Tasting of kosher wines from Italy and Italian varietals

This past week the gang gathered at Josh Rynderman house, many thanks to MR for hosting us! I brought a few bottles of Italian wine, and so did others, while some brought non-Italian wines, and in the end, we made it into the wine event I have been waiting to have – as it was time to get down and write up my Italian wines.

It is no new revelation, that my palate has moved more old-world in style. Yes, I still enjoy Four Gates wines (which have moved new-world in style over the past few years), along with Herzog wines, Hajdu wines, mostly white Hagafen wines, and yes, Shirah wines as well (even if they think I do not love their wines). However, I was never a huge fan of Italian wines, even if in the non-kosher world, they make TONS of old-world style wines. Sadly, the issue is that there were few to none that impressed me other than the Falesco wines from 2005 and 2006 and the 2010 Moncheiro. However, recently, things are changing. First is the release of wines from Terra di Seta that I really like, (the original all-kosher winery in Tuscany). Next, is the fact that Hajdu is releasing lovely wines made from Italian varietals. Finally, there is a new all-kosher winery from Tuscany, Cantina Giuliano, who released three new wines, along with the 2014 Chianti he had last year. The 2015 Chianti from Cantina Giuliano is for sale in Europe, but it is not yet available in the USA.

Let me start with answering questions people will have before I start with this article. This may offend some, but hey, what can I do. No, there was no Bartenura wines, why? Simple, I am not a fan. What about Borgo Reale wines and Cantina Gabriela? Well, I like the two top line Borgo wines, the Brunello and Barolo, but the Borgo Reale Barolo pales in comparison to the Paulo Manzone Tenuta Moncheiro Barolo 2010, even though it sells for the same amount of money. The 2010 vintage in Barolo was one of the best in a long time, I would love to try the Paulo Manzone Tenuta Moncheiro Barolo 2010 again in a few years, like 5 or so. We did not taste these three wines at the tasting, but I have added the notes of the Paulo Manzone Tenuta Moncheiro Barolo 2010 below. Sadly, I cannot find my notes for the two Borgo wines I liked.

A bit of background on Italy’s four wine classifications: 

(1) Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) – This classification denotes the highest quality recognition for Italian wines. There are only 20 or so wines meriting this classification. (2) Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) – This is the same classification as the French wine classification, Appellation d’Origine Controlee (AOC). Wines that fall under the DOC classification must be made in specified, governmentally defined zones, in accordance with particular regulations intended to preserve the wine’s character.  There are some 300 or so wines in this classification. (3) Indicazione di Geografica Tipica (IGT) – These table wines are often ubiquitous wines, grown in specific geographical growing regions. (4) Vino Da Tavola (VdT) – This designates wines that reside firmly on the “low end” of the totem pole. Comprised of Italian table wines, these products must meet the sole criteria of being produced somewhere in Italy. 

Now, I have spoken about Italian wines before, so please go and read this post for more info. The wines we tasted are all very nice, but they pale in comparison to the best kosher Italian wines out there – the 2005 and 2006 Falesco wines (sorry the 2008 Falesco wines were not for me). After the epic Falesco monsters, the next best wines would be the very impressive Paulo Manzone Tenuta Moncheiro Barolo 2010, and then the wines we tasted on Thursday night.

That said, the Falesco and Moncheiro Barolo are double or triple the cost of the wines we enjoyed. Of course, we all want to have Falesco every Friday night (or every night for you tipplers out there), but that is crazy and out of bounds for me. For me, and most everyone else, who are not hedge fund babies, there are lovely options we enjoyed at the tasting, and ones I have tasted before and whose notes I added here.

So, who are the players in the middle ground priced kosher Italian market? Borgo Reale’s rose is very economical and nice. The Cantina Giuliano wines are next in terms of price, followed by Terra Di Seta’s wines, and the Hajdu’s wines. Hajdu’s wines are on par – price wise – with the Barolos, and then coming in at the high end, are Falesco’s wines (if you can find them). By the way, the Falesco wines are far cheaper in Europe, but here they are very expensive.

The wines we tasted were the 2012 and 2013 Terra di Seta Chianti Classico, which showed beautifully. The best of the tasting was the 2011 Terra di Seta Assai, which is there step up above the Chianti Reserve, that was not part of this tasting, as I have had it before, and I find it too ripe for my tasting. Next, we had the new wines from Cantina Giuliano, both of which are I.G.T. wines, the 2016 Cantina Giuliano Costa Toscano, White, Vermentino I.G.T., and the 2015 Cantina Giuliano Costa Toscano Red, La Gioia. White, they are nice enough wines, they are not as good as the Chianti. The 2014 Cantina Giuliano Chianti, Primizie is a nice wine, but it lacks the deep acid I crave, which the Terra di Seta does deliver in spades. Finally, the Hajdu wine is nice, just not at the level of the Terra Di Seta wines.

I have also added the 2014 notes for the Hajdu Nebbiolo and Hajdu Sangiovese.

So, where does that leave us? Personally, the best wines of the tasting came from Terra di Seta, with the 2014 Hajdu Nebbiolo right there as well (tasted last year). The 2015 Hajdu Sangiovese was also, nice, but it was a step behind the real Mccoy. The 2014 Shirah Aglianico was a nice wine that I tasted earlier this year, but it is very ripe, pushed hard, and will not be a wine for long holding. Sadly, it is not like its older 2013 brother, that is an insane wine. The Cantina Giuliano wines were nice enough, but a step behind the group.

Sadly, the Gan Eden wine was DOA, which is the same outcome I have had over the past 7 years with that wine. The 2006 Four Gates Merlot was corked.

Also, I got to taste the 2014 Terra di Seta Chianti Classico over the Passover holiday, many thanks to the winery for hosting my friends in Tuscany, and for sending me the bottle with my friends, GM and RM.

The notes follow below:

2016 Cantina Giuliano Costa Toscano, White, Vermentino – Score: B+
The nose is sweet but controlled, with sweet honeysuckle, almost jasmine-like, with white pepper, grapefruit, gooseberry, and good earth. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is nice, with good acid, straw, mineral, green apple, nice citrus, with great orange pith, white apricot, and good mouthfeel. The finish is a bit hollow, with good lingering acid, but leaving an overall short feeling, with fruit pith, slate, and flint lingering. Drink now.

2012 Terra di Seta Chianti Classico – Score: A- (QPR)
Nice ripe nose of black fruit, with red berries, lovely smoke, earth, and great flint. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine is ripping with great acid, blackberry, dark currant, and red cherry, with lovely mouth coating tannin, scrapping mineral, deep graphite, saline, nice mushroom, and lovely earth. The finish is long and spicy with more earth, lovely espresso, citrus notes, and tobacco. Bravo! Drink till 2019/2020.

2013 Terra di Seta Chianti Classico – Score: A- (QPR)
Wild nose of rich mushroom, dirty diaper, crazy mineral, rich loam, and lovely black and red fruit. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is ripping with rich acid, mineral, and saline, and lovely mouth draping tannin, with gripping tannin, showing blackberry, dark cherry, currant, with coffee grinds, and mineral. The finish is long and pith-laden, with espresso, and rich graphite, and scraping mineral that lingers long. Bravo!!! Drink till 2020.

2015 Cantina Giuliano Costa Toscano Red, La Gioia – Score: B+
This wine is a blend of 65 Sangiovese, 20 Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. The nose on this wine is filled with oak, almost cedar, with ripe dark fruit, black plum, and cherry, and white stone fruit. The mouth is medium to full bodied, with too much fruit, fruit forward, the Cabernet and Merlot crush the Sangiovese, with dark ripe fruit, nice tannin, and nice control, while the dirt and mushroom come out with more air. The finish is long and balanced with acid, but the fruit is showing too much, but that calms down a bit with enough air, as the mushroom covers over the ripe fruit, with tobacco leaf, and mint. Drink now.

2014 Cantina Giuliano Chianti, Primizie – Score: B+ to A-
I have had this wine twice in the past, and then again at the tasting. When it was first opened, I was not a fan, it was an ok Chianti. However, with time, the wine changes in the right way, showing more old-world style, with mushroom, dirt, and even hints of barnyard.
The nose is nice with good red cherry, earth, dirt, anise, black licorice, and dried raspberry. With time, the nose changes to more old-world stylings, with dirt and barnyard taking center stage, with mineral, and fruit in the background. The mouth on this light to medium bodied really comes alive with time, this wine needs a good hour in the decanter, with solid acid as the base, followed by mouth coating tannin, lovely cherry fruit, followed by layers of dirt and mushroom, all wrapped in elegance. Again, this wine changes a fair amount with time, impressive. The finish is long, showing more lovely coating tannin, earth, coffee, loam, tobacco, green notes, and spice. Drink till 2019.

2011 Terra di Seta Chianti Classico, Assai – Score: A-
This is a lovely wine, it is their next level up from the Chianti Classico, and the best Chianti/Sangiovese of the tasting. The nose is ripe but well-balanced with great smoke, flint, licorice, nutmeg, cinnamon, with black fruit. The mouth on this full bodied wine is elegant and rich, extracted and layered, with great attack and focus, showing rich spice, screaming pepper, cloves, and crazy heady spices, followed by rich mouth coating and draping tannin, with blackberry, dark cherry, and mounds of earth. The finish is crazy tannic, and young, with spices, espresso, and rich tobacco, leather, and spice. Drink from 2018 to 2023.

2015 Hajdu Sangiovese – Score: A-
Really nice nose of green notes, menthol, with crazy heady spice, nutmeg, cardamom, with rich ripe fruit, well balanced. The mouth on this full bodied wine is richly extracted, and ripe, with rich vanilla, green notes galore, with sweet dill, mouth draping tannin, with black plum, dark cherry, with great acid, balanced well with nice tannin, and good dirt. The finish is long and sweet, with vanilla, mint, green notes, foliage, and tobacco, earth, and spice. Drink from 2018 to 2022.

2010 Paulo Manzone Tenuta Moncheiro Barolo – Score: A- (tasted earlier this year)
The nose on this lovely wine is dirt, pure dirt, lovely and earthy, with rich mineral, dark cherry, balsamic vinegar, roasted meat, and more earth. The mouth on this medium bodied wine in unctuous and rich, with mouth coating tannin, more earth, roasted meat, with dark cherry, currant, rich graphite, mineral, lovely roasted herb, and rich tannin that is mouth coating, layered and concentrated with nice extraction. The finish is long and earthy, with lovely sweet tobacco, mint, earth, lingering dark red fruit, mineral, and tannin. BRAVO! One of the first REAL kosher Barolo wines I have enjoyed! BRAVO! Finish by 2023.

2014 Terra di Seta Chianti Classico – Score: A- (QPR) (Tasted over Passover)
This vintage is riper than the 2013 vintage, which may well be the best vintage I have ever tasted from this winery. The nose on this lovely wine is ripe and yet richly mineral, with ripe blackberry, plum, with a mineral core, along with lovely vanilla, smoke, cherry, and rich coffee aromas. The mouth on this medium bodied wine shows nicely with great acid, mineral, graphite, along with rich fruit, saline, and tobacco galore, followed by more coffee and rich tilled earth. The finish is long and earthy, with yet more coffee focus, rich earth, fruit, and leather. Nice! Drink till 2021.

2014 Hajdu Nebbiolo – Score: A- (Tasted last year)
This is a crazy heady nose of white pepper, spice, cherry, dark fruit in the background, and ripe fruit lurking, wintergreen. Lovely medium body wine with great acid, searing tannin, all coming together with layers of ripe plum, white fruit, peach, mad ripe strawberry jam, with tannin flowing into the rich extraction and sweet dill that showcases green notes, tobacco, and spice. The finish is long with cloves and rich spices, garrigue galore, dried fruit and earth, with loam and green notes, and mouth coating tannin linger long. Bravo another great wine from 2014 that is not for the feint of heart. Drink from 2018 to 2023.

2014 Hajdu Sangiovese – Score: A- (Tasted last year)
Lovely nose of spice and strawberry with blue fruit and herb. Nice medium bodied mouth with great acid and attack that shows well with cherry and saline, black pepper, with nice earth, dirt, raspberry jam, dirty and spiced with spices fruit and lovely balanced tannin and great acid. Earthy and green and spicy finish with dill and menthol lingering long, coffee and spice. Drink from 2018 to 2021

2014 Shirah Aglianico – Score: A- (tasted earlier this year)
This wine needs time to open, it starts off very sweet, almost date-like, but with time, it mellows and becomes very nice.
Wow! what a nose, this wine is young and needs time, with candied cherry, blackberry, dried and roasted herb, rich heady spices, mocha madness, and fig jam. The mouth on this full bodied wine starts off very ripe, almost date-like, but with time it calms down, still showing very ripe and new-world, clearly still warm weather fruit, blueberry, raspberry, lovely mineral, graphite galore, and chocolate. The finish is long and soft with a plush mouthfeel, layered with charcoal, nice leather, rich with warm baking spices, and good pith on the long finish. It’s very ripe structure will not hold long, I would drink very soon! Drink now till early 2019.

—— Non-Italian wines or Italian grapes) tasted ———-

2016 Twin Suns Chardonnay, Lodi (Mevushal) – Score: B to B+
Ripe banana buttercream, showing loads of sweet fruit, with peach and apple. Nice enough body, with fruit, and not much more, showing almost no acid, but loads of pith, orange, and green apple.

2014 Shirah Ha’azinu Zinfandel – Score: NA
Wow, this is ripe! 15.5% ABV on the label. The nose is red hot, with really ripe berry fruit, that some folks will find very approachable, but I found it hard to drink. Sorry, this wine is so over the top, all I get is ripe, and the alcohol.

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Posted on May 23, 2017, in Kosher Red Wine, Wine, Wine Tasting and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Interesting, I agree with all your notes, all except the Shirah Aglianico 2013-14. My experience with these two was the exact opposite, I found the 13 to be very ripe with not much character besides being very bold, new world ripe fruit bomb. However the 14 was very restrained, old world, earthy and mineral, to my surprise (it was decanted for nearly 6 hours).

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