Lusenti’s Bianca Regina 2010

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I went to Venice yesterday. Had a delicious lunch at Estro (highly recommended, by the way!) and then decided to see if I could retrace my steps to a cute, little wine bar that I stumbled across in December.

Fortunately, my trusty nose / ability to find wine / sense of direction is pretty good and, even though I didn’t remember the name or address, I was able to find my way back to the Cantina Arnaldi (also totally worth the visit.)

Andrea at Cantina Arnaldi, Venezia

Andrea of the Cantina Arnaldi, Venezia

I actually had a secret agenda – I wanted to bring a bottle of something a little different back for my boyfriend, “A”. I asked Andrea at Arnaldi (pictured above) for a suggestion… and it turns out to have been spot on. It’s one of the most interesting wines I’ve drunk recently.


LUSENTI (Colli Piacentini DOC, Emilia) Bianca Regina 2010 Malvasia di Candia Aromatica (13.5%)

Lusenti is an organic winery and part of the VinNatur association but one that I didn’t know of before. They’re located near Piacenza in Emilia-Romagna, set in a unique micro-climate between the Po river and the Apennine mountains.

Once harvested, the grapes are left for three or four days for a skin-contact maceration at controlled temperatures.

I’m actually a pretty mean girlfriend because, once I got home, I put some aluminium foil around the bottle and poured a glass for “A” to taste blind.

On first impressions, it smells sweet: lots of ripe apricot, honey, quince and fresh nutmeg. “A” got it straight away, “Malvasia!”

With a traffic-light amber colour, the wine’s vintage was harder to guess. It’s clearly relatively mature because the juice is completely in place but there’s no hint of oxidation. Timeless.

What I found particularly enjoyable about this wine is the gustatory sensations. Despite the sweet nose, the wine is almost completely bone dry. It seduces you in phases: starting with fleshy fruits and almonds, moving through tannins, acidity and mentholated freshness and finishing on a slight bitterness, very typical of skin-contact wines. Lipsmackingly moreish!


Tasted: 13th March 2017

Price: €€

Rating: ****


Lusenti website and Facebook

Six Great Summer Wines

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I don’t know about you, but here in my little corner of the world, the sun has finally come out!

I was in Piedmont last week, planting Timorasso barbatelle in Stefano Bellotti’s vineyards. Hot, sweaty work at the best of times, but even worse in 30 degree heat and at 600m above sea level!

 

We would leave the cascina at 7am and not return until at least 7pm when we were panting, sweaty and desperate for a glass of wine.

Here are six summer wines that I tasted at the Villa Favorita (VinNatur) tasting back in March. They are all perfect for picnics, aperitifs or simply by themselves to quench your thirst.

 


ETNELLA Soc. Agr. La Presa (Sicily) “Kaos” Etna Bianco IGT 2013 Carricante-Cataratto with some Coda di Volpe, Minnella, Inzolia (12.5%.)

There’s a ton of smacking minerality on this wine, made at over 750 metres above sea level, near Passopiscaro on Mount Etna.

It’s a simple wine; one year in steel then 6 months to rest in the bottle before arriving on the market. I loved the combination of that intense volcanicity with a touch of sweet, ripe fruit.

FILIPPI (Veneto) “Castelcerino” Soave DOC Colli Scaligeri 2013 Garganega (12.5%) 

Castelcerino is the highest village in the Soave appellation and these vineyards are around 400 metres above sea level on volcanic (basalt) soil. For what this wine lacks in its immediate aroma, it easily makes up with its mouthfeel. An explosion of delicate floral characters (white tea) which transform into conference pears and rich slightly-mulled apples. A very stylish, elegant wine; the finish is marked by a gentle acidity. Persistent.

CANTINA MARGO (Umbria) “Fiero” Bianco Umbria IGT 2013 Trebbiano-Grechetto (12%)

Carlo Tabarrini is a young winemaker working in a thankless area on the Italian penisula. Fermentation with indigenous yeasts, no fining, no filtering, no added sulfites, just lots and lots of great wine. This one in particular has a pleasant tangerine colour. It is made from old vines of Trebbiano and Grechetto, a few days of skin-maceration in open vats without temperature control, then aging in damigiana.

There’s plenty of fruit characters (apples, melon and orange peel) alongside some herbal and medicinal aromas. Dangerously drinkable.

BOSCO FALCONERIA (Sicily) “Catarratto” IGT Terre Siciliane 2013 Catarratto (12.5%)

There seems to be a heavy slant towards southern Italy today because here comes another Sicilian wine in this summer collection of whites. This time, however, the wine comes from Palermo, on the other side of the island from Etna. There’s no denying that Sicilian wines make great thirst-quenchers if you’re outside in the sunshine. This wine merits a place in this list for its grassy and herbal bouquet. It’s immediately accessible and pleasing. The equivalent of a fresh summer breeze with a clean citrus edge. In short, it’s summer in a glass!

DVA DUBY (Czech Republic) “Ex Monte Lapis” 2012 Saint Laurent (11.6%)

The Dva Duby (means Two Oaks) winery is a small winery based in Dolni Kounice, Czech Republic. For centuries it has been a renowned winemaking town, especially for its red wines. The aim is simple – to preserve as much of the unique terroir of Dolni Kounice as possible and to produce wines with great aging potential. No herbicides, pesticides are used and even copper was banned on the estate. From their minimal six hectares of vines, they make an average of 10,000 bottles a year. St Laurent is a highly aromatic grape and being the only red wine on this list, it’s my dark horse. Definitely worth buying if you can get your hands on it!

 

QUARTICELLO (Emilia) “Despina” Malvasia Emilia IGT Frizzante 2013 Malvasia Aromatica di Candia (11.5%)

Quarticello are mainly known for their Lambrusco but this Malvasia was a very pleasant surprise. A deliciously refreshing wine that could easily be confused for a lime-soda! If you typically avoid Malvasia at this time of year thinking that it will be too sweetly aromatic, you have nothing to fear with this wine. It packs a mean punch of lime, grapefruit and orange blossom. The salinity on the finish (bone dry, by the way) was absolutely delicious.