Tomas Clancy reviews Ernesto Picollo, Rovereto, DOCG Gavi di Gavi 2018 and Bodega Conde Valdemar, Reserva , DOc Rioja 2011
Ernesto Picollo, Rovereto, DOCG Gavi di Gavi 2018
Pricing : €18.50
Available : Sheridans Cheese Shops and online at sheridanscheesemongers.com
Independent Off Licences and Wine Shops nationwide
The north eastern region of Italy, just across the border with France from Nice and the Cote D’Azur is home in the hills behind its cliff edged coast to some of the world’s greatest red wines. To be specific, Barolo, which is also one of the world’s most expensive wines. Piedmonte is a high mountainous region that considers itself to be the no nonsense heart of Italian industry and commerce. Its wines reflect this straightforward view of themselves. However of course being the engine of Italy’s economy as they see it in regional capital Turin home of Fiat, they are also wealth makers and want to enjoy the fruit of their labour.
This is red wine country but they also make two very famous white wines, Moscato d’Asti, a low alcohol sweet wine, often lightly sarkling and Gavi. Neither have a great general reputation, much Gavi made from the local Cortese grape is lean, watery quaffing wine. It was often seen as a beachside or cocktail party reception wine.
Then in 1998, very late in Italian wine history, Gavi di Gavi was awarded its own upper appellation which through geographical restrictions and deands for quality cellar work elvated the entire vision of the wine.
Best of all, a few hardy and loyal to their local white wine producers like the Picollo Family now in its fourth generation, under Lorenzo Picollo, decided to treat Gavi di Gavi as a fine wine should, hand harvesting, indigenous yeast fermentation, maloactic fermentation, extended soaking and all done organically. The result is a wine that plays in the best Sancerre and leaner Chablis style, citric on the nose with a hint of white flowers, a rush of lusciousness in a lime tone, then a lifted, glossy and pinpoint, mouth-wateringly clean finish. It begs for hard cold Comte or for winter months warmed, opulent Mont D’Or. lso be
Bodega Conde Valdemar, Reserva , DOc Rioja 2011
Pricing : €20
Available : All good Independent Off Licences and Wine Shops nationwide
In ties of crisis people tend to return to what they know best, to the familiar and the comfortable and in wine this has meant a swing back to European wines and a palpable increase in the presence on our wine shelves of Chablis, Chianti, Cotes du Rhone, St. Emilion and Rioja. These are wines that need little explanation, they are usually of a very good basic quality no matter how you move on the price scale. Except I would suggest Bordeaux which still has a foolishly disengaged attitude to much of the very modest wine that arrives in our glass under the AC Bordeaux heading.
Rioja however has been a glowing source of value and over-delivering wines, wines that you really have to take a second look at the price to make sure you have not picked up a much dearer wine by mistake.
The generosity is no purely charitable, after years of being a stalwart of Spanish wine, Rioja became to be seen as a bit dusty, a little dated and with so many new regions and exciting avant garde producers popping up across Spain, a little stuck in a rut.
Many Bodegas like this family run estate, where father Carlos Martinez Bujanda and his daughter Ana Martinez Bujanda are hands on runners of the 150 year old estate. They invested in every interesting piece of new technology but also kept hold of the hand crafted core elements of Rioja’s best wineries. The investment can be seen here on the label, this is the 2011, that is 8 years of making sure the wine is released when it is optimal not when just when it has been bottled.
The wine spends 26 months in expensive American and a proportion of French oak, the sweet toasty, light coconut element of US oak is contrasted with an underlying Tempranillo spiciness, a flicker of tangerine and a deep warmth. This is a fine, opulent winter ready wine and be on the look out for the Gran Reserva an even richer and dense version of this charmer.