Saturday, April 11, 2009

Tessère: Interesting (& Quite Good) Wines from The Piave River

Raboso is an autochthonous varietal grown in the valley of the Piave River, in the Veneto, and Nicolas Belfrage feels that the name derives from the Raboso River, one of the Piave's tributaries. He is less inclined to believe another possible derivation that has been suggested, a corruption of the word rabbioso, angry, though good Raboso is at the very least Ticked Off when young.

Indeed, as Nicolas says, in "From Barolo to Valpolicella," the grapes are deeply colored, relatively low in sugars, and high in tannin and acidity, a mix that makes for inky wines that need time to get over having been made and become presentable. At least three years, according to the Disciplinare.

The Azienda Agricola Tessère was founded in 1979 by Ilario Bincoletto, and is now run by his daughters, Emanuela and Loretta, who introduced modern viticultural techniques, including planting to high densities while reducing yield per vine -- concepts the other farmers in the area laughed at until they tasted the wines.

At Vinitaly they were pouring three wines:

Tessère Barbarigo Raboso 2004 DOC
Deep pigeon blood ruby with cherry rim; close to poured ink. The bouquet is fresh and bright with warm underbrush and vegetal accents mingled with hardwood ash and green leather, coupled with spice. Powerful and rich. On the palate it's full, with rich, powerful spicy berry fruit supported by clean fresh acidity and by splintery slightly green tannins that flow into a bright fairly greenish finish. Quite nice, though it needs another 2-3 years for the tannins to soften, and it will always be a food wine, something to drink with hearty red meats, including stewed game. It will be very nice in the proper setting, and will age for well over a decade. In a word, impressive, and if you like this more aggressive style it's something to seek out.

Tessère Rebecca Raboso Passito 2003 Veneto IGT
This is an IGT because the appellation doesn't yet allow for the production of a Raboso Passito, though it soon will. Impenetrable pyrope -- poured ink. The bouquet is closed; determined swishing brings up deft red berry fruit supported by prune sweetness and tingling greenish accents; with time it opens beautifully and the fruit is joined by mace and nutmeg that work very well. On the palate it's full and rich, with powerful spicy cherry prune fruit supported by considerable dry tannic warmth that flows into a clean savory finish whose acidity leaves the palate very clean. Quite pleasant, and will drink very well with cheeses, or far from the table.
2 stars

Tessère Piave Merlot DOC 2007
Lot 9056/2
Lively black cherry ruby with black reflections and white rim. The bouquet is bright, and brambly -- much livelier than Merlot often is -- with brambly greenness supported by teeth-squeaking acidity and warm sour cherry berry fruit. On the palate it's bright, with lively sour cherry fruit supported by brisk berry fruit acidity and fairly green peppery tannins that flow into a greenish tannic finish. It's scrappy, and a far cry from the smoother softer character one (I, at least) generally associate with Merlot; it has adapted well to the territory and is, well, a bit rabbioso. It will work well with flavorful fatty foods, for example grilled meats including sausages and ribs, and if you like the style you will like it very much.
1 star

In short, three fine wines that are closely tied to the land, and display terrific character. I was impressed.

For more information about Tessere, see their site, at

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