Richard Klein – Artigiano Imports
Since establishing Artigiano Imports in 2002, Richard Klein has grown his portfolio of Italian artisan foods and wines significantly, especially over the last couple of years. It appears growth promotes growth, and Richard now carries over 100 different Italian wine lines. I know of few people in Wellington who have the breadth of knowledge of Italian wines, the detail and the enthusiasm that Richard has. When talking to him, it is evident he knows many of the producers he represents, personally, and he has a true understanding and passion for each of the wines he carries. www.artigianoimports.co.nz
A Representative Tasting
It has become the custom for Richard to put on a tasting for the wine and hospitality trade in Wellington to show the breadth, depth and diversity of the Artigiano portfolio. I attended last year’s tasting and was extremely impressed with the quality and interest of the wines (click here to see my report). This year, he increased the range to 60 wines, which included labels from 8 new suppliers. Many of the wines are straight out value-for-money and very accessible. But showing Richard’s encompassing perspectives, there’s no shortage of organic, biodynamic, natural and orange wines in the mix, as well as clear-cut classical bottlings. Contact Richard on Cell: 021 405-616 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org to obtain the full list of his Italian wine portfolio.
The tasting was held at The Matterhorn, and it was a serve one’s self event, so one could work at a pace that suited you. The wines were arranged in four tables, the first with white wines, and each table progressing to the richer, weightier and more complex reds, the fourth table for ‘The Best of North & South’. The more experienced tasters who understood the facets of each label and style could whizz through them, and I understand one professional got through them in less than 90 minutes! I’m not as familiar with such a diverse and eclectic range, so found the range almost intimidating. I think I’d need 4-5 hours to do them justice.
Some Brief Impressions
I took a leisurely approach to the tasting due to the informal format and time constraints, and selected a few wines (pretty much at random) from each table, and jotted down my impressions. They follow.
Table One: Sparklers and Whites
Vezzoli Franciacorta DOCG ‘Dosage Zero’ 2010 (Lomardia): 50% each Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Fresh, appley, nutty, with autolytic suggestions. Crisp and dry, yet simultaneously creamy in texture. Lush, but with great acid balance.
Casa d’Ambra Ischia Bianco DOC 2014 (Campania): 50% each Biancolella and Forestera. Very fresh, bright, lifted with florals, herbs and apples. Tight, steely, Sauvignon Blanc-like, racy, slippery and smooth.
Montenidoli Vernacca di San Gimignano DOCG Tradizionale 2012 (Toscana): 100% Vernaccia, fermented on skins. Tight, dense, complex, nutty with intriguing funkiness. Yet on palate quite delicate and nuanced smooth flowing and elegant with textures similar to barrel-fermentation!
Firriato Etna Bianco DOC ‘Cavanera’ 2014 (Sicilia): 80% Carricante and 20% Catarratto. Lovely fruit lift and aromatics, with nuts and herbs. Very dry and quite mouthwatering. Tightly bound and more delicate in nuance.
Table Two: Rosé, Orange and Lighter Bodied, Fruity Reds
Podere Pradarolo Vej Bianco Antico 2006 (Emilia Romagna): 100% Malvasia di Candia Aromatica, 90 day maceration. Full and deep orange. A pungent bouquet of spices, root ginger and florals. Good up-front flavours of root ginger and an array of spices, on a furry, taut, phenolic palate. Plenty of texture and grip, but not overdone.
Citra Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOP ‘Bisanzia’ 2014 (Abruzzo): 100% Montepulciano. Rounded and fruit on nose with a touch of fresh herbs. Juicy and lush on palate, a little herbal influence, lively with light extraction, supple.
Cantine Riondo Valpolicella Superiore DOC ‘Castelforte’ 2013 (Veneto): Corvina, Corvinone and Rondinella. Fruity, lifted, a touch of confectionary, and lifted florals. Fine-grained, concentrated and tightly bound, lovely freshness, supple and juicy-fruited.
Li Veli Susumaniello Salento IGP ‘Askos’ 2013 (Puglia): 100% Susumaniello. Tight, dense and packed on nose quite dusty with herbal influence. Lush and juicy on attack, then the brettanomyces kicks in to carry through to a dry, tannic finish.
Table Three: Medium to Full Bodied Reds
Firriato Sicilia Rosso DOC Corte del Maharaja 2013 (Sicilia): 100% Frappato. Finely presented with up-front, bright and vibrant red fruits. Spicy and oaky with layers of cedar showing. Elegantly structured with fine, dry tannins.
Agricoltori Chianti Geografico Chianti Classico DOCG ‘Contessa di Radda’ 2011 (Toscana): 90% Sangiovese, 5% each Canaiolo and Colorino. Very elegant and tightly bound style with some resinous seasoned oak. Very dry, tightly bound, firm and fine-grained tannins, dusty, earthy, needs food to counter the austere aspects.
Argiolas Isola dei Nuraghi IGT ‘Iselis’ 2012 (Sardegna): 90% Monica, plus Carignano and Bovale Sardo. Dark red berry fruits on nose with a touch of herbs ans stalks. Sweet-fruited on palate, very good intensity, fine-grained tannin extraction, dark red fruit with herbs on the very long finish.
Argiolas Cannonau di Sardegna DOC ‘Costera’ 2012 (Sardegna): Cannonau, Carignano and Bovale. Firm, concentrated, earthy and dried woody aromatics. Tightly proportioned, elegant with subtle fruits and herbs with a mineral aspect. Fresh acidity and fine-grained tannins.
Leone de Castris Primitivo di Manuria DOC ‘Villa Santera’ 2013 (Puglia): 100% Primitivo. Bright, ripe, lush, aromatic red fruit aromas. Sweet and plush, the richness the feature. Subtle tannin structure in support, and quite elegant in the final analysis.
Table Four: The Best of North & South
Arianna Occhipinti Rosso Terre Siciliane IGT ‘SP68’ 2013 (Sicilia): 70% Frappato and 30% Nero d’Avola. Savoury and game-like aromas with earth, herbs and spice notes entwined. Dry, structural wine, textured and dry, with game and brettanomyces elements, the tannins emerging to predominate the palate.
Punset Barbaresco DOCG ‘Campoquadro’ 2005 (Piedmonte): 100% Nebbiolo, certified organic. Intensely concentrated aromas, bold and fruit-focussed, classical Nebbiolo with savoury dark red florals an berry fruits with tar and minerals. A real mouthfilling presence with fine tannins enveloping the palate, but the tar and florals ever present, finishing dry and long.
Azienda Monaci Aglianico del Vulture DOC ‘Sine Die’ 2005 (Campagna): 100% Aglianico. Full, rounded and soft bouquet, still very fragrant in fruit, with earth and resinous complexities. Succulently rich fruit matched by firm tannin extraction, powdery tannins and very refined in texture. Some classiness here.
Firriato Sicilia Rosso IGT ‘Santagostino’ 2011 (Sicilia): 50% each Nero d’Avola and Syrah. Full, bold, voluminous nose with ripe, sweet, dark red fruits. Lush, juicy and vibrantly rich red fruits. Excellent body and structure with fine tannins, quite cedary and spicy, long finishing. Exciting, rich, modern wine.
Citra Montepulciano Riserva DOC ‘Laus Vitae’ 2006 (Abruzzo): 100% Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Very dark impenetrable black-red, incredible colour for age. Fully ripened black fruits, dense and opulent, without any undue secondary development. Full, inky, saturated black fruits, but soft-textured and plush with sweetness. Sufficient structure to keep going.
Maculan Veneto Bianco Passito ‘Dindarello’ 2014 (Veneto): 100% Moscato fior d’arancio. Clear and classical Muscat fruit aromas, with richness and restraint. More medium than medium-sweet, the grapey Muscat fruit the focus with great core. Balanced by fine phenolics and enlivened by fresh, soft acidity. Not overly complex, but varietal and pure. (375 ml)