Monday, September 27, 2010

La Scolca: An Overview

La Scolca is one of Gavi's historic wineries, and on the international stage it is probably the best known Gavi producer. However, it does not belong to the Gavi Consorzio, and therefore, after tasting at the Consorzio last year, Carlo Macchi and I drove over to the estate in the afternoon, for what I thought would be a quick presentation. It turned out to be much more, several hours pleasantly spent conversing while we worked though many wines, including some truly impressive older vintages, and after we had finished taking notes (scroll down) we continued to sip and talk.

This year I stopped at their stand at Vinitaly -- as I do every year -- and they were mobbed, as always. Luisa Soldati asked me if I'd like to taste the wines at home, and I said yes, adding that I'd be happiest tasting them in the fall, after a few more months in bottle. They have come, and here they are:

The Sparkling Wines, First

La Scolca Rugré Vino Spumante Brut
Lot 2799
This is non-vintage, and the back label says "Realizzato con 100% Uve a Bacca Bianca," Made from 100% white grapes." It's brassy yellow with a very slight greenish cast, and very intense perlage. The bouquet is vinous with some breadcrumbs and hints of savory gunflint mingled with white blossoms, and some brambly white berry fruit as well. Welcoming in a direct key. On the palate it's light, with tart sour white berry fruit that again has a brambly vegetal feel to it, supported by mineral acidity and peppery spice from the sparkle, which also confers a certain creaminess, and it flows into a clean savory mineral finish with underlying bitter accents. Pleasant, in a light rather direct key, and will work well as an aperitif or with creamy antipasti; one could also enjoy it with a meal built around fish, white meats, or creamy dishes shuch as risotto. In short, a pleasant, versatile sparkling wine.
2 stars

La Scolca Soldati La Scolca Metodo Classico Brut 2006
Lot 0040
Brassy yellow with brilliant brassy highlights and fine intense perlage. The bouquet is rich, with wet breadcrumbs mingled with the heather of a field in summer and deft gunflint supported by bitterness and some lemony citrus. Bracingly alive, and quite a bit going on. On the palate it's full and creamy, with powerful minerality supported by bitterness and peppery spice, while the sparkle provides creaminess, and there is underlying citric lemon blossom acidity that gives definition, and it all flows into a fairly bitter savory finish. It's more delicate than the Rugré, and one would expect this; though I had expected a little more power in the body that I found, and because of its delicacy it is more a wine to serve as an aperitif or with which to toast than it is a wine to drink with foods.
2 stars

La Scolca Soldati La Scolca Gavi Metodo Classico Brut DOCG 2002
Lot 0550
Brassy gold with golden highlights and fine fairly intense perlage. The bouquet is intense, with savory gunflint minerality mingled with greenish citrus and heather, and though it's quick to write it's also quite harmonious. On the palate it's deft, with considerable savory minerality supported by a fairly delicate sparkle, which confers both peppery spice and a pleasant creaminess, and by slight cedary accents that are a development of time, and provide pleasant depth. Very pleasant, in a delicate, mature key, and if you like the style, which revolves more around finesse than power, you will enjoy it very much. If you like sparkling wines with more pronounced acidities -- here minerality takes the fore -- it won't work as well for you, but I found myself nodding as I sipped it.

La Scolca Soldati La Scolca Vino Spumante Rosato
Lot 1030
Non-vintage; it's onionskin with slight salmon pinkness, and intense perlage. The bouquet is fairly powerful, and rather bitter at first sniff, with heather and brambles supported by gunflint. Fairly riect, and bracing. On the palate it's direct, with moderately intense citrus fruit that has raspberry overtones and is supported by slight raspberry acidity and the sparkle, which is creamier than I expected from the nose, and flows into a clean rather bitter finish. Pleasant, in a direct key, and will drink nicely as an aperitif with creamy antipasti, and also work well with creamy dishes, ranging from risotto through creamy chicken or fish. In short, versatile, and this is what one wants of a wine of this kind. Expect it to go quickly.
2 stars

La Scolca Soldati La Scolca D'Antan Vino Spumate di Qualità Rosé 1998
Lot 0430; it was disgorged in the first quarter of 2010
Elegant salmon with intense, persistent perlage. The bouquet is powerful, with rather exotic spice, sandalwood with hints of cardamom, supporting deft minerality and slight savory notes; with underlying gunflint, hints of petroleum, and something that brings lace to mind. Quite harmonious. On the palate it's ample, with deft dusky minerality, seductive spice, and slight bitter red forest berry fruit supported pleasant savory notes, while the sparkle, which isn't too aggressive, provides a creamy, peppery counterpoint. It's as harmonious on the palate as it is on the nose, and frankly seductive in a delicate key that revolves more around finesse than power, and is one of those wines one hates to pour out at a tasting. If you like the style you will enjoy it very much.

And Next, the Still Wines

La Scolca Cortegaia Vino da Tavola Bianco

Lot 237043
Pale brassy white with brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is direct, and vinous, with some bitter minerality and slight savory notes. On the palate it's up front and direct, with lemony minerality supported by some gunflint bitterness and savory accents that flow into a clean slightly bitter mineral finish. A food wine that will work well with fish or vegetable based pasta dishes and risotti, and also with hearty vegetable soups.
1 star

La Scolca Villa Scolca Gavi 2009
Lot 049008
Pale brassy yellow with brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is bitter, with heather and some sour lemon mingled with slight greenish accents and underlying savory notes. On the palate it's fairly direct, with bitter minerality supported by clean savory accents and some, though not too much, acidity; the wine revolves more around minerality than acidity, and the finish is mineral, with slight savory accents. Quite direct, in a rather up front key, and will work well with creamy fish or vegetable based pasta dishes or risotti, and simple fish.
1 star

La Scolca Gavi di Gavi Bianco Secco DOCG 2009
The white label; Lot 200027
Pale brassy yellow with greenish highlights. The bouquet is fairly intense, with bitter greenish accents mingled with gunflint and supported by lemony acidity. Classic Cortese. On the palate it's medium bodied, with rich lemony fruit supported by savory mineral acidity that has some bitter accents, and flows into a clean sour mineral finish with underlying bitterness. Bracing and will drink quite well with grilled or roasted fish, and also has the backbone to stand up to white meats. Expect it to go quickly, and you may want a second bottle. Worth seeking out.
2 stars

La Scolca La Scolca Gavi dei Gavi 2009
The black Label; Lot L159038
Lively brassy white with greenish highlights and white rim. Looks young. The bouquet is powerful, and quite elegant, with savory lemony accents supported by some gunflint and clean spice from grapes. Quite a bit going on, and very young too. On the palate it's rich, with powerful minerality supported by gunflint and fairly intense mineral-laced lemony acidity; as was the case with the palate it's quite young, but has a lot to say and flows into a clean savory lemon-laced finish with underlying bitter minerality. Very nice, and will work very well now with roast or grilled fish, and there is a slight lusciousness to it (more than in some other vintages) that will make it a good bet with Chinese dishes, in particular Cantonese, though it has the backbone necessary for more pronounced schools including Hunan and Sichuan. A wine to enjoy now, or set aside, though perhaps not for quite as long as some other vintages.

La Scolca D'Antan Gavi 1995
Lot not apparent.
Yes, this is a 1995. And it's being released now. It's a deep brassy yellow with golden reflections tending almost towards tawny apricot. The bouquet is intense, with minerality and gunflint mingled with leaf tobacco and underbrush, shot through with butterscotch sweetness that is from grapes, not wood. Very particular, but if you like aged whites you will find it fascinating. The palate is bright, with graceful slightly sour lemon acidity supporting lemony fruit and warmth that flow into a long warm savory finish with thick-skinned lemon overtones that last and last. Beautiful, rather lacy soft definition, and if you like the style, it's a wine to hold a long conversation with. Quite long. Though one could serve it with fish or white meats, I would rather simply talk to it.

La Scolca D'Antan Gavi 2000
Lot 2449
The 2000 is brassy yellow with brilliant brassy reflections -- considerably younger looking than the 1995. The bouquet is intense, and quite mineral, with bitter freshly struck gunflint that brings a hammer-strike to granite to mind, supported by savory accents and slight citrus. There's something brooding to it, and it's very much alive, inviting swish and sniff after swish and sniff. On the palate it's powerful, with considerable minerality and underlying gunflint bitterness supporting lemony fruit that's not quite as acidic as in some vintages -- August 2000 was very hot, knocking back acidities -- and flows into a clean slightly brambly greenish citric finish with underlying gunflint that (again) lasts and lasts. Most impressive, and if you like older whites it's a wine you should definitely seek out.

La Scolca Rosachiara Vino Rosato
Lot 2390
Non vintage; the wine is pale salmon pink with brilliant salmon reflections. The bouquet is fresh and very young, with considerable strawberry fruit mingled with ripe yellow peaches and slight minty accents that keep it all from being cloying. It's summer fruit in a glass. On the palate, it's ample and smooth, with soft cherry raspberry fruit with slight peach sweetness and fruit notes that gains definition from peachy bitterness that resolves into peach nutmeats in the finish, which is fairly long. Not much acidity, and the direction comes primarily from the bitterness, which does a fine job. Quite simple, and quite direct, an ideal wine for a cookout, or lightly chilled with friends either on the patio or at poolside. Something to enjoy now, in a carefree occasion. Expect it to go quickly, and you will want a second bottle.
1 star

La Scolca Pinot Nero del Monferrato DOC Rosso
Unlabeled, and (I think) an 08
Pale dusky brick ruby with black reflections and some brownish almandine in the rim. The bouquet is pleasant, and classic Pinot, with savory cherry and forest berry fruit supported by spice from the grapes, and some underlying savory minerality. Quite pleasant to sniff, in a fresh rather agile key. On the palate it's medium bodied, with rich cherry and forest berry fruit supported by dusky underbrush bitterness and savory notes, while the tannins are quite smooth, though they do display a slightly leafy burr as the fruit fades, and the finish is long and underbrush-laced. Quite pleasant, and will drink very well with simple grilled meats, light stews, or even roast beef cooked rare and sliced thick, and though its freshness is nice it will also age well for 3-5 years. La Scolca's claim to fame is (justly) Gavi, but they have nailed their red too.

Tasted at Vinitaly:
La Scolca Pinot Nero Monferrato DOC Rosso 2007
The wine is a dusky almandine with white rim, and has a deft bouquet with tobacco mingled with savory accents and spice, and some, but not too much, nose-tingling cedar. On the palate it's deft, with clean bright mineral laced fruit supported by clean mineral acidity and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a long leathery cherry fruit finish with tannic underpinning. Quite pleasant, and will drink very well with risotti or stewed white meats; it has a deftness and delicacy that will make it more problematic with substantial red meats, though I might be tempted to try roast beef cooked rare and thickly sliced.

What can I say? The wines really do speak for themselves, leaving me with the task of thanking the Soldati Family for sending them. They are well worth seeking out.

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