“Fire The Accountants” (Inama Recent Releases)

What do you do at harvest time if you are part of a family wine business, but are highly allergic to pollen?

If you’re Alessio Inama, son of Azienda Agricola Inama‘s Stefano Inama, you hoof it to the major wine markets, and take media types like me out to dinner so that we can taste your wines. Which is how I got to meet Alessio at Philly’s excellent Fishtown-area haunt Root last week.

Alessio describes his father as “a crazy man,” and certainly he has a rep in the wine world for possessing the quintessentially Italian trait of bucking convention (which is second only to the quintessentially Italian trait of adhering almost blindly to tradition). This is fortunate for anyone who loves eclectic northern Italian white wines, as Inama is now well-known as producing the thinking person’s Soave. Alessio quoted his father as saying “the first step to making a great wine… is to fire the accountant.” It’s hard not to like such a character (unless you’re his accountant). Especially when he also makes Carmenere (more on that in a minute).

Back in the 70s, Soave had its heyday, being one of the most recognizable Italian wine regions, if not its most famous white wine regional brand. As in all such things, insipidness and market hangover ensued, and by the 1990s Soave wasn’t much considered as the world turned to Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay (though Soave remained popular in its home country). It was during the heyday in the`70s that Alessio’s grandfather, Giuseppe, began buying up small, lava basalt hillside lots in the Soave Classico region (today they own about 30 hectares).

Today, Soave is a bit of a bell curve. At one end, you have insipid, forgettable quaffers; in the middle, a large production of capable, often very good, almost always refreshing sippers best enjoyed in the warmest months; on the tail end, a small number of producers who push the region’s Garganega grape to its physiological – and philosophical -limits…

“Fire The Accountants” (Inama Recent Releases)

“Fire The Accountants” (Inama Recent Releases)2014 Inama Vin Soave Classico (Veneto, $15)

The white wine formula at Inama has developed over the years to incorporate controlled ancient techniques: short skin macerations, natural browning of the musts, maturation in used (2-5 year old) barriques for some of the wines, and a few months of lees contact.  In this case, maturation is in stainless steel, and the result is a very serious Soave (textural, ageworthy – I’ve had vintages with 2-3 years on them that were still in excellent shape) that’s letting its hair down (floral, mineral, nutty, and refreshing). This is as straightforward and accessible as Inama gets, and you get a lot of complexity for the cash.

“Fire The Accountants” (Inama Recent Releases)2014 Inama Vigneti di Foscarino Soave Classico (Veneto, $25)

Used barriques do come into play here, aging wine made from pergola-trained Garganega vineyards on the eastern side of Monte Foscarino. This happens to be my personal fave of the Inama lineup; camomile, citrus, almonds… the wine is a delight, with Luke’s-green-lightsaber-quality laser focus on the palate.

“Fire The Accountants” (Inama Recent Releases)

“Fire The Accountants” (Inama Recent Releases)2014 Inama Vigneto du Lot Soave Classico (Veneto, $30)

This is Soave with its balls out. A single vineyard offering that sees fermentation in 30% new French oak. This starts to get into “what am I drinking… is this Burgundy? Fiano?” territory, but every region needs someone to kick it in the ass. The label (which changes color every year) depicts the two facets of wine: drunkenness and contemplation, both of which you are likely to encounter when imbibing this beauty. Floral, toasty, creamy, with a long finish of sweet and bitter almond, vanilla, and citrus and stone fruits.

“Fire The Accountants” (Inama Recent Releases)

“Fire The Accountants” (Inama Recent Releases)2013 Inama Carménère Più Veneto Rosso (Veneto, $19)

To the south-east of Soave Classico sits the Colli Berici, a stark contrast in soils to its white-wine-region cousin; the spot is dominated by red silt/clay on a calcareous ridge. Little wonder that Bordeaux red grapes were planted there, including Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Carménère. Interestingly, this is yet another spot in the world where Carménère grew but everyone thought that it was something else (in this case, Cab Franc). As it turns out, Carménère seems to do quite well in Berici, where the vines are now over forty years old. The Più (or plus) in this case is the addition of 30% Merlot, which ads some body, black olive notes, and tart red fruit flavors to the mix. There’s a lot of pleasant structure here, buoyant acidity, and dark berry flavors, too, with almost no hints of bell pepper to be found. All in all, very hard to put down.

“Fire The Accountants” (Inama Recent Releases)

“Fire The Accountants” (Inama Recent Releases)2013 Inama Bradisismo Rosso (Veneto, $30)

The title refers to the seismic activity that generated the region’s hills, and it sounds a whole lot sexier in Italian than it does in English. A 70% Cabernet Sauvignon / 30% Carménère blend, to me this seemed the most modernly themed of Inama’s lineup. You will recognize the Cab in the plummy fruits and dried herb notes of this “Super-Venetian” right away, but the Carm adds complexity by way of dried dark cherries and chocolate. It’s a smooth operator, for sure; recommended for when you are trying to get some of your own seismic moves on…

“Fire The Accountants” (Inama Recent Releases)

“Fire The Accountants” (Inama Recent Releases)2009 Inama ‘Oratorio di San Lorenzo’ Colli Berici Carmenere Riserva (Veneto $70)

Alessio described drinking this wine now as “infanticide,” and I’m inclined to agree with him, based on the intense structure of this 100% Carménère from the Veneto (talk about a hand-sell if there ever was one…). Inama were swinging for the fences on everything here: acidity, alcohol, flavor, tannins, texture, body, and presence. By and large, they did hit a home run here; it’s deep, persistent, powerful, and complex, with soy, cocoa, dark fruits, and pepper. None of it is integrated yet, but in about four years or so all of this should be meshing together rather nicely.

Cheers!

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Wine Reviews: Acinum Wines from Veneto

Vias Imports — a big player in the U.S. when it comes to Italian imports — has just launched its own label called Acinum. Hitting the nationwide market this month, these wines are solid, value-driven examples of the classic Veneto wines: Prosecco, Soave Classico, Valpolicella and Amarone.

The wines are a result of collaboration between the chairman of Vias Imports, Fabrizio Pedrolli, grower and oenologist Enrico Paternoster. For those looking for an introduction to the wines of the Veneto, these widely-available bottles would be a good and inexpensive place to start.

These bottles were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

Review: N.V. Acinum Prosecco Italy, Veneto, Prosecco
SRP: $11
Pale straw color. Bright and floral nose with a nice mix of lemon-lime and richer peach and guava aromas. Refreshingly crisp and quite dry but plenty of fresh fruit: peaches, lime, kiwi, yellow apple. Add in some hints of honeysuckle, lilies and a slight saline and seashell aspect. A brighter and crisper wine than a lot of Proseccos at this price point that can take the sweet flower and canned peach approach. Impressive for the price. (86 points IJB)

Review: 2014 Acinum Soave Classico - Italy, Veneto, Soave Classico
SRP: $11
Light yellow color. Bright nose of clean laundry, floral perfume and a mix of kiwi and yellow and green apples. Juicy kiwi, peach and apples on a medium-bodied frame. Moderate acid keeps it all clean, some creaminess adds texture. I get some notes of white tea and floral perfume, hints of saline as well. Bright, clean, refreshing, well-balanced. Great for the price. (85 points IJB)

Review: 2014 Acinum Valpolicella - Italy, Veneto, Valpolicella
SRP: $16
Pale ruby color. Smells of tart red apples, wild strawberries, some darker cherry notes, rose petals and green coffee. Medium-bodied with some refreshing acidity, medium tannin but a tiny bit astringent. Tart red apples, strawberries and cherries mixed in with notes of cedar, clove and coffee. Ready to drink but has some fun flavors and structure to offer. (85 points IJB)

Review: 2013 Acinum Ripasso della Valpolicella - Italy, Veneto, Valpolicella, Ripasso della Valpolicella
SRP: $23
Medium ruby color. Rich red and black fruits on the nose, cherries, plums and currants, mixed in with richer, darker elements of prunes and fig paste, roses, violets and potting soil. Full-bodied, tannins have plenty of structure but a velvety presence on the palate. Medium-low acid, the plum fruit is dark and rich yet crunchy around the edges, plenty of coffee, pipe tobacco, clove, anise cookie and cedar shavings. Not super complex but quite solid stuff. Best with plenty of air or a year or two in the cellar. (87 points IJB)

Review: 2012 Acinum Amarone della Valpolicella Classico - Italy, Veneto, Valpolicella, Amarone della Valpolicella Classico
SRP: $55
Dark ruby color. Saucy and rich on the nose, with dense black cherries and plum fruit, a couple waves of sweet mocha, clove, dark chocolate shavings and rich dark soil. Rich and full but maintains a juicy, chewy approach. Dark plums and cherries, the fruit is rich but laced with savory elements. I get pine sap, espresso, charcoal pit, dark chocolate, clove, spearmint chewing tobacco, lots of complex flavors underneath waiting to come out. (89 points IJB)