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

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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

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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

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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
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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
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