A couple of Italian reds

Following on from the snapper and white wines (last post), we enjoyed a few red wines, two of which I’m noting here.

Argiano Solengo 1995:  I had the pleasure of visiting Argiano in the southern end of Tuscany, in the region of Montalcino, a couple of years ago following a sensory research conference in Florence.  The cellars lie under a 500 year old villa (pictured on the label), and a black mould grows with gay abandon.  Ideal cellar conditions are cool and humid, so it’s quite common to see this in European cellars.  The wine “Solengo” is a blend in fairly equal parts of shiraz, cabernet, and merlot, three varieties not traditionally common to Tuscany, but increasing in popularity.  Many wineries prefer to stick with sangiovese, the key grape for Chianti and the only grape allowed for Brunello di Montalcino.  But cabernet and merlot have gained a strong foothold in Tuscany, especially with the high scores awarded by critics such as Robert Parker for some of the wines; these same wines are typically priced beyond the means of regular wine drinkers these days.  This Solengo ’95 was showing its age, with a slightly leathery feel and flavour, and also a nice autumn leaf aroma that I often find in wines from this region.  Not bad, but perhaps this wine is better drunk a little younger?

Allegrini Amarone 1990:  the label was in bad shape, but the wine itself was in great shape.  Amarone, made in the northern region of Valpolicella, is made from grapes that are air-dried for several months prior to fermentation.  This has the effect of concentrating the sugars and flavours, giving the wine a higher alcohol level and raisin-like flavours, and a bitter/astringent edge (amaro means “bitter”).  The alcohol on this one wasn’t excessive at 14%, but Amarones can get up as high as 17-18%.  The concentrated alcohol and grape extracts give these wines great longevity, as seen in this very youthful 21 year old.  Apart from the slight bitter finish, this wine probably had more in common with a 5 year old Barossa shiraz than other 21 year old Italian wines, such was its lush and raisined flavour.  It went well with both BBQ-seared beef fillet and a selection of cheeses.

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2 Responses to A couple of Italian reds

  1. Jane says:

    I tried Amarone for the first time a few weeks back! Of course I have now forgotten all the details, but it was delicious! I didn’t know that Amaro means bitter, nice to know! And interesting to know how it is made too. Good blogging :) Maybe I have to give those Italians another chance…

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