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Castellero is located in the village of Barolo, between the more famous vineyards of Bussia and Cannubi. This steep slope is composed of well-draining calcareous marl which are perfectly suited to Nebbiolo. This site is planted to the historic Michet, Rosè and Lampia clones of Nebbiolo, and propagated by massale selection. The Castellero is deeper and shows more concentration than the normale bottling, with notes of cherry, red forest fruit, dried spices, herbs, floral notes of rose and violet, sweet spice, and undergrowth. Pair with roasted red meat or game, or cellar for a few decades. Oskar Kostecki
The Barale Barolo is a blend of fruit from 3 vineyards (all in the town of Barolo): Castellero, Monrobiolo di Bussia, and Preda. The 2015 has good depth and extract, but it seems completely effortless in it’s elegance – this is wine that feels like it just exists – it hasn’t been forced in any aspect. In April it was aromatically seductive, with lovely orange peel and eucalyptus, silky tannin, and a long, expansive finish. Jamie Wolff
Nebbiolo grapes from the Castellero vineyard in the Barolo commune, planted in 1979 and 1991. The grapes are hand harvested in the first weeks of October. The grapes are destemmed and crushed, with wine macerating on the skins for 30 days. Fermentation in 15-30 hl French oak lasts for 3 years, before being bottled without filtration. Bottle aging lasts a year before release.
This wine is from estate owned, 29 year old vines of organically farmed Barbera, trained in Guyot fashion. The vineyards are planted to soils of loamy silt and clay, with traces of fossils. The hard harvested grapes are destemmed and fermented in steel. There are 7 days of skin maceration. Aging is done for 12 months in barrel, with 6 additional months in bottle before release.
This wine is made with organically farmed Guyot trained Dolcetto vines. The grapes are hand harvested in the beginning of September before fermenting in steel, with a 6 day maceration on the skins. The wine is transferred for a quick period to oak while undergoing malolactic fermentation.
From estate owned Nebbiolo vines, farmed organically and picked by hand. Vineyards are planted on calcareous soils and trained in low Guyot fashion. Fermented in oak with natural yeasts, this wine sees 10 days of skin maceration. The wine sees 12 months in barrel, before 6 more months in bottle prior to release. The 2018 Nebbiolo is very clean and edgy, with zesty dried red fruits and dark mineral tones on the nose and palate. While drinking, I thought about how well the bottle would suit a small chill, and how it could be a red for the warmer months approaching. David Hatzopoulos
Last week marked the 3rd time I’ve tasted three vintages of Boggione Brunate together, and it’s reinforced how consistent in quality the wines are, expressive of vintage, but very un-fussed with in the cellar. The 2013 is showing very savory, earthy and chalky, with some cherry fruit and very fine ripe tannin. It’s an expansive mouthful, in a way that suggests it’s going to drink well fairly soon. A very fine wine indeed! Jamie Wolff
After a decent interval to let the wine breathe, the 2015 shows its great potential – fragrant with flowers and earth; plenty of bright juicy fruit, but overall savory in character, with pronounced ripe tannins – as you taste the wine it blossoms, expressing both finesse and the power of Brunate - and it becomes increasingly delicious. I will put some bottles in the cellar, but given sufficient time in the decanter you can enjoy this now. Jamie Wolff
At $58.99, this is a bargain Barolo – no irony intended / all things being relative. The 2015 is about 70% Brea Ca’Mia, a Grand Cru if there ever was one. Brea accounts for the intensely chalky, savory profile of the wine – a baby at this stage, and in need of a good 10 years asleep in the cellar. Still, a bargain! Jamie Wolff A lot of structure in this young Barolo, and even after being open for over 4 hours it still seemed quite austere. Yet nonetheless very impressive, with a lot of complexity. Notes of medicinal cherry, raspberry, rhubarb, citrus peel, burnt orange peel, and very pretty floral tones of fresh and dried roses. The palate shows prominent tannins that will take a few years to soften. No need to rush this wine. Oskar Kostecki
At $58.99, this is a bargain Barolo – no irony intended / all things being relative. The 2015 is about 70% Brea Ca’Mia, a Grand Cru if there ever was one. Brea accounts for the intensely chalky, savory profile of the wine – a baby at this stage, and in need of a good 10 years asleep in the cellar. Still, a bargain! Jamie Wolff
A lot of structure in this young Barolo, and even after being open for over 4 hours it still seemed quite austere. Yet nonetheless very impressive, with a lot of complexity. Notes of medicinal cherry, raspberry, rhubarb, citrus peel, burnt orange peel, and very pretty floral tones of fresh and dried roses. The palate shows prominent tannins that will take a few years to soften. No need to rush this wine. Oskar Kostecki
The range of wines at Brovia always show individual character, but this is amplified in 2015. Alex Sanchez (of Brovia) told us that he sees 2015 as first “a vintage of terroir”; when we get to the Brea Ca’Mia one of our group says “Serralunga to 11”, which pretty well sums it up, except that there are only a few other wines from Serralunga of this quality (side diatribe: most Rionda misses the standard). As usual the Ca’Mia is the most tannic and structured of the line-up, this is certainly a long-term prospect. 111 points. Jamie Wolff
I thought this was the best Garblet Sue I’ve tasted in 20 years of visiting Brovia. I often find this wine opaque (from a sensory perspective), but I don’t think I’ve had a chance to taste a mature bottle. By contrast the 2015, while quite dense and rich, was very expressive and showed a depth and complexity that was exciting. One for the cellar. Jamie Wolff All density, dark fruit, and spice. More medicinal than the normale bottling, with black cherry, cedar, licorice and baking spice. Quite dark and brooding, this will need a number of years to come into it's own. Oskar Kostecki
I thought this was the best Garblet Sue I’ve tasted in 20 years of visiting Brovia. I often find this wine opaque (from a sensory perspective), but I don’t think I’ve had a chance to taste a mature bottle. By contrast the 2015, while quite dense and rich, was very expressive and showed a depth and complexity that was exciting. One for the cellar. Jamie Wolff
All density, dark fruit, and spice. More medicinal than the normale bottling, with black cherry, cedar, licorice and baking spice. Quite dark and brooding, this will need a number of years to come into it's own. Oskar Kostecki
As always, this is a special wine. Elegant, but fairly powerful, tasted in May 2019 it showed a ton of depth amplified by ripe tannin, and a complex and super-long finish. In many vintages Brovia Rocche has made me think of Chambolle, but the 2015 is more in the line of Cote Rotie. Ok, that may be a specious comparison, but I do love Cote Rotie! Jamie Wolff
– A beauty – tight, of course, and subtle and austere now, I thought this was a gorgeous Villero, with everything you’d want in a wine to put away for 20 years. Very fine indeed. Jamie Wolff
From 20-50 year old hand harvested Nebbiolo vines in La Morra. Fermentation happens in stainless. Aging beings in French oak for 24 months, before wine is transferred to bottle, where it rests another year prior to release.
This family estate, run by third generation winegrower Mauro Drocco, has been certified organic since 2000. The grapes come from both Diano d’Alba and La Morra. Grapes are hand harvested, then the wine ferments in stainless and spends 12-18 months in old wood before being cellared for 6 more months in bottle. Dark forest fruit, like cherry and blackberry, on the nose, along with accents of espresso, herbs, and flowers. The palate has a base of lively red fruit, nuanced by flavors of cocoa shell and dark minerals. David Hatzopoulos
According to Camparo's website: "Sorì means a vineyard with the best exposure to the sun in the local Piedmontese dialect." This wine is 100% Dolcetto from Diano d’Alba, which is where the estate’s winery is based. Grapes are handpicked from 30-40 year old vines. The juice is fermented and aged in stainless steel, resting for 12 months before being cellared for an additional 3-6 months in bottle. Fresh black and red fruits show on the nose, with hints crushed dark stones and violets. On the palate, there are flavors of wild cherry, with a touch of bitter skins, and blackberry. The mouthfeel is structured well with medium tannin. David Hatzopoulos
Camparo’s nebbiolo comes from 20-40 year old vines (hand harvested) in Diano d’Alba. Fermentation takes place over 20-30 days in steel tanks, before the wine is aged for 12-18 months in various ages of French oak casks and barriques. There are 6 more months of bottle aging before the wine is released. The result is a wine showing woodsy aromas on the nose, with fresh earth, and mix of plum, raspberry, and blackberry. The palate has similar dark fruits, along with a herbaceous edge. David Hatzopoulos
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
This shows a clear step away from the cooler Verduno wines, with silky, suave tannins, and a richer palate; it’s more muscular, and denser than the Verduno wines. It’s beautifully integrated and complete – quite amazingly appealing for new Barolo. I wrote that “this would be very popular”. Of course there’s only one way to find out… Jamie Wolff The Gramolere from Fratelli Alessandria showed really nice intensity, both on the nose and the palate. The ripeness of the vintage shows, with a slightly candied and juicy quality to the cherry and raspberry fruit. The palate introduces more savory notes of cocoa nibs and some herbal character. Great density and richness to this Barolo that will appeal to folks looking for some broadness in their Nebbiolo. Oskar Kostecki
This shows a clear step away from the cooler Verduno wines, with silky, suave tannins, and a richer palate; it’s more muscular, and denser than the Verduno wines. It’s beautifully integrated and complete – quite amazingly appealing for new Barolo. I wrote that “this would be very popular”. Of course there’s only one way to find out… Jamie Wolff
The Gramolere from Fratelli Alessandria showed really nice intensity, both on the nose and the palate. The ripeness of the vintage shows, with a slightly candied and juicy quality to the cherry and raspberry fruit. The palate introduces more savory notes of cocoa nibs and some herbal character. Great density and richness to this Barolo that will appeal to folks looking for some broadness in their Nebbiolo. Oskar Kostecki
Dark red fruit, limestone – a juicy underpinning for firm chalky tannin, rich and lifted, pure and delicious. A grand cru wine, and some competition for that other Monvigliero…Jamie Wolff
Fermented in concrete and aged for three years before release. The nose is richly fruited, with bold red plum, spiced cherry, and fresh, healthy mulch. A hint of coconut shavings and nutmeg add a special aromatic accent. The palate is just as dynamic, boasting flavors of baking spice, espresso, roasted herbs, and savory dark cherry. The mouthfeel has a surprising fresh edge, with clean mineral zip and pleasant dusty tannins. David Hatzopoulos
A stunning wine - my note from tasting in the cellar starts with a highly scientific, “Wow!” There is none of the potential excess of 2015, instead lovely fruit, with savory, balsalm and stony notes. You get the sensation of a dark core that has yet to blossom – giving the fruit a stony base and suggesting great potential in the cellar, although the wine is balanced and delicious now. Jamie Wolff
Beautifully balanced between fruit and savory aromas and flavors supported by very fine ripe tannin and fresh acidity, with fantastic length. Vibrant, and super elegant – a remarkable Barolo. Jamie Wolff My first experience with the wines of Giulia Negri, and after hearing all the hype, this one didn't disappoint. A beautiful lifted nose of cherry, cherry flesh, crushed pomegranate, raspberries, orange peel, burnt orange peel, cedar, undergrowth, and dried flowers. The complexity translates well to the palate, with vibrant acidity framing well-structured tannins. Aromatically, this is one of the most beguiling Barolo's I've tasted from this vintage. Oskar Kostecki
Beautifully balanced between fruit and savory aromas and flavors supported by very fine ripe tannin and fresh acidity, with fantastic length. Vibrant, and super elegant – a remarkable Barolo. Jamie Wolff
My first experience with the wines of Giulia Negri, and after hearing all the hype, this one didn't disappoint. A beautiful lifted nose of cherry, cherry flesh, crushed pomegranate, raspberries, orange peel, burnt orange peel, cedar, undergrowth, and dried flowers. The complexity translates well to the palate, with vibrant acidity framing well-structured tannins. Aromatically, this is one of the most beguiling Barolo's I've tasted from this vintage. Oskar Kostecki
Considered to be the warmest part of the valley of Valtellina (hence the dramatic name) Inferno is situated close to the town of Poggiridenti, with the grapes growing on steep slopes and rocky soils. This 1974 has aged gracefully, with a faint grip of tannins and good acidity framing slightly vegetal and herbal notes of sage and mint, with coffee, tobacco, cedar, warm spice and hint of cured meat and smoke. Fully mature, this is a wine to be enjoyed now with roasted meat, game, or a mushroom risotto. Oskar Kostecki
Sassella is widely considered to be the most noble and elegant of the five subzones of Valtellina. Terraced vineyards on steep, south-facing slopes produce high quality "mountain nebbiolo" with great ability to age. The 1974 Sassella from Pelizzatti still clings to a bit of fruit, with notes of dried cherry, cherry pit and red plum being accompanied by cedar, sage, and hint of smokiness. Drink now with roasted pork, game, or savory dishes laden with umami. Oskar Kostecki
Ravera di Monforte has an isolated feel to it - the position is definitely in a wilder spot than most Barolo vineyards, with a lot of woods around, and an air of peace that's unusual in an intensely farmed place. The hillside is very steep; there is a stream hidden in the woods at the bottom of the hill, and I imagine that in hot weather it's cooler there. Principiano's vines are left completely untreated, with flowers and grass allowed to grow without cutting; it's an Edenic spot. The 2015 is a very elegant wine, beautifully restrained, with a light body, but plenty of intensity. Lifted and citrusy, I think this has a tremendous future. Jamie WolffTo echo Jamie, Ravera di Monforte is one of the most soulful vineyards in Barolo that I have had the pleasure of visiting. There is a quiet about it, broken only by the soft humming of bees that buzz around the 100 year-old rosemary bush that marks the entrance to Ferdinand Principiano's vines. Though I might be guilty of slight hyperbole (my emotions sometimes get the better of me - and Ravera is an emotional place) the wine from this vineyard is quite exceptional as well. More perfumed than the Serralunga, with dark floral tones of dried violet, with deeper and darker fruit; macerated cherry, black cherry, deep raspberry and red plum. Beautiful energy on the palate, with vibrant acidity and a long finish. One of the wines I've been most eagerly awaiting to arrive stateside after tasting in Piedmont in April. Only 3,000 bottles per vintage. Oskar Kostecki
Cowabunga! A Piemontese wine at only 10.5% ABV. And no added sulfur! I would say that's unheard of, yet here it is. Principiano's incredibly charming and utterly delicious Dosset (the name for Dolcetto in the regional dialect) is a beauty: light, fruit-forward and energetic on the palate, with soft tannins and lively acidity. The Dosset shows vibrant fruit notes of cherry, forest berries, red current and red plum, with beautiful floral tones of rose and violet. Very light when first opened, with some air it fleshes out a bit, and a purple plummy note creeps in, along with a hint of spice. Great with a slight chill. Oskar Kostecki
We mostly taste Grignolinos that are dark, heavy, very tannic, lacking the freshness and charm that “correct” Grignolino shows. I think Rovero’s is textbook: light colored, aromatic of flowers, tart red fruit, with light tannins, and crisp acidity – all of this adding-up to a wine that I’d call charming for it’s easy drinkability, but underpinned by enough structure to keep it interesting. This, btw, is a red wine that is delicious a bit chilled, and it’s very versatile at the table. JW
I'm not very attached to color analysis, but this wine has great color - by which I mean, for Nebbiolo, not very dark, in fact somewhat pale, but with bright cranberry tones - a sure sign that it's not too extracted. That visual translucence applies to the palate too - a surprisingly graceful wine for Rocche dell'Annuziata; rich with fruit but without any fat, and very long. Jamie Wolff
Fruit from Berri, the western-most vineyard in La Morra, and from Vicoforte, which is quite a bit closer to the foothills of the alps. The 2018 is a great introduction to Trediberri, a fine balance of fruit and savory aromas and flavors, beautiful balance, very classic in nature. Jamie Wolff
Fruit from Berri, the western-most vineyard in La Morra, and from Vicoforte, which is quite a bit closer to the foothills of the alps. The 2018 is a great introduction to Trediberri, a fine balance of fruit and savory aromas and flavors, beautiful balance, very classic in nature. Jamie Wolff
Perhaps Francesco Versio is just young-looking… He has to have a lot of energy for his very demanding day job (winemaker at Luigi Oddero with Dante Scaglione) and yet he is also making his own excellent Barbaresco. The 2016 is about 65% from San Cristoforo and the balance from Cotta and Starderi (all in Neive). Tasted in late June the wine was showing gorgeously, very open and complete, savory with delicate citrusy aromatics, and beautifully balanced – a super elegant and refined Barbaresco. Jamie Wolff
Making some of our favorite Brunello wines, Simone and Mauro Biliorsi farm six hectares of vines just outside of the historic town of Montalcino. The vineyards were converted to organic farming in 2004, and the conscientious work in the vines is mirrored in the traditional winemaking: fermentation using only indigenous yeasts, and the wine is raised in large Slovenian oak barrels with a volume between 20 and 35 hectoliters. In the 2017 vintage, the Biliorsi brothers made no Brunello di Montalcino, feeling the quality just wasn't there. All the grapes, including the oldest vines of the estate, went into the regular Rosso bottling. Upon tasting this wine at VinItaly 2019, we agreed we had to secure as much as possible. Though showing a bit of the aggressive character of this warm vintage, a quick decant softens it considerably, and draws out a deep and alluring wine that is both bold and refined, drinking very well now, but also with all the stuffing to age for a decade plus. The nose shows a wonderful combination of fruit and earth, with notes of cherry, black cherry, dried cherry, deep ripe raspberry, orange zest, bergamot, a hint of undergrowth, cherry leaves and a bit of black tea leaves. The palate is generous, with a full, rounded body, medium-plus tannins and good acidity, with notes of ripe fruit, an herbal component, as well as hints of baking spice, nutmeg, and a touch of vanilla. Pair with anything from red sauce dishes to braised meat, and don't hesitate to stock up and enjoy this wine years from now. Oskar Kostecki
A delicious, classic Brunello; La Gerla uses a blend of Sangiovese Grosso from both the Canalicchio and Castelnuovo vineyards with vines averaging 25 years old. The wine is age in large 50-100hl casks for three years, then bottled and aged for an additional year before release.
From very old vines, this is very much in the same mold as the Chianti – and was vinified identically – but is considerably deeper and rounder without any additional wood, alcohol, or extract – just a direct expression of the old vines. I think this is remarkable – it strikes a fascinating balance between palate-enveloping darker fruit and finesse. JW
Aside from Gregory Dal Piaz’s fervent recommendation, I fell for Lecci e Brocchi for obvious reasons: the wine tastes like Chianti – very good Chianti, in fact. It’s aromatically quite intense, with bright red fruit bound to stone and savory rocky herbs. On the light side of medium-bodied, the palate follows the aromas – if anything the stony-iron character is more present. This is a very harmonious, long, and quite elegant Chianti. Jamie Wolff
The delicious "Il Meticcio" is a blend of Canaiolo, Malvasia and Ciliegiolo - a blend dedicated to their mixed breed dog "Tiberio." The wine shows a deep pink color in the glass, with hints of salmon. The 2018 is a hearty and structured rose, with notes of dry tart cherry, ripe strawberry, red currants, and an interesting herbal character. Quite firm on the palate, with a bit of structured tannins yet quite bright acidity, and an undercurrent of earth and mineral notes. The finish is long and lingering. Quite delicious now, but I wouldn't hesitate holding this for a year or two to see where it goes. Oskar Kostecki
While I always love the wines from Monte Bernardi, every year Sa’etta is one of the most compelling. The organic viticulture, reflective sandstone soils, extra élevage result in wines of great purity, lift, tension, and dare I say, flair. There’s the beautiful characteristic Morello cherry fruit (though perhaps given a boost of florality and finesse here). This is underlain by a deep sense of nearly salty minerality (not just acidity, though this is also expressed, despite the warmth of the vintage). And finally there’s this savory, energetic kick to the finish, which pulls off the neat trick of not just length, but expansiveness; there’s real dimension and style here to match the stoniness at the core of the wine. A real treat now, but this should be splendid with 8-12 years and beyond in the bottle. John McIlwain
Retromarcia means “to back up” or “to reverse” and is Michael Schmelzer’s reference to an old approach to Chianti that is hard to find today, focused on allowing the character of Sangiovese to show above everything else. The wine is made from 100% Sangiovese composed of young vines planted on a mix of galestro and sandstone soils. The grapes are fermented with native yeast on the skins for 2 weeks in stainless steel and then raised in a mixture of old barrels and unlined concrete tanks for 18 months before being bottled unfiltered. As a classic Chianti should be, the acidity is mouthwatering, warming up the palate for a range of food; try it with everything from classic red sauce pastas, sauteed greens, and saltier cheeses all the way to richer food like roasted lamb or game birds.
Camerani Marinella, of Corta Sant’Alda fame, and her eldest daughter produce this remarkably fresh wine from 5 hectares of vines in Valpolicella. The grapes (35% Corvina, 35% Corvina Grossa, 20% Rondinella, and 10% Molinara) are hand harvested, destemmed, and gently pressed. In the cellar, the juice is vinified using native yeasts in stainless steel. The nose is floral, with dark flowers. There is a hint of tilled earth along with more pronounced aromas of cured meat and red berry. The mouthfeel is relaxed, with exceptionally low tannin for wines of the region, and a thread of acidity that works to carry the cherry fruit on the palate. Pairing with hearty, earthy foods like Thanksgiving carrots, potatoes, and yams will work beautifully. David Hatzopoulos
Pietramore produces both an array of classic Italian wines as well as Olive oil, all from their biodynamically farmed vineyards. The vineyards are located in the Chieti and Teramo provinces close the to eastern coast. The grapes are pressed with ~15% of the juice drained off to intensify the concentration of the wine, and then aged in vats for 6 months with no oak aging.
Ausonia’s Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Anfora is made using an ancient method of fermenting and storing wine in clay vessel (or amphora) which originated in Georgia and was used by the Greeks and Romans for centuries. The amphora helps protect the wine from oxidation and gives the wine a tannic and earthy, yet mineral-driven character. Ruby red in color, this Montepulciano has an intense aroma of red fruits, sweet spices, dried flowers and turned earth. The palate is full-bodied and complex with a dense core, lush tannins, bright acidity, and flavors of ripe cherry, raspberry compote, dark chocolate, dried violets and a distinct minerality. The finish is long and earthy and full of licorice and herbal notes. This wine would make an excellent complement to hearty dishes, red meats, roasted vegetables, and grilled mushrooms. Anna DeBeer
From the higher part of Feudo di Mezzo (640 metres), and vines over 60 years old.Frank writes "A challenging location in order to achieve perfection in maturation. It has the power as well as refined elegance... A complete wine." 2000 bottles produced.
A 'feudo' is a farm; the Feudo di Mezzo is a large farm (now with many different owners), and this is from the lower ("Sottana") part of the farm, with elevations of about 580 metres, and 40 year old vines. Frank writes: "Although lower in the valley floor, the wines are of an unusual elegance which characterizes this area. Relatively deep soil which, in humid vintages can create some problems although the well ventilated site helps to get ripeness. Burgundian elegance and roundness, even in hot vintages makes this a special wine with finesse as it’s personality." 2500 bottles produced.
A blend of Nerello Mascalese grapes taken from each of Cornelissen's single vineyards; the vines are over 60 years old. 12,000 bottles produced.
Made from Natalino Del Prete's small holdings of Aleatico (and possibly Malvasia Nera). The vines are between 30-60 years old. After harvest the grapes are dried, leading to the wine's eventual concentration. On the nose, deep fruits and dark floral notes share the stage with more tertiary aromas of bark and warm field grasses. The palate has plummy flavors of spiced red and black berries, with undercurrents of earth. The wine's sweetness is masked by its freshness, but it is still definitely a bottle for sipping and sharing. David Hatzopoulos
Natalino Del Prete farms 10 hectares of mostly Negroamaro and Primitivo vines just north of Lecce in southern Puglia. Certified organic since 1994, his vineyards are never treated with any chemicals (they look quite wild!) and the vinification is decidely old-school, with minimal intervention and no sulfur added at any point, including bottling. The 2017 Negroamaro Anne is from a plot of 30 to 60 year old vines planted on clay soils. Rustic and slightly barnyardy on the nose, this wine opens with black cherry, black plum and a general medley of dark fruits, and finishes with notes of dark cocoa and earth. Medium plus bodied, with very good acidity, this is a wonderful example of "farmhouse" wine from the Italian South. Oskar Kostecki
Natalino Del Prete farms 10 hectares of mostly Negroamaro and Primitivo vines just north of Lecce in southern Puglia. Certified organic since 1994, his vineyards are never treated with any chemicals (they look quite wild!) and the vinification is decidedly old-school, with minimal intervention and no sulfur added at any point, including bottling. The 2018 Primitivo is from 30 to 60 year-old vines planted on clay soils.
Foradori's Teroldego feels like a benchmark. Not that there is excessive opportunity to do comparative tastings of this lesser-known grape, but of the ones that we've tried, this wine is neither over-oaked, nor reedy and thin, but always perfectly balanced in its intensity and expression. A medley of brambly red and dark fruit (blackberries, plum) interwoven with dark spice, earth and green notes of blackcurrant leaf. The 2016 vintage is quite reserved when first opened, but some air reveals its true potential. One of my favorite pairings with roast pork. It's a great testament to Elisabetta Foradori and her family, and the hard work that has been done in the vineyards and winery for nearly 40 years, that this expression of Teroldego has risen from relative obscurity to be a true staple. Oskar Kostecki
Il Fortunato aced it with their Rosato Spumante; another lively sparkler produced from organic vineyards with only a minimal addition of sulfur. The nose is playful with a mix of bright berry fruits and fresh red cherries cut by tart apple skins. On the palate, a delicate mousse lifts the wine showing some weight, great acidity, and just touch of sugar. Absolutely lovely! Pair with charcuterie, simple pasta, or simply drink on its own. Andy Paynter
2017 was a much riper vintage than 2016, and this wine shows it. Francesco added a tiny bit of sulfur just at bottling. The nose opens with notes of plum, a hint of prune, dark forest fruit, stewed raspberry and blackberry, dried cherry, grape jam (a high quality one), baking spice, nutmeg, and a hint of forest undergrowth. The palate is juicy, still with a lot of energy and acidity to retain balance. Though lacking some of the subtlety and fascination of the 2016 vintage at the moment, it may be best to hold for a year or two, as I feel this will be a wonderful wine with some time to settle. That being said, there is no harm in opening it now, and indeed at a recent tasting some folks preferred the more forward aspects of the 2017. Oskar Kostecki
Wow. Full-bodied and full-blooded, this Primitivo is an intense and profound example of this variety. As with the 2017 Negroamaro, Francesco added a small amount of sulfur at bottling. The nose shows notes of red currants, black currants, black cherries, raspberry preserve, plums, raspberry leaves, cedar, dried herbs, and a hint of earthiness. On the palate there is a similar mélange of red and black fruit, with a hint of dried fruit and raisin. The wine has prominent tannins and quite warming alcohol, though with good acidity and still some modicum of freshness and lift. A serious wine. A bit edgy at the moment, this will perhaps be best in 3-5 years, though if enjoyed now, give a decant of an hour or more. Oskar Kostecki
From a one hectare site of 120 year-old vines planted on the slopes of Mount Etna, this is volcanic wine at its best. The nose opens with a lovely bouquet of ripe raspberry and overripe strawberry, red currant, macerated cherry, deep red forest fruits, and dried orange peel. There are hints of nutmeg and other pungent spices, sage, thyme, and a hint of something green, perhaps tomato vine. On the palate it is medium bodied, with bright acidity and medium but soft, very finely integrated tannins. The palate introduces more citrus (blood orange) and pomegranate on top of the red fruit. The volcanic minerality really shines here, melding the fruit and herbal notes with ash and smoke. There is beautiful grip and intensity on the palate, which leads to an incredibly long finish. Paired perfectly with grilled sausages, but this is a very versatile food wine. Drink now with an hour's decant, this will continue improving for the next 10+ years. Oskar Kostecki
This white comes from some of the oldest vines in Italy, most being over 100 years old, and some almost 300. Monte di Grazie was started by a doctor in 2004 in the town of Tramonti, high up in the Lattari Mountains of Campania. The wine consists of 40% Ginestra, 40% Biancatenera, and 20% Pepella, from volcanic soils. The grapes are destemmed before pressing, and fermentation occurs naturally in stainless steel. The wine spends 6 months aging in stainless before bottling.
Sisma bottles come from a single vineyard in the crater of the Monte Rosso cone at the base of Mount Etna. The 2016 vintage conditions were excellent; it had the appropriate amount of sun and rain, all at the right times. This led to perfect fruit maturation. The nose offers wild fruit (strawberry, raspberry, blackberry) with pepper and spice. The palate offers flavors of plum (and plum peel), Provençal herbs, and pepper. There is a plush tannic framework – engaging but far from mouth-drying. David Hatzopoulos
The Sisma by Monterosso is structured, with bright acidity. The 2017 vintage was hot compared to the 2016. Earthy aromas of smoke, iron, and crushed black stones mix with dark cherry and cassis on the nose. On the palate, the flavors are framed by ripe, firm tannins, with bursts of earthy red plum and blackberry/raspberry fruit. This is an assertive Nerello Mascalese, especially in contrast with the gentler character of the 2016. A few years in the cellar should allow the flavors and structure to integrate. David Hatzopoulos
In addition to farming their two hectares, the Monterosso team sources organically-farmed Nerello Mascalese for their Volcano bottling. The 2017 vintage was hot and had very little rain, resulting in an extremely small harvest. Grapes were picked two weeks earlier to ensure freshness. The wine is bold and robust. The fruit on the nose is dark (blackberry, cherry), with a hint of amaro-like aromas and smoky earth. The palate has a character of bitter and herbaceous red/black fruit and savory cured meats. David Hatzopoulos
Monterosso is named for the reddish Etna soils of sand and pumice in which their vines are grown. The Volcano Rosato is produced using 100% Nerello Mascalese, sourced from vineyards that Monterosso either manages or knows are being farmed with organic practices. In the glass, it shows an elegant shade of rose gold. The nose is redolent of cherry, wild raspberry, white and red flower aromas, with a lean accent of green herbs. The palate is more assertive, with cherry, cranberry fruit, and laced with iron minerality. David Hatzopoulos
The Lagnusa Nero d’Avola vines ranging in age from 20-50 years old, and they give the wine remarkable depth and complexity. It has an opulent, silky texture, but it’s also a juicy and racy wine, with intense red cherry fruit, herbs like mint and thyme, and a hauntingly long stony finish. This shows the quality of much more expensive wine, and it’s full-on competition for the best Nero d’Avola from Vittoria and Pachino.
Sourced from 50 year-old vines trained in pergola and farmed biodynamically, this is a more profound expression of the grape Schiava than one usually finds. The wine is fermented with 30% stem inclusion and macerates for 6 weeks in large conical vats followed by elevage in old oak and cement tank for 10 months. 2015 was a warmer year, and the wine shows more exuberance than previous vintages. The nose is full of dark cherry, ripe plums, plum skin, dark wild forest fruit, violets, cracked black pepper, and blackcurrant leaf (my original note reads: "smells like a pristine forest"). The palate introduces more red fruit: raspberry and cherry. The wine has great verve and acidity, with medium tannins that are quite soft and well integrated. Well-rounded and well-balanced, this is at a great moment now, showing a bit of development, yet still retaining nice primary elements. Very giving, yet relaxed. An engaging food wine, that has the ability to pair with a wide range of dishes. One of my first choices for Thanksgiving dinner. Oskar Kostecki
Vittorio Savino, owner of Fenicotteri, joined Foti’s small association of producers called i Vigneri (some of whose wines from Mt. Etna we always have on our shelves). I Vigneri offers unparalleled expertise in every aspect of viticulture and production (including the services of Ciccio, the group’s mule). Foti’s work at Gulfi, and his knowledge derived from the vines in Pachino must have been very valuable when trying to restore a vineyard that’s virtually on the shore of the lagoon. The farming is impeccable (only copper and sulfur and sheep manure are used on the bush-trained vines) but it’s the location that brings an incredibly compelling mineral and saline lift to the wine. Called Fenicotteri (flamingo, in Italian) after the migratory flamingoes who visit the lagoon next to the vineyard. JW Firmly medium-bodied, the 2015 shows beautiful notes of black cherry, blackberries, black currant, raspberry jam, a hint of leather, cut hay, cocoa, coffee grinds, with hints of black pepper and a black olive brininess. Well integrated and soft, but quite present tannins and medium acidity. Wonderful complexity which just keeps unfolding the longer the wine is open. There is a certain plushness, without anything extravagant. This wine is very compelling all the way through the bottle. Oskar Kostecki
Unlike the other sparklings that we offer from Terraquila, this wine has been disgorged. The ‘zero’ in the name represents the fact that there are no lees left in the bottle. Like the Falcorubens, the varietal is Lambrusco Grasparossa, and it delivers intense savory profiles on the nose and palate. Aromas of heavily charred meat and grippy dark forest fruits match a lean palate of prickly plum skins, dried red cherry, and Provençal herbs. Dry, tannic, rustic, but bright and lovely. David Hatzopoulos
In Emilia-Romagna, Terraquila creates red méthode ancestrale sparklings from organic Lambrusco Grasparossa. Aromatically, the wine offers roasted coffee and dark forest fruit, with a touch of barnyard and earth. Similarly, the palate is full of burly flavors like smoke, plum, raw herbs, and espresso. David Hatzopoulos
Tasting Vinica’s Tintilia makes me wonder how this grape ever fell out of favor in Molise in the first place. It seems particularly well adapted to the high altitude vineyards of the region, showing a balance between ripe fruit and fresh acidity. The grapes are crushed at low pressure and allowed to ferment naturally in open top vessels before being held in steel tanks for two years. There is no temperature control at any point, which allows malolactic fermentation to occur naturally over time. The wine has a pleasant herbal tone of green pepper that peaks out on the nose over tart berry fruit, red roses, and moist earth. The palate is quite fresh and marked by bright acidity and soft tannins with a pleasant, earthy finish. This may not be a wine to cellar for ten years but it is a wine that casually conveys a sense of joy and is a carefree food pairing choice. Give it a try with rich pasta dishes, roast pork, stuffed mushrooms or open it at your next summer barbeque. Andy Paynter