RKS Wine: A Couple of 90’s from Italy

The Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) loves quoting reviewers that give a wine 90 plus points. I suppose that helps consumers select a good wine assuming of course the reviewer is realistic. Most reviewers are consistent and trustworthy. Some are notorious for overrating so take the rating with a grain of salt particularly if you consistently disagree with ratings of a particular reviewer.

The first is a Stefano Farina Barbera d’Alba rated a 90 by Luca Maroni who has a reputation for inflated scores. At times I have disagreed with his ratings by 7-8 points.

Barbera is a signature Piedmontese grape grown throughout Italy. The best one I have had was from Campania.

The nose reveals black cherry, blackberry, vanilla, cranberry, chocolate and violets. On the palate mild tannins that creep up in intensity on the finish. There are notes of blackberry, strawberry and chocolate wafer cookies. The finish is short. The Barbera’s I had in Campania were eminently quaffable and smooth but this is a “hot wine”. Many wines can handle 14.5% alcohol and you can’t pick up the heat from the alcohol. In his case you can feel the heat and can lead to the conclusion it is a bit unbalanced. I suggest this is one of those foodie wines best consumed with fattier cuts of grilled meat. I don’t know if you’ll agree with me but the high alcohol content robs the wine of its fruit on the palate?

Drinkable now but I can’t say ageing will improve the wine.

(Stefano Farina 2018 Barbera d’Alba, Barbera D’Alba DOC, Stefano Farina, Cuneo, Italy, $17.95, LCBO #10601, 750 mL, 14.5%, Robert K. Stephen A Little Birdie Told Me So Rating 88/100).

The next 90 was given by Wine Current for a 2018 Valpanera Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso. Refosco is a north-eastern Italian red grape often highly acidic but gives deeply coloured wines often with harsh tannins.

The wine has a dark ruby colour. As for aromatics loganberry, cherry preserves and a little streak of chocolate. On the palate the tannins are restrained but there is a faint bitterness which does not really detract from the wine. There is some cherry dominating the palate but there is some dark chocolate which may account for the slight bitterness on the palate. There is some blackcurrant and lavender. There is a refreshing lightness to the wine. It doesn’t seem to mind what you think of it or how many points you give it.

A good match with warm Greek potato salad with lots of fresh field tomatoes, anchovies and fresh basil with a good shot of Greek olive oil.

(Valpanera Refosco Dal Peduncolo Rosso 2018, Friuli Aquileia DOC, S.A. Valpanera, Fiumicello Villa Vincentina, Italy, $ 15.95, LCBO # 10080, 12.5%, 750 mL, Robert K. Stephen A Little Birdie Told Me So Rating 91/100).

Published by Robert K Sephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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