Friday, October 23, 2009

Marchesi di Montecristo Nerello del Bastardo, 1999

This is Nerello's bastard wine--70% Piedmontese and 30% Tuscan. As the label partially explains, excess Nebbiolo grapes not making the cut for either Barolo or Barbaresco (that's the Piedmont parent) were blended with Sangiovese from Tuscany. For several years, this has been one of my favorite bargains ($5.99) from Trader Joe's, and I put away a few bottles of three vintages (1999, 2000 and 2002) to see how well they would age. From this bottle of 1999, I would say so far, so good.

The color is classic--a deep ruby at the center shading out to amber at the rim. It's not as dark or bluish as it was a couple of years ago but there are no signs of over-maturity. I smell black cherries, licorice and roses--the same as before but more subtle now and less flamboyant. It's really beginning to develop some Barolo-like complexity. The changes in flavors are more noticeable. The acidity is more pronounced and the wine is very dry. But again, the Nebbiolo flavors are becoming more subtle and complex as they lose their fruit-oriented flamboyance. The Nebbiolo portion of this wine has been aged in cask for four years, to meet the minimum requirements for Barolo and Barbaresco. It was culled not necessarily because of lower quality but because appellation laws limit the amount of Barolo and Barbaresco that can be produced each vintage. I like the future of this 1999, at least for the next year or two, and I suspect the 2000 might age even better. Unfortunately, I haven't seen any vintages of Nerello del Bastardo, at any price, recently on the shelves of Trader Joe's.

20 comments:

  1. I found Nerelo del Bastardo (this one spelled with the single "l") at the Trader Joe's in Falls Church, VA. in September. It's a 2006 but is not Marchesi di Montecristo...the cantina is listed as ICRF (TV) Italy and the importer is Santini out of San Lorenzo, CA. I think I paid around $8 for the bottle. I am not knowledgeable about wine, and reds are really not my favorites, but I bought it anyway because I liked the title :-) and always like to keep a variety of reds on hand. I opened it shortly after and liked it so much that the next time I found myself in Falls Church, I purchased two more bottles!

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  2. That's interesting. The producer and importer are different, and the single "l" may be a way to get past copyright protection. (Surely, that wouldn't offer much protection???) I checked it out online and found that the label and bottle look very similar. This may or may not be the 2006 vintage of the same wine. But generally I've had pretty good success with Italian wines at Trader Joe's (most of which in the past have been brought in by d'Aquino Imports). I'll look for it the next time I'm in Trader Joe's and give it a try.

    Thanks for reading and commenting.

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  3. Hey Fred, mystery solved...well at least some of it! I speak Italian and have a Ligurian friend that I speak with each day online by way of webcam. I explained this mystery to him of the un-named cantina. I had found out previously that ICRF is the ministry that regulates fraud in the production of food items so I asked him his opinion why this agency was listed instead of the cantina name. I gave him the ICRF 591 and he told me that it would likely be the producer code given by the ICRF for a approved cantina. I searched on line and I actually found the book of producers and the code 591 TV belongs to Casa Vinicolo Bosco Malera...and having entered the cantina site found that they do indeed produce under the label Marchesi di Montecristo...but they do not list the Nerello (or Nerelo) del Bastardo as a recent offering...however there are two other types of "del Bastardo"...a pinot grigio and a chiaro. We could not figure out the single "l" . Hope this helps. By the way ICRF stands for :L’Ispettorato Centrale Repressione Frodi del Ministero delle Politiche agricole e forestali

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  4. I just bought the Nerelo Bastardo and found it to be just yummy. For the price, under $6.00 a bottle, I think this might be the bargain of the decade. Katherine

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  5. So the bottle you had was the 2006, Katherine? I'm glad to hear that this wine is still delivering the goods. I bought one bottle to try but haven't done so yet. Thanks for your comment. Fred

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  6. We live in Bend, OR, and love the 2006 Nerelo Del Bastardo. I remember buying this wine a couple of years ago at TJ's, and then they didn't have any for a year or so. It has re-surfaced here in Bend, and we certainly are happy about that! Nerelo Del Bastardo is a flavorful, well-balanced, and more than decent wine for the price. I just went to Italy last fall, and really enjoy Italian wines. Nerelo's bright, lively acidity and touch of fruitiness suits me well, as most American wines are too sweet for me these days. For $8 per bottle, it has fast become a favorite to have on hand for just about any red-sauce pasta dish, steaks, etc. It has just a touch of hard-to-describe mystery, which is always fun to try and figure out! We just bought a case of the 2006; hard to find a better Italian wine for the price. Last week, we tried a glass of Nerelo with BBQ ribs from TJ's, and found the pairing to be incredible. The depth of the wine, and a richer complexity came out in the presence of BBQ sauce, which kind of surprised me. We also enjoy it as a nice quaffing wine with cheeses, crackers, olives, etc. It is a great wine for people who are just beginning to explore the world of Italian wine. Nerelo is medium-bodied, and has lots of subtle compexities. Last night, I thought it smelled like Syrah at one moment, then caught a delicate whiff of almost Pinot-like floral notes the next minute. And then both of those moments passed and the wine smelled simply like a nice, well-balanced Italian wine often does, leaving me struggling to find the right words to describe it...but hey, for $8 a bottle, you can't go wrong! This is such an enjoyable and versatile wine...it changes with air, with the foods you pair it with, with the moments that pass while you enjoy drinking it!Have fun! J.

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  7. If you haven't noticed, I just posted a note on the 2006 Nerelo del Bastardo. I agree: it's fabulous. I went back immediately and bought more. Regardless of the spelling, it's the same wine.

    I agree that del Bastardo is an extremely versatile wine, but I like it so much that I've relegated it to the "special wine" section of my cellar. I bring it out when we're having something like filet mignon or NY strip steak because I know it's big enough and good enough for such meals. I've even taken it gourmet dinners, and it always gets compliments. It doesn't belong at all with the class of $6.99 wines, but that's what it costs. So why not buy by the case and enjoy?

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  8. Hi There,
    Well, I hope you thoroughly enjoy the 2006. I know I have been and will continue to do so. I'm looking forward to a nice dinner this weekend with the Nerelo, some BBQ ribs, homemade purple whipped potatoes, and a few other goodies...to see if the impressions I had last week re-create themselves. It is really such a fun wine...it always seems a little different each time we have it. Very pleasant, just complex enought to make you think and wonder. But not too heavy of a wine, and not too sweet. The fruit it does show is bright and young, more along the lines of red currant and a hint of bright cherry. There is a nice bit of subtle floral character in the bouqet, but hard to pin down. I hope TJ's here in Bend has more, because my boyfriend cleared out the stash they had today!
    I noticed the 2006 Nerelo sells for $6.99 in Calif, and it is only a dollar more here in Bend. I hope any of you who like Italian wines will check it out...I am curious to find out more about this wine. Cheers, J from Bend

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  9. Hey J, you probably checked out the comments above. Mary found out that the producer is Casa Vinicolo Bosco Malera, and you can find a bit more information on that web site. Nerelo apparently is a blend of Nebbiolo from Piedmont plus some Sangiovese from Tuscany. For me, it has the qualities that I love in Piedmont Nebbiolo wines, including that hint of flowers.

    If you like Italian wines, you might want to read my post about Tenuta delle Terre Nere Mt. Etna Rosso. Sicily is very warm, but wines from the hills have a cool climate intensity. Mt. Etna Rosso is very different from Nerelo del Bastardo, but I think you would like it. Another favorite of mine is Salice Salentino, particularly the Agricole Vallone Rosso.

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  10. Hello, I'm a producer in Tuscany (Italy). ICRF 591TV is the number of 'bottler and Treviso, a city of Veneto. The producer was not mentioned as located in Tuscany, where it is produced Chianti (not the Venetian). I know it sounds strange but in wine it is.

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  11. Hi Anonymous,
    I guess what we're most interested in is knowing how much Nebbiolo and how much Sangiovese is in Nerello del Bastardo.

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  12. Egregio Signore (anonimo), si si` ha ragione, la sede della Cantina Bosco Malera si trova veramente in Provincia di Treviso a Salgareda. Nonostante dove sta la sede, ovviamente vende i diversi vini delle diverse regioni dell'Italia... direi dovuto al fatto che appartiene ad un cooperativo. Da quello che ho letto sul sito, mi sebmbra che la cantina abbia produttori e rivenditori locali che si trovano nelle diverse zone vinicole. Lei e` uno di questi produttori in Toscana??? Se no, non capisco quello che ha scritto...puo` fornire un chiarimento? Grazie in aticipo.

    Hey Fred, Mary here! Hang on to what you have in respect to the Nerello, my son says he isn't seeing it on the shelves of his local TJ's. I did write to the cantina asking the percentages but I never did hear back from them... which I must say is not unusual! I have written to various Italian companies, and even though they provide the opportunity to send questions, not all will bother to send an answer!

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  13. Thanks Mary. I have three or four bottles each of several vintages of Nerello--1999, 2000, 2002 and 2006. So I can follow its evolution. The 1999 was still drinking nicely a couple of months ago. And the 2006 is right in line with the others.

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  14. Io non sono associate a un vino veneto che il Chianti bottiglie. non è necessario. basta acquistare questa cantina in Toscana e bottiglie di Chianti in massa presso la propria sede a Treviso. Purtroppo c'è molta confusione tra la gente. grandi cantine non producono l'imbottigliamento del vino, se non irrilevante in piccole quantità. che si presenti come produttore è lo slogan pubblicitario altrettanto .

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  15. Io non sono un associato alla cantina veneta che imbottiglia chianti. non è necessario. semplicemente questa cantina compra chianti sfuso in toscana e lo imbottiglia presso la propria sede di treviso. purtroppo c'è molta confusione tra la gente. le grandi cantine di imbottigliamento non producono vino, se non in piccole quantità irrilevanti. il fatto che si presentino come produttori è solo come slogan pubblicitario.

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  16. I am not associated with a Venetian wine that Chianti bottles. is not necessary. just buy this winery in Tuscany and Chianti bottles in bulk at its headquarters in Treviso. Unfortunately there is much confusion among the people. large wineries do not produce wine bottling, if not irrelevant in small quantities. that present themselves as producers is just as advertising slogan.

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  17. We just opened our first bottle of Nerelo del Bastardo. Incredible. The only way I could describe it was a party in a glass! Absolutely wonderful. I will be purchasing a case in the morning.

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  18. they used to indicate in the label that this wine was a "surplus" barolo. there must have been a lawsuit for infringement as they changed the label, now indicating that Italian law does not allow them to mention which "big" wines this wold be surplus of, plus they changed the spelling (incorrect from grammatical standpoint now)...minor stuff...

    still a good wine.

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  19. I just drank my 99 Nerello Del Bastardo and I am so glad I waited because here and now in Oct. 2011, it was quite delicious. I had decanted it and it mellowed out beautifully. I bought my bottle at Trader Joes for around $5.99. Great bargain.

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  20. Thanks for the update. I still have a couple of bottle of the 1999 and will try one soon. Nebbiolo has a way of becoming extra special with extended aging.

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