Wine Reviews: Italian Values

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 07-23-2023

Credit: Consorzio Tutela Vini Montecucco

I’m continuing the Italian theme from last week’s rosato collection, and focusing on some value-driven Italian goodies.

Varvaglione has three different takes on the Primitivo grape, each one expressing a unique style and approach, with that overall Puglia Primitivo signature. Each tier of these Primitivo wines has a lot to offer for the price point.

I’ve spoken about the Tuscan region of Montecucco before, and will do so again, because the wines have a ton of personality, depth, and value. These Sangiovese-based wines, sourced from a high percentage of organic vineyards on the slopes of Mount Amiata, deliver their own unique regional take on the grape. The wines tend to fall in the $20-$35 sweet spot and provide plenty of value.

I also have some $15 goodies from Tuscany’s Carpineto and Abruzzi’s Masciarelli.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

2022 Carpineto Dogajolo Bianco – Italy, Tuscany, Toscana IGT
SRP: $15
Medium yellow color. The nose has a tropical mix of papaya, banana, and green melon, along with yellow and white flowers, some sliced cucumber, and flinty-chalky tones. Ripe texture, lively acidity, quite well balanced with notes of honey, yellow flowers, some minty, nettle tones, and some chalk and minerals. Fresh and vibrant, quite complex, solid value. 40% Chardonnay 30% Grechetto 30% Sauvignon Blanc. (89 points IJB)

2020 Carpineto Dogajolo Rosso – Italy, Tuscany, Toscana IGT
SRP: $15
Juicy ruby color. The nose sports a cool mix of spicy herbs and bright red fruits, with cherries, raspberries, topped in violets, white pepper, nuances of tobacco and mint. The palate shows fine, dusty tannins and crisp acidity on a ripe but fresh frame. Flavors or ripe black cherries and jammy raspberries blend well with elements of dusty earth, loamy soil, tobacco, some black pepper and roasted red peppers. Has a nice floral-spicy finish. Lots going on here for the price, and a ton of fun. Sangiovese with 20% Cab Sauvignon. (88 points IJB)

2020 Varvaglione Primitivo 12 e Mezzo Organic Italy, Puglia, Puglia IGT
SRP: $15
Light purple color. A cool nose with smoky, beefy tones over top of raspberries and black cherries, along with chewing tobacco, sun-dried tomato, roasted herbs, black pepper. The palate sports ripe tannins and moderate acidity, with a smooth and accessible approach. Suave black cherries and raspberry jam fruit mixes with some cocoa powder, tobacco, charcoal, grilled herbs. Super fun, summer grill-out kind of wine that will please the crowd, but also brings some complexity and value. (87 points IJB)

2019 Varvaglione Primitivo di Manduria Papale Linea Oro Italy, Puglia, Primitivo di Manduria
SRP: $25
Saucy purple color. The nose is dark, smoky, and enticing with black currants, plum sauce, black cherries, doused in charcoal, spicy red pepper, anise, some magic marker. The palate is juicy and rich with chewy tannins and medium-low acidity. A mix of dark currant paste, plum sauce, and black cherry jam blend with tones of anise, black pepper, charcoal, smoky earth. It has that classic Primitvo spicy, earthy, sun-roasted hillside complexity that makes me want grilled kebabs and a Sunday afternoon. Cool tones of violets, savory spices, and tar come out with time. Lots of fun. (88 points IJB)

2019 Varvaglione Primitivo di Manduria Cosimo Varvaglione Collezione Privata Italy, Puglia, Primitivo di Manduria
SRP: $30
Deep purple color. A plummy nose of saucy, deep, smoky figs and black cherry compote, with detailed notes of graphite, menthol, and sweet coffee. The palate has these chewy tannins and smooth, moderate acidity, with a frame of black cherries, plum sauce, cranberry, with a lot of cool tones of black pepper, soy, birch bark, anise. A grill-friendly, complex, crowd-pleasing wine but a lot of stuff going on as well. Beautiful young but will age nicely as well. Lovely Puglia Primitivo! (91 points IJB)

2019 Pianirossi Montecucco Rosso Sidus Italy, Tuscany, Montecucco
SRP: $21
Rich purple color. The nose has an interesting earthy, smoked meats, and all sorts of spices, with clove, sage, anise, over tangy plums and a dark core of black currants. The palate has this pretty depth of texture, with medium+ grip on the tannins, crunchy acidity, and flavors of tangy currants, plum and blackberry compote. The fruit is tossed with a lot of complexities, in terms of graphite, minerals, herbal tea, sage, red pepper flakes, with nuances of toffee and mocha as well. Delightful now but I’d love to see how this does in four or five years. (91 points IJB)

2018 La Banditaccia Montecucco Sangiovese Riserva Vigna Allegra Italy, Tuscany, Montecucco
Dark purple color with a nose that exudes this rocky soil, earthy, tar, graphite tones, over a bed of dark, tangy black and red currants, with a host of cool spice rack dust tones. The palate shows a full body and solid grip, with fine-edged tannins, and focused acidity. The fruit is a nice mix of black currants and juicy red cherries, earthy plums, along with smoky earth, tar, graphite, dried violets, black pepper. Deep and complex but maintains a sleek mouthfeel and balance, and those non-fruit nuances will come out and sing more over the next four to five years. (91 points IJB)

2020 Masciarelli Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Italy, Abruzzi, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo
SRP: $15
Vibrant deep ruby color. The palate pops with tangy strawberries, cranberry relish, along with a nice mix of white pepper, warm clay, black tea, tobacco, some cool stuff. The palate has light, dusty tannins and lively acidity with flavors of tangy cherries, wild raspberries, it has a crunchy, vibrant appeal. The fruit is mixed with cool tones of spiced tea, black pepper, tobacco, black tea. Has a crushable, fun, summer-friendly appeal but solid balance and complexity for the price. (87 points IJB)

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