TTB: “Italian government certification still required for Brunello”

In a report published today by wine industry blog Wine & Spirits Daily, the U.S. Alcohol, Tobacco, Tax, and Trade Bureau (TTB) still requires Italian government certification for Brunello di Montalcino imported to the U.S.

“Contrary to the reports that we’re not longer requiring the certification, we are indeed enforcing the certification and awaiting further information from the Italians to determine a future course of action,” said TTB’s director of public and media affairs Art Resnick, who spoke to the blog’s editors.

According to the report, the TTB is still waiting for the final prosecutor’s report before it will lift the requirement.

The report openly contradicts a press release issued last week by Italian agricultural minister Luca Zaia, whose office wrote that the issue had been “definitively closed.”

Government certification of Brunello no longer required by U.S.

According to a press release issued Wednesday by the Italy’s agriculture ministry, the U.S. Alcohol, Tobacco, Tax, and Trade Bureau (TTB) will no longer require Italian government certification for imports of Brunello di Montalcino to the U.S.

On Tuesday, October 20, Italy’s agriculture minister Luca Zaia met with TTB administrator John Manfreda in Washington D.C. and discussed the requirement, which was announced on June 17, 2008, in the wake of news that Italian government officials had launched an investigation of adulterated Brunello di Montalcino.

Italian wine exports increased 2% in July, with 5% growth in U.S. market

According to a report posted this week by Numeri del Vino, Italian wine exports grew by 2% in July 2009 (compared to July 2008), with an increase of 5% in the U.S. market.

The authors of the post report that modest optimism is warranted: while exports dropped by 15-20% in the first quarter of 2009 (compared to 2008), followed by a decrease of 9% in May and 7% in June (with respect to the previous year), July numbers are a sign of renewed consumer confidence, according to the authors.

Opinion: Italy’s defunct appellation system

VinoWire editor Jeremy Parzen resides in Austin, Texas, where he is currently teaching a 6-part seminar on Italian wine at The Austin Wine Merchant.

A number of folks have posted recently about the Italian appellation system, bemoaning the fact that there is no “official” comprehensive list of DOCs and DOCGs. Back in NYC, my friend and colleague James Taylor posted at the VinoNYC blog: “as is the case with most things governmental in Italy, the system for classifying its wines can be apparently simple but deceptively complex, and can oftentimes cause a headache.” (In case you are not familiar with the Italian appellation system, see the note following this post below.)

Out here in Texas, Italian Wine Guy recently updated his list of DOCGs. His is the most comprehensive list that I know of. (Considering how much Italian wine he “touches,” as he likes to put it, as the Italian wine director for behemoth distributor Glazer’s, you’d think the Italian government would give this dude a medal. He certainly deserves one.)

It’s remarkable to think that neither the Italian government nor its Trade Commission, nor the Agriculture Ministry, nor the Italian Wine Union publish an online, comprehensive, definitive, exhaustive, up-to-date list.

But does a list really matter? Especially now?

IWG notes that while some might wonder why such a list is really necessary, it is important “because sommeliers studying for their tests want and need this information [and] anyway, it is kind of fun trying to figure a way through the labyrinth of Italian wines on that (or any) level.”

The point about sommeliers studying for their exams is a valid one: as Franco and I reported the other day, none of the three finalists in the recent AIS sommelier competition recognized a Langhe Bianco DOC (and one of its producers is no less than the Bishop of Barbaresco, Angelo Gaja!). Needless to say, the award was conferred to one of the contestants despite this glaring lacuna. The fact of the matter is that in the U.S. we perceive these regulations in an entirely different perspective — one that reveals our pseudo-Protestant and quasi-Progressivist tendencies and predilections for precision and accuracy.

One of our (American) misconceptions about the Italian appellation system is that it was designed to protect the consumer. In fact, as Teobaldo Cappellano pointed out in last year’s Brunello Debate, the DOC/DOCG system was created to protect “the territory,” i.e., the production zone and the people who live there and make wine.

On August 1, 2009, the DOC and DOCG system was essentially put to rest by newly implemented EU Common Market Organization reforms. August 1 was the deadline for the creation of wine appellations by EU member states and from that day forward, the power to create appellations passed from member states to the EU. The deadline created a mad rush to create new DOCs and DOCGs in Italy. Beginning with the current vintage, all wines produced in the EU will be labeled as Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) and Protected Geographical Indication (PGI). The new designations will recognize and allow labeling using the members states’s current appellation classifications. But from now on, no new DOCs or DOCGs will be permitted.

So, I ask, does it really matter? If a tree falls in the forest and only a mime is there to see it, does anyone really care?

—Jeremy Parzen

Tom Hyland: a panoramic tasting of 2005 Barolo

VinoWire contributor Tom Hyland authors the wine blog Reflections on Wine.

From the start, the 2005 Barolos are faced with a problem — they follow the spectacular 2004 vintage. Any time that happens, the lesser vintage will suffer in the eyes of the press.

The truth about 2005 is that is a good to very good vintage with some excellent wines, but this is not a vintage that could be rated as great. There is good depth of fruit, but not the intensity of 2004 or the aromatics or fruit persistence. Acidity is good as is the overall balance.

I had a problem with some Barolos from La Morra, which seemed a bit dull and lacking some fruit. The wines from this commune are normally lighter than those from Serralunga or Monforte, so the strength of La Morra Barolos are based upon their aromatics and suppleness of tannins. These qualities are not that evident in 2005 for too many bottlings.

However, there are many fine offerings from Castiglione Falletto as well as Serralunga and Monforte. The best of these wines will offer optimal drinking pleasure in 15-20 years, so while these are not powerful wines, the finest are well made and offer very good complexity.

barale2SERGIO BARALE “Cannubi” (Barolo)

(Sergio Barale, left, photo by Tom Hyland)

Bright garnet with lovely floral aromas of rose petals, red cherry and a hint of tar. Medium-full with very good concentration. Beautifully defined mid-palate, nice balance throughout with lively acidity and refined tannins. Lovely, graceful wine that will be at its best in 12-15 years.

GIOVANNI SORDO “Gabutti” (Serralunga)
Lovely young garnet with aromas of cedar, red cherry and red roses — lovely floral notes! Medium-full with excellent concentration. Great finesse — silky tannins, beautifully defined acidity and subtle oak. Lovely wine with beautiful complexity. Best in 12-15 years.

FRANCESCO RINALDI E FIGLI “Brunate” (La Morra)
Beautiful young garnet with enticing aromas of caraway, orange peel, dried cherry and cedar. Medium-full with very good to excellent concentration. Pinpoint acidity, beautifully integrated oak and refined tannins. A textbook Barolo that is very sensual. Great length in the finish. Best in 12-15 years.

BARTOLO MASCARELLO
Lovely young garnet with classic aromas of sandalwood, orange peel, currant and cedar. Medium-full with very good to excellent concentration. Beautiful fruit complexity, a lengthy finish, subtle wood notes, refined tannins and lively acidity. Another classic bottling from this outstanding producer. This will be at its best in 12-15 years.

PRUNOTTO
Lovely young garnet with classic aromas of cedar, dried cherry, orange peel and a hint of balsamic. Medium-full with very good to excellent concentration. Long, long finish, beautifully defined acidity and graceful tannins. Gorgeous wine offering lots of finesse! Best in 12-15 years — perhaps longer.

MARCARINI “Brunate” (La Morra)
Lovely pale garnet with aromas of red cherry, cedar and a hint of truffle. Medium-full with very good to excellent concentration. Bright fruit, lively acidity, supple tannins and subtle oak with a lengthy finish and beautiful complexity. Very classy! Best in 12-15 years.

ODDERO “Brunate” (La Morra)
Deep garnet with aromas of tobacco, cedar and orange peel. Medium-full with excellent concentration. Generous mid-palate and a rich finish with excellent fruit persistence, lively acidity and subtle oak. Nicely styled. This will be at its best in 15-20 years.

MICHELE CHIARLO “Cerquio” (La Morra)
Young garnet with aromas of orange peel, dried cherry, cedar and a touch of balsamic. Generous mid-palate, lively acidity and refined, elegant tannins. Wonderful complexity. Nicely balanced, this is a complete wine tha should be at its best in 15-20 years.

MAURO VEGLIO “Gattera” (La Morra)
Lovely young garnet with lovely aromas of balsamic, currant, cumin and a hint of tobacco. Medium-full with very good to excellent concentration. Pinpoint acidity and refined tannins. Nicely balanced throughout. Best in 15-20 years.

MAURO MOLINO “Conca” (La Morra)
Beautiful young garnet with aromas of cedar, red cherry and rose petals. Ripe and forward — irresistable! Nice mid-palate and a long finish. Livley acidity and refined tannins. This is a modern styled wine, but one that is vey well made and nicely balanced. Best in 15-20 years.

GEMMA “Colarej” (Serralunga d’Alba)
Deep, bright garnet with aromas of orange peel, dried cherry and sandalwood. Medium-full with very good to excellent concentration. Generous mid-palate and an elegant, lengthy finish. Lively acidity and elegant tannins. 12-15 years.

CASCINA LUISIN “Leon” (Serralunga d’Alba — Cerretta)
Young, bright garnet with aromas of red cherry, vanilla and mandarin orange. Medium-full with very good concentration. Generous mid-palate and a lengthy finsih with elegant tannins, lively acidity and very good fruit persistence. Best in 12-15 years.

FONTANAFREDDA “La Rosa” (Serralunga d’Alba)
Young, deep garnet with aromas of red cherry, rose petals and wild cherry. Medium-full with very good to excellent concentration. Generous mid-palate and nice balance. Young firm tannins, lively acidity and nice grip in the finish. Excellent complexity. Best in 12-15 years — perhaps longer.

LUIGI EINAUDI “Cannubi” (Barolo)
Beautiful young garnet with aromas of balsamic, orange peel and dried cherry. Medium-full with very good concentration. Beautiful ripeness, lively acidity and refined tannins. A nicely balanced wine that is very well made and should age well. Best in 12-15 years.

GIORGIO SCARZELLO “Vigna Merenda” (Barolo — Sarmassa)
Deep young garnet with aromas of cedar, red cherry, currant and a hint of balsamic. Medium-full with very good concentration. Rich mid-palate and excellent length in the finish. Very good acidity and elegant tannins. A beautifully made traditional style of Barolo. Best in 12-15 years.

GIUSEPPE RINALDI “Brunate-Le Coste” (Barolo)
Lovely young garnet with intriguing aromas of orange pekoe tea, currant and a hint of balsamic. Medium-full with very good concentration. Nice ripeness, very good acidity, subtle wood notes and elegant tannins. Nicely balanced wine made in a traditional style. Best in 12-15 years.

FAMIGLIA ANSELMA
Lovely young garnet with aromas of Earl Grey tea, orange peel, cedar and a hint of sage. Medium-full with excellent concentration. Round, lengthy mid-palate, nice complexity and an elegant finish. Nice harmony of components. Best in 12-15 years.

ELVIO COGNO “Ravera” (Novello)
Lovely garnet with aromas of cedar, dried cherry, rose petals and date. Medium-full with very good to excellent concentration. Pinpoint acidity, nice use of oak and polished tannins. Round, long finish. Elegant, well made wine that will be at its best in 12-15 years.

GIANFRANCO BOVIO “Arborina” (La Morra)
Beautiful young garnet with aromas of balsamic, dried cherry and cedar. Medium-full with very good concentration. Generous mid-palate, very good fruit persistence and beautifully structured. Excellent complexity and beautiful acidity. Best in 12-15 years.

MASSOLINO – VIGNA RIONDA “Margheria” (Serralunga)
Beautiful young garnet with gorgeous aromas of cedar, red cherry, truffle and sandalwood. Medium-full with very good to excellent concentration. Generous mid-palate, lively acidity and round tannins. Excellent complexity with nice subtle characteristics. Finesse over power — best in 12-15 years.

MASSOLINO — VIGNA RIONDA “Parafada” (Serralunga)
Lovely young garnet with aromas of cherry, orange peel and currant. Medium-full, this has a generous mid-palate and a beautiful finish with excellent fruit persistence, elegant tannins and lively acidity. Nicely balanced wine that beautifully expresses its terroir. Best in 12-15 years.

GIACOMO FENNOCHIO “Bussia” (Monforte)
Beautiful young garnet with aromas of rose petals, red cherry and cedar. Medium-full with very good concentration. Round, elegant tannins, lively acidity and very good fruit persistence. Traditionally made, this will be at its best in 10-12 years.

CASCINA DEL MONASTERO “Bricco Luciani” (La Morra)
Lovely young garnet with lovely aromas of red cherry, cedar, currant a nd a hint of truffle. Medium-full with very good concentration. Round, elegant tannins and nice complexity. Best in 12-15 years.

ANDREA OBERTO “Brunate” (La Morra)
Bright young garnet with aromas of currant, cedar and a hint of nutmeg. Medium-full with very good concentration. Round tannins, nice fruit persistence and very good acidity. Best in 12-15 years.

CAVALLOTTO “Bricco Boschis” (Castiglione Falletto)
Deep, young garnet with aromas of cedar, Queen Anne cherry and a hint of raspberry and nutmeg. Medium-full with very good concentration. Pinpoint acidity, lively acidity and silky tannins. Excellent complexity; very classy, an excellent expression of its site. Another classy effort from this producer — best in 12-15 years.

M. MARENGO “Brunate” (La Morra)
Beautiful young garnet with aromas of red cherry, vanilla, tar and truffle. Medium-full with very good to excellent concentration. Young tannins that need some time to settle down. A touch modern, but well balanced and nicely styled. Best in 12-15 years.

MAURO MOLINO “Conca” (La Morra)
Beautiful young garnet with aromas of cedar, red cherry and rose petals. Medium-full, this is ripe, forward and irresistible! Nice mid-palate and a long finish. Modern in style, but not overly so. Lively acidity and nicely styled tannins. Best in 15-20 years.

MAURO VEGLIO “Gattera” (La Morra)
Lovely young garnet with beautiful aromas of balsamic, currant, cumin and a hint of tobacco. Medium-full with very good to excellent concentration. Pinpoint acidity and refined tannins. Nice sense of breeding and beautiful balanced. Best in 15-20 years.

CORDERO DI MONTEZEMOLO “Bricco Gattera” (La Morra — Annunziata)
Bright young garnet with aromas of currant, a hint of strawberry, cedar and red poppy! Medium-full with very good concentration. Rich mid-palate with very good ripeness. This is a consistently excellent bottling. Very good acidity and refined tannins. Best in 12-15 years.

CASCINA BALLARIN “Bussia” (Monforte)
Deep young garnet with lovely aromas of red cherry, orange peel, cedar and herbal tea. Medium-full, this has refined tannins, good acidity and well-integrated oak. Lovely balance throughout, this is quite elegant and has beautiful complexity, Best in 12-15 years.

MAURO VEGLIO “Castelletto” (Monforte)
Deeo young garnet with aromas of red cherry, currant, vanilla and a hint of balsamic. Medium-full with very good concentration. Nicely defined mid-palate, very good fruit persistence, lively acidity and nicely balanced, though a bit too much oak. Best in 12-15 years — perhaps longer.

GIACOMO GRIMALDI “Le Coste” (Barolo)
Deep garnet with aromas of currant, sage, cedar and a hint of truffle. Medium-full with very good concentration. Moderate tannins and a distinct earthiness in the finish. Best in 12-15 years.

SERGIO BARALE “Castellero” (Barolo)
Young garnet with aromas of currant, rose petlas and cedar. Medium-full with very good concentration. Good acidity, refined tannins and good fruit persistence. Round and elegant. Best in 12-15 years.

BRIC CENCURIO “Coste di Rose” (Barolo)
Lovely young garnet with aromas of orange peel, dried cherry and cedar. Medium-full with very good concentration. Nicely defined mid-palate, very fine acidity, refined tannins and subtle oak. Best in 10-12 years.

VIETTI “Brunate” (La Morra)
Lovely young garnet with aromas of balsamic, cedar, orange peel and truffle. Medium-full with very good to excellent concentration. Rich mid-palate, big fruit persistence and young, firm tannins. A bit oaky, but nicely made; best in 12-15 years.

CASCINA BALLARIN “Bricco Rocca” (La Morra)
Youthful garnet with aromas of balsamic, dried cherry and cedar. Medium-full with good to very good concentration. Young tannins and tart acidity with a finish that is slightly short. Best in 10-12 years.

RENATO RATTI “Conca” (La Morra)
Bright young garnet with aromas of orange peel, truffle and cedar. Medium-full with very good concentration. Good ripeness, though a bit light on fruit in the finis. Nicely made with a good expression of terroir. Best in 10-12 years.

ANDREA OBERTO “Vigneto Rocche” (La Morra)
Deep garnet with aromas of cedar, dried cherry and sage. Medium-full with very good concentration. Nice extract on the palate along with refined tannins and very good acidity. Not a big wine, but quite elegant. Best in 10-12 years.

FRANCESCO SOBRERO “Ciabot Tanasio” (Castiglione Falletto)
Pale garnet with aromas of balsamic, caraway and cedar. Medium-full with good concentration. Elegant entry on the palate, tart acidity and round tannins. Good length in the finish. Best in 10-12 years.

FRANCO CONTERNO CASCINA SCIULIN “Bussia Munie” (Monforte)
Young garnet with aromas of rose petals, red cherry and cedar. Medium-full with very good concentration. Round, elegant tannins, lively acidity and good fruit persistence. Elegant, with nice finesse. Best in 12-15 years.

GIACOSA FRATELLI “Bussia” (Monforte)
Bright young garnet with aromas of currant, strawberry, cedar and sage. Medium-full with very good concentration. Nicely balanced wine with balanced acidity and round tannins, though the mid-palate is a bit short. 10-12 years.

PODERI COLLA “Bussia Dardi Le Rose” (Monforte)
Pale garnet with aromas of red cherry, orange peel, cedar and a hint of cinnamon. Very good fruit persistence, young tannins and lively acidity. The wine is a bit angular now, so give time to round out. Best in 12-15 years.

ALDO CONTERNO “Colonello” (Monforte)
Deep garnet with aromas of caraway, cedar, orange peel and red cherry. Medium-full with very good concentration. Round tannins, very good acidity and very good fruit persistence. Best in 12-15 years.

GIOVANNI ROSSO “La Serra” (Serralunga)
Pale garnet with aromas of cedar, red cherry and currant. Medium-full, this has good richness on the palate, but a slightly short finish. Subdued, traditional style. Best in 10-12 years.

ROCCHE COSTAMAGNA “Bricco Francesco” (La Morra)
Deep garnet with notes of balsamic, cedar, dried cherry and nutmeg. Medium-full with good to very good concentration. Very good acidity, refined tannins and an elegant finish. Nice sense of place along with finesse. An elegant wine that will be at its best in 12-15 years.

FRANCO MOLINO CASCINA ROCCA “Rocche dell’Annunziata” (La Morra)
Lovely young garnet with aromas of balsamic, cedar, orange peel and a hint of nutmeg.Medium-full with very good concentration. Young, firm tannins and good acidity, though a bit too much oak. Best in 12-15 years.

AURELIO SETTIMO “Rocche dell’Annunziata” (La Morra)
Young garnet with aromas of cedar, currant and truffle. Medium-full with good to very good concentration. Round tannins, very good acidity and an elegant, finesseful finish. Well made — best in 10-12 years.

COSTA DI BUSSIA “Campo dei Buoi” (Monforte)
Beautiful young garnet with aromas of red cherry, vanilla, truffle and sandalwood. Medium-full with very good to excellent concentration. Rich mid-palate, balanced acidity, young tannins and ample oak. Best in 12-15 years.

MONTI
Deep young garnet with aromas of cedar, orange peel, sage and dried cherry. Medium-full with very good concentration. Very good acidity, balanced tannins and very good fruit persistence; earthy finish. Best in 12-15 years.

RENATO RATTI “Rocche dell’Annunziata” (La Morra)
Young garnet with aromas of orange peel, mincemeat and balsamic. Medium-bodied, this has an earthy finish with good fruit persistecne, lively aciidty and cedary notes. Best in 10-12 years.

ALESSANDRA FRATELLI “Monvigliero” (Verduno)
Young garnet with aromas of cedar, balsamic, orange peel and a hint of nutmeg. Medium bodied, this has good aciidty and refined tannins, but could use a bit more depth of fruit. Straightforward and nicely balanced, but a bit simple. Best in 10-12 years.

FRANCESCO RINALDI E FIGLI “Cannubbio”
Lovely garnet with aromas of red cherry, coriander and currant. Medium-full with very good concnetration. Earthy finish with very good fruit persistence and notable spice. Elegantly styled. Best in 10-12 years.

CORDERO DI MONTEZEMOLO “Monfalletto” (La Morra-Annunziata)
Deep garnet with a hint of prosciutto, red cherry and sandalwood. Medium-full with good concentration. Good ripeness and perhaps a bit too much oak, but nice complexity. Best in 12-15 years.

JOSETTA SAFFIRIO “Persiera” (Monforte)
Bright young garnet with aromas of red cherry, mint, vanilla and Earl Grey tea. Medium-full with very good to excellent concentration. Ample oak, slightly bitter tannins and good acidity. Give time — best in 12-15 years.

CASCINA ADELAIDE “Cannubi” (Barolo)
Beautiful young garnet with aromas of vanilla, red currant, dried cherry and a hint of tar. Medium-full with very good concentration. Balanced tannins and acidity and perhaps a touch too much oak. Best in 10-12 years.

GIUSEPPE RINALDI “Cannubi San Lorenzo — Ravera” (Barolo-Novello)
Lovely bright garnet with aromas of currant, roses and tar. Medium-full with very good concentration. Balanced acidity, young tannins and good acidity. Good fruit persistence. Well made, elegant wine. Best in 12-15 years.

VIRNA BORGOGNO “Preda Sarmassa” (Barolo)
Deep young garnet with aromas of currant, cinnamon and cedar. Modern style with young tannins, balanced acidity, and ample oak. Very good fruit persistence. Give time to settle down. Best in 10-12 years.

BOROLI “Cerequio” (La Morra)
Young garnet with aromas of cedar, balasamic and dried currant. Medium-full with good concentration. Earthy, traditional style with good acidity and balanced tannins. Straightforward in its approach. Best in 10-12 years.

VIETTI “Castiglione” (Castiglione Falletto)
Young, deep garnet with aromas of orange peel, dried cherry and balsamic. Medium-bodied with good acidity and refined tannins. Nicely balanced, this is a very representative Barolo that costs less than $50. Best in 7-10 years.

DAMILANO “Cannubi” (Barolo)
Deep garnet with aromas of cedar, talc, cedar and a hint of balsamic. Medium-full with very good concentration. Ample oak, and slightly bitter tannins. Good ripeness and fruit persistence. Best in 10-12 years — perhaps longer.

BREZZA “Cannubi” (Barolo)
Bright young garnet with aromas of vanilla, red currant, dried cherry and a hint of tar. Medium-full with very good concentration. Ripe, a touch oaky with good acidity and balanced tannins. Best in 10-12 years.

MARCHESI DI BAROLO “Sarmassa” (Barolo)
Bright young garnet with aromas of red cherry, vanilla and a hint of tar. Medium-full with very good concentration. Balanced acidity and very ripe fruit. Modern style. Give time — best in 12-15 years.

CASCINA CUCCO “Cerrati” (Serralunga)
Bright young garnet with aromas of cedar, currant and a hint of vanilla. Medium-full with very good acidity and moderate tannins. The finish is a bit short, but this has good depth of fruit. Best in 12-15 years.

VIRNA BORGOGNO “Cannubi Boschis” (Barolo)
Beautiful young garnet. Aromas of Earl Grey tea, cedar and dried cherry. Medium-full with very good concentration. Straightforward; nicely balanced. Best in 10-12 years.

GIANNI GAGLIARDO “Cannubi” (Barolo)
Deep ruby red with aromas of vanilla, black cherry, tar and clove. Medium-full with very good concentration Very ripe with ample oak. Balanced acidity and firm tannins. This needs time to round out. Best in 12-15 years.

LUCIANO SANDRONE “Cannubi Boschis” (Barolo)
Beautiful deep garnet with aromas of cedar, dried cherry and orange peel. Medium-full with very good concentration. Ripe and rather forward with very good acidity and balanced tannins A bit modern for me, but nicely balanced throughout. Best in 10-12 years.

PODERE RUGGERI CORSINI “Corsini” (Monforte)
Bright young garnet with aromas of ripe red cherry, strawberry, vanilla and currant. Medium-full with very good concentration. Generous mid-palate, ample oak, balanced tannins and good acidity. Best in 12-15 years.

E. PIRA E FIGLI “Cannubi” (Barolo)
Lovely deep garnet with aromas of ripe red cherry, vanilla and tar. Medium-full with very good concentration. Forward, ripe and oaky as well as being a bit tannic. Balanced acidity and tannins. Best in 12-15 years.

BREZZA “Sarmassa” (Barolo)
Bright young garnet with aromas of red cherry, vanilla and a hint of tar. Medium-bodied, this is ripe with balanced acidity and young tannins and will be at its best in 12-15 years. A good wine, but not the best from this fine producer.

Tuscan native Luca Martini is Italy’s “best sommelier”

luca_martini

Tuscan native Luca Martini (above) was named Italy’s “best sommelier” at the 43rd annual AIS (Associazione Italiana Sommelier or Italian Sommelier Association) conference over the weekend in Matera, Basilicata. By all accounts, camaraderie and healthy sportsmanship were bywords of the competition. Martini is the wine director at Osteria da Giovanna in Arezzo, his hometown.

carta

One surprise came in the final round, when none of the three finalists recognized a Langhe Bianco DOC produced by Angelo Gaja, Sauvignon Alteni di Brassica. The wines was included in a wine list to be corrected by competitors (above). Try your own hand at correcting the list: see the list here at the AIS blog.

Post-divorce Gambero Rosso still plagued by conflict of interest issues

Publisher Gambero Rosso has published its first guide to the wines of Italy since it officially severed ties with long-time partner Slow Food in March 2009 (see the VinoWire post on the “divorce” here).

Gambero Rosso has been plagued over the last year by a series of scandals, including the abrupt dismissal of respected writer and Gambero Rosso co-founder Stefano Bonilli in September 2008 and continued accusations of conflicts of interest posed by director Daniele Cernilli’s relationship to his wife Marina Thompson’s marketing firm, Thompson Marketing, Italy’s top wine-centric public relations consultant.

On his blog Vino al Vino, VinoWire editor Franco Ziliani recently noted that an unnamed Gambero Rosso regional tasting director is also a public relations consultant to the same wineries who received top scores in his region’s chapter. “Don’t tell me,” opined Ziliani, “that just because Berlusconi could care less about conflicts of interest, everyday Italians don’t have to care about them either!”

Winners of the Gambero Rosso special awards for 2010 are as follows:

Winery: Bruno Giacosa of Piedmont

Red wine: Antoniolo, Osso San Grato 2005 Gattinara

White wine: Clelia Romano, Colli di Lapio 2008 Fiano di Avellino

Bubbles: Cavit, Altemasi Graal Brut Riserva 2002 Trento

Winemaker: Gianfranco Fino of Puglia

Sweet wine: Barattieri, Albarola Val di Nure Vin Santo1999 Colli Piacentini

(Source Vino24.tv).