Monday, 30 July 2018

Foso Corno Riserva Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2014 Italy

Italy has been working hard and well in recent years, it even has been able to topple France as biggest wine producer in the world. Of course that does not mean it produces the best wines in the world, although that many Italian wine lovers would disagree. For sure there are absolute splendid gems produced in Italy, but the price tag attached to these wines is for many of us a tag that does not suit many pockets.
So the challenge is to find well made wines at very affordable prices. Many winemakers have realized that they have two choices, being sucked up by the big monsters and have their wine on a shelve among thousand of others and where the price dictates in the majority of cases, or to be part of those who want to make a great wine, stick to their believes and produce a typical wine from that precise region and terroir. Supermarkets are not always a good sign for a wine, except if you are a producer that makes wine by the hundred of thousands, where quality and identity doesn't matter, it is all just business, then supermarkets will be their window, in other words bad wines sold at a juicy profit.

Abruzzo sitting central Italy on the Adriatic side with Marche to the north, Lazio to the west-south west and Molise to the south, south-east. The region has three main historical DOC, the red Montepulciano d'Abruzzo and the Trebbiano d'Abruzzo, and the third  DOC of Controguerra one of which we hear less off. Here reigns the Montepulciano grape, not to be confused with Tuscan city of montepulciano where they produce Vino Nobile de Montepulciano, there they use sangiovese as grape. The montepulciano has with time gained a wide following for its fruit driven, somewhat complex and approachable reds. A recent reorganization of the region's wine classification system has brought under this new system Abruzzo DOC several interesting sub-zones for Montepulciano wines, such as Terri di Casauria, Terre dei Vestini and Alto Tirino.

Abruzzo DOCG wine appellations;  Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Colline Teramane.

Abruzzo DOC appellations; Abruzzo, Cerasuolo d'Abruzzo, Controguerra, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, Ortona, Terre Tollesi or Tullum, Trebbiano d'Abruzzo, Villamagna.

Abruzzo IGT wine appellations; Colli Aprutini, Colli del Sangro, Colline Fretane, Colline Pescaresi, Colline Teatine, Del Vastese or Histonium, Terre Aquilane or Terre l'Aquila, Terri di Chieti.

Wine making in Abruzzo dates back to about sixth century B.C. thanks to the Etruscans, who played a vital role introducing viniculture to the area. But wine making in Abruzzo wasn't very popular, a decline population made it so that very little wine was made and not so good either. It is only in the last 40 to 50 years that viticulture has come back above water and has been growing steadily. Today USA and Germany are the main importers of Abruzzo wines, but many countries worldwide have searched to have Abruzzo wines on their shelves.
Abruzzo has about 36.000 hectares (89.000 acres) of land under vines, with an annual production of about 92.000 gallons (3.5 million hectolitres), in terms of quantity is Abruzzo placed fifth on the ladder. The territory is very rugged and mountainous, it has a lush green landscape with national parks and forest. It has an idealistic climate sitting between the Adriatic on one side and the Apennines and maiella mountains on the other side. There is enough sunshine and a generous annual rainfall and variable temperatures, to produce wines of substantial quality and identity.


  • Montepulciano (red)66% 
  • Trebbiano (ugni blanc white) 12% 
  • Pecorino (white) 7% 
  • Pinot Grigio (white) 3% 
  • Sangiovese (red) 2%
  • Chardonnay (white) 2% 
  • Rare white blends 2% 
  • others 6%  

 Fosso Corno.

Fosso Corno estate is located in Roseta Degli Abruzzi in the province of Teramo and covers 30 hectares on a single hill. On one side you have a view on the deep blue Adriatic, whereas towards the west you can enjoy a view of the imposing mountain of Gran Sasso. The family bought the estate in 2001, they uprooted all the existing vineyards and new ones were planted. In February 2003, 9 hectares of Montepulciano was planted in a density of 4500 vines per hectare, another 11 hectares were planted in 2004 en 2005. The striving to produce a wine of high quality and complexity, by paying great attention to the terroir, protect it as much as possible, and carefully taking every decision with thought and upmost respect towards the past, terroir and visionof the future.


  • Orsus, 3 hectares, 4500 vines per hectare, exposure south-west, soil clay, altitude 190 meters above sea level, grape: Montepulciano.
  • Il Grande, 1.6 hectares, 4500 vines per hectare, exposure west, soil clay, altitude 160 meters above sea level, grape: Montepulciano.
  • Merlot Admire, 1.40 hectares, 4500 vines per hectare, exposure south-west, soil clay, altitude 150 meters above sea level, grape: merlot.
  • Mayro, 10 hectares, 4500 vines per hectare, exposure south-west, soil clay, altitude 100 meters above sea level, grape: Montepulciano.
  • Riserva Fosso Corno, 6 hectares, 4500 vines per hectare, exposure south-east, soil clay, altitude 140 meters above sea level, grape: Montepulciano. 
Fosso Corno Riserva 2014.

Grape: 100% Montepulciano d'Abruzzo

Alcohol: 13.5%

Price: €12 $14 £11 average price ex tax

Visual: A deep ruby/sherry red appears when pouring in the glass, colour intensity is about 3 out of 5, its limpidity is perfect so limpid, its brilliance is somewhat less impressive and appears neat, the legs are medium thick and run down at a normal pace, it looks mature, definitely past its youth, the rim shows tiny signs of brownish colour, it looks like a gentle wine with a correct presence, inviting.

Nose: the first hit of aromas is not entirely clear a bit confusing, after awhile there are little hints of alcohol not top, but soon there are aromas of  blackcurrants, whispers of cardamon and cloves, under layers of juniper and thuya, flurries of tonka bean/ chocolate, hints of animal aromas like civet, in all not overly clear in its being but interesting variation.

Palate: The attack is good, straight in length not wide and muscled, tannins loosen up, blackcurrants dominant fruit, acidity ok could be better, lingers on medium long, dry feel at the gums, back throat a bit sharp but not bothering, nice to be served fresh.

Conclusion: Definitely not a disappointment, the wine is well made and sits pretty well in its price category, this wine is now 4 years old and is at its perfect window and will be for another two years maybe a tat longer?  This works with tapas style food and charcuteries, white meats and if served chilled even fleshy fish. Good composition and a house that knows what it wants and where it want to be, at the top of Montepulciano's d'Abruzzo. It surely has a chance.

Score: I rate this wine at 18.8/20 88/100 (rated as a very good wine taking in consideration its price)

Until next time please do drink responsibly.

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Domaine la Tour du Bon Bandol Rose 2017 Provence

Summer in full swing and here in the northern parts of Europe is summer truly making its mark. Rain has not been seen since early June and the temperatures are reaching almost record highs. Everything is cork dry (an expression term used to say how dry everything is, especially flora) and bush fires are very common and extremely dangerous. All over Europe fires are taking lives and in many cases because men isn't cautious enough.
Will this give us a great vintage?  Well that is debatable as after all even the vine will need water at some time, yes harvest can jump ahead then the usual time and much sugar will be settled in the grapes which will most likely drive the alcohol percentage up to the limits of what technically can be called a wine (15%). If it keeps on going like this 2003 vintage spring to mind and she was a vintage well overripe with overcooked fruits, heavy, not much freshness and a life span that will linger in the mid-terms.

Bandol after all is quite used to extreme heats but they have the influence of the Mediterranean sea and wind helps the vine cooling down. I have always be a big favorite of the rose from Provence as they are still settling themselves as the kings of rose making. Yes, much competition is hitting the market from all corners of the world, as rose is one of the few wines where demands sometimes outstretch production.


Bandol is situated at the Cotes D'Azur, Provence, where the sun shines over 3000 hours a year, where life is douce and relax. It lays at the edge of the land border flirting with the Mediterranean, Bandol is idyllic and offers much to enjoy, a strong reference in general for wine. Bandol produces white, rose and red wine with huge variety and character, it stamps an identity very distinguished and easy to recognize, once you know what to look for. The terroir Bandol is not that big it holds 1.325 hectares of planted vines, red wines represent 40% of the terroir, wines that have great ageing potential, but as Provence is known for its rose 55% of the vines planted in Bandol are destine for the lush color while only 5% is planted to make white wine. It was Provence that saw the Phocaeans landing in 6 Century B.C, they brought the civilization of food and wine. Quickly they spread out direction Languedoc and up north towards the Rhone valley. The Romans pushed further and wider planting vines in many places all over France so their legions wouldn't never get thirsty. Today Bandol is known pretty much all over the world, as it has been exported by many throughout the Centuries. Of course as with many vineyards all over France, Bandol wasn't spared and phylloxera destroyed almost all of the vines. So to restore the vineyards they were looking at the grapes that would suit best the terroir and so be able to resist better against disease (phylloxera was treated by planting American root stock). Mouvedre is the King of the red grapes in Bandol, also the grape used for our wine in question.

Bandol facts:

Bandol AOC was created in 1941 

Bandol white grapes: Ugni Blanc, Clairette, Sauvignon Blanc, Colombeau, Frontignan, Malvoisie and Doucillon.

Bandol red grapes: Mouvedre, Carignan, Cinsault, Grenache noir, Pecoui-Touar, Tibouren, Syrah and Pirrot.

Bandol vines planted: 1325 hectares

Bandol has over 3000 hours of sunshine

Bandol has a large variety in soil structure from , pebbles to limestone, sandy marls and sandstone. 

Bandol production: 55,000 hl

Domaine de la tour du Bon Rose 2017.

It all started in 1925 when Mrs and Mss Mauric bought a plot of land where initially they planted olive trees and raised pigs. But in 1949 there was a shift in culture and a grand design started where rows were pulled to plant vines. Huge chunks of stone were removed leaving smaller pieces for a parcel named clos des Aieux. Then once all was set they first vines were planted in 1950 and the first wine left the house in 1955. Several plots of land were destine for different styles of wine. In 1960 to 1962 the winery was going through big renovation to acquire modern equipment and to improve the quality of the wine. In 1968 the new owners Mr and Mss Hocquard, took the wheel and kept on innovating with respect to the terroir and man. Today this domain is coning along standing among the best Bandol has to offer.

Grape: Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvedre, Clairette

Alcohol: 13%

Price: €17 $20 £15 average ex tax

Visual: A soft light salmon color appears when pouring, a color intensity of 3 out of 5,  a perfect limpidity, and a brilliance (acid indication) that is shiny, legs are fairly heavy, the wine express maturity, richness, elegance and confidence.

Nose: A very present nose,  white  fruits aromas, pears, little banana, with hints of floral notes like carnation, citrus flurries of grapefruit and quince notes. 

Palate: The attack is soft, light, fine notes of acidity, fruit appearance such as pears, followed by citrus , the wine lingers for a long time, the wine feels dry, refreshing and balance sits very good. 

Conclusion: As much as their red wine is their rose really outstanding, well made wine. A house that really knows what it needs to do and keeps up their reputation. A true reference for any rose made on the planet. for those who are looking for a rose reflecting authenticity and character then this domain is a definite name to be on your list.  

Score: I rate this wine 19.1/20 91/100 rated as an excellent wine. 

Until next time please do drink responsibly. 

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Quinta de Santiago Reserva 2016

When I was at Prowein this year I had the opportunity to meet Joana the beautiful woman managing Quinta de Santiago. She has  guided us through her range and explained why her wines were the way they are.
Portuguese wines are more and more appreciated outside Portuguese borders, although that I have tasted many Portuguese wines I must admit that Quinta de Santiago are in the better category of  the Portuguese wines.
She is based in the heart where alvarinho grape rules and produces best in Portugal.

Vinho Verde region

Vinho Verde is the largest appellation in Portugal, sitting right at the northern west side of Portugal just under Galicia in Spain, where Albarino grape rules as well (same grape pronounced different). Here is it overall cool, green and wet, vines grow here in fertile granite soils, along rivers that flows from the mountains in the east towards the ocean. The region has 9 sub-regions, Mancao, Lima, Cavado, Ave, Basto, Sousa, Amarante, Paiva, Baiao. The cool wet weather makes ripening always a challenge, but the terraces vine technique have helped to solve this problem. But initially were the terraces designed to gain space for other crops to grow, vines could easily climb even trees were used.

Today will you encounter less of these terraced/pergolas style vineyards, most modern estates use the royat/guyot or gobelt style to cultivate their vines.
Vinho Verde is still distinguished by its high acidity, on flavor it all depends of the grape used, Loureiro is very floral, steely is more the Trajadura grape (not so common), mineral the Arinto grape, subtly fragant fruity and floral is the Alvarinho.

Most Vinho Verde's have that little tiny fizz a trademark, but more and more complete still wines are on the move and more appreciated, these wines have a light crisp an aromatic trademark.
The Alvarinho grape rules around the town of Melgaco and Moncao in the north along the Monho river. Here is the climate warmer and drier, the maritime influence partially blocked by hills, the combination of grape and climate makes for richer, fuller, subtly complex wines, made dry and totally still.

Quinta de Santiago

This winery is registered under the company name Nenufar Real, but there is only winery associated to this company and that is Quinta de Santiago. The Santiago family aims to be a link between the past and the presence. With generations from the past they collect legacy, know-how and commitment with soul and wisdom to the Alvarinho culture. This is the third generation of the Santiago's that is in charge and nourish with care and attention all that the family has brought to this land.
It is considered as one of the unique terroir's from the region, thanks to the soil, its exposure and a sustainable viticulture. Quinta de Santiago offer a special and unique style of wine, made with passion and of high quality, using traditional methods, and latest technology. Quinta de Santiago was build in 1899, based in the village Moncao. It owns 9 hectares of land of which 6 are planted with vines.

Quinta de Santiago Reserva 2016

Grape: 100% Alvarinho

Alcohol: 13.5%

Price: €15 $17 £13 average ex tax

Visual: A medium yellow color appears in the glass, color intensity is 2 out of 5, its limpidity is limpid, and the brilliance is sparkling, legs are thin, the wine impress delicacy, freshness, femininity a touch of originality.

Nose: A fruity impression is the first thing hitting you, apples, pears, little fennel, anise, mineral, stony, little hints of lily flower and touches of butter.

Palate: the attack is mellow lively and fresh with a round touch, the acids are fine and mid-palate keeps the wine well together, its body is medium light and lingers on for a fair amount of time. The oak is very delicate integrated hardly noticeable.

Conclusion: A new house I discovered little while ago, of which there is good attitude and intention to detail. A house that pours its heart and knowledge into their wines. Respecting the terroir and looking to the future aiming at a wider audience possible still respecting the identity of vinho verde. The other cuvee's are very interesting as well, not all as charming or remarkable as this one but rememberable. For those looking for something new affordable and good  Quinta de Santiago is one to tic on your list.

Score: I rate this wine at 18.8/20 88/100 ( rated as a very good wine)

Until next time please do drink responsibly.