Wine Reviews: Italy, France, Portugal & Spain

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 12-01-2019

To all the American readers, hopefully you’ve been enjoying Thanksgiving with family, friends, delicious food and wines over the holiday weekend!

After focusing a lot on California wines recently, I’ve tasted through a bunch of samples from Italy, Portugal and Spain, and found some good recommendations to share.

Fattoria La Valentina does a good job with inexpensive wines from the Abruzzi region, while two wines from Alto Adige bring that crisp, zesty, Alpine-style goodness.

From France, Ferraton doles out two solid offerings from the Rhone Valley.

Port house Symington Family Estates has ventured further south into Alentejo’s Portalegre region to source grapes for a new project called Quinta da Fonte Souto. I love this region, so I was stoked to taste the inaugural 2017 vintage of their red and white. They’re both good, but the white is really something else.

And from Spain, we have two value-driven Riojas from Bodegas Beronia, and a beefy Garnacha that would pair well with cold, snowy nights.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

Italy

2018 Fattoria La Valentina Pecorino - Italy, Abruzzi, Colline Pescaresi IGT
pecorinoSRP: $17
Light yellow color. The nose is bright and fresh, with guava, lime and melon, topped in yellow flowers, nettle and sea salt. Clean and pretty on the palate, with a steely, mountain stream, chalky aesthetic. Lemons, guava and apricot mix well with perfume, chalk, minerals and white tea. Racy but deep, and showing a lot of complexity for this price point. (89 points IJB)

2016 Fattoria La Valentina Montepulciano d’Abruzzo - Italy, Abruzzi, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo
SRP: $15
Deep ruby color. Nose shows red cherries and currants, lots of smoky, beefy, leathery tones, some violets. Medium-bodied, smooth tannins, moderate acidity. Flavors of red and black cherries and spiced cranberry sauce play off of smoky earth and leather tones. Fun stuff, showing quite a bit of depth for the price, this is a seriously good pizza bistro style of wine. Mostly stainless still and some old Slavonian oak. (87 points IJB)

2015 Fattoria La Valentina Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Riserva Spelt - Italy, Abruzzi, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo
SRP: $22
Medium purple color. Deep core of red currants and black cherries on the nose, with spicy pepper, bay leaf, leather, pretty violets and clove. Velvety but some grip on the palate, moderating acidity, seems young but opens up well with air. Crunchy cherries and currants with a complex herbal, spicy, floral mix (violets, clay, clove, rocky earth). Shows significant complexity for the price, this could improve with a few years as well. (90 points IJB)

2018 Colterenzio Schreckbichl Sauvignon Prail - Italy, Trentino-Alto Adige, Alto Adige, Alto Adige – Südtirol
SRP: $22
Medium yellow color. Bright and punchy nose with lemon, green apple, kiwi, along with honeysuckle, sliced cucumber. Lovely depth of texture on the palate, with crisp, nervy acidity. Lemon, lime, crunchy green apples, the fruit is accented with elements of honeysuckle, hay, mountain stream, chalky mineral tones. The herbal elements are subtle and blended in well. Lots of depth and flavor for the price. From calcareous soils, fermented in a mix of stainless steel and old oak, with six months of lees aging. (88 points IJB)

2017 Franz Haas Pinot Nero - Italy, Trentino-Alto Adige, Alto Adige, Alto Adige – Südtirol
SRP: $35
Light ruby color. Aromas of tangy cherries and raspberries, along with black pepper, rose petals, some clove and herbal tea notes. On the palate, this is zippy and tangy with light tannins and juicy fruit (raspberries, strawberries. Peppery, herbal, floral tones underneath. Fun, vibrant, food-friendly Pinot Nero, with an enjoyably bright and spicy personality. Fermented in stainless steel and aged one year in barrel. (87 points IJB)

France

2017 Ferraton Père & Fils Crozes-Hermitage La Matinière - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Crozes-Hermitage
SRP: $26
Medium purple color. Ripe and bright on the nose, black cherries, plums, with smoky, leather, peppery, anise notes. Medium-bodied, smooth tannins, fresh acid, this wine is open and bright, but shows a solid core of black cherry fruit. Peppery, leather, spice rub elements add complexity. An early-drinking style, but it doesn’t lack for complexity. (88 points IJB)

2017 Ferraton Père & Fils Côtes du Rhône Samorëns - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Côtes du Rhône
SRP: $16
Deep ruby color. Smells like cherries, raspberries, with sweet roses, pepper, oregano and cola notes. Medium-bodied with smooth tannins, chewy texture, moderate acidity. Jammy raspberries and cherries mix well with dried rose petals, black pepper, clove, leather, sweet cola. Fun, accessible and food-friendly, but still showing complexity for thee price. Grenache with 10% Syrah, 5% Cinsault. (87 points IJB)

Portugal

portalehre2017 Quinta da Fonte Souto Portalegre Branco - Portugal, Alentejano, Alentejo, Portalegre
SRP: $25
Rich yellow color. Lovely nose of honeyed apricot, lemon curd, orange marmalade, but also bright, floral and salty. Plump and lush on the palate, but the nervy, crisp acidity is great, balanced very well. Lemon curd, apricot, yellow apples, with flavors of graham cracker, honeyed white tea, but also these salty, mineral elements. I love the depth, but it stays brisk as well. Alentejo whites are underrated (I think), and this is a great example of what I mean. This wine is crazy good for the money. 75% Arinto, 25% Verdelho, barrel-fermented with lees stirring. (91 points IJB)

2017 Quinta da Fonte Souto Portalegre Tinto - Portugal, Alentejano, Alentejo, Portalegre
SRP: $25
Almost neon purple color. Rich on the nose with black cherries, plums, blueberries, with smoky, leathery tones, coffee and vanilla. Full-bodied with a chewy texture, but moderate acidity. A saucy compote of blueberries and plums, but the fruit has a nice, crunchy edge. Laced with cocoa, lavender, violets, earth and leather. Good stuff, showing good complexity. Alicante Bouschet with Trincadeira, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Alfrocheiro. (88 points IJB)

Spain

2016 Bodegas Beronia Rioja Crianza - Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
SRP: $15
Light purple. Smells of bright cherries and strawberries, with spicy tobacco, rose petals and floral tea. Medium-bodied on the palate, with light, dusty tannins. Fresh and zippy stile with juicy red fruits (strawberries and raspberries), with lots of tobacco and rose petals. Fun, fresh Rioja that delivers quite a bit of balance and depth for a Crianza at this price point. Tempranillo with 8% Garnacha and 1% Mazuelo, aged 12 months in a mix of French and American oak. (87 points IJB)

2014 Bodegas Beronia Rioja Reserva - Spain, La Rioja, Rioja
SRP: $20
Medium purple color. Lovely earthy, spicy and floral notes on the nose, along with leaves, soil, tobacco, red pepper flakes, over top of fresh cherry fruit. Medium/full-bodied with suave tannins and vibrant acidity, with crisp black cherry fruit. Quite complex notes of cigar lounge, leather, pepper, floral and earth, with a smooth, vanilla finish. Lovely freshness and balance. Drink now or hold for a few. Tempranillo with a combined 5% Graciano, Mazuelo. (89 points IJB)

2014 Viñas del Vero Somontano Secastilla - Spain, Aragón, Somontano
SRP: $40
Deep purple color. Big and dark on the nose, with black cherries and blackberries, topped in campfire smoke, cocoa, anise, scorched earth, vanilla. Full-bodied with sweet, smooth tannins and surprisingly moderate acidity that helps keep it going. Black cherries, dark plums, blueberries, juicy dark fruit is matched with smoky charcoal, cocoa, mint, black pepper. Rich, suave and plush, but showing liveliness as well. Drink on the early side. 100% Garnacha, aged 10 months in French oak. (88 points IJB)

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