TN: Simple Italian and Spanish Wines

2007 Tenutaderie Ruchè di Castagnole Monferrato - Italy, Piedmont, Monferrato, Ruchè di Castagnole Monferrato
I had quite forgotten that I have tried this before. Impressions were quite similar to those a couple of years back - this really is a charming little wine. Nice cherry and blueberry nose, some raspberry floating around, a little tomato and sprigs of fresh herbs, and lots and lots of rose petals littered over the whole lots. Palate was very decent. Fine tannins, nice spiciness, some tomato-ish acidity and a nice savoury, earthy minerality to go along with dark fruit flavours. Quite a bit darker in profile than on the nose I thought and just that tad more developed than the last time I had it. Light bodied, but certainly not thin, this had a nice freshness to it with floaty rose petal flavours reappearing at the lingering finish. There was just a bit of bitter stemminess there, but otherwise pretty pleasant. I kept thinking that this would be nice with a pizza. (90 pts.)

2007 Castello di Farnetella Chianti Colli Senesi - Italy, Tuscany, Chianti, Chianti Colli Senesi
Lighting quick taste before I left. This came across as a pleasant, unobtrusive wine, but certainly one for the casual lunch rather than in a proper dinner setting. Cherry candy on the nose was seasoned with some Italian herbs and a little dash of varnished wood. More sweet cherries on the palate, some tomato-ish acid, all nice and fresh, with some earth and herbs as the wine moved into its sweetish finish, where more candied cherries were mixed in with some bittersweet bits. Not one I would rush out to buy, but quaffable enough. (87 pts.)

2004 Viña Salceda Rioja Conde de la Salceda Reserva - Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alavesa, Rioja
So very different from the more classically styled 1998 I tried alongside. This was well-made, but in a strikingly modern style. Lots of oak on the nose, bursting with toasted vanilla beans and a touch of woodiness, with bright cherry fruit scents very much relegated to second fiddle where they lingered with a little whiffs of earth and glycerol. Not the best start in the world. Palate was rather better though. Chewy tannins and mouth watering acidity formed a backdrop for cool red fruit flavours and some bittersweet chocolate and licorice notes. Finish was still rather woody and vanilla-laden, but had a nice lengthy red fruit tail with whiffs of smoky ash hovering around. This was well structured and has lot of room to age. A little too modern for my tastes, but it is well-made and should give great pleasure in 5-6 years’ time.

1998 Viña Salceda Rioja Conde de la Salceda Reserva - Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alavesa, Rioja
Poor vintage in Spain, but this was somehow really quite good. I far preferred it to the ultra-modern 2004. The nose here was classic Rioja. Full of beautiful complexity, it showed off savoury umami scents, some leather, lots of musky undergrowth and glorious mature fruit, with hints of dried strawberries and cherries, and a lovely backdrop of dried flowers floating amidst tiny accents of tempranillo smoke. Lovely. The palate was every bit as gorgeous on the attack, with fleshy red fruit, dark cherries and berries. Not sweet, but succulent, and nicely framed with fresh acidity and fine tannins which had mellowed nicely. Really nice and velvety. Pity that the midpalate felt a bit hollow, all but dropping off at the finish, leaving a little patina of smoky spice and earth notes with a little suggestion of heat. I really liked this, but it was lacking just a little oomph to go with all that seductive charm. Otherwise, a real treat. (92 pts.)