These tasting notes accompany our in-depth profile of these three estates..
BOLLA CELLARS, VENETO
Bolla, Pinot Grigio IGT delle Venezie 2008
Grapes from Veneto, Friuili and Trentino, but made in a ‘Trentino style’ – fresh and bright. A little reductive, but opens to show gently leafy, crunchy apple fruit. The palate is fresh and lemony, with a little yellow plum flesh, but mostly the brisk citrus flavours and nice, bright acidity. 85/100
Bolla, Soave Classico DOC 2008
Garanega and Trebbiano, hand harvested and fermented ‘sur lie’. Goes through malolactic to further soften the wine. Nice fresh nose, with lemon and a touch of lime, and a little touch of nuttiness. Nice rich mouthfeel, with an immediately dry, pithy grapefruit character. The inherent sweetness and lemony zest of the fruit it there, but this has a nicely-judged, food-friendly savour and just a hint of spice in the finish. 87/100.
Bolla, Tufaie Soave Classico 2008
A blend of Trebbiano and Garganega from a special selection of grapes chosen for their aromatics. The wine is called Tufaie because of Tufa (volcanic) vineyard soils which Bolla believes brings minerailty to the wine. There is indeed a lovely, wet river stone minerality on the nose, with ripe pear fruit. Seems very ripe and quite full, but it has a delightful lemony, zesty finish with real grip and vivacious punch, and smoky, almost Alsacienne style. 90/100.
Bolla, Valpolicella Classico DOC 2008
Corvina 60%, Rondinella 30%, other local grapes 10%. Dusty, very slightly vegetal and green notes, with cherry fruit. Fruity, red fruits and cherry palate, dry, but slightly anonymous. Nice savoury tannin and acidity, with a hint of spice though a slightly harsh finish. 84/100.
Bolla, Valpolicella Classico DOC Ripasso ‘Le Poiane’ 2006
Corvina 70%, Rondinella 30%, given a ‘third’ fermentation using the ripasso method, re-fermenting on Amarone skins. Spends 18 months in oak, both large casks and barrels. Markedly different wine, with concentrated black fruits, a hint of stewed prunes and of chocolate. The mouth is rich and grippy, with lots of tobacco and cherry fruited sweetness, but a concentrared palate with nicely roughening tannins and good acidity, keeping this edgy and long, finishing with a bit of spice and cedary grip. 89/100.
Bolla, Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC 2005
Corvina 60%, Rondinella 30%, other local grapes 10%, all dried in boxed before fermentation. This cuvee all in steel. That slightly animal, sweaty note (they say ‘mineral’), but spices and nice cherry fruit comes through, with a certain creaminess. This is a dry wine, the rich, thick palate filled with a leathery density, and the bold, plumy fruit staying dense and fleshy. The tannins are quite chocolaty and rich, with a smooth appeal, but again the freshness is good with fine acidity and a bit of tight, sinewy grip and structure. 89/100
Bolla, Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC ‘Le Origini’ 2006
A careful selection of the best Corvina (70%) and Rondinella (30%), selected in the vineyard and then further selected the winery. Made and aged in large wooden casks (picture, right). Lots of tobacco, coffee and chocolate here, with developed violet and floral notes and ripe pear: very complex and alluring. The palate is a showstopper, with massive concentration and impact (15.5% alcohol), and deep plumy fruit, liquorice and lots of coffee. Silky tannins and very good freshening acidity again, in a terrific Amarone that’s a classic of its style. 93/100
Bolla, Capo di Torbe Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2004
A very careful selection from the cru vineyard Capo di Torbe, around 5000 bottles only. All new French oak. Released only after 3 years or more in cellar – so this 2004 is the current vintage. Just a lovely wine, with bloody, gamy notes to ripe, rich, plummy fruit with lovely subtle spice and cedary notes. Terrific mouthfeel too: fleshy and ripe, with sweet fruit offset by excellent tannin and acid balance. 93/100
Bolla, Recioto della Valpolicella 2006
Such natural concentration of late-harvest grapes that fermentation stops when still some sugar left, giving this sweet-edged red wine. From old vineyards and again a careful selection of Corvina and Croatina. Beautiful nose, lots of seductive, earthy and even slighy animal aromas with sweet cherry fruit. The palate has that lovely, effortless sweetness with coffee and deep red fruit amd silky tannins. Intense and concentrated, the acidity stays beautifully fresh. 93/100
MELINI & MACHIAVELLI, TUSCANY
Melini, I Coltri IGT Toscana 2008
A blend of 65% Sangiovese with 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot, with around third aged in new and used barriques. A touch of leather and a creamy red fruit, a touch of vegetal quality. On the palate quite fleshy and dense, with nice spicy structure and plenty of fleshy, easy-drinking fruit. Good quality at the local price of around 5 – 6 Euros. 85/100
Melini, Morellino di Scansano ‘Fondaio’ 2008
85% Sangiovese with 15% other varieties. Ageing in large oak casks. Bright, herb and spice-touched cherry fruit, with a certain brightness and light-weight freshness. The fruit has plenty of juicy, fresh, raspberry and cherry brightness. Nice acidity and freshness with just a hint of creamy spice. 87/100
Melini, Chianti ‘Pian del Masso’ 2008
85% Sangiovese with 15% other varieties. A small proportion of over-mature grapes has an almost ripasso fermentation, being added to an already fermented product. This is their ‘supermarket’ blend. Dark, quite chocolaty and roasted aromas, with quite solid black fruit. The palate has a combination of some creamy texture and richness and a dry, savoury, slightly harsh acidity and tannin that makes it savoury, if slightly lacking fruit depth. 85/100
Melini, Chianti Classico Terrarossa 2007
80% Sangiovese with 20% other varieties. From vineyards with an average elevation of around 400 metres, both estate-grown and purchased grapes. Aged for a year in larger French oak casks. Some cedar and black fruit notes, with a little tobacco and herbal quality. The palate has a nice sour cherry savour, with good acidity and a bit of tannic grip, though the fruit persists pretty well, with some spice in the nicely integrated finish. 87/100
Melini, Chinati Classico Riserva ‘Vigneti La Selvanella’ 2005
100% Sangiovese, from a 49-hectare estate owned by Melini in Radda in Chianti. Matured for 30 months in French oak casks. Very dark, powerful, silky appeal on the nose. Hints of leather and game, but solid black fruit and a touch of cedary spice. The palate is smooth, medium-bodied and retains a good edge of acidity. Lovely dry extract character, with structured appeal of dry, savoury fruit and tannin and fine length with tobacco, spice and that cherry acidity keeping it very mouth-watering and fresh. 92/100
Melini, Chinati Classico Riserva ‘Vigneti La Selvanella’ 2006
Similar nose, with tight, quite powerful and concentrated character. Not quite so aromatic perhaps. The palate is similarly dry and savoury, again with that extract obvious, but not losing its freshness. Chewy and tannic through the finish, this is a slightly tougher, more sinewy Chianti, but has excellent balance and structure for the long haul. 91/100
Only estate fruit from this property, once the home of Machiavelli, and now housing a small museum, and a restaurant in which he frequently dined.
Machiavelli, Chianti Classico ‘Solatio del Tani’ 2006
100% Sangiovese, named because the vineyard has a long sun exposure. The wine is aged in medium-sized oak vats. A little more mineral and ashy, tobacco-infused cherry fruit with some leafy notes too. The palate has a freshness and a fruity appeal, with lots of ripe cherry and red fruits, quite nicely tensioned by good, tart cherry acidity and fine but nicely roughening tannins. Plenty of spice and grip. 89/100
Machiavelli, Chianti Classico Riserva ‘Vigna di Fontalle’ 2005
100%, from a 26 hecatre vineyard in Sant’ Andrea in Percussina. Matured for two years in French oak, smaller casks. Lovely, tobacco and smoky, savoury and earthy aromatics, with solid black cherry fruit. The palate has intensity of tight, sweet, quite muscular black fruit, that fills the mouth, with a fine-grained tannin structure, plenty of spice and well-balanced acidity. Within quite a dense, fleshy structure, the acid seems relatively subdued, and this is a more ‘international’ style than the Selvanella from Melini, but it is structured and delicious. 91.
Machiavelli, Chianti Classico Riserva ‘Vigna di Fontalle’ 2006
Blackcurrant and a certain meat-stock darkness, with a real impression of solidity and ripeness. The palate has a certain opulence, with a broad, savoury appeal and fleshy, mouth-filling mid-palate. Lovely richness, fruit sweetness and spice. Long and seductive. 91/100
Machiavelli, Rosso Toscana ‘Ser Niccolo’ 2005
An IGT blend of 82.5% Cabernet Sauvignon with 17.5% Sangiovese, the yield reduced, and around one year in barriques. Slightly reduced, but opens to show some juicy black fruit, and a certain exotic, Sandalwood spice just emerging. The palate has a huge fruit sweetness, with lots of ripe blackcurrant and a lot of spice and gentle toastiness beneath, with tannins grippy. Acidity does freshen the finish nicely in a stylish, quite plush and international wine. Nicely dry and savoury. 89/100
FONTANA CANDIDA, LAZIO
Basic Frascati 2008
This is the wine that is in Sainsbury’s and others as an own label. Nicely aromatic, with some floral notes and a certain nuttiness. A very straightforward, lemony and fresh palate with a slightly harsh finish. 83
Fontana Candida Frascati Superiore 2008 DOC
50% Malvasia di Candia, 40% Trebbiano, 10% Malvasia del Lazio. Lovely fresh nose, lots of lemon and delicate little flower and ripe apple skin notes. The palate has freshness: A great core of lemony acidity and some really rich, grippy mouth-feel with a touch of typical bitter almond in the finish. Lovely stuff. 86/100.
Fontana Candida Frascati Superiore ‘Terre dei Grifi’ 2008 DOC
50% Malvasia di Candia, 30% Trebbiano, 10% Malvasia del Lazio and 10% Greco. A gentler, smoother character with lemon balm and fresh grapes, and that floral note. The palate has a tiny candied fruit character, a touch of preserved lemon and fresh apple and pear fruit, again with that bitter finish that makes these wines so appetising. Ramps up the intensity over the Superiore. 87/100
Fontana Candida Frascati Superiore ‘Vigneto Santa Teresa’ 2008 DOC
30% Malvasia del Lazio, 30% Malvasia di Candia, 30% Trebbiano, 10% Greco. Doesn’t have that immediate freshness and floral appeal of the other wines, but this selection from a vineyard parcel in the locality of Santa Teresa has little more herbal and mineral quality. The palate has a hint of sweeter, riper and more peachy fruit, with plenty of apple and citrus cut and acidity, and a gently bitter almond finish. Persistent and concentrated, and makes up in intensity what it loses in aromatics. 88/100
Fontana Candida Malvasia 2008 IGT
Mauro says “this wine doesn’t sell well, expect in the Rome area and in Japan – people don’t know or understand it.” Only 25,000 bottle produced. Quite a luscious honeyed note to this, with a fatter fruit quality and a certain fleshy character. The palate has a rounded, quite silky feel. The bittersweet bite of the almond and lemon pith is lovely, with a fat lemony clarity and plenty of freshness and zip. Quite lovely. 88/100
Fontana Candida Frascati Superiore ‘Luna Mater’ 2007 DOC
The wine aged in the tufa cellars, this is a blend of 50% Malvasia di Candia, 10% Trebbiano, 20% Malvasia del Lazio, 10% Greco, 10% Bombino. Very careful selection of grapes from selected higher slopes. Complex fermentation in three separate lots, with skin contact for part, and part added to already fermented must. This has now been in bottle for 20 months. A weighty wine with 14.5% alcohol. Intriguing, waxy, very mineral nose. Some herbal notes too. On the palate it is full and rich, with a certain fruity density and sweetness, but plent of body and grip. It has a certain plum and waxy fruited weight with some orange rind and plenty of lemony acidity. 90/100
Fontana Candida Frascati Superiore ‘Luna Mater’ 2008 DOC
Lots of lemon zest and apple skin notes, a hint of nuttiness and some real minerality. The palate has lovely freshness: seems slightly clearer and more harmonious than the 2007 perhaps, with a very grippy, orange and grapefruit finish and lots of lemony bite. A great intensity and grippy, almost liquoricy bite in the finish. 92/100
Fontana Candida Frascati Superiore ‘Vigneto Santa Teresa’ 1997 DOC
Pulled from the library to see how the top Frascati can age, this has an extraordinary deep yellow colour and a lovely nose, with the honey and waxiness, and an intense minerality. The mouth-feel is broad and silky, with beautifully resolved palate showing that citrusy bite of the grape but a honeyed sweetness and really steely, mineral and lime zest finish. Fabulous stuff, that suggests laying down a few bottles of the Santa Teresa or Luna Mater could be a fascinating experiment. 91/100
Fontana Candida ‘Siroe’ 2008 IGT
A blend of 45% Syrah and 55% Cesanese, from the Lazio hills south of Rome on volcanic soils, about 25% aged in barriques for four months. Slighty nutty, green-tinged herbal nose with some black fruit notes and just a hint of creaminess. The palate has a richer, more rounded red berry fruitiness. Plenty of bite and freshness, with a little of that v egetal, rhubarby astringency, some spice and a quite a grippy, tannic finish. An intriguing wine, with a stripe of liquoruice intensity that means it probably needs some robust food to show at its best. 88/100