Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Castello Di Salle Montepulciano d’Abruzzo

(c)2008 SmellsLikeGrape

We frequent a packie just 20 miles south of us. It’s a bit out of the way, but they have a good selection and have bottles priced by case prices (meaning you get the case price if you by one bottle or twelve). While Taster B was looking for a Pinot Grigio, I put my grandpappy glasses on and snuck over to the Italian section to see what could be found.

I’m interested in operating out of my comfy zone and dabbling into some wine that I never tasted. I had good luck with the Dogajolo so I thought I’d try another Super Tuscan or three. What I found wasn't a Super Tuscan but something from the east central coast.

Okay, I really don’t know Italian wine from Adam’s off ox, so I was relying on the information tags. I found three wines that had great reviews. (I like to rely on my own judgment but in this case, I was happy to get help from Robert Parker, Jr. and Wine Spectator. Taster B says that our tastes agree with Robert Parker, Jr. I know better than to argue with her.)

(c)2008 SmellsLikeGrapeLet’s take a look at this label. The first thing I notice is that the label is for an American market, it’s in Italianglish. Castello Di Salle is the brand. The bottler is Sallis Castrum and I’d like to provide you with a link but I’m not having much joy. I’ve had two sites refer me to the Ciccio Zaccagnini winery website, however I’m unable to find Castello Di Salle or Sallis Castrum there.

Let’s continue. Riserva is Italian for reserve and we have a red wine. Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is what we have in the bottle. Montepulciano is also a type of wine grape. Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is a type of red wine made from grapes of the same name in the Abruzzo region of east-central Italy. (Okay, I got that sorted. Cool, this is my first Montepulciano d'Abruzzo!)

Denominazione di Origine Controllata, Denomination of Controlled Origin, an upper level Italian wine classification. This defines a given wine's geographical origin, grapes, and production methods but is no guarantee of quality. Now I’m informed that Riserva is a DOC term and indicates a higher valued wine. Here in the states, Reserve has become a bit trite. A comment is welcome on the subject of DOC and riserva. Can we count on this to lead to a higher quality Italian wine?

I did find a useful review of our wine at http://www.linerandelsen.com/newsletter0307.html. I was uncertain about buying a 2001 without knowing if the wine has good bones, but according to this reference, one could lay this bad boy down for 5 more years for continued development. (Yah, we're popping this one open as soon as I can find “old reliable”.)

http://www.villaitaliawines.com/cantina/Wine.asp?idWine=28 also imports this wine and has information posted.

I'm rather happy to present my tasting notes for Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. It was a real pleasure to try something new.

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Riserva
Castello Di Salle
Variety: 100% Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo
Appellation: Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo D.O.C.
Vintage: 2001
Alcohol: 13.0%
Price: $11.99

Color: Ruby Red
Intensity: Deep
Aromas: Strawberry, blackberry, plum, violet, rose, earth, oak
Flavors: Blackberry, plum, herbal, allspice, white pepper, vanilla, sandlewood.
Body: Medium
Acidity: Moderate
Sweetness: off-dry
Tannins: Silk
Finish: Moderately long.

Summary: This is a smooth drinking, subtle wine. Pleasant fruit, easy tannins. The wine is like tasting the lazy days of summer when the living is easy. Black fruits of blackberry and plum. This is not a big red cab, no it is a gentle breeze on a lazy day. Everything is balanced, nothing dominates, total harmony.

Drink this by itself, with leg of lamb, Moroccan, rabbit, pheasant, grilled veggies, and with Italian red sauces.

Commenting on Commenting:
We’ve been trying to get commenting to work for a few weeks and I spent Sunday trying to debug the template only to fine that the constants that control the commenting are stored out of the editable part of our skins and templates. If you have spotted an error in this posting, want to leave some friendly Italian wine advice or offer suggestions, please click on the title of this posting and the commenting should become available.

7 Jan 08
Dear Diary,

I bumped into an engineer friend in the hall today. He said that he and his new girlfriend has shared a special Bordeaux together. We struck up a conversation. He said that his favorite Italian wine was a red wine that no one has ever heard of. “Its Mono, no Monton no, that’s not righ...” I said inquisitively, “Do you mean Montepulciano d'Abruzzo?” “Yes!!! That’s it!!!” I told him where he could get it locally. How cool is that?


Taster B said...

I tasted this wine too: Besides the blackberry, and a hint of cedar, I almost could taste marina in the finish of this wine. It was like a Willa Wonka gumball.
I found this wine to be demure and bordering on melancholy...I have a tendency toward anthropomorphizing wine which I normally keep to myself but, that is the definite impression I got.
Surprisingly, this wine did not stand up to pairing with actual marinara but, I think it would do fine with a clam sauce, ham, or roasted pork with fennel.

Abruzzo wine Italy said...

A captivating review, congrats! For sure, it's a wine worth trying.