MONSTER Chateauneuf from...Sardinia? With other intriguing Italian oddities...
Some fascinating juice…
Italy is the type of wine growing nation that I feel like I could spend the rest of my life studying without even scratching the surface. Countless varieties, traditions, terroir and technique make it an almost intimidating odyssey to explore, yet I chose to jump into the shallow end of the pool and play w/ some Dettori over the weekend. Dettori is a Sardinian based producer that specializes in Cannonau (Grenache) and Vermentino, yet technique and terroir seem to trump varietal importance by a long shot. Stainless steel tanks, cement vats, old vines, low yields and hands off winemaking seem to rule the day at Dettori. As you’ll note from my impressions, these aint’ your Grandmother’s Chianti….
The following whites are fashioned in ways that are never likely to achieve commercial success. Their fermentations kick off after a period of liberal skin contact, essentially mirroring the red wine making process. The end result could be described as a bit quirky, yet it is a singular, imaginative way of extracting something special from white grapes. Dettori’s wines are unfined, unfiltered, unclarified expressions of terroir that could be likened to uncompromising pieces of art. No rules, no compromises. The whites are so cloudy and oddly hued that they make Aubert’s Chardonnays seem brilliant by comparison.
My take on Dettori’s Vermentino is a bit muddled. I don’t love it, though I don’t hate it. I find it provocative and challenging and I consider it to be a wine experience that just about any adventurous palate should have. Even if you find it more bizarre than beautiful, you’ll still come away w/ one damn funky conversational nugget that is sure to be a hit at the campfire.
Alessandro Dettori says it best:
“I don’t follow the market, I produce wines that I like, wines from my territory, wines from Sennori. They are what they are and not what you want them to be”
Dettori Bianco ‘06
While technically made from Vermentino, I’d be hard-pressed to find even the most experienced of palate pick this varietal blind from a line-up. The color can be likened to cloudy, unfiltered pineapple juice, w/ a beguiling nose of sea breeze, macerated papaya, fennel, pine needles, and varied warm, tropical nectars. The entry is heady, w/ an intense tidal wave of orange tinged, eccentric flavors that whirl their way along an almost fuzzy, somewhat flat finish. What a crazy ride! This is sure to leave you enchanted, enraged or downright exhausted 83 points.
For comparison purposes, I juxtaposed a similarly made white from Slovenia (the vineyard is a stone’s throw from Italy) to see if it would help me better appreciate this style of wine. The producer, Movia, is certified biodynamic & never fines, filters or clarifies.
Movia ‘Lunar’ 2006
This is a blend of Tocai Friulano and Sauvignon Blanc that again, blurs any varietal recognition w/ its amber tinged, foggy hues that look more like a cider than white wine. Like the Dettori, this is a heady, high alcohol wine that leaves sappy legs behind. The scents are enigmatic and change like a chameleon w/ each sniff, presenting in a fascinating array of flower, orange peel and herb notes. The entry is savory, w/ a nutty edge to the caramel, toffee and white currant flavors that envelope the palate w/ warmth (yet not from alcoholic heat). The big boned heft turns surprisingly salty on the finish, leaving the essence of crushed stone in its path. Talk about esoteric stuff, yet this one has a bit more structure, depth and minerality to reel you in, 88 points.
As for the Cannonau, I was absolutely astonished. There is a Cuvee Speciale Bonneau-like sensibility to it which I’m sure will lend itself to plenty of detractors. That being said, I found it to be as thrilling a red as any and a must try for any serious Chateaunuef du Pape lover.
Dettori Tenores ‘03
This is the highest listed alcohol I’ve seen for a dry red wine (at 17%, perhaps they are just more honest than others?), from the Romangia I.G.T. of Sardinia comes a pure, 80 plus year old vine, cement aged Cannonau (Grenache) that brings some serious Amarone-like thunder to the table. An impenetrably deep, seething nose of loam, liqueur soaked herbs, graphite, warm blackberry sauce and spice cake rises from the glass as if it stemmed from a controlled explosion. The mouth-feel is an absolutely stunning display that I think is best described as old vine Grenache shoved in a blender doused in kirsch liqueur until it is liquefied to oblivion. As the finish persists, a myriad of complex nuances sneak up, leaving me w/ one impression, ‘from the earth.’ This is a tremendously powerful (the monstrous tannins are deceptive and silky), naked expression of immensely endowed, terroir driven fruit that I’d pen as a Chateauneuf made by Dal Forno if the label were disguised, 96 points.