Wine Talk

Snooth User: dmcker

Sammarinese wines

Posted by dmcker, Jun 14, 2014.

Last night got a little serious. Started out simply enough with just me and a regional development consultant at a local bistro, catching up while sharing a range of starters along with a house chard and a bottle of Produttori del Barbaresco Langhe nebbiolo--always a reasoned and satisfying choice when there's no intention of getting too serious with the wine imbibing.

Then the main importer of wines into Japan from San Marino showed up. Her office turned out to be right next to the bistro. So after I shared the nebbiolo with her she reciprocated--in spades. Eight of her Sammarinese bottles later, the three of us staggered into an upscale soba shop for some tempura and noodles as an attempt at a non-liquid ending to the night, then each fell into separate taxis for a ride home that would ordinarily only take 15' on foot. Sorry, no photos since my iPhone battery died. May get some that I took on her phone if she remembers.

Five reds and 3 whites. Not one of the bottles was bad. Three mid-range sangioveses, and one that was downright excellent. One good pinot nero, obviously from different earth than Burgundy, also without that excellent acidity so necessary for ageability. A couple of white blends (based on biancale, one still and the other frizzante), and one eye-opening ribolla.

San Marino is miniscule, and very few of its wines are exported, but what I had was solid wine--some room for improvement in several of them, but none were slouches. Nor was the importer, since she got the most prestigious Shinto shrine in Japan, Ise Jingu, to choose her wines as their official offering this year, a very important one since they are tearing down the old shrine and putting up a new one (something this shrine with its special relationship to the Imperial Household does every 20 years as a singular form of purification ceremony). All you wine-loving woodworkers would be impressed to see the construction techniques employed for that.

But back to the wine--has anyone else noticed a familial resemblances (last night thanks to the wine's style I was thinking even first cousins) between ribolla and chardonnay? Not just the oak from its vinification, of course, but its golden color, its minerality, some of its herbal notes on both the nose and palate, its glycerin, its overall mid-palate weight and breadth, its manner of structuring, and more? I've only had ribolla in Italy before this (including Gravner's interesting orangeish beast), and not any for years. Think a few people are working on it in Napa and Sonoma these days, but I haven't had any from there. I believe Dan Petroski of Massican may even be blending ribolla with chard in one of his whites. Amusing to consider parallels between chardonnayish grapes grown under the sun of northern Italy and those under the sun north of San Francisco Bay.

Would be interested to hear anyone's experiences with ribolla they'd care to share.

Yanked off the web:



And as a footnote, Al, not one yen of corkage was paid. I just made sure the bistro's manager had a topped up glass of the sangiovese at all times....


Reply by outthere, Jun 14, 2014.

I have had a few Ribolla Gialla all from the same southern Napa Vare vineyard. Arnot-Roberts, Matthiasson and RYME. All have been bright and refreshing with RYME doing theirs with skin contact resulting in an orange hue and a slightly more structured wine. Been. A nice discovery for sure.

Reply by JonDerry, Jun 14, 2014.

Well done...I've been meaning to try Dan Petroski's Massican label for a while now...think I will the next time we get a cooler vintage, though that may take some years.

Reply by dmcker, Jun 14, 2014.

"...think I will the next time we get a cooler vintage, though that may take some years."


Why wait?

Reply by JonDerry, Jun 14, 2014.

The prospect of tasting CA whites in warm/hot years rouses very little excitement. I've enjoyed quite a few from '10 and '11 though.

Land costs in CA really put the whites (especially) at a disadvantage to those from Europe.

Reply by dmcker, Jun 14, 2014.

Rather than painting with such a broad brush, I really think it's a question of who's making the wine.

Reply by JonDerry, Jun 14, 2014. producers in cool vintages if I'm buying. Happy to sample any others of course.

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