Thursday, October 2, 2008


We had agreat trip to Northern Italy last week (it has taken me a few days to get back to the computer), courtesy of Liberty Wines. I was going to do a big spiel about all the wines we tasted and all the food we ate, but I don't have the energy to write it and, to be honest, you probably would have the energy to read it, so I will spare us all the torture. Suffice to say, we were very well looked after with a packed schedule of tasting and 6 course lunches and 5 course dinners, lots of bus driving and not really very much sleep. The important thing is the wines so here is a very quick, top-of-mind impression af the places we visited.

Lorenzon - straight off the plane to visit this very nice family in Friuli, best known for their I Feudi di Romans label, from vineyards bordering the famous Vie di Romans. the wines were all clean, fresh, pure and good for their style and price. We were treated to a massive feast there for lunch which was just fantastic.

Livio Felluga - one of the historic names in Friuli. This winery was very different, very swish, stylish and looked like a lot of money had been spent on it (Lorenzon was much more earthy, which I prefer). The wines here are excellent, but very expensive and the reds underwhelmed.

Cantina Valpantena - this is a co-op in Valpolicella where Matt Thompson makes the Alpha Zeta range. It was fascinating to see a winery of this scale in operation, especially at harvest time. Wines are mixed.

Pieropan - one of my favourite wineries in Italy. We first visited their new red winery in Valpolicella where they have bought new vineyards and invested in a new cellar. It all looked very impressive and expensive. Their new red is called Ruberopan and, while very nice, I feel they are pitching it way too high in terms of price (it would be higher than their top white, La Rocca). I just feel they should launch it at a more reasonable level, let it develop a reputation and then rise the price as demand goes up (if it does!). The whites back in Soave were all impeccable, as usual. The Calvarino is still my favourite.

Allegrini - always a highlight, we visited all their most important vineyards, La Poja, La Grola nd Palazzo della Torre. We also went into their newly acquired Palazzo (after which the vineyard is named) which looks spectacular but needs work. we tasted the wines with dinner and they were all fantastic - I am a huge fan of these wines. The Valpolicella is an excellent example of its type; Palazzo makes otehr ripassos seem clumsy, La Grola is the epitomy of power and balance, La Poja is nice, but underwhems at the price, the Amarone is a classic in the modern style and the Recioto is excellent. Pretty sound range all round.

Ca dei Frati - into Lugana the next morning and I really liked these wines. The whole range, including the oaked ones were very well made, clean and long. Very nice people as well.

Monteforte - over lunch we tasted the wines from Monteforte, the smaller co-op in Soave and I liked the basic Soave Classico, but wasn't mad about the others we tasted.

Then it was off to the airport, tired but happy!!

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