Casamatto at Wine Club in Santa Ana--$8.99.  Not as cheap as Costco, but, c'mon, this is really an amazing wine.  I opened one of my Costco bottles, the other day, and I was extremely pleased.  I would compare this one favorably with any Chianti at 4-5 times the price.  There was still some left at Wine Club after my visit.

Reply by jackwerickson, Apr 18, 2014.

As much as I have tried to study and taste wine I have a question that none of the wine stores I shop at seem to be able to answer. I believe that Amarone is a semi manufactured wine therefore is the vintage as important as say for a Bourdeaux ? I drink a lot of Italian wines my favorites being Brunellos and Barolos.i do have a couple of bottles of Amarone but have always wondered about the importance of the vintage. It seems that it would be important but not as much as for other wines

Reply by JonDerry, Apr 18, 2014.

I've found the vintages similarly important, but that's indeed a good question.

2002 and 2006 Ive had good experience with.

Reply by dvogler, Apr 18, 2014.

Hi Jack (oh no, now I'm on the No-Fly list),

Jon is correct.  The vintage is important.  I made the mistake of buying a 1998 Bertani and held it for several years, and the vintage info implied that it wasn't excellent.  I opened it at Christmas (recently) and it was merely okay.  I have a 2000 Bertani that should be better.  2004 was a good year too.  Now they're saying 2008 and 2010 as well, but of course that means stashing them away.  It seems the even years (in the 2000's are good.  I had some from Trader Joe's that was $20 and 2006 (Conti di Bregonza) it was actually pretty darn good.  Have you read Greg's Barolo article?

Reply by Richard Foxall, Apr 19, 2014.

JD: Had to revisit this thread because yesterday at the end of work hours I held a very informal tasting for my coworkers who have heard me talking on and on about my upcoming trip to Piemonte.  So our theme was Piedmontese wines of course.  Since these are not regular wine drinkers, but of course they are familiar with Moscato, we started with that.  I found one at WIneMine that was not bad at all--sweet, but not syrupy, pretty amazingly fresh and about 14 a bottle, if I recall.  I really wanted to then do a round of Arneis, but couldn't locate any on short notice.  (TraderJoe's only Italian white seems to be Pinot Grigio, and WineMine was really low on Italian whites--no Arneis at all.) so we moved right along to Barbera.  I bought one from TJ's just to show the crowd that you could find these wines and for cheap, but I also had a 2011 Pico Maccario Lavignone Barb d'Asti and it absolutely rocked.  JD, I get you now on the 2011 Barberas.  This was really plush and velvety, with dark cherry, tobacco, and some lightly spicy notes, like a mellow cinnamon or a hint of clove, with balancing acid.  Really good.  When I looked at the label, I thought maybe it was the same wine you'd been raving about, but perhaps it's just a banner year for Barbera.  I went back to WineMine and picked up 4 more, one for my boss and the rest will be daily drinkers.  $11.50 a bottle--how about that QPR?

We finished with a 2010 Barbaresco--I wasn't really going to haul out an Aldo Conterno from 2000 for these purposes, just wanted to give them an idea of the grape and style.  It was decent--helped that I decanted it.

We ate Tuscan cheese because good luck getting Piemontese cheese around here, and salami and bresaola. Lots of fun introducing these guys to something that isn't TwoBuck or Kendall Jackson.

Reply by JonDerry, Apr 20, 2014.

Sounds like fun Fox...too bad about the Barbaresco (maybe a little Nebbiolo Perbacco would've done the trick), but glad to hear we can now trade stories about'11 Barbera. I added a half dozen more myself to try recently, including 4 Marcarini's (which are hard to find), a Clerico and an Elio Grasso. Actually they were all hard to find as I had to source from Saratoga in New York. Really want a try of that Conterno Cascina Francia, too. Fun, cost effective experimenting.

Reply by EMark, Apr 20, 2014.

So, Fox, are you going to update your LinkedIn profile to reflect your missionary work, converting nonbelievers to wine enlightenment?  ;-)

Keep up the good work.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Apr 21, 2014.

JD (or should I use your real iniitials?), you know me too well.  Funny thing is I had a 2010 Vietti Perbacco as the back up bottle! The TJ's wasn't at all bad on either score, but both the Barbaresco and the Barbera kind of missed the point.  Which brings me to Emark's question:  No, I'm not changing any of those social media labels.  I compartmentalize--or I would go crazy.  Maybe when y'all invest in my next venture and I leave this vocation behind I'll change things.  But my willingness to bargain hunt, make things accessible, and generally treat wine as the daily, low-priced trip-to-somewhere-else that it ought to be is just part of what I do.

Speaking of that next step, time to book my flight to Milan...

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