Home > Winedr Blog

Three Wines from Tenuta Vitalonga

My exposure to Italian wine is not as frequent as it used to be; I spend so much time wrapped up in Bordeaux and the Loire, that opening an Italian bottle – perhaps as part of one of my vintage reviews at 10, 15 or 20 years of age – often comes as something of a treat.

So I was glad recently to take a look at these wines sent by Vitalonga, not least because my Italian experience focus so often on the classic regions, Tuscany in particular. These wines hail instead from Umbria, a small and land-locked region not quite midway down Italy’s peninsula.

I have tasted previous vintages of these wines, reported here, and these latest releases showed better. Particularly notable was the Sangiòvese cuvée, which is bright and pure. It’s intended for drinking soon, judging by its style (and synthetic closure). Not a complex or deeply characterful wine by any means, and not every wine should be; this is just a glass of dry and fruity joy. My favourite, though, was the Terra di Confine, which demonstrates that there is life beyond Sangiovese in this part of Italy.

Vitalonga

Vitalonga Sangiòvese IGT (Umbria) 2011: Bottled under ‘Korked’ synthetic closure. A very good colour to it, dark but with a vibrant rim. Some attractive fruit on the nose here, sweet and fresh, not confected, with some darker tones to it, hints of cherry and blackberry, but crisp, fresh, and biting rather than darkly ripe. A very nice texture on entry, and this conviction is not lost through the middle, which broadens a little in terms of texture, caressing quite gently, with freshness of fruit, a correct structure, good acidity and dry extract. For the level (and price perhaps?), a real success. Sure it’s straightforward, but it’s delicious, uncomplicated, easy-drinking wine. 14.5/20 (January 2013)

Vitalonga Elcione (Umbria) 2009: Bottled under natural cork, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot frm clay and chalk soils, fermented in steel, with six months in French barrique thereafter. The aromatics are bright and cool, and despite the varieties used it’s clear from the outset that this possesses a very Italian style. There are notes of cranberry skin, sweet red cherry and black pepper, all with a slightly diffuse, roasted-fruit, caramel-vanilla tinge no doubt from the oak. It has a sour-fruit character on the palate, with very firm Italianate acidity and structure, never fleshy or flattering, leading into a dry finish. A rather attractive style, albeit with better definition to the structure of the wine, which with a little time shows a bright, peppery endpalate, than there is to the fruit. 14.5/20 (January 2013)

Vitalonga Terra di Confine (Umbria) 2009: A blend of 80% Montepulciano and 20% Merlot, fermented in steel and aged in French oak barriques for 12 months. A dark hue in the glass, but a vibrant rim. The nose certainly speaks of the principal variety, with scents of blackberry and black olive, with a dark and sooty underbelly, as well as a honeyed application of oak. The palate is fresh, medium-bodied and showing bright acidity cutting through the fruits which here have a more sappy and biting, just-ripe feel than the darker scents on the nose suggested to me. It has a very lively, acid-bound style, which leads into a short finish. Good wine. 15/20 (January 2013)

Random Bottles from Italy

Some random Italian notes from my recent trip to Tuscany. With no real culture of producing sparkling wine in Tuscany, or sweet wine beyond Vin Santo, it is perhaps no surprise that my vinous appetite reached out to Umbria, Venezia Giulia, Piedmont and Veneto.

Having said that, the two Chiantis, from Rocca di Montegrossi and Castello di Ama, and the Umbrian wine – which is made by Antinori at their Castello della Sala estate – were the most impressive. Something to do with sticking with local wines and local producers perhaps?

The three fizzes were disappointing in all honesty, serviceable but with little enticement. But then they came from the shelves of the local market, so perhaps that’s why. Having said that, though, the Prosecco de Valdobbiadene Superiore di Cartizze was about 15 Euros, so I would have hoped for a little more bang for my buck. The other two were, happily, fairly inexpensive.

Mionetto Prosecco Treviso Legatura NV: Bottled with the traditional string legatura holding in the cork. Alcohol 11%. A surprisingly firm pressure behind the cork, although there is little evidence of any bead of note in this pale, pale wine, which displays just a faint tinge of green. Aromatically it is rather anodyne, showing steely-edged fruit but little else more enticing. The palate is refreshing all the same, showing some fatness from the residual sugar, and with some fruit here, marked by a bitter-pithy edge. This is well countered by the wine’s gentle sweetness though. Short, rather moreish with its cleansing acidity, but otherwise straightforward. 14/20

San Pietro di Feletto Prosecco de Valdobbiadene Superiore di Cartizze NV: This has a very pale appearance, almost water-clear, with a very subtle bead. The nose is nettly, gently floral, but ultimately rather soft and not hugely expressive by any stretch of the imagine. A lovely fresh effervescence on the palate gives some joy, lending a foamy edge to the white stone character in the mouth, nuanced with flavours of blackcurrant leaf. A slightly peppery style, but with a supple cream to it as well, and some bite in the finish. A worthwhile effort. 14.5/20

Duchessa Lia Brachetto d’Acqui NV: Alcohol 6.5%. A translucent cherry red, with a soft-pink foam. Cherry cough mixture on the nose, with a spiky and crisp edge, nettles or similar, over the sweet, oily fruit. A nice mousse in the mouth, a full, sweet and fleshy composition, with an attractive spiky edge to it in the middle. There is a nettle and sherbet lift here, but it is the soft sweetness that dominates. A fresh finish here, but ultimately I find this is straightforward and rather simple. 13.5/20

Jermann Vinnaioli Pinot Grigio IGT (Venezia Giulia) 2010: This wine, perhaps unsurprisingly, has a rich and golden hue. And on the nose this plushness seems to continue, being heavily fruit-influenced, particularly tropical fruit salad with a good helping of cream, the major relief being some brighter citrus fruit elements also mixed in. The palate continues in the same vein. There is also a low-level minerality too though, but it is certainly the texture and fruit that dominates. Overall it seems quite lazy in its composition, with the acidity taking a back seat. Not the most vibrant wine but there are certainly some enticing flavours here. 15/20

Castello di Ama Chianti Classico 2007: A firm depth of colour to this wine. A remarkable nose, full of roasted game meats at first, followed up by notes of bitter cherry and black olive; together these aromas give it an enticing feel. The palate has a moderate texture and bags of character, with flavours that more than live up to its aromatic promise. Nevertheless the structrue is stern, with a firm backbone of acidity and rather a wealth of dry and sappy tannin. More focused on structure than flavour, although there’s not necessarily anything wrong with that. In fact I think it is rather good. And it has length, too. 17/20

Rocca di Montegrossi Chianti Classico 2009: A fairly dense colour here, with a fresh and youthful tinge at the rim of the wine. Minerally fruit on the nose here which I find slightly surprising, very slightly gamey also. There are fruit skins too, with a rather warm and peppery character. Nevertheless it has good freshness on the palate, with an attractive sour-fruit acidity. Quite sappy, with a mouth-watering, lip-smacking finish. Appealing persistence here too, long and slightly sour. I think this is rather good. 15.5/20

Cantina di Soave Recioto di Soave 2007: This wine has an intense, sweet, golden-orange hue. The nose certainly has freshness and lift on its side, with a fresh and lemony vigour coming in very handy at counterbalancing all the sweet, bitter-tinged oranges, almonds and fresh vanilla pods. A good weight and sweetness on the palate, refreshing orange fruit, long and rather bitter which I find an appealing contrast against the residual. Attractive, but ultimately rather one-dimensionsal, but there are certainly structural elements here that I admire. 15/20

Antinori Muffato della Sala IGT (Umbria) 2005: This sweet wine, which is 60% Sauvignon Blanc and 40% a mix of Grechetto, Traminer and Riesling, has a deep orange-gold hue in the glass which promises much. A rich, citrus fruit, candied lemon and barley sugar layer of sweetness on the nose, nuanced with notes of thyme and smoke. There is just a little baked edge to it in the background as well, with oxidative tinges which rather put me in mind of the wines of Domaine de Juchepie. Sweet and polished on the palate, broad and quite grippy, intense and also of great substance. The flavours are of dried fruit, broadening out in the finish. What is missing, despite that Juchepie analogy, is the minerality or the pithy bitterness that can make wines such as this so exciting. Still, we shouldn’t overlook the many good points here. 16/20