Future Reports

California Zinfandel: A New Look

Special Monthly Tastings

New Vintages and New Releases
from Italy and Portugal

June 2007

Italy

Rocca di Frassinello

Rocca di Frassinello is a new partnership between Paolo Panerai, owner of Domini Castellare di Castellina, and Baron Eric de Rothschild of Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite). It is the first joint venture between an Italian and French producer and the wines are produced in a region called the Maremma, former marshlands along the Tuscan coast southwest of Florence. In the center of the Maremma, between Bolghieri and Scansano (home to the Morellino di Scansano DOCG), the soils were found to share characteristics with those of Chianti and Montalcino, but with temperatures that push ripening three to four weeks earlier than in those regions. The wines were produced under the supervision of Alessandro Cellai, Castellare’s winemaster, and Christian Le Sommer, oenologist for Barons de Rothschild-Lafite. The wines are finely crafted and attractive bottlings offering different blends of Sangiovese, Tuscany’s trademark grape, and various French varietals. Serve them with hearty Italian or French dishes.

Rocca di Frassinello 2004 Poggio alla Guardia IGT Maremma Toscana ($23) 89

Poggio alla Guardia LabelThe 2004 Poggio alla Guardia is a blend of 15% Sangioveto, 45% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon. Fermented and aged in stainless steel, it has a dark ruby garnet color with spicy and meaty dark fruit aromas. On the palate it is silky smooth and exhibits lovely blueberry and blackberry fruit flavors with notes of clove and loam. It has excellent structure, good acidity and grip on the finish. 

Rocca di Frassinello 2004 Le Gughere di Frassinello IGT Maremma Toscana ($38) 90

The dark ruby 2004 Le Gughere di Frassinello, a blend of Sangiovese and French varietals displays ripe black fruit aromas and lush blackcurrant and black cherry fruit flavors on the palate. The fruit is beautifully extracted and the body shows terrific balance and elegance with soft tannins and a long lasting finish.  

2004 Rocca di Frassinello IGT Maremma Toscana ($65) 94

The 2004 Rocca di Frassinello is an elegant blend of 60% Sangioveto, 20% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. It has a gorgeous ruby garnet opaque color with highly concentrated fruit aromas and notes of earth, spice and roasted meat. It displays velvety mouth feel, touches of sandalwood, herbs and currants. Beautifully balanced with supple tannins, this terrific bottling offers the drinking experience of a first-class Super Tuscan Bordeaux.

Importer: Vias Imports, (New York, NY)
www.viaswine.com

Primo Amore

Primo Amore is a new series of four wines and another example of the winemaking talent and entrepreneurship of Zonin, Italy’s largest and most successful family wine empire. Primo Amore is clearly geared to new wine drinkers and those seeking easy drinking table wines that are modern, affordable and pleasant to drink. All wines in the series have Stelvin screw-cap enclosures and two, Romeo and Juliet, are low in alcohol (5% vol). 

Primo Amore 2005 Sangiovese Merlot bottlePrimo Amore NV Romeo ($7) 86

The NV Romeo is a dry spritzy wine offering light-bodied red cherry flavors with a soft pleasant mouth feel and finish.  

Primo Amore NV Juliet ($7) 87

The NV Juliet is a semi-dry lightly effervescent white wine with light citrus fruit flavors, a pleasantly tart mid-palate, and a crispy finish. 

Primo Amore 2006 IGT Pinot Grigio delle Venezie ($7) 86

The 2006 Pinot Grigio has light pear and almond aromas with dilute fresh pear fruit flavors and a soft and slightly tart finish.  

Primo Amore 2005 Sangiovese Merlot Sicily ($7) 85

The 2005 Sangiovese Merlot offers sour tart and dilute sour cherry fruit flavors and some astringency on the finish. Drink it on the cool side.

Portugal

José Maria da Fonseca 2004 Periquita Terras do Sado ($10) 88
José Maria da Fonseca 2001 Periquita Classico Terras do Sado ($23) 90

These two wines are exemplary of Portugal’s tradition of fine winemaking. The estate was founded in the mid-19th century by family patriarch José Maria da Fonseca and has been family owned and operated by his descendents ever since.

Periquita LabelThe 2004 Periquita, which is a blend of Castelão, Trincadeira and Aragonez, displays a light ruby color with aromas of red fruits, smoked meat and spice. Grenache-like in character, it offers a soft and velvety attack, bright red currant and cherry fruit flavors, and good tannic grip on the finish. 

The more substantial 2001 Periquita Classico is dark ruby-garnet in color and offers aromas of plum and smoked meat. Made of 100 percent Castelão, it has rich mouth feel, spicy plum and baked cherry fruit flavors, and well-integrated oak in the background. A terrific wine.

Importer: Palm Bay Imports, Inc. (Boca Raton, FL)
www.palmbayimports.com

V.Conde-Portugal 2004 VT'04 Douro ($33) 91

This is a new and exciting wine from winemakers Jorge Serodio (Pintas) and Cristiano van Zeller, owner of Quinta do Vale D. Maria and other fine Douro estates. This first vintage is a blend of Portuguese varietals and has a youthful opaque purple color with highly concentrated blackberry fruit and notes of violets and toasty oak. Modern in style, it has excellent structure, round ripe tannins, and a long finish. This is another terrific wine from the Douro. 

Importer: Tri-Vin Imports (Mt. Vernon, NY) & Fine Wine Imports, San Juan
www.tri-vin.com

Aveleada USA 2005 Alvarinho Vinho Verde ($12) 89

This lovely wine shows crisp lime flavors with ripe fruit at the core and steely nuances on the palate. A very well made Alvarinho offered at an excellent price.

Importer: Tri-Vin Imports (Mt. Vernon, NY)
www.tri-vin.com

Cortes de Cima 2002 Vinho Tinto Alentejo ($20) 90

Vinho Tinto BottleCortes de Cima, a modern winery located in Portugal's Alentejo region is family owned and operated by Danish-born Hans Kristian Jorgensen and wife Carrie. Vineyard management and winemaking are first-class at Cortes de Cima and any wine produced is of consistently high quality. The 2002 Vinho Tinto is a delicious blend of Tempranillo and Syrah with smaller amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon, Touriga Nacional and Trincadiera. It displays a lovely dark ruby color with aromas of black raspberry, toasty oak, herbs and a touch of creosote. The attack is velvety smooth and the fruit is fully ripe and delicious. This is a terrific wine that is drinkable now and will last for at least another five years.

Importer: Tri-Vin Imports, Inc. (Mount Vernon, NY)
www.tri-vin.com

Quinta da Cortezia 2004 Touriga Nacional Vinho Regional Estremadura ($15) 92

Quinta da Cortezia LabelThis elegant bottling has a dark ruby opaque core and displays aromas of plums and red currants. It has lovely mouth feel and ripe fruit flavors on an elegant palate with good gripping tannins on the finish. A terrific Touriga Nacional at a highly affordable price. 

Importer: J. Oliveira Selections, Tri-Vin Imports (Mt. Vernon, NY)
www.tri-vin.com

 

Quinta do Fojo 1999 Vinha do Fojo Douro (Sima Corgo) ($27) 88

A rustic wine with some age, displaying a dark ruby garnet color with ripe plum, dried black cherry fruit and notes of earth, leather and tea. It is medium-bodied in structure with high acidity and dry tannins on the finish.
Importer: J. Oliveira Selections, Tri-Vin Imports, (Mt. Vernon, NY)
www.tri-vin.com

 

Wines Tasted by International Wine Review Tasting Panel