Mano-a-Mano Italian Style: Bussola Ca’dellaito Ripasso 2007 v. Argiano Non Confunditur 2009   Leave a comment

I grew up not too far from Philly and in the 1970s the rivalry between Frazier and Ali was electric.  Part of it was the fact that Ali represented, at least to my young mind, the anti establishment with his brashness and his refusal to accept military service.  These all rubbed me the wrong way at that time  (in time I came to accept  what he stood for– but that came much later).  Frazier, by contrast, represented the opposite.  Determined, yet quiet, preferring to let his actions speak for him.  Frazier, the working class hero from Philly.  Frazier, always pushing forward, taking swings at the elusive Ali.  The first fight between these two, billed as the Fight of the Century, was won by Frazier.  I was thrilled.  The universe was still in balance.  Of course, that would change later when Ali won the next two fights with Frazier.  I learned that they are each great in their own way.  

While we have now lost Smokin’ Joe, we still have the memories of those days when he and his brash nemesis made us all choose sides.  Frazier or Ali?  Who you chose said much about what you valued not in the battle within the ring, but in the social battles outside the ropes.  We were fortunate to live through those moments when such things mattered.  Perhaps we are living through those moments again today.  But I look around and don’t see the same clear symbols of that cultural dialectic that were embodied in these two individuals.  RIP Joe Frazier. 

Bussola Ca'dellaito Ripasso 2007

In the spirit of those battles of yore, today we look at two fine Italians.  One a little bit flashier Valpolicella and one just as interesting if a bit more conservative Super Tuscan blend.  Both are go-to wines in this price range.  In the end, we give the edge to the Valpolicella, but it was a split decision and on another night the Super Tuscan may win out.

We have written about the origins of the Super Tuscan movement in the past:

Valpolicella, not so much.  Lying within the region of Veneto in Northern Italy the region has become known for producing Amarones and a variation on the Amarone called Ripasso.  The emergence of Ripasso (literally meaning “repassed”) has resulted in the production of an intriguing group of wines.  With this technique, the pomace of leftover grape skins and seeds from the fermentation of other wines (notably Amarone) are added to the batch of Valpolicella wines for a period of extended maceration. The additional nutrients provided by this supplement feeds the remaining fermenting yeasts resulting in an increase in the alcohol levels and intensity of the wines.  It also adds additional tannins, glycerine and some phenolic compounds that contribute to a wine’s complexity, flavor and color.  An alternative method is to use partially dried grapes (of the kind that would be used to produce Amarone), instead of leftover pomace, which contain less bitter tannins and even more phenolic compounds. 

Bussola Ca’dellaito Ripasso 2007 ($18).  The smell of mushroom and earth enraptured from the first sniff.  And then the fruit, glorious friggin’ fruit, dances an insistent tongue tango wrapping its sensuous acidic leg around your torso before you realize that you don’t quite know how to tango.  So you fake it– the payback on the back-end is so worth it.  This a very nicely balanced cuvee of Corvina, Molinara, Rondinella with a nice finish and is a real steal at this price.  Rated ***1/2

Argiano Non Confunditur 2009 ($17).  Less insistent on the nose than the Bussola.  Less fruity and more savory.  Yet it pushes forward with a momentum all its own.  This Tuscan Beauty takes you to that dark back corner of the club where magical and sometimes strange things can happen.  Emergent dark fruit from the Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sangiovese, Syrah stays with you.  Tannins round this out.  Having tasted prior vintages of the Argiano Non Confunditur, I can say that I enjoyed this as much as the 2007– maybe a little bit more.  I am also pleased to see that they have backed away from the screw tops used for the 2008 vintage.  Rated ***

Here are some tasting notes for prior vintages:

Argiano Non Confunditur (2007).  Big nose that included black licorice notes and initially graphite/pencil shavings on the mid palate; later opened up beautifully and went from **1/2 to ***40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Sangiovese, 20% Merlot and 20% Syrah.   Rated *** December 17, 2009.

Argiano Non Confunditur (2008).  40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Sangiovese, 20% Merlot and 20% Syrah. Depth of expression that still impressed, though the effort is not as strong as the 2007; showed some herbal qualities; now in a screw top.  Rated **1/2  February 12, 2011.

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Posted December 10, 2011 by Sybarite Sauvage in Mano-a-Mano

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