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Eric Genau
February 12, 2012 | Barolo, Eric Genau's Wine Record, Italy, Merlot, Nebbiolo, Piedmont, Red Wine, Sangiovese, White Wine | Eric Genau

Wine Record: An Outstanding Evening with Vias Imports

Vias is one of the most renowned Italian wine importers in the US, and on Friday we were joined by our old friend, Maurizio Clemente to taste and talk about some great wines and producers from the Vias portfolio. I was particularly excited about this tasting because it gave me a chance to revisit and share some of the most memorable wines I tasted during my trip to Montalcino and Montepulciano in September. It also gave us an intimate setting to check-in on a couple great wines from the 2004 vintage - Fossacolle Brunello di Montalcino and Damilano Barolo Cannubi. I was especially impressed with these wines and am even more convinced that wines from 2004 (both from Piedmont and Tuscany) will provide great pleasure over the next 5 to 10 years.

If you weren't able to join us, here are my tasting notes and a bit of information about the wines that we opened.

Damilano Arneis Langhe 2010
We have carried a few vintages of this wine, and it was the perfect wine to kick-off a great evening. Winemaking by the Damilano family dates back to 1890 when Joseph Borgogno, great grandfather of current owners, began to cultivate grapes and make wine on their beautiful beautiful countryside property in the town of Piedmont Vezza Alba. This wine is 100% Arneis grape, which is often referred to as the "white Barolo" because of its richness and growing area around some of the most famous areas of Barolo. This was fresh and vibrant with tons of peach and passionfruit, balanced acidity and a really interesting almond hint on the finish. I've always liked how this wine manages to be both crisp and rich at the same time, and it definitely showed that way on this night. This is such a great value.

Tenuta Santa Tresa Rina Ianca Grillo Viognier 2009
I only recently discovered this wine and immediately found it to be one of the most enjoyable seafood matches I've had in a long time. The Feudo di Santa Tresa estate lies along the Mediterranean Sea, where the vineyards benefit from cool sea breezes and the fruit is perfectly ripened under the Sicilian sun. Rina Ianca is a unique blend of Viognier and Grillo and the name translates to "white sand" in the local language. This refreshing wine has a bouquet of pineapple and mango, and a beautiful straw yellow color. This is a great match for seafood, salads and pastas because of its perfect balance of citrus and tropical fruit flavors and bright acidity. Following the Arneis, this showed slightly more richness and texture, but the two wines complemented each other nicely.

Fattoria del Cerro Manero Rosso di Toscana 2009
This was the best value red I tasted during my time in Montepulciano in September. Cerro is one of the most beautiful properties in this region, and Manero is the estate's first wine from revered oenologist Riccardo Cotarella. A blend of 80% Sangiovese and 20% Merlot, it has very concentrated and intense aromas of wild berries, spices and a hint of truffle. The flavors here are well-rounded and decisive, and this delivers a big punch for this price point. What I like most about this wine is that you can really pull out the varietal characteristics of both the Sangiovese and Merlot, and this wine tastes Tuscan. Manero pairs well with roasted red meats and stews and aged cheeses, especially the many varieties of Pecorino produced in this area. This wine impresses me every time.

Fattoria del Cerro Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva 2006
I love this wine! This is one of Cerro's flagship wines, and one of my top 10 favorite wines tasted during my recent trip to Tuscany. The estate boasts 93 hectares of beautiful Vino Nobile vineyards, and the Riserva uses fruit from the best plots. This shows intense and concentrated wild black cherry, violet and spice aromas. Its flavor is full and persistent, with powerful, yet elegant and integrated tannins. This has really great structure, and should drink extremely well for the next 5-8 years. I had a chance to also taste the 2007 Riserva in Italy, and that is a similar, outstanding wine.

Colpetrone Sagrantino di Montefalco 2007
This is very well-priced blockbuster Sagrantino. Colpetrone is one of the most important wine producers in the Montefalco DOCG area and the tannin-rich Sagrantino grape is one of the most ancient varieties in Italy. This is strong and concentrated with an almost impenetrable ruby color, and an intense, ample perfume of wild berries and espresso. Red and black fruit, spices and vanilla really explode on the palate here, but it is the big, broad tannins that stand out most; this wine begs to be paired with food. It's a steak wine. This is just so big and structured, it should drink well for the next decade or more if the fruit can hold on. Even if it doesn't, this will be a treat over the next few years. It has both a rustic charm and a big modern forward character.

Fossacolle Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Fossacolle is a little family run estate owned by Sergio Marchetti. Along with this family, they take care of all the viticultural tasks throughout the tiny five acre vineyards and Marchetti's son-in-law, Adriano Bambagioni, is the winemaker. They literally consider the vineyard just an extension of their family garden! The small estate sits in a little Village called Tavernelle, in the south of Montalcino, where the vines are influenced by the sun and breezes from the Maremma coast to the west. This was the first real experiment of the night, because I hadn't tasted too much 2004 Brunello over the past year, opting to let this vintage evolve a bit more in bottle, and instead enjoy the more pretty and approachable wines from 2005 and 2006 After about two hours in a decanter, this wine started singing. Fine tannins were present but starting to give way to flavors of cherry and cranberry fruit and wild mushroom. This is a very focused and polished wine, especially considering its young age, and is both powerful and elegant. This wine was aged for a year each in large oak casks, smaller barrique and concrete tank, and I think the balanced method has created a wine that is very well integrated and put together. This seems to be entering a sweet spot, and it should stay in it and continue to get better over the next 5 to 10 years. The tannins are already very fine and polished. It may turn out to be one of the best surprises of the vintage.

Damilano Barolo Cannubi 2004
It has often been said that if Piedmont had a Grand Cru classification similar to Burgundy, the Cannubi vineyard – which covers a total of 15 hectares in the municipality of Barolo – would surely be considered one of the few true Grand Cru vineyards in Barolo. The Cannubi cru is one of the oldest in Italy, and the oldest known bottle in existence with Cannubi on the label is dated 1752. This 2004 edition continues a long line of delicious wines I've tasted from the vineyard. Damilano now makes more than 60% of the Barolo from this vineyard, so it makes sense to use this wine as the real measuring stick for all wines from Cannubi. We had this in the decanter for an hour and then back into the bottle for another hour before tasting. It had a really pretty medium red color, and pretty aromas of blackberry, mineral and licorice. The licorice turned more menthol as I swirled this in the glass. It is a beautiful wine to smell! On the palate, the tannins were fine grained and a bit dominating, but not so much that the fruit couldn't leap out of the glass. This has some great cherry pit and plum flavors. It is long and polished, and it should fully come together over the next year or two. Overall, this is a Barolo of medium body and good structure. There is a lot to like here, and it should remain a beautiful wine for the next 7-10 years. 

Vintage Wine Score Maturity
2010 Damilano Arneis Langhe 89 2012-2014
2009 Tenuta Santa Tresa Rina Ianca Grillo Viognier 90 2012-2014
2009 Fattoria del Cerro Manero Rosso di Toscana 90 2012-2014
2006 Fattoria Cerro Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva 93 2012-2020
2007 Colpetrone Sagrantino di Montefalco 92 2012-2016
2004 Fossacolle Brunello di Montalcino 92 2012-2020
2004 Damilano Barolo Cannubi 91 2012-2020

Note: Wine Record posts are Eric Genau's reflections and tasting notes on food, wine and conversation enjoyed with friends and family. This is the only place you will see Eric formally "score" a wine. As with all scores, they are meant as a guide to help readers discover new wines that suit their own palates. Readers may find they have a similar palate to Eric's, or not at all, but hopefully these notes and scores provide some valuable guidance in any event. Likewise, drinking windows are provided only as a guide, and based solely (unless otherwise indicated) on a single bottle and singular experience. 


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