Sunday, June 26, 2011

Washington Sangiovese v Italy

The Tour de France starts next weekend so the pros are either fine tuning their fitness or contesting their national championships this week.  Before embarking on a 21 day tour of France I decided to launch a sneak attack through Italy.  This week features a Sangiovese grudge match between a very evil Sangiovese from Washington state and a mysterious Italian Brunello.

Washington State Sangiovese from the Columbia Valley  v. Brunello de Montalcino

RiverAerie 2008 Sangiovese v. 2003 Terralsole Brunello de Montalcino

Tale of the tape

2008 RiverAerie Sangiovese

Google reported the RiverAerie website as trouble, evil with potential to unleash malicious software on my computer.  I know how to avoid evil when I get fair warning.  Luckily I was able to ascertain the following details from the Full Pull Wines offer letter.

Grapes sourced from three vineyards: Two from the Wahluke Slope - Doebler and Jones and Boushey in the Yakima Valley makes three.  Aged in neutral barrels.
Purchased for $16.99 from Full Pull wines.

2003 Terralsole Brunello di Montelcino

Great picture of this Luchador (from 2004), but no other information on the Terralsole website.
Purchased for $26.83 from Garagiste.

It looks like this week's match features Evil v. Mystery.  The Devil you know v. The Devil you don't...  Let's see how this unfolds.

Round 1.  First Opening:

On first opening the RiverAerie has a nose of pie cherry, sour currant, oak, leather and some cedar spice box.  The palate is showing sweet red cherry fruit with drying cedar raspberry and nice peppery spice trailing into the finish.

The Terralsole is showing some classic Sangiovese character on first opening - cherry, dust, leather and a bit of pepper on the nose with a palate of cherry and dry cedar with a semi dry cherry finish.

Evil is much more complex than the Mystery in Round 1.  This one clearly goes to the RiverAerie sauntering into the ring and demonstrating a much bolder approach to this world of Sangiovese.

Round 2.  One hour after Opening

The RiverAerie is going strong in round 2 with a nose of currant, cherry, raspberry and earth with a similar palate that includes a bit of spice and finishes with hints of espresso bean and cocoa.

Terralsole is also stepping up.  The nose is developing a bigger nose of black cherry, dust and leather with a similar palate that leads to a dry cherry bark finish.

Round 2 goes to the Evil Luchador once again.  RiverAerie is taking Sangiovese to places Lucha Vino has not experienced before.  And that spells trouble for our mysterious Italian combatant.

Round 3. One day later

The Evil RiverAerie has lost a bit of punch, but is still showing plenty of evil genius in the form of currant, dust, toast and white pepper on the nose with a palate of bright dark cherry and hints of cedar spice box with a dry lightly spicy finish.

The Terralsole has become more mysterious lurking in the sahdows with a nose that is showing cherry and a bit of oak with cherries and some light cola on the palate that finishes with a bit of drying cedar.

Both Luchadors lost some steam in the third round, but the Terralsole lost more.  The final round goes to the evil genius RiverAerie.

This contest was never in doubt, Evil wins out over Mystery 3 - 0 in a very interesting battle.

Wrap up and over all observations

These Sangioveses were both good and quite different.  The Washington Sangio was much bigger and bolder than what I would typically expect in this varietal.  The Italian Brunello de Montalcino showed much more of the drier cherry driven Sangiovese character 

I give the RiverAerie an 88 and the Terralsole an 86.  Close, but in the end the RiverAerie overpowered the Terralsole.  Nothing fancy, no flash, no tricks, just good old fashioned in your face power.

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