Cantina Tudernum Riesling Bianco Frizzante 2007
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Cantina Tudernum Riesling Bianco Frizzante 2007

Cantina Tudernum in Todi in Umbria produces a variety of wines including the formidable Sagrantino di Montefalco, the interesting Grechetto, Sangiovese, Montepulciano, Garganega, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay. A market blend of Italian and international varieties under several different appellations is not uncommon in Italy, but I had to admit I did not expect to find a sparking Riesling in a central Italian mix. Umbria is one of these Italian regions you read about in the “best kept secret” type of travel article, the gist of which is to let the hordes of tourists clog nearby Rome and Tuscany so you have Umbria all to yourself. The town of Todi, where Tudernum has been producing grapes from hillside vineyards since 1958, is in south central Umbria about 25 miles south of the region's largest city, Perugia.

The Tudernum Riesling, $14, is gently sparkling, frizzante rather than the more forceful spumante, carbonated using the tank method to a pressure of two atmospheres. By contrast most French Champagnes show a full six atmospheres and your automobile tires will be inflated to around three atmospheres if you have been taking care of them properly. The light effervescence allows a conventional un-wired bottle closure. Alcohol level is a relatively friendly 11.5%.

The wine is a bright golden-tinged straw. The soft bubbles hit the nose first, followed by aromatic notes of golden delicious apples, peach, ripe lemon and biscuit. In the mouth the wine is off dry, residual sugar nicely balanced with forceful acidity. The big surprise in the mouth is the soft foamy mouthfeel enhanced by seawater minerality. One thinks of a seaside restaurant but then remembers Umbria is landlocked. Never mind the geography; here is a seafood wine, and the friendly bubbles will not get in the way of splashing some of the wine onto the fish. This is also the type of wine that can stand up to the spice combinations we find in many Asian cuisines, all the while complementing the food with its lightness.

On the palate this Riesling has a well defined fruit structure: lemon, lime and orange citrus with a background of tropical mango and pineapple. The fruit is well sustained by the never-say-die acidity and as I have mentioned there is enough sweet to balance this. The finish has two complementary themes: fruit tang, and a sustained foamy bubbly feeling that the mouth has been well involved.

Riesling of all varietals has a special talent of reflecting terroir, the locality of a place. I am a big fan of Riesling and do enjoy the “what will it be next” aspect as I sample Rieslings from all over the world. My Riesling adventure continues. This mineral rich sparkling expression of the grape combines that terroir with some nicely conceived wine styling. The result is a food-friendly wine at a wallet-friendly price.

Verdict: Food friendly and fun.

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Riesling seems to have as many personalities are it has producers.

food writer Elliot Essman James Beard Foundation Journalism Award
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman

food writer Elliot Essman James Beard Foundation Journalism Award

Cantina Tudernum

Cantine Tudernum in Umbria.

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