Vinography Unboxed: Week of 2/25/24


Hello and welcome to my weekly dig through the pile of wine samples that show up asking to be tasted. I’m pleased to bring you the latest installment of Vinography Unboxed, where I highlight some of the better bottles that have crossed my doorstep recently.

Let’s start this week with a rare and special wine. The Cusumano family of sicily, own several old estates on the island, and in the course of their historical research they came across reference to a wine named Moscato della Zucco, which was produced by Henri d’Orleans, Duke of Aumale. After helping the French invade and colonize Algeria in the 1830s, d’Orleans eventually retired to Sicily, where he took up winegrowing for a number of years before having a heart attack in 1897 while writing letters to the bereaved families who lost family members (mostly women) in a tragic fire in Paris.

In 2000 the Cusumano family decided to resurrect this wine and have been producing it since, making only a few hundred bottles each year. It is a passito-style wine, where the grapes are allowed to dry naturally and are then pressed, fermented and bottled. As dessert wines go, it’s pretty phenomenal, retaining the bright acidity required to keep it fresh and mouthwatering on the palate.

Staying in the Mediterranean briefly, let’s also take a look at the Mascarelli Villa Gemma Abruzzo Bianco, which is a blend of the fun-to-say Cococciola (ko-ko-chola) and Pecorino. It proves euqally fun to drink, and is a great value.

Heading west across the Tyrrhenian Sea, we can make a brief stop in the Penedès region of Spain, from where I tasted a number of new wines from the family-run estate of Parés Baltà. Run by two brothers and sisters-in-law, with the the ladies María Elena and Marta Cuisiné making the wine, it’s a lovely little biodynamic estate that makes a range of wines, from some experimental, natural and low-intervention wines to more straightforward wines. This week I tasted a mix of the two, beginning with the more experimental Sate-lit, which is a bottling of a rare white mutation of Carignan. Its darker, baked apple qualities were an interesting counterpoint to the fresh and bright citrus of the everyday-drinking bottling they cal Blanc de Pacs, which is a mix of different local white grape varieties, including Macabeu, Xarel-lo, and others. Their rosé of Syrah, called “Radix” was unusual and interesting, while their everyday drinking red blend, “Mas Petit” had a brooding mysterious character.

I also tasted the latest rosé from Covenant Wines in Berkeley, which is fresh and bright, and an unusual blend of Grenache, Pinot Noir, and Syrah. As usual from Covenant, this wine is Kosher for passover, non-mevushal.

Lastly, I’ve got a couple of wines from Two Shepherds winery in Sonoma. Their Vermentino (aka Rolle) is as snappy and bright as you’d want in a white wine to go with just about any food or occasion. And their Grenache Noir, from their estate vineyard epitomizes the new style of Grenache that manages to be crunchy with acidity and low in alcohol, yet packed with aromatically sweet fruit expression. In other words, it’s hard not to love.

Notes on all these below.

Tasting Notes

2013 Cusumano “Moscato della Zucco” Moscato, Sicily, Italy
Medium amber in the glass, this wine smells of dried herbs, hay, and candied orange peel. In the mouth, the wine is a technicolor swirl of aroma and flavor as honey, candied lemon, a touch of coffee, dulce de leche, and floral notes expand into a cloud of deliciousness that lingers in a loooooong finish. Very sweet, but with extraordinary acidity to keep it fresh and mouthwatering. 12% alcohol. Score: between 9.5 and 10. Cost: $40. click to buy.

2022 Masciarelli “Villa Gemma” Abruzzo Bianco, Abruzzo, Italy
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of freshly cut apples and a hint of lemon curd. In the mouth, apple, lemon peel, and orange peel flavors have a bright,…

Source : https://www.vinography.com/2024/03/vinography-unboxed-week-of-2-25-24