Saturday, October 22, 2011

2009 Martinelli pinot noir, Zio Tony Ranch, "Grace Nicole"

This is another in a long line of successes with this varietal by a family who started farming in Sonoma County well over 100 years ago. They make exemplary syrahs, zinfandels and chardonnays, all estate grown, but my soft spot is for their splendid pinots. This one is from the Russian River Valley AVA and it displays the typical Martinelli lush, ripe fruit flavors and perfectly focused sweet cherry and wet earth aromas. This is a wine that deserves serious contemplation.

All of Martinelli's single vineyard wines are allocated. This one retails from the winery for $60. The Wine Spectator recently reviewed California's 2009 vintage, which was particularly successful for Sonoma pinots. They gave this wine a 95 rating.

2007 Tenuta delle Terre Nere, "Santo Spirito"

If you are searching for something really different in a red wine, this is a good one to try. Proprietor Marc de Grazia produces this wine from grapes grown on the slopes of the Sicilian Mount Etna. The wine is almost 100% Nerello Mascalese, a relatively obscure varietal native to Sicily. When you pour some in your glass, the light red color would cause you to anticipate a lightness in flavor and structure. But this is a powerful and tannic wine, built to age for a decade or more. De Grazia also produces a similar wine called "Guardiola."

I purchased this wine from the Wine Exchange in Orange, CA for $40. Parker (Galloni) gives it a 93 rating. The 2008 vintage of these two companion wines has now been released and they sell for the same price. Parker (Galloni) gives them 95 ratings.

2008 Turley zinfandel, Howell Mountain (Dragon Vineyard)

If you like your zins to be inexpensive, light-weight and fruit-driven, you would be well advised to avoid Turley zins. This concentrated, mouth-filling wine is sourced from old vines, which in itself is somewhat remarkable since most old vine zins in Napa Valley have long ago been pulled out and replaced by Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine displays a dark ruby color with intense aromas of spice box and red berries. The flavors are rich, ripe and long. The acid and tannin structure means this wine should age well for five years or more.

This is one of Turley's allocated wines, but given the state of the economy, it should not take you very long to get on their list. The price was $45 and I have no problem with that given this wine's fine quality. Parker rated it 93-95. Tanzer gave it a 93.

2009 Russolo "Doi Raps"

This white wine from Friuli is a blend of pinot bianco, pinot grigio and sauvignon blanc. According to the folks at the Wine Exchange, Russolo, after the harvest, leaves two bunches ("Doi Raps" is Friulian for "two bunches") on each vine to further ripen for up to six weeks. These super-ripe grapes are fermented separately and the result is a wine that is chock full of aromatics and flavor. You can tell sauvignon blanc plays a role here but it is a supporting role only. This is a fascinating wine that can hold its own structurally with the biggest of white wines. The Wine Exchange sells it for $17.