Italy Piedmont

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Clerico, Francesco 2011 Barolo Bussia Vigna Colonello

2011 Francesco Clerico Barolo Vigna Colonnello. Dark garnet robe. Dried roses, wild strawberry, balsam, wet iron, and violets on the nose, with game notes and spice. The midweight and fresh (especially for the warm 2011 vintage) palate offers a burst of red fruit flavors with a fine salty mineral core that gives way to deeply savory notes of stone, iodine, and turned earth on a long, mouth-watering, sapid finish. This has great energy and a sneaky sort of structure with the red-fruited dry extract underlain by ripe tannins and a firm mineral core, which bodes well for aging. And which this is by no means slick or polished, there’s flair and character to burn. This is unabashedly traditional Barolo and deserves a place at the table and even more so, space in your cellar. Fabulous with a pan-roasted veal chop with truffles and Swiss Chard, but would sing with a a bowl of polenta and a sauté of wild mushrooms, or perhaps veal shank and risotto. And while Francesco Clerico’s wines may not be the flashiest or most flamboyant of the Langhe, I’d pit their frank soulfulness and honesty against nearly all comers. John McIlwain

  • red
  • 7 in stock
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  • Organic
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Clerico, Francesco 2015 Barbera d'Alba

All of Francesco Clerico’s wines (Barbera, Barolo, Dolcetto, and Nebbiolo) could be used in a class as textbook examples of traditional Langhe wine. Clerico’s certified-organic vines are in Bussia di Monforte (mostly in the Colonello sub-zone of Bussia Soprana, and also in Bussia Dardi), an easy walk from his cantina in Borgata Bussia Soprana - like the wines, a hamlet that feels as though time has passed by. 2015 was a good year for Barbera in general; Clerico’s is cool, deep, and lifted, with lovely balance between bright plummy fruit and earthy, savory and forest-y notes. It makes perfect sense for Thanksgiving, as it should work well with all of the varied components of the meal, even the cranberry. Jamie Wolff

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  • 59 in stock
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  • Organic
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Clerico, Francesco 2015 Nebbiolo d'Alba

Feeling in Fall fettle. That chill to the air and early sunset has me dreaming of (and cooking) risotto with roasted Kuri squash, wild mushrooms, and a bit of sage. Kinda calls for Nebbiolo. And to catch up with the latest in Piemonte, time to reacquaint myself with the beautiful and classically-styled wines of Francesco Clerico. This organic(!) grower in Monforte d’Alba makes wines which harken back to an era before rotofermenters, French oak, and ego. Think soulful—the Impressions or the Four Tops—but without the overt polish of Smokey Robinson. Aromatically waves of dried roses, cherry pit, and violet give way to earthier notes of maduro tobacco, iron, and a faint hint of anise. The spirited, mid-weight palate checks off all the Nebbiolo boxes: rosesroadtarvioletssaddleleather with a savory/salty, nearly iodine finish that ends with enough lifted acidity to cleanse the palate and beg for another sip. A nifty pairing with the risotto, probably better still with a moderate portion of tajarin festooned with an intemperate amount of shaved truffle. This is a wonderful Langhe Nebbiolo that dodges the sometimes overwrought character of the 2015 vintage and offers perhaps more rusticity than flair, but ultimately satisfies with its forthright character and sheer deliciousness. John McIlwain

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Cordero di Montezemolo 1971 Barolo Monfalletto

A consistently excellent wine — we've been lucky to get to taste this several times in the last few years. It needs a lot of time to breathe, and then it provides a classic example of fully mature Nebbiolo. Jamie Wolff

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Cordero di Montezemolo 1985 Barolo Enrico VI - Stained

Enrico VI is Cordero's name for a small parcel of old vines in Villero. It's a grand wine, worthy of its royal name.

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Minuto 1964 Pertinace Antico Nebbiolo / Barbaresco

Described by Wasserman as "made from 100% Nebbiolo grapes grown in the Barbaresco Zone". Why it's not Barbaresco is anyone's guess. Pertinax, Roman Emperor for about 3 months in 190 ad, appears on the label. Pertinace carries on as the name in Barbaresco of a small wine growers coop.

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Produttori del Barbaresco 1975 Barbaresco

Brambly black cherry with undertones of black raisin and sweet dirt. Quite developed with secondary/tertiary notes of hoisin, dried mushroom, and dried meat. After 40 years, it still has plenty of structure and only started to reveal itself after being double-decanted eight hours earlier (1/17/17)! Jonas Mendoza

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  • Organic
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Rinaldi, Giuseppe 2013 Barolo Tre Tine

Allowing for the fact that wine is a very subjective experience, I like to think that I call it as I see it. So I believe I’d know if it was a disaster, but otherwise I’m irrational and unreliable on the subject of G. Rinaldi. When I’m there, I wander around in a kind of stupor of infatuation with the wines. My penetrating notes (for 2013 Tre Tine, for example) say things like “super-great” [full stop]. I suppose if I have to have a wine crush, it might as well be on one of the best wineries in the world. Jamie Wolff

PS: Please don’t shoot the messenger. We don’t make the prices (neither, so far as I can tell, do the Rinaldis, because the wines leave the cellar at very reasonable prices). We’re well into the world of luxury goods here, and all I can do is sigh and make puppy dog eyes at the bottles while they’re in the shop. I do think it’s an objective fact that these are great wines and even if it’s a gratuitous comparison, they are the superior of many far more expensive wines.

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Roagna 1982 Vino da Tavola Crichet Paje

Crichet Paje comes from some very old vines in the Paje vineyard. Luca Roagna explains that for years  "because of the complications of local regulation we had to choose between callling the wine Barbaresco, or Crichet Paje — we could not call it Barbaresco Crichet Paje, so we chose to call it Crichet Paje... Crichet Paje is intended to be a unique and particular wine, an expression of our identity." It wasn't until 1996 that they were able to label the Crichet Paje as "Barbaresco Crichet Paje".

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  • 17 in stock
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Roagna 2013 Barbaresco Paje

One of the most famous vineyards in Barbaresco, Pajé is an amphitheater with calcareous marl and limestone soils, and southwest exposure. The vines range from 25 to 50 years old. The 2013 Pajé, though still very young, is already showing extremely well, with a beautiful core of red berry fruit, cherry, and lifted floral tones of rose and violet, with hints of dried lavendar. Ripe, well integrated tannins. Very elegant. Oskar Kostecki

  • red
  • 8 in stock
  • $119.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur

Roagna 2013 Barolo Pira

The vineyard of Pira, lying next to Rocche in Castiglione Faletto, was aquired by the Roagna family in 1989. The 2013 is a beautiful, classic Barolo, with a broad-shouldered but focused palate carrying notes of red currant, red plum, dried cherry, rose, pungent spices, licorice, iron, and cherry pit on the finish. Medium plus, but very fine grained tannins. With great acidity keeping this bright and lifted, there is pleasure to be found in short term drinking (with a long decant) as well as great potential for aging. Oskar Kostecki

  • red
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  • 2 in stock
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Sandri, Elio (Cascina Disa) 2011 Barolo Riserva

A very fine and very complete wine. Balanced, savory, with super-elegant tannins, this needs some real time in the cellar. Jamie Wolff

  • red
  • 7 in stock
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  • Organic
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  • red
  • 1 in stock
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Sandri, Elio (Cascina Disa) 2012 Barolo Monforte

Sandri has decided to call this wine "Monforte", rather than by the sub-zone of Perno. But nothing else has changed, and he made great wine in 2012 - rich and ripe but energetic and lifted, with very fine tannins, and with no signs of heat. Jamie Wolff

  • red
  • 11 in stock
  • $54.99

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  • 64 in stock
  • $22.99

  • Organic
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Sandri, Elio (Cascina Disa) 2015 Dolcetto d'Alba

Last May we tried a ton of Dolcetto in the company of two distinguished tasters who kept saying they didn’t like Dolcetto, which tends to put a damper on the experience. Sandri’s, however, made them sit up and take notice, so I give them credit for staying alert and flexible enough to change their minds. It’s bracingly juicy with wild brambly fruit that’s balanced with savoury herbs and chalky stone. Medium-bodied, very lively and lifted, it’s long and complete. I happen to like Dolcetto, but if they were all half as good as this one I might say I love it. Jamie Wolff


Since the Fall cooking around my house is Piemonte-centric, I would be remiss for not including Cascina Disa's wines in my top choices for autumnal wines. Elio Sandri makes fabulous reds in Monforte d’Alba (Perno), which offer sophistication (though not flashiness) and also express terroir and Langhe soul beautifully. The 2015 Dolcetto is dark-fruited with ripe aromas of violets, blackberry, black cherry, plum, and pencil lead. The supple, but racy palate offers more dark fruit flavors over well-knit tannins and a succulent, buoyant finish. Fabulous with salumi, smashing with a cheese plate after dinner. This has a fine ratio of generous fruit to structure to terroir detail without any of the heat or excess that sometimes characterizes the vintage. I’m regularly impressed by the wines from Elio Sandri and can say without hesitation that he is a grower to watch. John McIlwain

  • red
  • 11 in stock
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  • Organic
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  • 1 in stock
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Sandri, Elio 2016 Langhe Nebbiolo

The 2016 Sandri Langhe Nebbiolo had a ruby to garnet robe. Fine rose petals, black cherry, cherry stone, hints of iron, spice and game. The mid-weight palate offers the classic flavors of cherry and rose water, succulent acidity, and dried violets with dusty ripe tannins. This has good concentration and drive with corresponding weight and is a fine pairing with wild mushroom risotto and an even more felicitous pairing with a sliver of Taleggio. Cascina Disa is rather quickly becoming one of my go-to Langhe growers and Elio Sandri a bright talent. John McIlwain

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