Vignalta Venda Colli Euganei Rosso 2006

Vignalta Venda Colli Euganei Rosso 2006

“No matter which way one arrives at Venice by freeway, air or sea, their characteristic silhouette can be seen on the horizon.”

—- Vignalta website, about the Colli Euganei

I cannot remember noticing the contour of Colli Euganei push up from the Venetian plain as I made my way toward Venice.

But, then again, I’d not yet tasted Vignalta’s Venda.

The memory of that good bottle is such that the next time I travel to Venice, I assure you, my eyes will search the horizon for that group of hills which have given birth to this elegant Colli Euganei rosso.

vignalta-venda-colli-euganei-rosso-2006The Colli Euganei, a 30+ million year-old geologic mash-up of gentler chalky hills and steeper volcanic ones, were born as volcanic eruptions pushed up the sea bed which covered the area. Erupting lava created the steeper hills while magma that didn’t erupt raised the sea bed with gentler forms.

As you might expect, soils are of varying types, depending: generally speaking, steeper volcanic peaks present loose crumbling volcanic soil, while gentler hills issue chalk, marlstone and little topsoil.

Vignalta, founded in 1980, has over the years developed a deep understanding of the relationship between Colli Euganei soil conditions and varietal compatibilities. That, along with detailed vineyard management and minimalist production techniques, seems to form the cornerstone the Vignalta production approach.

Vignalta’s Venda Colli Euganei Rosso is produced from Merlot (80%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (20%) grapes grown in its Mount Venda vineyard, the highest elevation in the Colli Euganei.

Tasting Notes:

Ruby-colored and wonderfully elegant, this wine shows Bordeaux-like flair with thoroughly Italian style. Red and black cherries, nuanced suggestions of raspberry, earth, spice, black pepper and delicious mineral notes. Good tannic grip without overdoing it, in a measure that is just what the wine requires. It’s not often I come across this level of flavor, balance and elegant character at such a price point.

Food Pairing Suggestions:

The wine’s tannins are wonderfully in balance and not excessive, making it a great partner for both white and red meats. Mineral notes create opportunities for well chosen fish / seafood dishes. The wine’s elegant character and soft structure brings good style to the vegetarian table, too, working well with dishes featuring baked tofu, seitan, mushrooms, vegetable and cheese casseroles, gratin, etc. A great wine for the entire meal.

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Vallana Gattinara 1999

Vallana Gattinara 1999

Bad art is “inaccurate art….art that makes false reports”.
“Good art bears true witness…”*
——– Ezra Pound, American expatriate poet and critic

IMHO, the same can be said of good wine.

Tasting Vallana’s Gattinara 1999, I was reminded of that good advice which Ezra Pound delivered to a young Ernest Hemingway during their years in Paris.

vallana-review-1999Vallana’s Gattinara 1999 bears true witness to the elegance and complexity for which one of the world’s most responsive transmitters of terroir – Nebbiolo – is well known. And it does so with an especially characterful expression of a terroir far north of Barolo.

The Nebbiolo, called Spanna in the local dialect, is hand harvested from steep, high altitude vineyards planted during the 1960s.

Fermentation is carried out over 8 – 10 days, the wine is then aged in large wood for 24 months followed by 1 year in bottle.

Tasting Notes / Impressions:

Leather, earth, roses and black tea suspended over the loveliest cherry flavors. Wonderful presence in the mouth, magnificent balance, finishes with firm, sweet, smooth tannins. A spectacular, decade-old Nebbiolo at a fraction of the cost of similar vintage Baroli / Barbareschi.

If you are a Nebbiolo-geek, I recommend not to miss this one 😉

Food Pairing Suggestions:

I like robust though simply prepared foods with this wine — was wonderful with hand-carved roast beef served with good pan gravy, roasted potatoes and carrots. The wine’s tannins, while firm, are not aggressive, so pairings with roasted chicken or turkey will work well, too. If you’re vegetarian, consider grilled polenta triangles with mushroom gravy.

*Hemingway: The Paris Years, Michael Reynolds, p.30