Weekly Tasting Report (Sept 7-13): Campania Uprising, Spain’s Unique Sierra de Gredos and Austrian Wonders
The incredible diversity and raw beauty of Campania’s appellations are on full display in this report, and we also explore garnacha-based reds from Spain, more Riojas and several offerings from the Wachau. The post Weekly Tasting Report (Sept 7-13): Campania Uprising, Spain’s Unique Sierra de Gredos and Austrian Wonders appeared first on JamesSuckling.com.
This report covering our tastings over the past week has a number of “outsider” wine regions and wineries that definitely need mentioning because I am a big fan of the wines – some from Spain and Italy, and others from Austria. Plus, there are hundreds of more bottles from the Loire Valley, Napa Valley, Tuscany, Friuli, Barossa and many other places.
We have already rated this summer more than 300 wines from the Campania region of Italy, which is home to Naples, the provincial capital, and the amazing volcano of Vesuvius. I first visited the area for wine in 1985 and have been astonished by the history and pure beauty of the region ever since. Its unique wines, from such varieties as aglianico and fiano, highlight the incredible diversity and raw beauty of the appellations it holds. The wines from Campania, whether a Taurasi or Fiano di Avellino, take you on a vinous trip the minute you put your nose in the glass, and the structure and flavor reinforce this feeling.
MUGA’S NEW RELEASES: a tasting with Eduardo, Issac and Manuel of Bodegas Muga.
This all said, Tasting Editor Jo Cooke was left asking for a little more quality from his Campania tastings this summer. And I have been doing the same for the better part of four decades. I am not sure why more truly top-scoring wines – 95 points or more – are not coming out of the region. We wish there were more great bottles like the best of our tastings thus far, including the Galardi Campania Terra di Lavoro 2019, Perillo Taurasi Michele Perillo Riserva 2009 and Montevetrano Colli di Salerno 2018.
“The overall quality of the wines was good,” Jo noted in an email this morning from his office in Tuscany. “Around three-quarters of the 340 wines tasted were outstanding quality (90+ points).
The problem is that over half of these were in the 90- to 91-point range and, considering that 70 percent of the wines are from the top local varieties (fiano, greco and falanghina whites and aglianico reds), it was surprising to see how many couldn’t get over the 91-point mark.”
He added that “in too many cases the wines, even if they scored 90 points, were disappointing in the sense that you felt that they could have brought much more out of the grapes. This was particularly true in the case of the fianos, where there were often signs of inattentive winemaking, resulting in unfocused or imbalanced wines in the case of under 90s and, in the case of 90-point wines, were just simple, clean whites that were well made but didn’t give full expression to the fiano grape.”
By comparison, the unique wine region of Sierra de Gredos, about 80 kilometers west of Madrid, always delivers high quality. It’s one of the regions I am going to visit right away when I can travel to Europe from Hong Kong. The garnacha-based reds are some of the most interesting and satisfying in Spain and are always some of the best we rate each year from the country. This year we will score about 1,600 Spanish wines.
This report includes ratings for the wines of Comando G and Daniel Landi, leading Sierra de Gredos producers who specialize in old-vine garnacha grown near various hillside villages and in single vineyards. Landi also makes the wines of Comando G with Fernando Garcia. The wines have an uncanny purity and transparency with finesse and real character. The No. 1 Spanish wine of 2020 was the Comando G Vinos de Madrid La Bruja de Rozas 2018. It’s a winner again in this tasting and costs slightly less than $30 a bottle. Eight wines from Comando G are rated in this report, and four from Daniel Landi.
Rioja continues to be strong in our tastings each week and this past week was no different. The wines of Olivier Rivière really shined through. You would expect their dense yet agile reds to be of such high quality because of their meticulous viticulture and winemaking. But I was really impressed with their viura-based white, which was fermented and aged in Manzanilla barrels. A couple of the releases from Bodegas Roda were equally impressive as was the Muga Reserve 2018. (Muga declassified all of its top reds in 2018 into the blend because of a shortage in production.)
THE BEAUTY OF AUSTRIAN REDS
Slightly under-the-radar wines (for some) to point out from Austria in this report are from Moric and Dorli Muhr. I am a fan of their reds, particularly from such grapes as Blaufrankisch. I just love their drinkability and freshness with deep dark fruit. They have beautiful balance and transparency. Check out the top wines from each of these producers.
We also tried some highly rated bottles from a few of the long-established great names in the Wachau region of Austria in this report, including Emmerich Knoll, Franz Hirtzberger, F.X. Pichler, Nikolaihof, Prager and Rudi Pichler.
I should also mention that Contributing Editor Nick Stock in Adelaide handed out a big score to a another pure grenache from Yangarra, the Grenache McLaren Vale High Sands 2018. This is the benchmark wine from a single biodynamically farmed vineyard of old grenache planted in 1946. He described it as having “immense power and carries rich, ripe red and blue fruit.”
Check out all of the more than 600 wines we rated over the past week.
– James Suckling, Chairman/Editor
The list of wines below is comprised of bottles tasted and rated during the previous week by James and other tasters at JamesSuckling.com. They include many latest releases not yet available on the market, but which will be available soon. Some will be included in upcoming tasting reports.
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