The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Expert Picks: Bachey-Legros and Francois Raquillet

Posted on | February 26, 2015 | Written by Justin Kowalsky | No Comments

Justin_8.6.14_72dpiOver the past six years we have slowly developed once of the strongest offerings of quality Burgundy in the market, and our collection covers the spectrum in both price points and collectability. Although many people falsely believe that you have to spend “big bucks” to get a good bottle of Burgundy, a fantastic reasonably priced bottle can be found when you find the right domaine in any one of number of lesser known villages.

The two wines today come from two of my very favorite estates–Bachey-Legros and, for the first time ever at IWM, Domaine Francois Raquillet.

Bachey-Legros 2012 Santenay Clos Rousseau VV 1er Cru $36.99

Over the past four vintages the name Bachey-Legros has garnered great praise from critics as well as client attention. Although Bachey-Legros is primarily known for their blockbuster whites, the cognoscenti have also realized that their reds are sublime. I recently opened a bottle of their 2012 Santenay Clos Rousseau 1er Cru with the IWM staff, and I have to say that I have never heard more accolades from such a wide audience so quickly. Loaded with notes of blackberry, deep cherry, wild mineral notes, and wonderful sauvage nuances, the rich and powerful Santenay glides across the palate with the ripe, refined tannins from its wonderful old vine fruit. This wine is at once absolutely classic in style and powerful and rich, due to its very old vines—some are older than 135 years in age. This is a must-have wine for any Burgundy lover ,and although delicious now this will age easily for another decade to

Francois Raquillet 2013 Mercurey Les Veleys 1er Cru $44.99

When most think of Burgundy, what comes to mind is the 24-mile stretch called the Cote d’Or. However, there are five distinct regions in Burgundy, and just to the south of the Cote d’Or lies one of he most widely praised, the Côte Chalonnaise, which holds the village of Mercurey. With its 32 1er Crus, no other village in the Côte Chalonnaise has even close to the quantity of high quality vineyards as Mercurey. Among the growers I have followed for well over a decade is Francois Raquillet. With his spare-no-expense approach and super-dense plantings, as well vines that average more than 60 years across all the vineyards, Raquillet’s wines are the benchmark for this Village and they have only been imported for the first time a year ago! Raquillet’s Mercurey Les Veleys 1er Cru 2013 is a ripe, highly complex effort. With deep dark flavors of blackberries, hints of currants, with loads of telltale Mercurey spice and mineral and the slight earthy notes that make Mercurey clearly distinct. As with all Raquillet wines, the tannins are ultra-refined and make this wine a pleasure to enjoy now or over the next 10-15 years plus. With only 240 cases made of the beauty, we are excited to be able to offer not only Raquillet for the first time but also to offer a bottling from one of his most prized vineyards. This is one wine and appellation that you cannot miss.

 

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A Look at Aglianico, a Great Big Grape

Posted on | February 25, 2015 | Written by Emery Long | 2 Comments

The vineyards at Mastroberardino

The vineyards at Mastroberardino

In my endless search to stay ahead of the curve and keep my culture sharp, I have developed a metropolitan-like manifest destiny for discovering things “before they were cool. ” Recently, I put that need aside and I introduced myself to the highly respected Aglianico grape, a varietal savored by cognoscenti who search for flavor coupled with austerity, authenticity, and range.

For centuries, the Aglianico grape has been the belle of southwestern Italy’s Campania and Basilicata regions. Basking in the southern Italian sun during the day and resting during its alpine cool evenings, this vine thrives at a slightly higher altitude in volcanic soil on steep slopes. It takes its time to mature but it produces a produce a small, thick-skinned grape with a beautiful midnight dark color. When assisted by other native varietals and ideal growing conditions, Aglianico’s tannins tend to soften, but it’s a grape that holds its own.

Often taking back seat to its more well known counterparts Nebbiolo and Sangiovese, this indigenous grape has a majesty all its own. A dark, inky grape that has a huge personality and little representation, Aglianico has charmed me with its brooding dark complexity, its thick layers of juicy tannins intermingling with dark forest fruits, and its charming yet enigmatic savor. As a single varietal, Aglianico takes on a gorgeous spectrum of fruit flavor; ripe lingonberry and blackberry make an appearance as they intermingle with fresh tobacco leaves, espresso grounds, and hard spices.

Vintage photo from Masterberardino

Vintage photo from Masterberardino

The incredible breadth of the Aglianico grape’s range of flavor and depth means that this wine needs food, and it pairs well with grilled boneless leg lamb and spicy pickled peprocini, or fresh spaghetti with spicy Luganica sausage. If you are a young bachelor like me, or just someone who appreciated fine sandwich cuisine, I would suggest that this raucous wine would go phenomenally with an Italian hero from your local delicatessen. While the masses are buying up expensive and rare wines of Italy’s North take a clue from me, this grape is the real McCoy.

Aglianico appears in a range of bottlings, from affordable bottles by Tormaresca and De Conciliis, to cult classics by Galardi, to vintage collector beauties by Mastroberardino. You owe it to your palate to experience Aglianico–even if it has been cool for a very, very long time.

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2 Responses to “A Look at Aglianico, a Great Big Grape”

  1. Sally
    February 25th, 2015 @ 6:22 pm

    Interesting read!

  2. Janice Cable
    February 26th, 2015 @ 9:39 am

    Thanks so much!

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Expert Picks: Barone Pizzini and Ca del Bosco

Posted on | February 25, 2015 | Written by Crystal Edgar | No Comments

Crystal 2014As a big fan of anything bubbly, I enjoy tasting sparkling wine I can get my hands on. I have searched out and sampled sparklers from many regions and countries – France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Hungary, Morocco, Brazil, Japan, China, India, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the USA and Mexico. All are unique, some more than others, but very interesting nonetheless! Somehow I always find myself nestled back somewhere between France’s Champagne and Italy’s Lombardy. When price point comes into play, I usually lean towards the beautiful wines of Franciacorta from Lombardy.

Winemakers in the area of Brescia, Lombardy (located in the north of Italy, near Milan) have been making Franciacorta since 1961, and it’s one of the few sparkling wines in the world whose name refers not only to the wine itself, but also to the method and to the region of its production. Rather than imitating the French, the Italians look to Champagne for inspiration, maintaining the same methods, grapes and high standards while adding their touch of Italian flair and regional terroir. This is a wine I always recommend in place of Champagne, particularly when dining out because restaurants tend to mark up Champagne (especially well-known brands) sky high. Rest assured that unless announced, dinner guests will assume they are sipping Champagne because the quality, precision and vivacity is parallel to any great bubbly made east of Paris.

Barone Pizzini Franciacorta Brut NV $37.20

One of my favorites from our cellar, this vibrant pale golden bubbly offers a smooth and persistent sparkle and the classic character that you would expect of a wine fermented in the bottle with hints of minerals and toasted bread enhanced by delicate citrus notes. It is a fantastic combination of clean and fresh while smooth and harmonious. This bottle was the perfect pair to a rainy evening with friends as we dined on a selection of sushi, sashimi and broiled eel from a favorite local Japanese spot.

Ca Del Bosco Cuvée Annamaria Clementi 2001 $175.00

Better suited for special occasions, this gorgeous vintage bottling honors Annamaria Clemnti, the founder of Ca’del Bosco. A blend of 55% Chardonnay, 25% Pinot Bianco and 25% Pinot Nero, this special bottling utilizes only the finest grapes from the various single vineyards for this iconic wine, made only in the very best of vintages. This wine’s structure, complexity and elegance are remarkable, and this bottle can easily stand up to the great vintage bubbles in Champagne.

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Go-To-Wine Tuesday: Valle dell’Acate 2013 Il Frappato Vittoria

Posted on | February 24, 2015 | Written by Camacho Vidal | 2 Comments

RD8758-2It has been brutally cold this winter, and like everyone else, I’m eagerly anticipating spring. But rather than whine about the cold I figured I would check my fridge and see what I need to stock for when the warmer weather finally arrives.

One wine that I’ve always enjoyed is the Valle dell’Acate Il Frappato Vittoria. I had a bottle of the 2013 that I had not tasted yet, so I thought I would open it. I love Frappato, an indigenous Sicilian grape. It has nice, delicate floral and cherry notes, and while it’s light enough to enjoy in warm weather, its supple tannins make it hold up when there is a slight chill in the air, and it pairs well with an array of foods.

Founded at the beginning of the nineteenth century, Valle dell’Acate has a long history; today it’s considered one of the top estates in Sicily. What makes this estate’s Frappato so unique is the soil composition of its vineyard. It’s located approximately 360 feet above sea level south of the winery and near the coast. The soil in this area is called “Milaro” by the locals, and it sports calcareous sandstone and layers of clay, which allow the vines to produce high quality grapes and gives the wine a distinct profile. Made with 100% Frappato, this wine ferments for 15 days in stainless steel tank with indigenous yeasts, and then ages six months (also in steel tank) with an additional three months in bottle before release.

A beautiful, bright red color in the glass, this wine’s nose is full of violet, sour cherry, spice, licorice, mineral and crushed red berries. With some twirling of the glass, I could smell the sandstone and clay soils that lie beneath the vineyard. On the palate, it is silky with noticeable red fruit and delicate herbal notes; the acidity is fresh and juicy. The tannins kick in mid point to mingle and balance with the fruit, and it finishes with spice, and tangy, savory black cherry. This Valle dell’Acate is a joyful easy wine to drink that has depth and layers and the price point, under $22, makes it easy to keep a case for when you are in the mood.

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2 Responses to “Go-To-Wine Tuesday: Valle dell’Acate 2013 Il Frappato Vittoria”

  1. Jameson Fink
    February 24th, 2015 @ 6:06 pm

    I love this wine! Enjoy it with a slight chill and is also a favorite with pizza. Or without pizza.

  2. Janice Cable
    February 25th, 2015 @ 9:11 am

    Thanks so much, Jameson. Frappato is delicious. Everyone who’s anyone agrees.

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Expert Picks: Bonneau du Martray and…Bonneau du Martray!

Posted on | February 24, 2015 | Written by Robin Kelley OConnor | No Comments

Robin_D_8.6.14_72dpiIt’s Burgundy week here in New York City and the grandest of all festivities, La Paulée, dedicated to one wine region with four days of non-stop tastings on the grandest of scales. I wanted to celebrate both of these events, and my picks today represent one of the great names in Burgundy, Domaine Bonneau du Martray, and one of the world’s great white wines, Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne. This wine is a standout in any vintage, but the 2012 and 2010 are dazzling. These masterpieces are wines with incredible aging potential.

Domaine Bonneau du Martray, owned by Jean-Charles Bault Count de la Morinière, is the largest producer of Corton-Charlemagne. Once owned by Emperor Charlemagne in the eighth century, the vineyards of the Bonneau du Martray estate date back over a thousand years. Located in the village of Pernand-Vergelesses, Domaine Bonneau du Martray is the largest single proprietor of vines within the Corton-Charlemagne vineyard and this domaine owns the largest area of a single Grand Cru in Burgundy. In fact, Bonneau du Martray is the only estate in Burgundy to entirely produce wines from Grand Cru vineyards.

Jean-Charles inherited the property from his father in 1984 and has a strong biodynamic philosophy in his viticulture management, furthering the domaine’s reputation for being a leader in the appellation. The family only makes two wines with approximately 95% of the production being Corton-Charlemagne, with the Chardonnay grapes coming from three separate parcels, and the other 5% is Corton rouge, with the vines located in the finest section of the hill of Corton.

Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne 2012 $209.00

The just released Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne 2012 is a wine of great nobility. The 2012 vintage had its challenges compared to the laissez-faire and easy-to-produce vintages of 2009 and 2010. Despite nature’s less than cooperative moments, Bonneau du Martray produced a monumental wine of great purity, showing finesse with density, and offering volume. The color is bright yellow straw with green tinged illuminations. The classic, concentrated and complex Corton-Charlemagne nose shows floral notes touched with subtlety, nuance and mystery, as well as aromas of apple, pear, citrus, faint hazelnut and vanilla. The wine enters the palate with power, exploding with rich fruit. This full-bodied wine is loaded with minerality, citrus, mouth-watering acidity, and white orchard fruits. Showing incredible depth of flavor, this ‘12 has a wonderful long finish and is set to age gracefully for the next decade or two.

Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne 2010 $181.50

Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne is one of Burgundy’s greatest expressions of the Chardonnay grape, known for its elegance, finesse, breed and class. This 2010 wine is very youthful looking with bright straw color with hints of pale yellow. It has a developing, restrained bouquet of fresh green apples, citrus-spiced pears, intense minerality with hints of pineapple, spices, herbs and a delightful smokiness with floral notes, honeysuckle and cinnamon. This very focused wine enters the palate with distinctive power, exploding with lemon-lime flavors, peach and a touch of hazelnut. Offering fabulous textural sensations, and touches of vanilla from the oak, this wine finishes with a long, superb, vibrant ending; this wine must have wine for any collector and lover of great white Burgundy.

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