Impenetrable black ruby with a wide pink edge and clear rim. Effusive black fruit pours out of the glass, a certain tinge of cellar wall, dusty rose, crushed velvet, wet silk, horsehair, lanolin viscosity, buttermilk acid, and the kind of stewed blackberry, cinnamon, pecan pie, black tea and petrichor absolutely mind-numbing in its density and angelic layer.
I’ve been concentrating on the cool climate Bardolino versions of Corvina most of the week, but as you head East and South in the Veneto region, the soils turn from deeply-drained glacier refuse to many meters of clay straight down, with underground aquifers and then many more meters of clay. Who loves clay? The kind of bottom-fed clay which only dries out in the lengthiest of droughts? MERLOT DOES. Oh you don’t like Merlot? Get the hell off my page. We don’t tolerate Merlot-frowns here. Especially Merlot like this.
Obviously, Merlot is is grown in small amounts in Valpolicella, and allowed in the blend. Occasionally, some houses will bottle it IGP in small quantities, and Clos Roareti is a small walled estate vineyard where this happens.
In the mouth, the kind of juxtaposition between extremely closed-in and ridiculously-fruited only found in wines you want to drink so bad right now but the time-frame on true potential is positively depressing. Cherry so perfect it brings tears. Eensy-weensy slivers of tobacco, carmel, poivre blanc and German chocolate cake prod from all sides, coalescing with the acid which you already KNOW is going to morph into crushing tannins. Your whole world is still coated with pie-filling as the structure marches out in a decades-long finish. Not a drip of alcohol anywhere in it, despite the shocking 15-oh.
At 3, this thing is a well-mannered infant and probably just slid in under the wire as MERLOT OF THE YEAR.
2016 GUERRIERI RIZZARDI Merlot Clos Roareti Rosso Veronese IGP Italy 15.0