Award-Winning Carmignano Riserva – Le Farnete 2013

Tuesday, April 11, 2017 12:52 PM

In my last post I wrote that Enrico Pierazzuoli was in San Francisco to pour his wines at Gambero Rosso’s Tre Bicchieri World Tour held at Fort Mason’s Festival Pavillon. Enrico is a practical man who does not place too much importance on scores, awards and such, but when his estate in Carmignano, Le Farnete, received a “Tre Bicchieri” for their 2013 Carmignano Riserva, he was clearly honored. It feels good to be recognized for your efforts, especially when it’s by Italy’s most influential wine and food publication.



Tuscany’s Carmignano is a lesser-known appellation, but its history of wine growing traces back centuries. In 1716, the Grand Duke Cosimo III de’ Medici legally recognized and identified this area for wine growing. Enrico appreciated the timing of receiving his first-ever “Tre Bicchieri” while celebrating Carmignano’s 300th Anniversary! The 2013 Carmignano Riserva is a blend of 80% Sangiovese with 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged in small oak barrel for a year and then another year in bottle before being released to market, it is a full-bodied expression of Sangiovese. The inclusion of a small percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon is enough to give the wine significant back-bone and structure. Less than 200 cases are produced of the Riserva and only in the best years. It is a wine with a long life ahead of it.



The Pierazzuoli’s run a traditional osteria on their estate in Chianti Montalbano. They sent out a notice earlier this week that they no longer have any reservations open for Easter. Of course there is lamb on the menu, so I am guessing patrons will be enjoying the 2013 Carmignano Riserva as it should be a perfect match. Shame I can’t be there! Buona Pasqua! -Anya Balistreri

On Value – 2010 Barolo From Aurelio Settimo

Monday, March 6, 2017 12:04 PM

What constitutes good value? Well, M-W.com defines the word as, “A fair return or equivalent for goods, services, or money for something exchanged.” Keeping in mind that the word “fair” is subjective; we all want our money’s worth when purchasing anything. Here at TWH, we always seek good value when tasting and deciding which wines to import and stock on our shelves. At every price point, there is value to be had here.


If one is searching for the best values among our bins, it is obvious to begin with wines that we import ourselves. It just makes sense – as there are no middlemen taking their cuts as the wine moves from producer to our shelves. We pride ourselves on being able to provide good value at every price point, from the $10 bottle well into the hundreds. In the world of fine wine, there exists a law of diminishing returns. After all, is a $100 bottle of wine really twice as good as a $50 bottle? There are many reasons for a particular wine’s price to exceed that of similar wines from similar locales. Some brands have excellent marketing arms and are able to command more due to a heightened reputation – deservedly or not. Taking all this into consideration, I have quietly enjoyed a very special wine recently. It’s from a fancy appellation – one that includes wines which sell for hundreds of dollars. I’m talking about Barolo. Specifically, the 2010 Barolo from Aurelio Settimo.


Two weeks ago, I wrote about an Italian white wine which we directly import. Within the write-up I mentioned a tasting room experience in which Tiziana Settimo suggested we try a line of wines made by a friend of hers. The fact that we all really fell for those wines further solidified Tiziana’s reputation in our eyes.


Around a year ago, we introduced Aurelio Settimo in the form of a Sunday email, calling them “Time Machine Wines.” Please click here to access it. Tiziana Settimo, after taking the reins from her late father in 2007, has continued the winemaking tradition in the family, maintaining the estate’s style. Her wines sing beautifully of quality fruit expression and sense of place. When the line of Barolo arrived last year, I was surprised to find that her 2010 Barolo was not only outstanding, but with a little decanting, it could be enjoyed now! I put my money where my mouth was and brought a bottle to Restaurant Picco in Larkspur to enjoy with dinner. I am friendly with several members of their staff, and shared tastes of the Barolo with many of them. The response was unanimous. They all loved it! It is a true Old World wine. The aromas are marked by the quintessential tar and a hint of rose petal, there is some wild cherry in there too, as well as dusty sandstone and herbaceous notes. The palate is medium bodied and elegant, dare I say silky. It’s altogether balanced, and the finish is prolonged by the buoyant acidity. It’s a fancy wine without being flashy. In other words, it’s a classy Old World wine.

2010 was an excellent vintage in Barolo, and among the famous labels, marketing departments or not, prices can be pretty steep. Due to the benefits from direct importation, the 2010 Aurelio Settimo Barolo is not $100 per bottle; not even $50. It comes in at $41.99, and even better, as part of any mixed case, the price gets down to $35.69. For Barolo.

It has been a banner week here at TWH. We co-hosted an intimate dinner at the aforementioned Restaurant Picco in Larkspur this past Tuesday with the Cru Classé wines from Bordeaux’s Bernard Magrez, represented by his daughter, Cécile Daquin. It was a great success, and we hope to have more opportunities to host more dinners in the future. Speaking of Bordeaux, we’re less than a month away from the annual En Primeurs tastings. There are still some loose ends to tie up for me schedule-wise, though I am confident they will be in order sometime this coming week. We’re hearing good things about 2016, but I will reserve judgement until I taste them for myself. That’s what we do here at TWH, and there’s a whole lot of value in that! – Peter Zavialoff

When it comes down to quality imported wine for a fair price, you can’t do much better than to purchase them from the importer themselves. We have been importing the line of wines from Ernesto Picollo since the 2007 vintage, and as far as sub-$20 white wine deals go, it’s rather unfathomable to do much better than Picollo’s Gavi di Gavi Rovereto. It’s been a huge hit with customers and staff for nearly a decade!



Rovereto


The estate is located on the tiny slope of Rovereto which is within Gavi DOCG in southern Piedmont. Its proximity to the Ligurian Sea keeps things cool at night bestowing the Cortese grapes with their lively acidity levels. The vineyard faces due south and that goes a long way in getting the fruit ripe and in seamless balance.


The first written documentation about the Cortese grape came all the way back in 1659, praising its resistance to disease and for producing high quality fruit. Its ideal terroir would be in a dry, cool climate with clay soils and southern exposure – which would describe Rovereto to a T. Gianlorenzo Picollo uses all stainless steel tank for fermentation giving the wine a bright, pure expression, and the refinement, expression, and complexity of his Gavi di Gavi Rovereto will make one scratch their head and wonder, “How could this wine be this good and SO inexpensive?” It’s definitely a great wine to accompany most dishes that you would normally pair with white wine, like seafood or poultry, but it really shines with shellfish.



Gianlorenzo (second from right) & the Picollo family


In many circumstances, when I see a producer with different levels and different takes on the same grape variety, I would recommend saving a few bucks and popping the entry-level bottle, leaving the similar, yet more expensive wine be. Not in this case. Don’t get me wrong, I love Gianlorenzo’s entry-level Gavi, but for less than $5 more, you can get your hands on a much classier, complex, and precise take on what the best terroirs can do for a humble grape such as Cortese. It is well worth the investment! Knowing that there is an abundance of white wine out there which is less complex, less interesting, less tasty, yet far more expensive, we head back to the bin with Picollo’s Gavi di Gavi Rovereto time and time again. It’s THAT good, and because you’re buying it directly from the importer, it’s THAT inexpensive! – Peter Zavialoff

Traditional Dolcetto D’Alba from Aurelio Settimo

Monday, October 31, 2016 3:16 PM



Dolcetto D'Alba from Aurelio Settimo
 
He ended the phone conversation with "and I'm going to the store to pick up some cans of 6 in 1". Music to my ears! My husband is making red sauce, or if you like, gravy. I know what I'm bringing home tonight: 2015 Dolcetto d'Alba from Aurelio Settimo. The 2015 Dolcetto d'Alba landed earlier this month and just in time as the 2014 has been sold out for nearly a month. We introduced the wines of Aurelio Settimo in early 2016, dubbing them "Time Machine Wines" because they move the style dial towards "traditional" and away from "modern/international".


dolcettovinesSettimo's Dolcetto Vines

 
Winemaker Tiziana Settimo took production over from her father in 2007 upon his passing. She had worked with her father for twenty years and continues the same traditional winemaking she learned from him. Settimo owns a little over two acres of Dolcetto which is east facing and grown on calcareous soil. Calcareous soil is optimal for growing Dolcetto. Dolcetto is reputed to be difficult to cultivate and vinify. This coupled with the fact that demand for Piedmontese Nebbiolo is at an all time high, helps explain why the total acreage of planted Dolcetto is decreasing. And this is a real shame. Nebbiolo can certainly make some of the world's greatest wine, but what about the joy of a well-made "everyday" wine? Dolcetto has charming, grapey flavors, with bright acidity and medium tannins. It's versatility and freshness make it the perfect everyday/any day red.




dolcettoharvest


Harvest 2016 at Settimo
 
At Settimo the Dolcetto grapes are hand harvested with careful selection of the bunches. Tiziana gently presses the grapes, leaves the wine on the skins for a short seven days, with frequent pump overs and ages it in concrete tanks for about six months. Because Dolcetto tends to be reductive, the pump overs allow for oxygenation, keeping the flavors and aromas fresh. Making good Dolcetto can take as much (or more) effort than it does Barolo. Settimo's Dolcetto d'Alba is redolent of plum and cheerful red cherry fruit and finishes with perky acidity. It's got a lot of zing. When the 2015 Dolcetto d'Alba was delivered to our warehouse, we were happy to see that David upped the numbers from what we purchased of the 2014. About the 2014 we joked that it was the wine that sold without ever writing about it. It found its way home repeatedly with many customers who shop at the store. The 2015 Dolcetto d'Alba is here and in good quantity...for the moment.
 
 
harvestgrapesPicture perfect Dolcetto bunches

 
6 in 1 All-Purpose Ground Tomatoes is essential to making gravy, at least the Balistreri way. No other canned tomatoes will do. My husband makes a large batch; some to eat now while the remainder is frozen for future meals. A red-sauced pasta is going to need a wine with palpable acidity like a Dolcetto d'Alba to make a merry match. It has been a satisfying week with poured concrete (yeah, no more dirt path!), measurable rain and a daughter who went to her 7th grade school dance and said it was fun. As to the weekend, I'll be putting out Halloween decorations and stock-piling candy. Our well-lighted, close to the curb house typically sees over 500 trick-or-treaters. This is not an exaggeration! I won't even bother closing the door, but will pull up a chair to the front door to greet the masses. Here's hoping everyone has a safe and sweet Halloween! - Anya Balistreri

Aurelio Settimo del Piemonte – Time Machine Wines

Thursday, February 25, 2016 7:24 PM


The arrival of a new container ’round here is always exciting, but the excitement always builds when wines from a new (to us) producer are on it! How do we find new producers? There are several ways, but each winter there is a trade tasting featuring many Italian producers in search of importers in New York City. It was at this tasting where David first met Ambra Tiraboschi, and signed up Ca’Lojera for direct importation. It may have taken a trip or two to find another Italian producer, but we are super excited to be able to introduce the wines from Aurelio Settimo to you! The Settimo line includes Dolcetto, Langhe Nebbiolo, and a few Baroli.

In this day and age where so many wines are being made in the “International Style,”it is so refreshing to taste high-quality wines made the old school way! In their cellars, one will findno new barrels. As a matter of fact, thereare no small barrels of any age to be found! Everything is made usinglarge wooden casks, concrete and stainless steel tanks. The wines have theunmistakeable character of the terroir they come from and reflect their unique personalities due to minimal intervention.They’re real “Time Machine” wines.

 

 
The Settimo story goes back to 1943 when Aurelio’s parents settled into an old farmhouse in the hamlet of Annunziata, north of Barolo. They had chickens, cows, and rabbits. They grew fruit and nut trees and grape vines. The vast majority of wine grapes were sold off to local wineries, with a very small portion retained to make wine for

friends and family.By the end of the 1950’s Aurelio’s father, Domenico, was bottling his own wine under the Settimo Domenico label.Aurelio began to understand how special the family’s land was, and after his father’s passing in 1962, he scrapped the farming biz and committed to viticulture and expanded their holdings. This commitment was costly, as a new home and winery were built during this time. Aurelio was still selling half of his grapes to larger, local wineries, but that ended in 1974 when all production was vinified right there at the estate. The family style is to maintain traditional practices in their winemaking, letting the fruit and terroir do all the talking. Little has changed since Aurelio’s passing in 2007, as his daughter and right-hand woman, Tiziana runs the estate and continues the family tradition.
 
We were able to land a small amount of 2011 Barolo and 2008

Barolo Rocche dell’Annunziata,though they’re both currently in short supply. Don’t worry. We LOVE these old-school wines; we’ve already loaded up on more, and we’ll be getting more of the ’08 Rocche, and the 2010 Barolo and Rocchelater this spring. We will not hesitate to alert you all when they arrive! In the meantime, check out the Dolcetto and the Langhe Nebbiolo. Both offer great character and amazing value. Won’t you join us inwelcoming Tiziana and the entire Aurelio Settimo team to our ever-growing lineup of producers!Benvenuto!


2014 Aurelio Settimo Dolcetto d'Alba 750ML

 

2014 Aurelio Settimo Dolcetto d’Alba 750ML

 

 

The 2014 Dolcetto d’Alba from Settimo has dusty forest floor aromatics with a bright cherry fruit profile. Lively and fresh on the palate with a tangy finish. The dial is clearly pointed to old-school styled Dolcetto here as the grapey aspect of modern Dolcettos is absent.

12% ABV

Reg. $15.59

buy 2014 Aurelio Settimo Dolcetto d'Alba 750ML


2009 Aurelio Settimo Langhe Nebbiolo 750ML

 

2009 Aurelio Settimo Langhe Nebbiolo 750ML

 

6+ years since harvest, the 2009 Langhe Nebbiolo has those snappy tar & roses aromas that the variety is known for … and then some! Showing impressive layers of complexity such as leather, all-spice, and forest floor, this Nebbiolo is as honest as it gets.

14% ABV

Reg. $23.99
This past Tuesday, gathered around a table at the center of Piccino restaurant, Elisabetta Fagiuoli of Montenidoli gave The Wine House staff a brief but exhaustive history of her Tuscan estate and the nearby medieval town of San Gimignano. The history lesson started by describing that 5 million years ago where Montenidoli now stands was once covered by sea.Today her vineyards grow on these mineral rich soils where ancient oyster shells dapple the rows. The lecture continued to more “present” day events pointing out that it was the Etruscans who predated the Romans that first planted grape vines in this area. Elisabetta went over a lot of information covering many years! She had us riveted to her every word. She showed us photos on her iPad that made us long to fly back home with her. Apart from the lovely aerial photos taken from her estate that literally look down on to San Gimignano (those lucky enough to have visited San Gimignano know that it is a town built on top of a hill) and the valley below, what impressed me most were the photos of the oyster shells and other marine critters that are strewn about her vineyards and a shot of her vineyard in what is probably late spring/summer with cover crop so lush and alive that it looks more like a flower garden. The healthy cover crop in the rows of vines is evidence of the vigor and vitality of Montenidoli soil. Then we began to taste Elisabetta’s wines…

 

 

The first sip went to the 2009 Tradizionale Vernaccia di San Gimignano. This is 100% Vernaccia that is left in contact with the skins for an extended period of time before fermenting in cement tanks. It is golden in color with formidable structure and firmness to the finish. To me this wine drinks like a red wine and with this in mind, it really needs food to show off its full potential. Don’t confuse this with a fruity aperitif. No, this wine needs to be lingered over and tasted with the same kind of reverence and mindfulness one gives to a powerful red. I’d love to pop open a bottle the next time I come home with an armful of baby braising greens from the farmer’s market. Elisabetta loves to suggest pairing the Tradizionale with liver and spinach,commenting that iron rich foods compliment it perfectly. I haven’t put this suggestion into practice but I’m game. I can only imagine how well earthy organ meats would play against the fruit, extraction and tannic underpinning of the Tradizionale. Elisabetta makes many references to child rearing and nursing when speaking about her wines. She described leaving the Tradizionale grapes in contact with the skins as a mother who would not want to leave contact with her child. She then made it absolutely clear to us that she is looking for the development of flavor with the extended skin contact but in no way is there oxidation. All the wines showed beautifully that evening and as the glasses emptied the theme that was raised over and over was thatMontenidoli’s Vernaccias are in a class by themselves and though Vernaccia may not be considered a ‘noble’ grape yet, when the synergy of place, terroir, varietal and winemaker come together like they do with Elisabetta’s Vernaccias perhaps the concept of ‘noble’ grape should be reconsidered. Earlier in the day, Elisabetta’s wines were presented to many top SF sommeliers – all were blown away by the complexity of her wines.

 

 

I am so grateful to have spent an evening with Elisabetta trying her wines in the company of my colleagues. Listening to Elisabetta explain that it is not she who makes the wine but it is the soil of Montenidoli that is responsible helped to solidify what I already knew to be true thatthis is a woman who is deeply connected to the soil and is clear as to her role in making, or raising as she puts it, wine. Of course the evening wasn’t all serious wine talk, Elisabetta shared many words of wisdom like when she announced that there are two times in life when you can behave as you wish, before 6 and after 70! At one point Elisabetta threw out that Andre Tchelistcheff, known as “the dean of American winemakers”, came to visit her in the late 70s. She said that Andre told her to put her wine in barrel and she did! I nearly fell off my chair. This story resonates with me on so many levels, the least of which is that it took a Russian American to tell an Italian how to make wine…my ethnic chauvinism is rearing its ugly head!

 

Elisabetta will be back in town next week for Gambero Rosso’s Tre Bicchieri tasting at Fort Mason. If you can’t make the event, don’t fret, we have plenty ofher lovely wines available at The Wine House. Come on by, we have many more stories to share!

Anya Balistreri

Ernesto Picollo: 2010 Gavi di Gavi “Rovereto”

Friday, September 2, 2011 7:56 PM

 

If you’ve been paying close attention to our inventory over the past few years, you may have noticed that our selections of vini d’Italia have increased over three-fold. We can cite many reasons why this is, but it’s good to be in the right place at the right time. Last month we told you about our latest container from Italy, and how it was bursting with new goodies, some of which we’ve never sold before. Alas, there was one name that when pulled from the container garnered thepraise and celebration of our entire staff, Ernesto Picollo. His Gavi DOCG and Gavi di Gavi have pleased many a customer and staff member of TWH for a several vintages, and we’re delighted to have the 2010s in stock.

Made from the Cortese grape, the wines from Gavi are typically medium bodied with bright acidity and hints of citrus fruit. Ah, but Picollo’s Gavi are so much more!The entry level Gavi DOCG is crisp and clean, infused with minerals, citrus and stone fruit. The Gavi di Gavi “Rovereto” is a more refined, precise take on both variety and terroir. From vines averaging 35 years of age, its aromatics are pure apricot/peach framed by fresh rocky mineral. The palate is focused and balanced, much like a newly sharpened knife. For the price, it’s tough to beat. Finally, the Gavi di Gavi “Rughe” is Ernesto’s cream of the crop. It is produced in very small quantity due to painstaking procedures like crop thinning prior to ripening and secondary fruit selection. The Rughe has all the precision of the Rovereto, yet has the opulence you’d find in a white wine twice the price.

Matchmaker Matchmaker Find Me a Wine

Wednesday, February 23, 2011 12:38 PM

If there’s one thing that never gets old, it’s when the stars align and make good things happen.  Case in point, my return to TWH (and thus, blogging) has fallen over that holiday which is so near and dear to thine heart, Valentine’s Day.  Coincidence?  I don’t believe in coincidences…. But I do believe in cheesy holidays that capitalize on human emotions, and apparently, I like writing about them too because the last time I wrote anything about wine (publicly anyways) was last year around this time.  I must preface this post, however, by saying that while this is indeed a post inspired by Valentine’s Day and love and all that good stuff, it is NOT one of those posts where I tell you what to drink with your lover on V-day.  If it were, I would be extremely tardy and my words would fall into a black hole of post-holiday obsolescence.  Instead, I have decided to combine my love for wine with one of my favorite guilty pleasures, The Bachelor/Bachelorette.  If you haven’t seen the show, a purportedly “great catch” is given a pool of 30 or so eligible persons of the opposite sex from which to find the one with whom he/she will fall in love and spend the rest of his/her life.  Needless to say, it’s everything you’d think a Hollywood matchmaking television show would be, but hey, love works in strange ways, who am I to judge?  That said, I asked Pete (who would like it to be known that he has never seen the show) to choose six noteworthy wine suitors for me- 3 reds & 3 whites– and subsequently took each one of them out on a date in hopes of falling in love.  Am I going to kiss and tell?  You betchya!

Date 1: 2009 Picollo Ernesto GaviI really wanted the Gavi to be my first date.  Certainly, I’d heard good things about all of the wines in the bunch from everyone at TWH, but the Gavi seemed to be extremely high up on the list of “go-to” wines being recommended to customers at the store, so I was highly anticipating making its acquaintance.  With that in mind, I got to know Gavi while nibbling on a marinated mix of olives & peppers and French bread, followed by a lovely dinner of lemon & pesto grilled chicken on top of a mixed green salad with fresh parmesan, steamed veggies, and sun-dried tomato polenta.  This wine definitely lived up to its hype… beautiful nose of melon, honeyed lemon, slight tropical fruit, cut hay, and a touch of salty sea air.  The palate, while fresh and clean, had a very pleasantly surprising viscosity and roundness to it as well.  The fruit was more citrusy on the palate and that classic Italian minerality, herbs/white pepper was there too.  Overall, a fantastic date and I feel like Gavi and I will be the best of friends.  The white wine that I will feel more than confident taking to parties, pairing with a wide range of fare, or just drinking all by itself when the mood strikes.  It’s the kind of wine I want to have a lot of on hand.

 

Date 2: 2005 Chateau d’Or et de Gueules Costieres de Nimes Trassegum RougeThough it’s been a while, the ’05 Trassegum and I have met before, and I must say, I’ve always had a crush on it.  It’s a Rhone blend made predominantly from Syrah by one of my all-time favorite producers.  I let the bottle sit open & untouched for about half an hour while I made homemade valentines for loved ones and waited for lamb tandoori from Indian Palace.  When I finally poured myself a glass, the wine was a little tight, but I was still able to discern the nose of charcoaled meat, leather (both sweet & dirty), violets (omigosh, the violets!), dark fruit, a hint of anise and Provençal herbs.  It was juicy and balanced on the palate, but again, needed a little time to unwind.  About an hour later, I noted red fruit coming through more and….mmmm, forest floor.  Later yet, the sweet spices started to shine- cinnamon, vanilla, cassis, spicy raspberry and plums- it just kept getting prettier and more layered.  Oh my, I thought to myself, It’s seducing me, I can feel it! I’d describe the mouth-feel as silky and elegant, but with density and muscle at the same time. Moments later my food arrived. I don’t know if lamb tandoori was the pinnacle of food pairings for this, but sometimes I think the best pairings are whatever you’re in the mood to eat paired with whatever you’re in the mood to drink. Which is exactly what this was… and it was heavenly.

 

Date 3: 2009 Chateau Couronneau Bordeaux Blanc & 2008 Enrico Pierazzuoli Carmignano Le Farnete For the next outing, I grabbed some gal pals and headed down to Sapore Italiano in Burlingame for some fabulous Italian cuisine.  We sipped (ok, gulped) the Couronneau while partaking in the Antipasto delle due Sicillie- an assorted plate of meats, cheeses, olives, grilled veggies, and bruschetta.  Oh we are off to a GREAT start!  Almost a little too good, in fact.  We guzzled the Couronneau and moved on to the Carmignano so fast I felt as if I didn’t give it its due time in the spotlight.  It’s like that person at a party you start flirting with but never really get a chance to talk to before they leave (luckily, I know where to find more).





 





That said, what I did experience of the Couronneau absolutely knocked my socks off.  The old world crushed rock minerality exploded off the nose, intermingling in perfect harmony with fresh citrus fruit and hints of white flower.  The fruit and minerality came thru on the palate with exquisite finesse along with a vibrant and long-lasting acidity.  Don’t get me wrong, there was nothing wrong with when and how this wine was consumed, but I would love to try it again sometime with a mélange of seafood and longer timeframe.  In a nutshell, this wine out-drinks its price point by a LOT.  Moving onto the Carmignano, I think this might win “best friend” in the red category.  It’s a blend of 80% Sangiovese and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and while both varietals make their presence known, neither one overpowers the other.  Upon first whiff, I definitely noted the luscious ripe red and dark fruit first, which evolved into a combination of cherries, rose petals, red currants, cedar, and slight oak nuances.  The palate was more rustic than the nose would suggest, with dusty tannins that smooth out and a little mulchy sweetness to the fruit.  Overall, I found it to have an approachability that would please most any group and/or occasion.  I’d say it’s a solid notch and more above your average “pizza wine”, but that certainly didn’t stop me from ordering a whole pie for myself to go with it.

 Date 4: 2009 Chateau de Raousset Fleurie– Truth be told, I had actually had this bottle in my possession since Thanksgiving.  My initial intention was to share it with my T-day companions because what goes better with Thanksgiving dinner than Cru Beaujolais? But I got selfish and decided to keep it to myself for a later date (sorry gang).  I started out just sipping this sans sustenance, which was delightful.  Then I got hungry and having no patience for a trip to the grocery store, I pulled out some prosciutto, brie, crudités, small green salad, and a whole bunch of sweet potato fries (basically everything that looked yummy in my fridge).  All I have to say is that Cru Beaujolais- especially this one with its beautiful layers of wild strawberries, lavender, Provençal herbs, hint of minerality, and elegant yet juicy palate- is the arm candy of wine.  It is just oh so pretty and it goes with EVERYTHING.  If you’re one of those wine drinkers who still isn’t convinced that Beaujolais can be some of the most gorgeous and versatile wines on the planet, grab a bottle of this tout de suite.

 Date 5: 2009 Paco & Lola Albarino Rias BaixasFor my last, but no less anticipated, date I braved the rain and met up with a friend of mine for sushi and a bottle of the P&L Albarino.  In my opinion, sushi is comfort food and white wine can be just as cozy a companion as any red.  My notes on this wine were as such: “on the nose, very nice melon, green pear that opens up into more lush tropical fruit.  Noticeable leesiness, and oh, is that macadamia nut? Indeed! Yay! Slight creaminess through the mid-palate and awesome burst of acidity on the finish.  Sushi + P&L + rainy day = love.

The Verdict:  Pete, ya done good, I love them all but I love playing the field (or should I say vineyard) even more and I’m not ready to settle down with one wine just yet.  Being a bachelorette is much much too fun.  - Emily Crichton

Two Of A Kind: One Piemontese Red; One Tuscan Red

Monday, March 23, 2009 2:17 PM

Over the past several months, many of you have noticed the gradual expansion of our Italian section that now comprises many reds and whites from diverse regions of Italy. As we move ahead to spring, two favorite reds come to mind, and we want to highlight them for you. One is a profound, concentrated Tuscan Sangiovese to lay down for a handful of years. The other is a sexy, juicy, spicy but sophisticated Barbera to drink over the next few years with a wide variety of fare.Both come from small, artisanal producers deeply committed to expressing their terroirs.

 
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A Sexy, Stylish Piemontese Red

There are many places in the world I have visited only via their wines. While I’ve traipsed through southern Italy and Tuscany, I’ve not yet had the good fortune to visit Piemonte, home of some of my favorite wines. However, the best wines, unlike any other agricultural product, have an uncanny way of transporting one to their place of origin, and thanks to vintners likePiero Busso, I can visit Piemonte any time via the bottle. And while it’s not limited to Piemonte-you may have had similar experiences with Burgundy or Bordeaux or Germany-recently Piero Busso’s single-vineyard Barbera Majano immediately teleported me to northwest Italy as its warmth countered the cool air in the region and its suggestion of forest floor, smoke and assorted meats led me to feel at table in this land of rich, truffle-laden cuisine.

Barbera has an identity crisis. It ranges from cheap, insipid plonk to fancy barrique-aged renditions that can fetch over $100 a bottle. Historically, the more ‘noble’ Nebbiolo has overshadowed it, but given the respect it deserves, it can produce truly profound wines. I don’t want to place Busso’s Barbera Majano in some supposed hierarchy between cheap and cheerful and luxuriously flashy, so let it suffice to say it is serious wine that vividly captures the flavors of Piemonte. Farmed organically and harvested at optimal ripeness (without the over-ripeness of many a bruising uber-Barbera), this has a wonderfully concentrated core of pure red fruits. Piero, along with wife Lucia, daughter Emanuela and son Pierguido, are committed to pure vinous expression of their terroir, and their careful tending of the land and no-nonsense winemaking (fermentation in tank, followed by 10 months in large old barrels) allows the flavors of Piemonte to shine through.

There are only just over 700 cases for the entire world, so we are proud to have scored an allocation to offer you. So, next time you want to travel to Piemonte, and have neither the time nor the money, reach for a bottle of Piero Busso Barbera Majano and arrive there immediately in First Class!

On the nose, this is at once high-toned and earthy, with strongly licorice inflected red fruits combined with raw beef, truffles and a hint of smoke. An incisive burst of spice on the mid-palate fleshes out to opulent, sappy richness, while bright acidity immediately energizes the finish where hints of tar, cured meat and an echo of licorice linger. This month, only $189.00 ($15.75 per bottle) with our 25% off Case Special.

 

2006 Busso Piero Barbera d’Alba Vigna Majano

Red Wine; Barbera; Piedmont;
$20.99

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Save 25% On Full Case Purchases ($15.75 Per Bottle)
$189.00

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A Most Unique Tuscan Red

The poetic and philosophical Elisabetta Fagiuoli of Montenidoli in San Gimignano has earned the respect of fellow winemakers throughout Europe for her pioneering accomplishments with the much maligned Vernaccia grape, as well as the loving, but uncompromising manner in which she tends her land (she has dubbed herself ‘nurse’ of her vines). However, other than ourselves, her small batches of finely-honed Vernaccia have remained in relative obscurity in the U.S. Perhaps most importers are not ready to the challenge the image of Vernaccia as mindless, insipid wine to quaff in Florentine cafes. Through Elisabetta’s wines, some of you have discovered the complexities and delights of seriously crafted Vernaccia, and we have enjoyed the journey with you. More on Elisabetta here.

However, perhaps Elisabetta’s most striking accomplishment vintage after vintage is her Sono Montenidoli Rosso. We feel this Tuscan red stands strong against the nearby, and more expensive Brunello di Montalcino, yet comes from what most still consider a cheap white wine appellation. Well, we do need to admit that Elisabetta’s property is second to none in the zone, with amphitheatric vineyards offering breathtaking views of San Gimignano on one side and Chianti Classico on the other. It is here that old vines of Sangiovese stand and effectively thumb their noses at Chianti vines that may not always live up to their potential.

Organically cultivated low yields of old vines Sangiovese with a drop of Canaiolo combine to create a truly formidable Tuscan red that can age as well as the finest Brunello Riservas, yet somehow possesses more grace and distinction than many wines from that commune, despite its obvious heft and profundity. Brooding aromas of subtle red fruits, forest floor, wood smoke and iodine creep from the glass in a now guarded, but engaging manner, demonstrating the potential for ravishing perfume years down the road. On the palate, it is tightly wound, with plenty of texture drawn from deep roots in rocky soil. (These terraced vineyards were in fact once under sea, and the fossil-rich soil seems to impart a mouthwatering savoriness). Taut, strong tannins reveal themselves on the finish. Once these tannins unravel, surely sappy rich fruit will burst forth. Deeply savory, smoky notes tie it all up. To drink now, we recommend 2 hours decanting, as well as a Flintstonesque bistecca alla Fiorentina along side it. This month take advantage of our 25% off Case Special.Patrick Mitten

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