Mini Wine Blog – Montepulciano Appassito
If you’ve followed blogs on the Villasfor2 site for any length of time, you’ll know that from around 2009 to 2015, I released a whole series of Italian wine blogs – both written and as video podcasts.
I stopped these about eighteen months ago because I’d basically said pretty much everything I wanted to say about Italian wine – and because I wanted to use the time I’m able to set aside for writing to work on other projects.
But that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped appreciating Italian wine. (As if…) So what I’m planning to do for the foreseeable future is release occasional mini-blogs just running the rule over the Italian wines I like – and which you might like too – in 500 words or less.
Here’s the first…
‘Bucefalo’. Vino Rosso Appassito.
Cantina Orsogna. Abruzzo.
From the organic ‘Demeter’ range of our nearby multi-award winning cantina, the very first appassito red wine ever produced in Abruzzo.
What’s an Appassito wine ?
Once wine’s been made, it’s either kept in steel vats; or wooden barrels; or both, prior to bottling.
The appassito process adds one further production stage. (And don’t confuse it with Ripasso wine btw – an entirely different wine-making process for another blog…)
The appassito method involves taking bunches of grapes from which the wine’s been made – in this case organically-grown Montepulciano D’Abruzzo (and a splash of Merlot too) – and drying them. Traditionally, this is done using mats laid out in the sun – but is more likely nowadays to be a mechanised process.
This largely removes the grapes’ water content – but leaves behind residual sugars, and a drop or two of highly-concentrated juice.
The dried grapes and their juices are then mixed with the previously-made wine for a period of time determined by the wine-maker, during which an extra layer of flavours, sugars and scents are imparted.
Until now, Italy’s best-known appassito red has been a Valpolicella Amarone, which is highly delicious and highly expensive.
Bucefalo isn’t. Around €12 a bottle.
What’s it like ?
A deep, deep red in the glass. Initial scents of plums, vanilla and spice. First taste carries over those rich scents into the glass, together with the underlying gentle sweetness imparted by the appassito process (and helped along by the Merlot grapes). The finish isn’t especially long – though just a hint of fruit does linger – and right at the end there’s the smallest hit of mouth-drying tannin, which pleasantly cuts the opulence a little.
It’s a rather lush and decadent wine – deceptively hefty too, with the additional sugars bumping it up to 14.5%.
We drank this with plain char-grilled steak – and it was a delicious combination – but I think its sweetness might go better with game. Or a good roast free-range chicken or duck. Certainly with Stilton. But maybe not with Gorgonzola ! And unlike many reds, it doesn’t actually need food to be completely appreciated and is lovely just sipped on its own.
Lastly: Don’t be put off by mentions of sweetness. We’re not talking about some sugary, syrupy drink here.
If you like, or aspire to, ValPol Amarone you’ll go for this big-time.