La Spinetta Il Colorino Di Casanova 2006
Despite their obscurity, unknown grapes abound in a world dominated by the likes of Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. These grapes often produce nothing more than simple one-dimensional wines; and yet, indigenous grapes are in such abundance that they are bound to be made into good wines now and again. These sorts of grapes can be divided into two categories: those which have the potential to compete with the ‘noble’ grapes and for one reason or another have remained in obscurity, and those which rarely produce interesting wines, but which the best producers can make into something exciting. La Spinetta’s 100% Colorino from Tuscany fits into the latter camp.
Blending or Drinking?
Colorino is traditionally a blending grape in Tuscany, often used to add colour and tannin to Sangiovese. It has been criticized as being overly astringent and even bitter when made into 100% varietal wine. However, La Spinetta believes that the reason most Colorino is unimpressive comes down to the fact that it usually grows amongst and is picked with the Sangiovese grapes with which it is blended, which ripens considerably earlier. If you pick Colorino too early it is green and bitter. If you let it hang on the vine for the right amount of time, it becomes brooding and complex. If anyone in Italy can rediscover an obscure blending variety it is La Spinetta, one of Italy’s more exciting producers.
Ugly Duckling or Swan?
I often like to write about soils and terroir, but today I will focus on what is unique about this grape and this wine. The nose on this is rich and spicy with plums, dark chocolate and a fascinating Indian spice intensity. What a unique wine – tannic, bold, very deep and dark fruit with plums, blackberry and a ton of spices. The wine is quite broad and yet has a well drawn and precise finish. I enjoyed it considerably with a spicy sausage pizza, which mellowed the tannins and brought out the fruit.
I wouldn’t say everyone should start making wines based on this variety, but La Spinetta has achieved an impressive wine from this ugly duckling blending grape. Only a great winery could find such tremendous character in a grape so difficult to make appealing on its own. I would recommend this for both jaded palates and Italophiles as it combines a really unique flavour profile with the classic Italianite qualities of fresh fruit and bright acidity that go so well with food.
$43 at Kits Wine