Wine Japan

The years of the grape – On wine

Tasted Wines (Italy)

16 June 2020
Decugnano dei Barbi Villa Barbi Orvieto Classico 2016 **** (2,300 yen, Jeroboam)
Blend of Grechetto (probably di Orvieto, 50%), Vermentino (20%), Sauvignon Blanc (20%) and Procanico (10%). Fantastic wine characterised by a great purity, intensity and persistance of flavors. Crispy but structured at the same time, it reminded me of an high level unoaked Chablis, power in elegance. The 2016 is starting to develop a bit of nuttiness and I would be very very curious to age this one in bottle a little more, I would really love to see where it heads. Extremely good price per value, highly recommended.

16 June 2020
Cave Cooperative de Donnas Valle d’Aosta Donnas 2016 ***** (3,264 yen, JET)
Mountain Nebbiolo, or should I say Picotendro? Well made from a reliable cooperative and showing the character of this grape. More delicate than Nebbiolos found further south and yet I feel that style is slowly moving towards what you find in the noble section of the Langhe. High tannins, high acid, it tastes more similar to a Barbaresco than a Valtellina. Complex and developing, long and capable of ageing, even though already enjoyable. Outstanding wine.

16 June 2020
L’Atoueyo Valle d’Aosta Petit Rouge 2018 **** (3,500 yen, JET)
Exuberant wine. Very direct, intense and provided with a nice acid structure. Tannins are on the lower end, but this is typical of Petit Rouge. The wine, coming from Aymavilles, in the central part of the Dora Baltea valley, reaches a surprising 14% alcohol. It is all about fruit, with violet and white pepper sticking out their heads, but without any oak influence. Very good, but I do not think that this is going to gain much complexity down the road. I would rather enjoy its fruitiness now.

16 June 2020
Ramoino Rossese di Dolceacqua DOC 2017 *** (3,900 yen, JET)
Some points made for the Ramoino Pigato apply here as well, with the difference that this wine has a firm structure and it has delicate, but well defined aromas. There is red fruit, but also rose, mint and a touch of blood orange.
Good for now, but this one I think it will age and the added savoriness will be capable of making it very good. The price sadly is pretty high, but more justified than the Pigato.

16 June 2020
Ramoino Pigato Riviera di Ponente DOC 2018 *** (3,700 yen, JET)
Not bad, but a bit too expensive. 1000 yen less would be better. I understand the hardships of growing vines on a steep terraces, but you must understand that in Japan at this price point you start finding some pretty nice whites. Moreover, with the new 10% consumption tax, this wine ends up in the 4,000 yen band, a big psychological jump.
The wine shows nice freshness and bready character from lees ageing. According to the tech sheet, bâtonnage is also carried out, but the yeasty aromas are not that strong. Less floral and herbal, more fruity than the Vermentinos I had so far.
Not simple, but not complex either, I cannot really imagine how this could age. High acidity, medium body and medium finish, combined with pleasant but straightforward aromatic character make this a good level wine, but not up to very good. Lower the price under 3,000 yen (tax included possibly) and we can start talking.

16 June 2020
Ermes Pavese Valle d’Aosta Blanc de Morgex et de La Salle DOC 2018 **** (4,000 yen, Wine Wave)
By far my favorite Blanc de Morgex et de La Salle and one of my all-time favorite Italian whites. This is a small “Viticulteur Encaveur” and the wines are not always easy to find in Japan, plus they are pricy, but quality is very high, a crystalline purity encased in a firm structure lending the wine capability to age. I would really like to hold this for 5 years and see what tertiary richness will develop. Very good.

17 July 2019
Punta Aquila Salento Primitivo IGT 2016 **** (2,300 yen, Three Bond)
Nice complexity combining very ripe (almost raisined) red fruit with some mediterranean underbrush, rosemary and thyme. The wine is aged in wood, but only for 4 months and they are 4,000L barrels, so do not expect it to be oaky. The herbal note is very engaging and balances also the palate, pretty rich and alcoholic (and also off-dry). Pleasant aftertaste, overall showing the Primitivo character.

17 July 2019
Di Camillo Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Riserva 2014 ***** (3,000 yen, Wine Wave)
A great Montepulciano d’Abruzzo showing lot of intensity and complexity (spice, black fruit, coffee, cacao). The palate is broad and characterised by very fine and pleasant tannins, concentrated and rich, but still balanced enough by the tannic and acid profile. Long and pleasant finish, still ageable. A shining example of well made Montepulciano and excellent for the price.

17 July 2019
Tre Monti Romagna DOCG Albana Secco Vigna Rocca 2018 **** (3,000 yen, Wine Wave)
So far the best example of a dry Romagna Albana DOCG that I ever had. Well defined aromas, nice profile of mint, herb, stone fruit and yellow fruit. The acidity is well balanced by the concentration of flavors, which also persist in the mouth after some time. Pleasant finish. Fruit-forward but characterful, showing the true potential of this variety.

9 July 2019
Bollini Pinot Grigio Trentino DOC 2017 *** (2,800 yen, Wine Wave)
This wine is good for a Pinot Grigio, as it shows some ripeness and concentration compared to your average Delle Venezie, but the price tag says 3,024 yen tax included dammit! You start getting some pretty good Alsatian Pinot Gris for that price!
Still a light body wine enriched by some aromatic intensity, characterised by green, citrus and fresh stone fruit, but overall disappointing for the price. 

9 July 2019
Pojer e Sandri Müller-Thurgau Palai Vigneti delle Dolomiti IGT 2017 **
(2,700 yen, Terravert)

Pojer e Sandri Nosiola Vigneti delle Dolomiti IGT 2017 **
(2,700 yen, Terravert)
I am reviewing these two wines together because why not? Acceptable wines, but personally a big disappointment: vague and faint varietal aromas, competently made, but nothing more. Lots of acidity and freshness, pretty sour, but really lacking the personality they would really need at this price point, lacking in length, lacking in expressiveness. Light the Palai, slightly (slightly) more aromatic and floral, a bit more weighty the Nosiola with some herbal hints. Both unexciting. 

9 July 2019
Foradori Granato Teroldego Vigneti delle Dolomiti IGT 2016 **** (7,800 yen, Terravert)
That’s a mighty purple color for a wine called Granato (garnet in Italian). This wine is very good, but still too young: it shows some expressive black fruit and light spices, though the oak is very discrete. Light smoke and hints of iron, just starting to steer towards earthy flavor, but it is really in its infancy.  Remarkable concentration on the palate, great tannins and acidity, lot of potential: a bottle that I could buy and age at home, but not ready at the moment.

9 July 2019
San Rocco Solander Trentino Marzemino DOC 2016 **** (2,350 yen, Alcotrade)
In all it’s fruit forwardness and immediacy this is anyway a very good wine. It is well defined, a bit ripe maybe, but not flabby and very expressive. The palate is very well balanced between the high acidity, the fruit and the fine grained tannins. There is nice length, an engaging spicy pungency and a kind of brambly character. Satisfying and decent value for the price.

30 June 2019
Viviani Recioto della Valpolicella Classico DOCG 2011 *****
(7,500 yen for 500ml size, Foodliner)
An outstanding wine. Lots of complexity from primary, secondary and tertiary aromas. Despite the age it does not feel old at all and the red fruit, flowers, hints of citrus and spice are still lively. The sweetness and the acidity balance perfectly, the wine is sweet but incredibly pleasant to drink and the tannins are smooth and fine grained. Aromatically intense and typical of the style with a long finish.
Suitable for further bottle ageing, thanks to the structure and to its still fresh flavors.

30 June 2019
Monte Faustino Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOCG 2012 ****
(7,600 yen, Inagaki Shoten)
Very good: it shows the typical intensity of a carefully made Amarone wine, with lots of complexity and layers of flavors. Broad texture in the mouth, pleasant softness thanks to the full body & soft high tannins, but the high acidity gives some freshness. Long finish.
The alcohol however is very high (17%!): it comes in the way of the aromas weakening them and it gives a distinct warmth in the aftertaste which really prevent this wine to be outstanding.
The wine is also not suitable for further ageing: it will keep probably for some years, but the tertiary aromas are dominating and it will probably not develop further.

25 June 2019
Terre Cevico Albana di Romagna Secco DOCG 2017 **
In WSET terms, the quintessential acceptable wine and the proof the DOC/G system is not per se a quality classification. Correctly made, not unbalanced, but very generic and simple. Some vague citrus, stone fruit and green fruit, but that’s all and not intense either. It lacks complexity, definition and intensity.

25 June 2019
Cavicchioli Lambrusco di Sorbara Rosso Secco DOC NV ***
I really struggle to see this as a red wine, because the color is so pale that it rather qualifies as a deep salmon. Anyway very much Lambrusco as you expect it in terms of aromas and flavors. Acidity nicely balanced by the off-dry palate, low tannins, candy-like, bright red fruit and fast finish. Not structured, complex or long, but very typical and well defined.

25 June 2019
Cavicchioli Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro Col Sassoso Rosso Secco DOC 2015 ****
If you stick to Lambrusco made in the tank method this is one of the most serious stuff that you can get. The nose has a decent intensity and a very nice complexity, as it offers not just the primary fruits typical of Lambrusco, but also complexity from the bottle ageing (earth, dried fruits). Well evolved, deep garnet in color.
The intensity in the mouth is also remarkable: medium body and grippy tannins, typical of Grasparossa, and the high acidity common to all Lambrusco. Pleasant finish of crushed red berries.

2 February 2019
Marramiero Trebbiano d’Abruzzo Altare 2015 **
Rich example of Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, stone fruit, vanilla, honeysuckle, ripe pear. Supple in the mouth, not a fresh style, but I expected it and I bought it for that reason.
The problem is in a disconcerting bitter finish which I suspect could be caused by the very high alcohol: I don’t remember having ever seen a white wine at 14.5%! Maybe some Californian Chardonnay, but nothing from Europe for sure. Too bad, I had I hopes for this.

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