Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Report from … The Bolla Relaunch Dinner – June 1, 2010

Bolla is not a new winery, not by a long shot.  It was established in 1883 and was the Italian wine to the stars in the 1950’s.  It was mainly a family operation up until the year 2000 when the winery was bought by the U.S. based company Brown-Forman.  In 2008 Gruppo Italiano Vini (GIV) bought part of the winery and in 2009, acquired it all – finally putting 100% of Bolla back into Italian hands for the first time since the late 60’s.

GIV, represented tonight by Stefano Puppini, has 14 wineries under their umbrella, of which Folonari is the most recognizable.  GIV produces some 80 million bottles a year of which Bolla accounts for 15 million, that’s a sizable chunk.

So now, it’s time to bring handcrafted wines back to one of Italy’s most prestigious wineries – at least that is the message that GIV brings to dinner at Donnatello’s in the Yorkville area of Toronto tonight.

Now I could tell you all about the new direction being taken by the new Bolla owners, their philosophy and style differences, from their American counterparts, but it’s about what’s in the bottle that counts here, so let’s look there.

We started with the welcome wine, a Bolla Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore ($17.95) a bubbly with some real good flavour.  Fresh green apple and sweet lemon drop on the nose; the palate is toasty and tasty with lovely apple, lemon and hazelnut nuances. (****)

The Pinot Grigio 2008 ($10.95) was fresh and fruity with good acidity (***½); while the 2008 Pinot Noir is a good $12 bottle of wine, easy drinking and fruity, but tastes more like Cabernet Franc than Pinot Noir. (***½)

Interesting story about how the Pinot Noir got on the shelves of the LCBO (in Ontario).  The board wanted to get rid of the Bolla Soave (white wine) because Soave was not a popular category.  They decided to swap it up for the more trendy Pinot Noir; but if the folks at the board had any brains they’d replace this characterless Pinot for the Ripasso (more on that wine below).

Next up, Bolla 2008 Valpolicella Classico ($12.95) – this is one tasty Valpolicella that has a boosted amount of Rondinella (grape) in the blend for added softness – and it works.  The wine has lovely red fruit a cherry nose and flavour profile with good palate cleansing acidity – perfect for sipping or with food, great value too. (****)

Which brings us to the wine of the evening, the 2007 Le Poiane Valpolicella Ripasso Classico Superiore ($17.95), this wine had a certain creaminess to it with black cherry, vanilla, a little dark chocolate and enough acidity to bring it all together. (****½)

The final wine was the 2006 Amarone which was made under the old guardian of the Bolla name, Brown-Forman, so we’ll have to wait a few years to see what GIV does to improve this wine.

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