A couple of years ago I had the opportunity for a comprehensive wine tour of the province of Ascoli Piceno, in the Marche region of Italy.
The province is located on the Adriatic coast reaching back into the hilly terrain of the Apennine mountains which form the central spine of the Italian peninsula.
The wine-growing region enjoys the advantages of moderating influences from the nearby sea, as well as plantings at altitude which use the slopes to full effect for managing the amount of sun reaching the grapes.
Montepulciano supplemented with sangiovese is the main source of red wine labelled under the Rosso Piceno DOC and Offida DOCG quality designations.
We are probably not so familiar with montepulciano, but it is capable of producing a big wine with lots of stuffing — colour, fruit and tannin — if the yields are kept low and it has the time to fully ripen. Blending in some sangiovese boosts acidity levels and helps with the balance of the wine.
Having grown to enjoy the wines and the region, I was therefore delighted to see that the Rotary Club of St. John’s had listed a wine from Ascoli Piceno for sale in its fall fundraising campaign this year. The Le Caniette Morellone 2006, DOC Rosso Piceno is a blend of 70 per cent montepulciano and 30per cent sangiovese certified organic grapes which has been aged two years in oak barrels.
This wine needs to be opened for a little while before drinking to unlock the deep, rich, red berry fruit aromas. Despite being seven years old already, it is youthful in colour with good tannic grip. This wine will age well for several more years, but is a great match already with game, steak, and similar meat dishes. Score 17 — Very Good.
Rotary is also offering two wines from Spain as part of its campaign. The white wine comes from Catalonia which is in the north-east of the country.
The grape is the Xarel-lo which we would rarely see here as a varietal wine but is one of the three traditional varieties used to make sparkling Cava. The Bohigas Blanc de Blancs Xarel-lo 2012 delivers a wonderfully aromatic nose showing tropical fruit and stone fruit, with herbal accents. The aromatics are supported with good acidity, contributing to an appealing fresh taste. This wine works equally well on its own or with dinner. Score: 15.5 — Very Good.
South of Catalonia, in Valencia, lies the wine producing region of Utiel-Requena, where another less common variety, the native bobal, is dominant. The region has some of the most extreme growing conditions in Spain — cold winters, very hot and dry summers — but the bobal seems perfectly adapted. The grape is able to contribute lots of colour, tannin, acid and fragrance to a wine so long as its natural productivity is restrained.
The Bodegas Sierre Norte Bercial 2009 is 35 per cent bobal with 65 per cent tempranillo and has had three months aging in oak. This is a robust wine with red fruit flavours and tannins suitable for taming juicy barbecue fare and similar rich meat dishes. Score: 15 — Very Good.
I understand Rotary still has a few cases of everything left. For more information, contact Nathan Barnes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Steve Delaney is a member
of the Opimian Society.
Email him at email@example.com