Matošević “Grimalda” Red 2016 (13.0%, RRP €36.99 at Blackrock Cellar; Redmonds of Ranelagh; Searsons; www.wineonline.ie)
A few firsts for me with this wine. Firstly, it’s from the Croatian province of Istria, and although I’ve had Croatian wines before, never (knowingly) one from Istria. Secondly, 30% of the blend is contributed by a grape I’ve never heard of – Teran – though I have heard of the Refosco family of which it is a member. The remaining components are much more familiar – Merlot (60%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (10%) – as are the French barrels in which the wine is matured for 15 months. The vineyard is located in Brdo (surely a place name with too few vowels) in Central Istria. The winemaker is pioneer and living legend Ivica Matošević.
The French and local varieties complement each other well – the Merlot gives plum and dark chocolate notes, filling the mid palate, while the Teran gives fresh, ripe-but-tart forest fruits. Overall, it’s velvety smooth goodness all the way.
Massolino Barolo 2014 (13.5%, RRP €54.99 at 64 Wine; The Corkscrew; Fallon & Byrne; Hole in The Wall; La Touche Wines, Greystones; Mitchell & Son; www.wineonline.ie)
Though I’m far from an expert in Piedmontese wines, it’s easily understandable that there are differences even within DOC and DOCG areas. Franco Massolino sources his Nebbiolo grapes from several plots in the Commune of Serralunga d’Alba at an altitude of 320m – 360m. The soils are mainly limestone and the vines age from 10 up to 60 years old. Serralunga d’Alba is regarded as one of the best parts of Barolo and produces well-structured wines that can age for decades, so it’s a little surprising that this 2014 is already so accessible – softer and more approachable, in fact, than Massolino’s 2016 Langhe Nebbiolo. The nose is floral with forest fruits and the palate has rich, smooth black and red fruits, kept fresh by a streak of acidity.
Poderi Aldo Conterno Barolo “Cicala” 2014 (14.0%, RRP €162.99 at 64 Wine; Mitchell & Son; The Corkscrew)
One of the unique things about this producer is that they have reduced their output over the last twenty years, more than halving production from 180,000 bottles to 80,000 bottles from the same 25 hectares of vines, all with an eye to improving quality. It seems to have worked! Established by Aldo Conterno himself in 1969, nowadays his son Stefano is the winemaker, with his other sons running the business. The Cicala name comes from the single vineyard where the grapes are sourced from. This 2014 is half a percent lighter in alcohol than other recent vintages, but it’s no lightweight – it’s an immense wine, though not impenetrable. The nose is enticing and rewarding; it’s worth just enjoying the rose and tar aromas for a while before even taking a sip. On the palate there’s still plenty of oak evident, but balanced by ripe fruits. This is an “Oh wow” wine.
Petra “Hebo” 2016 (14.0%, RRP €25.99 at Baggot Street Wines; Cinnamon Cottage, Cork; The Corkscrew; Clontarf Wines; Red Island Wine, Skerries; www.wineonline.ie)
The Petra estate is large compared to the Barolos above at 300 hectares. It was created close to the Tuscan coast by the Moretti family of Bellavista fame (particularly known for their Franciacorta). This is Super-Tuscan territory, borne out by the blend: 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot and 10% Sangiovese. However, this is not a Bordeaux copy; it has some similarities with Médoc wines but tastes Italian – whether due to terroir or the 10% Sangiovese is up for debate. With ripe red and black fruits framed by tannin and acidity, this is a well put-together wine that offers better value than most Bordeaux at this price.
Petra “Petra” 2014 (14.0%, RRP €69.99 at Baggot Street Wines; The Corkscrew; www.wineonline.ie)
This is the Petra estate’s top wine, a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot. The must is fermented in open top 100 hl vessels, then matured in barriques, of which 30% are new. It has a highly perfumed nose, full of violets and a whiff of vanilla. There’s lots of structure here, but also juicy cherry, blackberry and blueberry fruit. At five years old this is still in the flushes of youth, so I’d expect it to keep evolving and improving over the next decade or so. A Super-Tuscan which is expensive, but doesn’t cost the earth.
Liberty Portfolio Tasting 2019