TN: Valentini Trebbiano d'Abruzzo 2014-1999 + some Cerasuolos and more

Short and simple: we tasted through a bunch of Valentini’s Trebbiano d’Abruzzos. As we didn’t have that many bottles of Trebbiano, the person who arranged the tasting threw in a couple of bottles of Cerasuolo and a rare bottle of white Montevertine.

I don’t know if there is a person here who doesn’t know about Valentini, but they’re a producer making some of the most esteemed and sought-after wines in Italy. Due to the very limited production, the wines tend to get quite pricey, too.

Valentini’s range spans only three wines: the white Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, the rosé Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo and the red Montepulciano. What’s very unique with the producer is that only less than half of the estate is under vines - the producer has opted to keep the rest of the land planted to olive and fruit trees instead. Furthermore, the rigorous selection of the fruit is in a class of its own: the producer uses only the best 5-10% of the fruit produced from the 60 hectares of vines they; the rest of the fruit is sold off in bulk and the wine that doesn’t meet the strict criteria is also sold off to local wine bars and restaurants as unlabeled vino sfuso.

Due to Valentini’s exceptionally meticulous fruit selection, the wines tend to be ridiculously concentrated and high in dry extract, resulting in very potent and ageworthy wines that have noticeably tactile, even slightly viscous mouthfeel. Yet they aren’t one bit heavy, as the wines are also packed with acidity and minerality, making them feel very light on their feet.

The wines are made in a very traditionalist fashion: fermented spontaneously either in concrete tanks or large Slavonian oak botti. The wines are always bottled unfined, unfiltered and without any SO2. One without much experience with these wines might think that without SO2 they can’t age that well, but usually Valentini wines opened in the first 8 years of their life tend to be so reductive and tightly-knit that they require copious amounts of air and still might come across as quite closed and unyielding in character. They really do need like 15-20 years before they really start to show their best and I have no idea how long they are capable of aging. And take note - this applies to all three of their wines!

The producer says the wines are made from Bombino Bianco, but I’ve understood that it’s still a bit unclear which variety they are actually made from. This is because DOC Trebbiano d’Abruzzo white can be made from three varieties: the rather neutral, low-acid Trebbiano Toscano; the high-quality, high-acid Trebbiano d’Abruzzo the variety (aka. Trebbiano Abruzzese) not related to other Trebbianos; and Bombino Bianco. But here’s the catch: Bombino Bianco can be both a synonym for Trebbiano d’Abruzzo AND a distinct variety altogether from more southern parts of Italy. I’ve read that most “Bombino Bianco” in Abruzzo is actually Trebbiano d’Abruzzo and there is very little of that true Bombino Bianco planted in Abruzzo - most of it is found much further south. So while there is no conclusive evidence one way or another, it’s quite probable that Valentini Trebbiano is made with Trebbiano d’Abruzzo aka. “Bombino Bianco”, not with true Bombino Bianco.

That Montevertine M was a curiosity by any standards; this producer based in the Chianti Classico zone, known exclusively for their remarkable reds, had also a little bit of white varieties planted back in the day and in exceptional vintages they made a small amount of white wine, labeled as Montevertine M. This 1999 we tasted was the last vintage of Montevertine M ever made.

We also had some extra wines before and after the tasting proper - although the ones we tasted after the Valentinis never made it to the picture. That L’Acadie was tasted blind and I brought the Sant Armettu, serving it blind to the others. The other three extras were not blinds.

  • 2020 L'Acadie Vineyards Estate L'Acadie - Canada, Nova Scotia, Annapolis Valley (29.6.2022)
    Made with organically grown l'Acadie Blanc grapes harvested from a 14-yo vineyard located in Gaspereau in mid-October 2020. Half of the fruit was crushed and cold-soaked with the skins 24 hours prior to the fermentation. Fermented and aged for half a year in stainless steel, bottled in the spring. 11,9% alcohol, 1,5 g/l residual sugar and 7,8 g/l acidity. Tasted blind.

    Pale and quite neutral whitish-green color. Youthful and rather primary nose with aromas of ripe apple, some pear drop tones, a little bit of grapey fruit, light nuances of cantaloupe, a hint of hay and a touch of jelly candies. The wine is dry, fresh and youthful on the palate with a rather light body and bright flavors of ripe red apple, some fresh pear notes, a little bit of gooseberry, light candied notes of gummi bears, a hint of apple peel bitterness and a primary touch of pear drops. The crisp acidity makes the wine feel zippy and focused. The finish is dry, crunchy and refreshing with a moderately long aftertaste of lemony citrus fruits, some apple peel bitterness, a little bit of pear, light notes of hay, a hint of grapey fruit and a touch of red apple.

    A very nice and surprisingly serious effort for a Canadian white wine made from a relatively obscure hybrid variety. The wine was a bit candied due to its very young age, but at least it didn't feel foxy at all, which is always nice. To be frank, I never thought this was a wine made with hybrid grapes - my guess was that this was a Rueda Verdejo! Although not a super complex wine, this still seemed to hold some promise and I wouldn't be surprised if the wine actually continued to improve for at least a handful of years more. Priced somewhat according to its quality at 25 CAD (approx. 19€).
    (89 points)

  • 2020 Sant Armettu Vin de Corse Sartene rosumarinu - France, Corsica, Vin de Corse Sartene (29.6.2022)
    100% biodynamically farmed Sciaccarellu (aka. Mammolo), fermented and aged in stainless steel. 13,5% alcohol.

    Pale, completely translucent ruby-red color with a clear, colorless rim. Very open, expressive and beautifully fragrant nose with aromas of wild strawberries and ripe raspberries, some herby notes of garrigue, light cherry nuances, perfumed hints of roses, a touch of licorice root and forest floor and a reductive whiff of smoke. The wine is dry, clean and crunchy on the palate with a medium body and bright, playful and surprisingly intense flavors of raspberries and cranberries, some gravelly mineral tones, a little bit of sour cherry bitterness, light tangy notes of saline minerality, a hint of ripe redcurrant and a touch of fresh blackberries. The structure relies mostly on the wonderfully high acidity, as the supple tannins mainly contribute to the texture. The finish is clean, crunchy and ripe yet dry with a long aftertaste of raspberries and cherries, some stony minerality, a little bit of anise and licorice, light fragrant herbal nuances, a hint of tangy salinity and a sweeter touch of strawberries.

    Just as the bottle I tasted half a year ago, this was still a wonderfully fragrant, balanced and eminently delicious Corsican red that had nothing to do with the burly, extracted and tannic Nielluccio wines Corsica is more known for. In contrast to the typically burly Corsican wine, this wine was very light and delicate yet remarkably intense and vibrant in character, reminiscent of a good Volnay, Ribeira Sacra red or a lighter Cru Bojo. It's hard to say whether this wine will improve much with age, or if this is best while it is still young, fresh and perfumed in character, but for immediate consumption this simply perfect stuff. An excellent purchase at 16,90€.
    (93 points)

  • 2014 Azienda Agricola Valentini Trebbiano d'Abruzzo - Italy, Abruzzi, Trebbiano d'Abruzzo (29.6.2022)
    12% alcohol.

    Luminous, youthful yellow-green color. Very funky, dull and even rather unpleasant nose that doesn't seem to blow off even with air - bretty notes of Gueuze Lambic and Band-Aid, some mushroomy notes of penicillin, a little bit of old leather and a hint of farmhouse funk. The nose is markedly different from any other vintage we had, lacking fruit, freshness and vibrancy. The wine feels, dry, dull and quite extracted on the palate with a medium body and concentrated flavors of earthy phenolic spices, Band-Aid, some metallic notes, a little bit of old leather, light mineral notes of wet rocks and a hint of leesy yeast. The high acidity lends a very structured and almost electric feel to the wine. The finish is dull, crisp and acid-driven with flavors of lemony citrus fruits, some mineral notes of tangy salinity, a little bit of Band-Aid, light phenolic notes of earthy spices and a hint of leather.

    This wine stood in stark contrast to all the other bottles of Valentini Trebbiano, which often were slightly wild and even a bit funky, but still all about brilliant, intense fruit. Here the fruit department seemed dilute to the point it was barely imperceptible and the flavors were dominated by heavily bretty notes of leather, bandage glue and other phenolic compounds. Some other people in the tasting thought the wine was badly corked, but I suspect they had never had any heavily bretty wines and were just plain wrong, because I didn't get any TCA aromas even with air and the wine was just full of bretty markers (if a wine smells like Lambic from the first sniff, it's a tell-tale sign). I'd want to mark the wine as flawed, but seeing how so many other TNs note the same funky qualities, it seems we didn't have a faulty bottle, but instead 2014 is just a very poor vintage for Valentini's Trebbiano. I'm leaving the wine without a score, but I warn other people to steer clear of this vintage. It's just not up to par. I guess 2014 was as miserable a vintage in Abruzzo (or the part Valentini's located in) as it was in Tuscany and Piedmont?

  • 2013 Azienda Agricola Valentini Trebbiano d'Abruzzo - Italy, Abruzzi, Trebbiano d'Abruzzo (29.6.2022)
    12% alcohol.

    Luminous, youthful yellow-green color. Intensely bright, mineral and at the same time slightly reduced and subtly funky nose with precise aromas of lemony citrus fruits and salty ocean air, some crushed oyster shells, a little bit of flinty smoke, light stony mineral nuances, a hint of apple skin and a subtly bretty touch of leathery funk. The wine feels intense, very dry and somewhat concentrated on the palate with a medium body, slightly viscous mouthfeel and crunchy, almost piercing flavors of sharp green apples and fresh green currants, some stony mineral notes, a little bit of lemony citrus fruits, light funky notes of leather and a hint of something vaguely metallic. The noticeably high acidity lends great sense of intensity, freshness and structure to the wine. The lengthy finish is crisp, lively and persistent with a dry, palate-cleansing aftertaste of lemony citrus fruits and crunchy green currants, some tangy saline notes, a little bit of phenolic spice, light smoky nuances and a hint of apple peel bitterness.

    A very dry, mineral and precise vintage of Valentini's Trebbiano d'Abruzzo with great interplay between the brisk acidity and the noticeably concentrated, almost oily mouthfeel. The wine does show a tiny bit of bretty funk which seems to be typical of Valentini Trebbiano, but it is not as noticeably funky as the 2012 vintage nor like the almost undrinkable funk fest as the 2014. Instead here it just adds a little bit of sauvage complexity and the wine comes across as very lean, precise and vibrant - maybe just a tad too young for its own good. Lovely stuff with tons of upside, but perhaps still a bit too tightly-wound for immediate enjoyment - unless you are looking for very lean, mineral and noticeably acid-driven stuff where all the finer nuances are shut behind a hard, cool layer of acid and minerality. Recommended.
    (90 points)

  • 2012 Azienda Agricola Valentini Trebbiano d'Abruzzo - Italy, Abruzzi, Trebbiano d'Abruzzo (29.6.2022)
    12,5% alcohol.

    Youthful, luminous yellow-green color. Very nuanced and mildly funky nose with aromas of sweet citrus fruits and fresh white fruits, some sorrel notes, a little bit of phenolic spice, light floral notes of apple blossom, a zesty hint of grapefruit, summer aromas of white clover and other meadow flowers and a bretty whiff of meaty funk. The wine feels dry, concentrated and rather textural on the palate with a rather full body and complex flavors of earthy and slightly bitter phenolic spice, some bretty notes of leather, a little bit of stony minerality and tangy salinity, light crunchy notes of lemony citrus fruits and golden currants, a hint of hay and a sweeter touch of ripe yellow fruits. The taste seems rather noticeably more funky compared to the relatively clean nose. The bright, quite high acidity keeps the wine effortlessly in balance and lends good sense of structure to it. The finish is long, crisp and quite mineral with flavors of salted lemon wedges, some bretty notes of leathery funk, a little bit of crunchy Granny Smith apple, light mineral notes of wet rocks, a hint of green currants and a touch of hay.

    A fascinating, mineral and quite structured vintage of Valentini's Trebbiano that is quite a bit on the funky edge of the spectrum. It's definitely not uncommon to notice some bretty notes in Valentini's Trebbianos, but even if the nose here was quite clean and quite fruity, the wine had rather noticeable brett influence on the taste with at times quite dominant flavors of leather and spicy phenolic notes. Although quite lovely, balanced and complex, I still think the wine would've performed even better with slightly less bretty qualities. Fortunately the wine seems to be still quite youthful for its age, so maybe the more tertiary notes will at some point emerge and balance out those funkier characteristics?
    (89 points)

  • 2011 Azienda Agricola Valentini Trebbiano d'Abruzzo - Italy, Abruzzi, Trebbiano d'Abruzzo (29.6.2022)
    12% alcohol.

    Quite intense and somewhat deep but also slightly hazy yellow-green color. Crisp and sharp nose with aromas of lemony citrus fruits, some flinty notes of reductive smoke, light crunchy Granny Smith apple tones, a little bit of hay, subtly bretty hints of leather and waxy funk, a touch of sweeter yellow fruit and faint whiff of minty lift. The wine feels fresh, lively and crunchy on the palate with a medium body and dry, youthful flavors of lemony citrus fruits and ripe green currants, some tangy notes of salinity, a little bit of phenolic spice, light funky notes of leather, slightly bitter hints of apple peel and a touch of stony minerality. The high acidity makes the wine feel refreshing and quite structured. The medium-to-moderately long finish is crisp, lively and rather lengthy with a dry aftertaste of stony minerality, some lemony citrus fruit tones, a little bit of ripe green currant, light saline nuances, a hint of leathery funk and a touch of phenolic spice.

    A wonderfully clean, bright and refreshing vintage of Valentini Trebbiano. Compared to the other vintages we tasted, this seemed to be lacking a bit in concentration and dry extract - that typically tactile, even slightly viscous mouthfeel of Valentini Trebbiano was almost completely absent here, making the wine feel slightly lighter and more delicate compared to the other vintages. That, on one hand, made the wine feel perhaps slightly less impressive than those more concentrated vintages, but on the other hand, it also made the wine feel perhaps more refreshing and precise in character. I guess that with a bit more concentration and length, this wine could've gained one or two points more, but this was pretty darn lovely wine all the same - especially when the funky notes of brett (another very typical quality of Valentini Trebbiano) were very much in the background here, basically only adding to the complexity and not obfuscating anything. Great stuff that will continue to improve for years more, even if the wine is drinking pretty well already now.
    (92 points)

  • 2010 Azienda Agricola Valentini Trebbiano d'Abruzzo - Italy, Abruzzi, Trebbiano d'Abruzzo (29.6.2022)
    12,5% alcohol.

    Very slightly hazy lemon-yellow color with faint youthful greenish highlights. Dry, cool and somewhat evolved nose of ripe yellow fruits, some beeswax, a little bit of developed nuttiness, light leesy notes of creaminess and a hint of chopped herbs. The wine feels remarkably firm, concentrated and tightly-knit on the palate with a medium body and intense flavors of steely minerality, pomelo-driven citrus fruits, some sharp Granny Smith apple tones, a little bit of leesy creaminess, light mineral nuances of wet rocks and tangy salinity, a hint of lemon juice and a touch of chopped green herbs. The bracing acidity lends great intensity and sense of structure to the wine, yet the mouthfeel seems slightly viscous with the amount of dry extract in the wine. The finish is crisp, lean and noticeably acid-driven with a very lengthy aftertaste of tart lemons and crunchy green currants, some steely minerality, a little bit of herbal bitterness, light saline nuances, a hint of leesy creaminess and an evolved touch of almondy nuttiness.

    A remarkably crisp, lean and so very promising vintage of Valentini's Trebbiano that feels like a mere baby even at 12 years of age. What's curious was that this was the first vintage in our vertical which didn't exhibit any obvious notes of bretty funk, which have been more or less the staplemark of Valentini Trebbiano. There was a slightly sauvage edge to the flavors and aromas here, but definitely not to the extent of the preceding (younger) vintages. Furthermore, the acidity here was way more pronounced than in any other vintage, making the wine feel very brisk, electric and structure-driven. While Valentini's wines in general aren't really meant to be drunk young, this wine feels like it really could use another 12 years before it is even close to its peak. A superb wine with still tons of upside. Highly recommended.
    (93 points)

  • 2009 Azienda Agricola Valentini Trebbiano d'Abruzzo - Italy, Abruzzi, Trebbiano d'Abruzzo (29.6.2022)
    12% alcohol.

    Deep, intense and still relatively youthful yellow-green color. The nose feels slightly more restrained compared to the younger Valentinis tasted alongside with a quite healthy dose of bretty funk and more restrained mineral nuances. There are aromas of almost lambic-like leathery funk and phenolic spice along with aromas of hay, some crunchy green apple, a little bit of evolved honeyed richness, light mineral notes of wet rocks and salty sea air, a hint of something vaguely meaty or gamey and a touch of zesty citrus fruits. The wine feels remarkably concentrated, powerful and rather oily on the palate with a quite full body and bold, bone-dry flavors of cool stony minerality, tart notes of green apples and zesty grapefruit, some saline mineral notes, a little bit of apple peel bitterness, light smoky nuances of phenolic spice, a funky hint of bretty leather and a touch of hay. The rather high acidity lends great sense of balance and intensity to the overall feel. The finish is long, dry and powerful with complex, slightly evolved flavors of stony minerality and smoky phenolic spice, some lemony citrus fruits, a little bit of herbal bitterness, light tart notes of Granny Smith apple, a hint of tangy salinity and an evolved touch of honeyed richness.

    A very powerful, ripe and opulent vintage of Valentini's Trebbiano - but here ripeness doesn't really translate to sweetness of the fruit, as the wine is as bone-dry as any vintage of Valentini. No, instead here the ripeness means the acidity might be a tad lower than is typical of the label, but at the same time the wine shows even more power, concentration and dry extract than it normally does (and Valentini Trebbiano is typically a very powerful white with lots of dry extract). The wine really does have some tactile presence and even if the wine never once feels particularly heavy, the mouthfeel does have some viscosity one might normally associate with bold and extracted red wines rather than white wines. Yet the wine is all about freshness, precision and minerality. Although still a mere youngster, this vintage is noticeably more approachable compared to the very lean, incisive and tightly-knit 2010 vintage that was tasted alongside. While I expect both wines to age wonderfully for at least another decade or two, I'd say this 2009 vintage will reach its apogee sooner. A terrific wine that is immensely impressive already now and in all likelihood will continue to improve years and years more.
    (94 points)

  • 1999 Azienda Agricola Valentini Trebbiano d'Abruzzo - Italy, Abruzzi, Trebbiano d'Abruzzo (29.6.2022)
    12% alcohol.

    Quite intense, slightly hazy and somewhat evolved yellow-green color. Savory, somewhat fine-tuned and a bit restrained nose with clean, complex aromas of wizened green apples, some waxy funk, a little bit of ripe yellow stone fruit, light nutty notes of slivered almonds, a hint of ripe citrus fruits and a touch of beeswax. The wine feels bright, firm and quite lithe on the palate with a medium body and intense flavors of ripe citrus fruits and sweet white fruits, some nutty notes of almonds, a little bit of waxy funk, light stony and slightly salty mineral notes, a hint of honeycomb and a touch of phenolic spice. The racy acidity makes the wine feel very fresh, focused and structured. The finish is long, complex and somewhat evolved with harmonious, acid-driven flavors of ripe citrus fruits, some honeyed tones, a little bit of beeswax, light juicy nuances of sweet white fruits, a hint of nuttiness and a lingering touch of salinity.

    A beautiful, so nuanced and wonderfully evolved vintage of Valentini Trebbiano that is starting to show some tertiary complexity, yet at the same time manages to come across as much younger than what one would expect from a wine clocking in at 23 years of age. The wine does show a tiniest bit of funk, but the overall feel is much cleaner compared to the younger vintages we tasted in this tasting. Although the wine came across as lighter and less concentrated than the other wines we tasted, it was still so much more impressive and complex in comparison, it's easy to say this was the best Valentini Trebbiano we had. Based on this sample, it looks like that Valentini's Trebbianos can age easily for decades (even this wine feels like it could easily improve for at least another decade and keep for two, or even more) and they actually call for quite a bit of aging, as the younger vintages were so much more linear and even relatively simplistic in comparison.
    (96 points)

  • 1999 Azienda Agricola Montevertine M - Italy, Tuscany, Vino da Tavola (29.6.2022)
    Still in the 1990's Montevertine had a little bit of Malvasia Toscana and Trebbiano Toscano. In exceptional years they produced M - a rare white wine made from a 50/50 blend of Malvasia and Trebbiano. Fermented in stainless steel, then aged for a minimum of 24 months in Slavonian oak botti, then blended into stainless steel tanks and left to marry for another 12 months. Total production around 4000-5000 bottles when produced - although 1999 was the last vintage of Montevertine M, as the white grapes were replanted with red varieties in 2000. 12,5% alcohol.

    Luminous and moderately evolved, medium-deep golden yellow color with faint greenish highlights. Evolved, moderately concentrated and subtly oxidative nose with complex aromas of ripe citrus fruits and browned butter, some bruised apple tones, a little bit of beeswax, light creamy notes of panna cotta, a hint of caramel and a toasty touch of brioche or buttered toast. Very attractive, albeit quite aged overall impression. The wine feels evolved, complex and rather toasty on the palate with a medium body and quite tertiary flavors of caramel and oxidative nuttiness, bruised apple, some resinous nuances, a little bit of lemon marmalade, light browned butter notes, a hint of beeswax and a sweet touch of ripe stone fruits. The moderately high acidity keeps the wine quite balanced, although it really doesn't bring much freshness due to the rather concentrated, oily mouthfeel. The finish is remarkably long, complex and very balanced with rather tertiary flavors of caramel, roasted walnuts, some bruised apple notes, a little bit of cooked cream, light saline mineral nuances, a hint of beeswax and a touch of cooked cream.

    A beautiful, rich and fascinating Tuscan white that is at its peak - and it has been there for some while. As most Tuscan whites are not really known for depth, complexity or longevity, it is very fascinating to taste a white that is not sturdy enough to withstand two years of aging in oak barrels, but also to keep in great shape for more than twenty years! Although the wine feels very rich and at times gets even a bit on the soft side, the complexity here is still simply stunning. The wine might've been a bit more balanced when it showed more youthful freshness, but it is still a terrific wine all the same. However, I don't expect the wine to keep good for much longer - I guess the few remaining bottles might be better if drunk sooner rather than later.
    (93 points)

  • 2017 Azienda Agricola Valentini Cerasuolo d'Abruzzo - Italy, Abruzzi, Cerasuolo d'Abruzzo (29.6.2022)
    14% alcohol.

    Pale and slightly hazy pomegranate red color with a brick-orange hue. The nose feels clean, fresh and relatively open with vibrant aromas of ripe redcurrants and cherries, some wild strawberries, a little bit of phenolic spice, light appley nuances, a reductive hint of gunpowder smoke, a touch of stony minerality and a faint whiff of farmhouse funk. The wine is ripe, crisp and noticeably acid-driven on the palate with intense flavors of crunchy cranberries and sour cherries, some ripe red apple notes, a little bit of phenolic spice, light steely mineral tones, a hint of herbal bitterness and a touch of tangy salinity. The bracing acidity makes the wine feel very structured, refreshing and brimming with almost electric energy. The finish is dry, juicy and rather acid-driven with an intense and quite complex aftertaste of ripe cranberries, some tart lingonberries, a little bit of sour cherry bitterness, light spicy phenolic nuances, a hint of gravelly minerality and a touch of juicy, slightly sweet red gooseberry.

    Three years ago this wine was just way too reductive for pleasure - upon opening the wine was just completely shut with nothing more than smoky and flatulent notes of reduction. Couple of hours of aeration helped, but not that much. This time, however, we had opened the wine several hours earlier, so both bottle age and aeration had helped a lot making the wine more approachable: it still showed some reductive qualities, but fortunately this time the emphasis was on the fruit and minerality. The wine is still ridiculously tightly-wound with its exceptional level of acidity, which makes the wine feel not only very structured and high-strung, but also quite nervous. While very, very impressive, I get a feeling that this wine is not going to show its best in a long time. I love this wine, but this feels like something that needs another 10-15 years to really show its best. Highly recommended, but primarily for people with patience.
    (94 points)

  • 2010 Azienda Agricola Valentini Cerasuolo d'Abruzzo - Italy, Abruzzi, Cerasuolo d'Abruzzo (29.6.2022)
    14% alcohol.

    Clear, luminous and quite pale salmon-red color with a colorless rim. The nose feels ripe, juicy and very attractive with complex aromas of ripe cranberries and raspberries, some fresh cherry tones, a little bit of evolved mushroomy character, light stony mineral nuances, a developed hint of caramel, a touch of peachy stone fruit and a whiff of wild strawberries. The wine is ripe, concentrated and structured on the palate with a full body, a rich and slightly viscous texture and intense, complex flavors of ripe cranberries and wizened red fruits, some sour cherry bitterness, a little bit of leather and waxy funk, light stony mineral nuances, a developed hint of caramel and a touch of salinity. The high acidity lends great sense of structure, freshness and focus to the wine. The finish is lively, fresh and crunchy with a very long and surprisingly youthful aftertaste of ripe cranberries and brambly raspberries, some stony mineral notes, a little bit of tangy salinity, light strawberry nuances, a hint of waxy funk and a touch of sour cherry bitterness.

    A beautiful, harmonious and impressively complex vintage of Valentini's Cerasuolo that has started to develop the first aged qualities, yet comes still across as pretty youthful and vibrant. The smoky reductive qualities that are quite typical of Valentini's wines were completely absent this time, but it might be due to the aeration - the bottle was opened several hours prior to the tasting, so it had more than enough time to breathe and open. All in all, this is a stunning rosé wine that shows remarkable complexity in addition to its freshness and cool minerality, but above all, shows great potential for future development. Can be drunk now, but will only get better over the next decade or so. So very highly recommended.
    (95 points)

Then the final three extras:
  • 2020 Cà Nova Colline Novaresi Rugiada - Italy, Piedmont, Northern Piedmont, Colline Novaresi (29.6.2022)
    100% Erbaluce. The fruit is destemmed and cold-soaked for a day. Fermented and aged for 6 months in stainless steel. 12,5% alcohol.

    Incredibly neutral and completely colorless appearance. The nose feels dull and even rather unpleasant with aromas of plastic, some fusel alcohol, a little bit of moonshine-y alcohol and a primary hint of pear or pear drops. The wine is neutral, underwhelming and light-to-medium-bodied on the palate with restrained, nondescript flavors of plastic, some ripe pear, a little bit of fusel alcohol and a hint of ripe white fruit. Medium-plus acidity. The finish is dull, unpleasant and quite short with flavors of plastic and paint thinner, some fusel alcohol tones, a little bit of fresh apple, light primary notes of pear drops and a sweet hint of ripe white fruits.

    A disappointing white wine that is both underwhelming and unpleasant both at the same time. There is very little in the way of fruit and the overall feel is dominated by a somewhat chemical quality, thanks to the unpleasant notes of plastic and industrial alcohol. Steer clear of this wine.
    (54 points)

  • 2020 Monteleone Etna Bianco - Italy, Sicily, Etna DOC (29.6.2022)
    100% Carricante sourced from multiple vineyards that are 12-13 years on average. Destemmed, crushed and fermented in stainless steel tanks. Aged for 6 months on the lees in stainless steel. Total production approx. 4000 bottles. 12% alcohol.

    Pale, rather neutral whitish-green color. The nose feels ripe and quite primary with aromas of sweet red apples, some honeydew melon, a little bit of stony minerality, light salty notes of ocean air and a hint of ripe grapey fruit. The wine is fresh, firm and enjoyably structured on the palate with a light-to-medium body and crunchy flavors of lemony citrus fruits and tangy salinity, some fresh Granny Smith apple tones, a little bit of fresh white currants, light stony mineral notes and a hint of almost unripe grapey fruit. The high acidity makes the wine feel balanced and structured. The medium-long finish is crisp, clean and lively with palate-cleansing flavors of lemony citrus fruits and steely minerality, some saline notes, a little bit of tart Granny Smith apple, light crunchy white currant notes and a sweeter hint of ripe stone fruits.

    A nice, fresh and drinkable Etna Bianco. Still very youthful and perhaps a bit on the simple side, but nevertheless showing good sense of focus and structure. Might be better in a few years if the wine loses some of that borderline primary character and develops some additional aged complexity.
    (87 points)

  • 2021 Giacomo Fenocchio Roero Arneis - Italy, Piedmont, Alba, Roero (29.6.2022)
    100% Roero sourced from vineyards that are 10-15 years on average. First the fruit is cold-soaked for 24-36h, then fermented and aged in stainless steel. Total production approx. 12000 bottles. 13,5% alcohol.

    Medium-deep yellow-green color. Youthful, somewhat sweetly-fruited and a bit primary nose with aromas of ripe pear, some chopped herbs, a little bit of fennel, light candied primary notes of fermentation esters, a hint of ripe greengage and a touch of pine soap. The wine feels dry, crunchy and youthful on the palate with a light-to-medium body and fresh flavors of ripe pear and fennel, some lemony citrus fruits, a little bit of pine needles and spruce resin, light saline mineral notes, almost Rhône-like hints of herby noble hops and lavender and a sweet touch of greengage. The high acidity lends great sense of freshness and structure to the wine. The finish is youthful, fresh and quite long with almost primary flavors of pear, chopped aromatic herbs, a little bit of spruce resin, light saline mineral notes, a hint of greengage and a touch of pine needles.

    A nice, characterful and balanced Arneis that combines some obvious ripeness with good sense of freshness, acidity and distinctive, slightly green-toned nuances of pine and spruce. The wine is still super youthful - seeing how it must've been bottled only months ago - and it really calls for additional aging so it would lose its most obvious primary notes. All in all a nice and positive effort with some upside - this will be even better after another 2-3 years.
    (89 points)

Posted from CellarTracker


Interesting note on the **Ca’ Nova. I’ve never tasted any of their whites, but have tried 3 of their Nebbiolo wines (Ghemme, Colline Novaresi ‘Melchior’ and another one).

I first encountered them at the little shop Grandi Bottiglie used to have on via Natale Palli about 20 years ago. They’d just got samples delivered (with the intent to stock them) and had opened them so offered us a glass to see what we thought. Overall they were good, albeit a little heavy on the oak. We bought a couple of bottles IIRC and also tasted a couple more whilst holidaying in Ghemme. One of those was pretty dire, in a similar way to this white (I recall paint thinner notes in that wine). The others varying from very good to ok (from memory). Definitely high variability from my (limited) experience.

** In case anyone is wondering, this is a different producer to the suddenly popular La Ca’ Nova in Barbaresco.


Fantastic stuff. Love me some Valentini.
Need to let them age longer than I do.
Your comment about the younger bottlings feeling linear and simplistic rings true.
Best bottles I’ve had, '07s, were also the oldest I’ve consumed at age 15.
'15-'17 - what I mostly have - feel nowhere near ready, really.

Lovely tasting Otto and interesting observations!

I think ideas were exchanged in other threads and to end the confusion :slight_smile: there is no variety called Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, it’s the wine which as you mention can contain different varieties, mostly a blend of Bombino Bianco, Mostosa and Trebbiano Toscano.

The variety is Trebbiano Abruzzese and I’m quite sure Ian D’Agata has written that that’s the variety Valentini has in his wines as well :wine_glass:

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Otto, you are an asset to this community. I love reading your tasting notes.

I got lucky and stumbled upon a bunch of 2012s and they rock! Id say 4 out of the 6 bottles have been knockouts while one was corked and the other was just off. I did read somewhere that Valentini lost almost all of the Trebbiano old vines in 2014 due to frost or something. The majority of his vines are now 15-20 years old.

I can say the same thing as I said in the previous thread where we discussed this thing: no. The variety is as much Trebbiano d’Abruzzo as it is Trebbiano Abruzzese. Ian d’Agata is the one who writes that there is no variety by the name of “Trebbiano d’Abruzzo”, it’s just the name of the DOC. It’s also the name Italian agricultural census uses for the variety.

However, at the same time tomes like Wine Grapes by Vouillamoz, Robinson et al. (for the most part the highest authority when it comes to most grape variety-related matters) say the variety is Trebbiano d’Abruzzo and Trebbiano Abruzzese is its synonym:

Also producers like Emidio Pepe, Ausonia, Masciarelli and Valle Reale use the term “Trebbiano d’Abruzzo” for the variety, not Trebbiano Abruzzese.

Even the the official appellation consortium, Consorzio Tutela Vini d’Abruzzo, uses Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, not Trebbiano Abruzzese!

So I don’t know how much more evidence I can bring to the table - at this point you just have to admit that there is a grape variety called Trebbiano d’Abruzzo as, obviously, both Trebbiano d’Abruzzo and Trebbiano Abruzzese are official names for the same grape variety; or then just keep on fighting the windmills. However, I’d rather have you fighting the producers and the consortium, not me - I’m not taking sides here, just using whatever terminology they use.

It’s not that I disagree with d’Agata - it would make so much more sense to have the appellation and the variety go by different names, since the appellation allows for other varieties than just Trebbiano d’Abruzzo / Abruzzese, and it would eliminate the possibility for confusion. However, unfortunately, this is not the case.

And yes, d’Agata has clearly written that Valentini’s Trebbiano is made with Trebbiano d’Abruzzo / Abruzzese - I have a book of his right here at hand - but as you can see, Vouillamoz, Robinson et al. explicitly say the wine is a Bombino Bianco the variety, not Bombino Bianco the synonym for Trebbiano Abruzzese / d’Abruzzo. So go figure. I personally think d’Agata is the one correct here, but haven’t heard anything conclusive one way or the other.

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Sorry Otto, I just couldn’t help it :slight_smile:

Wouldn’t be the first time Vouillamoz, Robinson et al. have to make a revision though.

Last thing before we ask her/them to update along with the next revision ( :cheers:), a thing that might be worth adding is that if not all, most of the quality producer seems to share the view D’Agata puts forward.

Surprised to hear that Emidio Pepe is an exception (have seen an importer mention that they have the Trebbiano Abruzzese variety - better if it was on their website as well if correct). What I’m thinking is that it’s a way of avoiding confusion. We around here might be the exception by getting confused about the opposite!

What do you mean? Didn’t I just point exactly the opposite in my previous post? I checked out the websites of the first four prime producers popped into my mind and all of them used “Trebbiano d’Abruzzo”, not “Trebbiano Abruzzese”. I expected at least some of them to use the other name, but no - all went with d’Abruzzo. Could you give me some examples which quality producers then use Abruzzese instead?

I’d like to know what you mean by “Emidio Pepe is an exception”? Why aren’t Ausonia, Masciarelli or Valle Reale exceptions?

I doubt Vouillamoz, Robinson et al. are going to make a revision before they start officially using the Abruzzese name there. I would warmly welcome such change, because it would definitely the best way to avoid confusion between the DOC and the variety, but haven’t seen anything like that yet - apart from the pages of d’Agata’s books.

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I distinctly remember speaking to the winemaker Pat La Fontaine and he said that the vineyard is actually 15 years old, grapes were harvested on October 21st (late-October), more than 74.7% of the fruit was warm -soaked with the skins 23 hours prior to fermentation. It was actually fermented for 7 month and bottled in LATE spring. 11.876% alcohol. 1.489 g/l residual sugar and 7,758 g/l acidity.

Otto, thank you for these notes. I enjoy Tiberio’s Trebbiano and Fonte Canale, so the big question for me: is Valentini worth the tariff?

That was perhaps my very narrow definition of top producers with Valentini added, Tiberio (vocal/sensible proponent of correct usage of the grape name), and the exception being Pepe - 2/3 :smiley:

You are indeed right that it’s not as widely used (or by the official regional bodies).

I guess the best answer is “it depends”.

It is truly among the great Italian whites and in a class of its own. The style is wildly different to any other Trebbiano due to Valentini’s exceptionally uncompromising approach to winemaking. The wine doesn’t taste like Trebbiano d’Abruzzo per se, it tastes like Valentini. No other producer makes a wine so ridiculously concentrated, so packed with minerality and dry extract, yet making the wine surprisingly light and delicate for its size and having the precision of a surgeon’s knife. Add in the funky overtones and - if the wine is young - reductive qualities. And the fact that you have to wait until the wine is +10 years old, because otherwise you might find the wine pretty underwhelming and just wonder “what’s all this fuss about?”. All this is something you don’t find in any other Trebbiano.

But is all that worth the tariff? I don’t know. Is buying Grand Cru Burgundy worth the tariff? Both these styles of wines are expensive wines by any standards, the prices being pushed up by scarcity - after all, Valentini produces only a tiny amount of wine annually and the wines can be quite difficult to obtain as they are heavily allocated and very sought-after.

I’d say if you can travel to Italy and find the wine somewhere at the release price (depending on the shop, you can find it at 50-80€), it’s worth it. But the further the price gets removed from that level, the less it makes sense. Of course this is just my personal view, YMMV.

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That is a pretty convincing explanation to try it, at least once. Thank you.

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