Top Wines from Northern Italy: Tuscany, Veneto, Friuli, and the Piedmont

 

Readers who enjoy the best of Italian wine will want to focus on our reviews below of outstanding new releases from northern and central Italian producers.   We provide the names of importers for consumers needing information on where to purchase these wines. For more on these regions, see our full reports on Collio, Roero, Soave, Chianti Classico, Brunello di Montalcino, and Amarone on www.iwinereview.com.

THE PIEDMONT

Abrigo Giovanni 2018 Garabei Dolcetto di Diano D’Alba Superiore 92 This 100% Dolcetto is sourced from 50+ year old vines on the estate’s best and oldest vineyard, Garabei, located in the better part of Diano d’Alba.  The wine is fresh, fruity and beautifully balanced with good purity of fresh and dried red cherries, bright acidity, a silky mouth feel and a firm finish. 14% alc.  The Giovanni family has been making first class wines from native grapes for three generations; today the estate is run by brothers Giulio and Sergio.  The estate is also well known for its Piemonte hazelnuts.

Monchiero 2014 Montanello Barolo 93  Dark red. This single vineyard Nebbiolo sourced from the Montanello cru in Castiglione Falletto is a classic Barolo with aromas and flavors of red berries and cherries married to deeper tones of loam and chocolate.  It’s silky and refined in the mouth.  Still youthful with firm tannins, this is a wine that will continue to evolve and improve in cellar. Matured in 50 hl oak barrels for 28 months. 14.5% alc. Just 180 cases produced.  The Monchiero family has been growing grapes and making wine in Barolo for three generations. The current owner, Vittorio Monchiero, is responsible for elevating the reputation of the estate’s Barolos to its current high level. The Marchetti Company is the US importer.

FRIULI/VENEZIA

Aquila del Torre 2017 At Bianco Oasi Friuli Colli Orientali Bianco 92  Amber-tinged medium gold. A somewhat reticent nose of dried orange and apricot with a light edge of toasted grain. Firmly structured with a silky, elegant texture and densely flavored of stone fruit and honeycomb. Dry on the palate, fresh, and superbly balanced.  An original, delicious wine. Made from low-yielding Picolit vines that’s typically used to make sweet wines in Friuli, hand harvested and fermented with ambient yeast in French oak barrels and matured on the lees for 12 months. 13.5% alc.  The Cianni family follows biodynamic practices in its certified organic vineyards in the Savorgnano del Torre area. They are among the foremost producers of Picolit. The US importer of AT wines is Vintage 59.

The Foscarino Vineyard

Inama 2017 Vigneti di Foscarino Soave Classico 92  Golden straw color. Showing scents of acacia, marzipan, and fresh honeydew and white peach, this Soave is packed with flavors that mirror the nose. It’s full in the mouth with a rich, creamy texture and lovely balancing acidity. We loved this wine when we reviewed it for our report on the Wines of Soave. This vintage is even better! The Soave Vigneti di Foscarino is fermented in oak barrels and sees malolactic fermentation. It is left on the lees with battonage for about 7 months, after which it is filtered and racked to steel vats.  Stefano Inama and his sons consistently make some of the Soave’s very best Garganega wines. The US importer is Dalla Terra.

TUSCANY/UMBRIA

Boscarelli 2017 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 91  Ruby red. This is a vibrant and complex Vino Nobile showing exuberant red cherry fruit complicated by hints of incense, dried herbs, and tea.  It’s silky smooth and medium dense on the palate, finishing with gentle tannins and lingering huckleberry notes.  Beautifully balanced and delicious.  US Importer: Empson USA

Castello La Leccia 2015 Bruciagna Gran Selezione Chianti Classico 91 The Bruciagna Gran Selezione from Castellina en Chianti has nice aromatic lift with violet, plum and savory undertones that are mirrored on the palate with dried plums and warm tobacco notes.  Firm, well crafted tannins and lovely oak spice notes on a prolonged finish.  We recommend drinking now. 15% alc. US Importer: Ideal Wine & Spirits

Donatella Cinelli Colombini 2016 Cenerentola Rosso Orcia 92  Opaque. Blackberry and light smoke and hints of roasted meat scents introduce this wine. Densely flavored of dark plum with black olive and savory notes. Firm backbone, brisk acidity, and dry tannins on the palate. Medium finish with some astringency. A flavorful wine that needs cellaring to show its best. A blend of Sangiovese and organically farmed Foglia Tondo, an old Tuscan variety that is now rare with only 20 ha surviving today. 14.5% alc   US Importer: Banville

Donatella Cinelli Colombini 2015 Prime Donne Brunello di Montalcino 95  The Prime Donne opens with an expansive perfume of dark cherry and red berry with hints of leather and spice. The palate has a refined texture and well-integrated flavors that mimic the bouquet. Still a bit tight, our experience with this wine suggests that with a bit of bottle age it will open up and show still greater complexity and elegance. Sourced from a special 10 ha vineyard parcel. 14% alc. US Importer: Banville

Fattoria Fibbiano 2019 Colombana Bianco Toscana IGT 91 Made from the rare Colombana grape variety grown in the Pisa hills of Tuscany, this is an impressive, high toned, crisp dry white organic (Vino Biologico) wine. Cold macerated on the skins for 5 days and fermented in stainless steel using ambient yeasts and aged in cement tank, it reveals tropical fruits on the nose and palate.  13% alc.  US Importer: Artisanal Cellars

Azienda Agricola Madrevite 2017 C’Osa Gamay del Trasimeno Umbria 90  Medium red. Showing red berry and plum aromas, this is a light-weight wine with bright acidity and fresh flavors. The palate mirrors the nose with plum and red berry flavors that linger on the finish. It shows a little heat at 14.5% alc. Matured 6 months in concrete and 12 months in barrel. Madrevite is currently in organic conversion. The wine is made by 3rd generation grower Nicola Chiucchiurlotto.

Quercia al Poggio 2018 Chianti Classico 91 Made from certified organic grapes, this beautifully balanced Chianti Classico is comprised of 80% Sangiovese and 20% other local varieties (Ciliegiolo, Canaiolo, Malvasia Nera, and Colorino).  The nose reveals cassis and sour cherry with light, earthy savory notes that are picked up on the palate and complemented by dried dark cherry and plum. A delicious food wine that’s generously flavored with a firm tannic backbone. Matured 18 months in oak barrels. 14% alc. Quercia al Poggio is located in Barverino Val d’Elsa, midway between Florence and Sienna. The winemaker is Vittorio Rossi.  US Importer: The Source Imports

Tenuta di Capezzana 2015 Trefiano Riserva Carmignano 93  Tasting this wine reminded us of our tasting of the same wine with Countess Beatrice Contini Bonacossi [shown here] over lunch a while back. At the time, we noted that the Trefiano Riserva was especially intense, richly flavored, and complex with considerable depth of flavor and elegant mouth feel.  This pretty much captures our opinion of the 2015 vintage.  It’s a delicious wine made only in especially good vintages with dark berry fruit, spice and light tobacco notes. But it also has pretty firm tannins that require a little more time in bottle. The Trefiano Riserva is a blend of 80% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet, and 10% Canaiolo. Tenuta di Capezzana is an historic wine estate and the preeminent producer in the small Carmignano appellation in northern Tuscany.  Capezzana owns a large estate (part of the former hunting grounds of the Medici) that includes 247 acres of vineyards and 356 acres of olive groves.  Bea’s sister Benedetta Contini is the winemaker. US Importer: Dalla Terra

Tua Rita 2018 Perlato del Bosco Rosso Toscana Sangiovese IGT 91  This wine from the Upper Maremma in the Colline Metallifere zone is made of all Sangiovese. It’s a dry red wine showing red berries with light notes of underbrush.  The palate is juicy with plum and cherry fruit complemented by spice and a hint of lavender. Matured half in used French oak barriques and half in 35 hl tapered oak botti.  14.5% alc. US Importer: Winebow

 

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