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Italian Tasting with Fratelli Sarti

by Tom Cannavan, 02/99

Sarti are one of the UK's biggest Italian Wine merchants, carrying over 350 different wines in their stock, from everyday rural wines, to the biggest names and best vintages of Tuscany and Piedmont. This tasting was arranged by the University of Strathclyde Staff Club, and Sandro Sarti presented the wines. I enjoyed the reds more than the whites. These were almost all wines made in a modern style - plenty of clean, fruity flavours. Most of them displayed that bitter edge of lemony acidity that marks many Italian reds.

White

Le Rime Pinot Grigio/Chardonnay 1997 - £7.00
Very pale gold with distinct green tinge. Attractive nose of pear-drops, apples and lemon. Ripe and succulent. Light-bodied, very crisp on the palate and rather tart. Lots of lemony fruit, almost frizzante, with lemon and green apple acidity. Decent length. Seems a bit expensive for what it is.

Donnafugata (Sicily) Bianco 1997 - £7.80
A Sicilian wine made from local grape varieties Inzolea and Catarratto. Pale green/gold. Deeper aromas of straw and hay, some oak. Slighty oxidised impression, but on the palate quite tasty with mouth-filling, toasted flavours, rich buttery character and some fruit. Finish is quite long, if a touch flabby.

Red

Banfi (Tuscany) "Col di Sasso" Cabernet Sauvignon/Sangiovese 1997 - £7.50
Ruby/cherry red. Bright. Subdued but attractive nose with zippy cherry and raspberry fruit and sweet vanillin. Savoury on the palate. Good sour-cherry fruit and more sweet oak, with firm tannins and prominent lemon acidity. Creamy consistency. Finish is quite long, but full of drying tannins. Quite nice.

Lamole (Tuscany) Chianti Classico 1993 - £10.60
A new Chianti producer to me. Pale, soft, red/orange colour. Quite subdued though aromatic nose with aromas of violets, cedar wood and brown sugar. Very firm and grippy palate with big, dry tannins. Soft, oaky flavours dominate but there is good bitter-cherry fruit and a nice almondy edge beneath. Quite creamy and long in the finish with good balance. This is a good wine and would cellar for a few more years.

Donnafugata (Sicily) Rosso 1996 - £7.80
Made from Negroamaro and Perricone. Vivid crimson colour. Dominated by sweet vanillin oak aromas that are charred and quite deep. More of that on the palate along with crunchy berry fruit. Good weight with soft, spicy tannins. High acidity in the finish, that is quite long, with the cool berry flavours holding on. Pleasant.

Cascina Castle't (Piedmont) Barbera d'Asti 1997 - £8.00
Light, bright, strawberry colour. Soft, beguiling aromas of strawberries, cream and spices with some custardy oak. Very smooth and easy to drink. A soft cloak of ripe, woody tannins wraps over cherry fruit and spice. Finish is long and chewy with good balance of sweet oak, fruit and acidity. Rather nice and would be great with fresh pasta.

Umani Ronchi (Marches) Rosso Conero Cumaro 1995 - £16.00
100% Montepulciano, this is a very dark ruby red, pink on rim. Classy nose: cedar, oak, with dark notes of game, leather and roasted fruits. Concentrated and rich on the palate. Weighty with plenty of grip, but silky-smooth. Quite claret-like flavours of ripe berry and cherry fruit, leather, and pepper. Some dark, animal notes too and mouth-coating tannins. Long, very pure and well-balanced. Lovely composed quality. Very good indeed.

This wine was served blind
Soloperto (Puglia) Primitivo di Manduria 1995 - £15.00
Dark, absolutely opaque crimson/black colour. High, aromatic, Port-like nose with violets, mulberries, mint and chocolate. Elements of shoe-polish and cherries. There is a hint of sweetness as it strikes the palate, but bitter currant and cherry flavours develop, toasted almonds and darker, stewed, plummy fruits. Hugely alcoholic and Port-like, with a long, sweetish finish. Gorgeous of its type. Guess at Recioto della Valpolicella?
Turned out to be a Southern Italian Primitivo with 17% alcohol, which Mr. Sarti said was natural, un-chaptalised and un-fortified - I actually find that hard to believe....