Italian wine dinner part 2

Last week I shared with you my tasting notes for the white wines that I tried at a wine dinner. You can find that post here.

Today I want to talk about the red wines that we drank. Most red wines that we drank were decanted for some hours.

The first red wine we drank was a “leftover” Vino Novello, which was obviously not decanted. I wasn’t impressed at all by it. A friend of Jack, the host of the dinner, brought the wine to the dinner. I have the feeling that he was more of a beer drinker. We tried a 2012 Montferrato Novello from Piedmontese winery Terre Da Vino. If you don’t know what Novello is then let me explain it real quick. To my understanding it’s the first wine of the new vintage. These wines are usually young fresh wines that are drank within the first months after release which is around Novemember. The Monteferrato tasted like strawberry juice with alcohol. I quickly moved on to another wine and it was and still is hard for me to understand why people drink Novello and why wineries produce it. I’d say stay away from this wine unless it costs like less than $8 – then buy it and use it for cooking.

The next wine that I want to talk about comes from Abruzzo. Maybe you remember in one of my first posts here on Winetalks that I travelled to Abruzzo last year. I visited Agriverde and bought took some bottles back to the States. Follow this link for my tasting notes for the Agriverde Solera. To the dinner I brought the flaghsip wine of Agriverde. A bottle of 2000 Plateo Montepulciano di Abruzzo.  The wine is made with Montepulciano grapes (until recently I always thought that Montepulciano was just a town in Tuscany) and aged 24 months in stainless steel followed by 24 months in French oak and by additional 24 months in the bottle before being distributed. The wine has a dark ruby red color. I expected something more similar to a garnet red. The nose has intense aromas of vanilla, cocoa, cinnamon, cardamon, ripe cherry and blackcurrant. Full-bodied and well-balanced. Intense fruit notes but also dark chocolate on the palate. Lingering finish. I love this wine! The only other time I had it was at the Agriverde estate in Abruzzo during my vacation. I think I had a 2007 vintage back then.  The Gambero Rosso rated this wine with 3 glasses.  Average price on wine searcher: $59. I think that is an excellent price. I paid like around €40 ($52) for this wine at Agriverde.
The next wine was again from Piedmont but this time it was something much better. It was a Barolo from Cantina Terre Del Barolo (2008 vintage). Unfortunately, this wine disappointed me almost as much as the Novello. 100% Nebbiolo grapes. Wine aged 2 years in Slavonian (never heard of this before. Can someone please tell me what it is?). Anyways the wine had a weak bouquet. It was dry and extremely tannic. The oak notes dominated too much. The finish was long but I couldn’t deal with the tannins. The wine wasn’t very well-balanced in my opinion. Maybe I should stay away from Barolo, Barbaresco and all the other Piedmontese wines! Average price on wine searcher: $29

The last wine that we drank was something special – at least for me. Some of you might remember my horrible experience with Tenuta San Guido. If you don’t then let me reshare it with you: I bought a 2008 Sassicaia for over $150 at, after reading a very interesting article about Super Tuscans on Vino in Love. The wine was spoiled. refused to take the wine back. So I wasted all the money for nothing… I thought that I will never ever try Sassicaia again because I was really upset about the situation (and still am). However, Jack uncorked a double magnum bottle (3 liters) of 2005 Sassicaia. In case you wonder, Jack told us that he has around 900 bottles of wine in his cellar. It was his 40th birthday so that’s a way to celebrate isn’t it?

Everybody got a small glass of Sassicaia (we were around 30 people). The Sassicaia was great and I absolutely loved it! It is produced with 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc. The wine aged for 24 months in French oak. Sassicaia has a dark ruby red color. Intense bouquet with leather, violets, dark fruit and smoke. Sassicaia is pretty dry and full-bodied. It is not as well-balanced as the Plateo though. The oak notes are a little bit too dominant. Nevertheless, the wine was spectacular! Silky tannins and an incredibly long aftertaste. Average price on wine-searcher: $237 (for a regular bottle, not for the magnum bottle).

The Sassicaia concludes this post. Hope you enjoyed the tasting notes. I loved the wine dinner. Out ouf all 8 wines that we had throughout the evening only the two Piedmontese wines disappointed me. Plateo still remains my favorite out of all of them. Sassicaia was a great experience but the Plateo rocked a little bit more and it’s almost $180 cheaper! My favorite white wine was the Pinot Bianco from St. Michael Eppan. You won’t regret trying either of the two : )


11 thoughts on “Italian wine dinner part 2

  1. Great summary of your Italian wine dinner, Frank! I wish I was invited. You guys drank so many outstanding wines.
    I’m especially happy that you found the Plateo to be very good, too. It’s one of my favorites for sure!

    You said you don’t know what Slavonian oak is. Slavonian oak is a type of oak from Croatia. Slavonia is a historic region which does not exist anymore.
    Slavonian oak is very popular in Italy – especially in the Piedmont. In my opinion Slavonian oak gives the wine a different taste than American and French oak. Hope this answered your question. Also thanks for the mention in your great post 🙂
    Also good to hear that you got to try Sassicaia. I still feel bad for your first Sassicaia experience.

    • Julian,
      If you wouldn’t live in Germany then I would invite you to the next dinner I host 😉 If my work brings me to Germany then I will send you a mail and we’ll go drink a good wine together.

      Thanks for explaining to me what Slavonian oak is. I don’t remember Slavonian oak from from other wines so I guess it’s not very common.

      The Plateo was incredible. Every wine enthusiast should try the wine at least once a year!

  2. My guess is that the Novello is the equivalent of “neuer Wein” (new wine) in Germany. The time frame when it’s available is about the same.

    There’s a ritual involving Zwiebelkuchen and new wine, which is barely fermented wine, mostly sweet. But it pairs very nicely with Zwiebelkuchen, a form of quiche.

    • Denise thanks for visiting my blog.
      Vino Novello is the same as neuer Wein. In France, there is a similar wine known as Beaujolais nouveau.
      I can see how a young wine like Novello or neuer Wein would work well with Zwiebelkuchen. But I think it’s not the right wine to take to a dinner.

  3. Very nice post as usual, Frank.
    Leaving aside Slavonian oak, which Julian already explained, generally speaking stay away from Novello wines, which (once again, generally) are just cheap imitations of the better known Beaujolais Nouveau wines.
    I am glad you liked the Plateo, which is a very good wine, but please don’t say you should stay away from Barolo! 🙂 As in most things, the important thing is to get a good Barolo, and I am afraid that unfortunately 29 bucks are not going to buy you a good Barolo… If you find them, give one of these a try: Vajra, Bricco delle Viole, Elvio Cogno Ravera or Vigna Elena or Damilano, Cannubi, just to mention a few. And remember, Barolo needs good aging to express itself at its best and tame its strong tannins – say, 8-10 years is a good rule of thumb on the low end of its very long aging potential, although I had Vajra’s Bricco delle Viole 2008 and it was silky smooth, so you may luck out.
    Finally, I am happy you are now at peace with Sassicaia 😉 Last week I drank with two friends a bottle of 1995 Sassicaia which was to die for!!!
    Take care

    • Stefano,
      Thanks for your Barolo suggestions. I probably shouldn’t have said that I don’t like them (well at at least the onces I tried so far). I will try some of your suggestions. Usually when I drink Barolo other people have selected the wine so next time I make sure I pick it 🙂

      Plateo is an outstanding wine. Have you had the chance to try it? I visited Agriverde last summer. They have an awesome wellness hotel integrated in the winery so next to fantastic wine one can also relax and enjoy the beautiful nature of Abruzzo 🙂

      1995 Sassicaia sounds incredible. I liked the 2005 Sassicaia but a 1995 makes me speechless!

      • Dear Frank,
        I know I am a bit late, but I wanted to know whether you ever contacted Tenuta San Guido for the spoiled bottle, and if you did, what was their response.
        All the best,


  4. Chablis Wine Tasting Evening – Wine Talks

  5. Slavonia is a region in northeastern Croatia, part of the former Yugoslavia and long before that, part of the Kingdom of Hungary.

    Slavonian oak barrels are highly regarded in the wine community; in particular, they’re in fashion in Italy’s Piedmont and Tuscany regions.

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