by Sterling Minor

Held Friday, September 15th at Hotel Granduca in Uptown Park on the West Loop 610. Kobrand is a very large and established importer not just from Italy but from all great wine regions of the world. Houston was number 5 of 10 stops on the United States-only tour. The public rooms of the hotel are exceptionally well appointed with absolutely no gaudiness around. It has received Mobil’s 4 Star rating.  Eleven producers’ wines were presented in a single room at seven tables, serviced by the winery owners and supplemented with Kobrand employees. The food from the hotel’s restaurant Cavour, tailored for wine sampling, was delightful and plentiful.

Here are my tasting notes:

Bollini Pinot Grigio (White), Trentino 2009

An excellent Pinot Grigio. Smooth on the entry, spicy (unusual for this grape) with pronounced crispness. No sweetness (bone dry), but not the opposite of sweet as there is no chalkiness or bitterness. Peach and orange crème flavor, nutmeg aroma. 91 points. About $13.

Michele Chiarlo Barbera d’Asti (Red) “Le Orme” Piedmont 2009

Good flavor, bitter. 90 points About $15

Michele Chiarlo Barbera d’Asti (Red) Superior “La Court” Piedmont 2007

Terrific flavor with no bitterness. 91 points About $50

Michele Chiarlo Barolo (Red) Tortoniano Piedmont 2008

Nebbiolo grape. This entry level Barolo is from two vineyards which are both on Tortoniano soil. It is ready for drinking now and sports clean fruit and silky tannins. 90 points Good value at about $50

Michele Chiarlo Barolo (Red) Cerequio Piedmont 2007

Nebbiolo grape. This single vineyard wine is so smooth on the palate, with a long finish, the finish beginning with bitterness. It bursts with pronounced flavor notes of black cherry and chocolate, and is very concentrated, bringing full body and structure. Pronounced acidity. 92 points. About $100.

Michele Chialo Moscato d’Asti (Sparkling Dessert) Nivole Piedmont 2009

Made of 100% Moscato grapes. Terrific clarity of taste, including notes of peach and apricot. It is not sweet, rather presenting a “neutral” profile. Packed with fine bubbles. 92 points. About $15.

Villa Nozzole Chianti Classico (Red) Tuscany 2007

Sangiovese grape. Nice. 90 points. About $20

Tenuta di Nozzole Chianti Classico (Red) Riserva Tuscany 2008

Sangiovese grape. Nothing outstanding either way. 87 points About $24

Tenuta di Nozzole Chardonnay (White) “Le Bruniche” Tuscany 2009

Unoaked, but no expected bite or fresh flavor. 83 points About $16

Tenuta del Cabreo Chardonnay (White) “La Pietra” Tuscany 2009

Single vineyard in the heart of Chianti Classico. Nice balance of fruit and acidity. 90 points. About $40 Page 2 of 2

Tenuta del Cabreo “Il Borgo” (Red) Tuscany 2008

A “Super Tuscan” wine of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon, grown in the Chianti Classico region. Flavors are well integrated. Ready for drinking in 2013. 92 points. About $60

Tenuta La Fuga Brunello di Montalcino (Red) Tuscany 2007

Sangiovese Grosso grape. Aged three years in Slavonian oak. Long finish. 91 points About $65

Fattoria di Gracciano Svetoni Nobile di Montepulciano (Red) “TorCalvano” Tuscany 2008

Sangiovese grape. This wine possesses nicely aggressive flavor with absolutely no bitterness or distracting notes, and with heightened acidity on the tongue. Perhaps the best Nobile di Montepulciano I have ever had. 93 points. About $19

Fernando Pighin & Figli Pinot Grigio (White) Friuli 2010

From the Friulian wine region called “Grave” around the city of Udine, this wine has often been a favorite of mine, and this vintage is no exception. With a more concentrated flavor than many other Pinot Grigios, it possesses no off notes at all. Bright and clear touch on the tongue, the acidity is present but subdued. 91+ points About $16

Tenuta di Salviano “Turló” (Red) Lago di Corbara IGT Tuscany 2009

Sangiovese with 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot, this wine has a pronounced flavor of black cherry and blood, with a nose of menthol, forest floor and wet moss. 92 points About $19

Tenuta San Guido “Guidalberto” (Red) Tuscany 2009

Cabernet Sauvignon (55%) and the rest Merlot, this wine is really, really nice. Moderate in flavor spotlighting cherry and raspberry, this wine has impeccable balance and grace. Ready now, it will age for well over a decade. 94 points. About $55

Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia (Red) Tuscany 2008

Not ready for drinking before 2015, this classic of Cabernet Sauvignon with a little Cabernet Franc shows signs of brilliance. 96 points About $220

Feudo Maccari Nero d’Avola (Red) “Saia” Sicily 2009

Nero d’Avola grapes, long indigenous to Sicily. The vineyard is only a few thousand feet from the sea. Fresh. Silky tannins. 92 points About $35

Tenuta Sette Ponti “Oreno” (Red) Tuscany 2008

Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Ready in 2013. 93 points About $110

Sterling Minor is a Certified Specialist of Wine, Houston business attorney, and wine consultant. Visit him at