Saturday, November 11, 2017

Costa di Bussia (Tenuta Arnulfo) Barbera d'Alba, 2010

Costa di Bussia has become my favorite Barbera d'Alba, and I have been buying a few bottles each year in an effort to determine optimum aging for my taste. This 2010 has always shown well and is now beginning to show some development. I would expect even greater improvement over the next two or three years.

Bright ruby. Has classic Piedmont scents: black and red cherries with undertones of black licorice. Very inviting. Great range of flavors. Great acidity and enough tannin to maintain balance. Has the freshness to be an every day wine but enough intrigue to accompany serious dining.

I just bought four bottles of the 2015 Costa di Bussia for $12/bottle. Looking forward to giving it a try soon.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Tasters' Guild/American Wine Society Wine Dinner at Kitchen House, Richland, MI

I have been to many good wine dinners, but this event has to rank near the top for me. Kitchen House regularly serves some of the best farm-to-table food in the area, and the dishes tonight were particularly well conceived and well executed.

Bruce Bruckman of Kobrand presented a full range of wines from Masi Agricola--unique, exciting wines and well matched to the food. I have not had much experience with wines from Valpolicello. I learned a lot while enjoying great food and great wine. My notes follow below.


Masi Agricola Masianco Pinot Grigio, 2016

Masi calls this a "Supervenetian" white, a counterpart to its Campofiorin (see below). It's an impressive Pinot Grigio blend that is fresh enough to enjoy casually on the deck or as a serious accompaniment to dishes such as seared sea scallops.

Pinot Grigio grapes are picked in late August and aged in stainless steel to preserve its fresh, fruity aromas and flavors. This is then blended with Verduzzo grapes picked at the end of September and then ripened for three weeks on bamboo racks to reduce water weight and increase concentration. Aging of the Verduzzo is in barriques.

Fresh aromas of tropical fruits and citrus. Weight and substance on the palate. Honey note. Concentrated and complex. More citrus on the finish.

Masi Modello Rosso delle Venezie IGT, 2016

For its price ($12 to $16) Modello Rosso offers a lot of easy drinking pleasure. I would compare it to an Austrian Zweigelt or a Cab Franc from the Loire Valley of France.

Aromas and flavors of blackberries, raspberries and black licorice. Peppery tannins and brisk acidity. A good match for pork/duck arancini with roasted heirloom tomato sauce.

Masi Agricola Campofiorin Rosso del Veronese IGT, 2013

Made with the same grapes as the Amarone (below), this wine qualifies as Ripasso or Recioto. The double fermentation method results in a wine that provides the richness and some of the complexity of a good Amarone. Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara are fermented, then fermented again with grapes that have been dried for six weeks.

Deep and dark ruby. Rich, ripe--almost jammy--aromas of blue plums and dark berries. Tannins are smooth, but I suspect this wine would age beautifully. Not as great as Amarone but has many of the same qualities for a fraction of the cost. Served with wild mushroom pappardelle with mascarpone mousse--a perfect match.

Masi Agricola Costasera Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOCG, Veneto, 2011

Costasera is considered by many the best vineyard for producing high-quality Amarone. The slopes face west with Lake Garda providing direct as well as reflected sunlight and gentle breezes.

The blend is 70% Corvina, 25% Rondinella and 5% Molinara, and 100% of grapes are dried on bamboo racks to increase concentration. Fermentation occurs in large Slavonian oak barrels or stainless steel at a low temperature; aging is in smaller Slavonian and French oak.

Deep and dark ruby. Intense and powerful aromas of baked cherry, dried plums with hints of balsamic. Tannins are bit lighter than in the Riserva (below) and, as a result, the wine is a bit friendlier at this stage. Great intensity and concentration. Perfect companion to braised short ribs with creamy parmesan polento.

Masi Agricola Riserva di Costasera Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC, 2011

If you have ever bought a bottle of Amarone (and I must admit that I have not), you undoubtedly know about Masi Agricola, well known for its excellent Amarones and Reciotos. The name Masi comes from the little valley purchased by the Boscaino family in the late 18th century. An historic estate once owned by the descendants of the 14th century poet Dante Alighieri, the vineyards here are perfectly situated and well tended.

Amarone is a wine made from grapes that have been dried, reducing the water weight by 80% and increasing the concentration of the wine. The grapes for this riserva have been dried for up to 120 days, then aged for 38-40 months in 600-liter Slavonian oak barrels and smaller French oak casks, 1/3 of which are new. The blend is 70% Corvina, 15% Rondinella, 10% Oseleta and 5% Molinari. The Corvina grapes have naturally developed botrytis that increases the complexity.

Very deep and dark ruby. Even at this early age, the bouquet is astounding: dark cherries, dried plums, cinnamon. Full bodied and lush on the palate with a powerful finish. Very complex. Is there a better end to a great meal?