The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Inside IWM, April 14-17, 2014: Passover, Taxes and Easter Edition

Posted on | April 18, 2014 | Written by IWM Staff | No Comments

peeps1-300x190This week is Passover, US  Tax Day, and Easter, so there are many reasons to drink wine. We began the week with a tour through Barbaresco, Piemonte’s famous wine that isn’t Barolo, explaining what it is and why it belongs in your cellar. We finished the week with Camacho Vidal’s picks for his Easter table, and it’s an impressive line-up of wines. In between, David Bertot enjoyed an artisanal under $25 Nebbiolo Rosso from the Donnas collective in Valle d’Aosta, and Alex Passarello enjoyed Valdicava 2011 Rosso di Montalcino, which isn’t really that hard to do.

Our experts chose an eclectic array of wines, from Burgundies to Champagne to ancient Sicilian blends. David Gwo gave an epistemological context to his pick of two exceptional Burgundies from Domaine Gallois and Francois Gaunoux. Garrett Kowalsky gave a historical background to his picks of two wines from Palari, a great Sicilian producer working with indigenous grapes. And Robin Kelley O’Connor just wants us to celebrate spring in sparkling style; he selected an Italian bubbly from Fantinel and a really nice Champagne from Andre Clouet.

Wishing you and yours a joyous weekend, however it is you spend it!



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Hippity-Hoppity Easter Wines

Posted on | April 17, 2014 | Written by Camacho Vidal | 1 Comment

peeps1This week has been in the IWM showroom, and I only just remembered that I invited family over for Easter dinner and have not begun to plan yet. Not to panic: I walked to the shelves and made my wine choices, letting the wine dictate the menu.

I’m keeping it simple and traditional. I have a recipe for garlic and herbs roasted leg of lamb that I’ve wanted to try, so when I saw the Mastroberardino Taurasi Radici Riserva 2006 on the shelf, I immediately thought this dish and that wine would go well together. Then I saw the Donnas Vallee d’Aosta Rosso 2009, so I have a back-up wine; I know both this and the Matroberardino are delicious and each will do well with the lamb.

Next, the Paolo Bea Montefalco Riserva Pipparello 2006 caught my eye. I figure I can serve this wine with cheeses and other appetizers as well as anything the family will bring over. The nice bright fruit and earthiness along with its soft tannins makes the wine very versatile. For the white, I grabbed the COS Rami 2011—it’s unusual, food-flexible and very tasty. And you can’t have a dinner without starting with some bubbles, so ill be pouring the Fantinel Prosecco Brut Extra Dry NV as well as the Raventos i Blanc Conca del Riu Anoia Brut Rose de Nit 2011. If all goes according to plan my dinner on Easter will be something like this.

Fantinel Prosecco Brut Extra Dry NV

Raventos i Blanc Conca del Riu Anoia Brut Rose de Nit 2011

Assorted Cheeses

Paolo Bea Montefalco Riserva Pipparello 2006 

Roasted baby potatoes and mixed baby peppers

Mixed roasted vegetables with shaved parmesan

Mushroom quiche

COS Rami 2011

Asparagus wrapped in pancetta

Cod and herb empanadas

Cod au gratin with onions and potatoes

Mastroberardino Taurasi Radici Riserva 2006

Donnas Vallee d’Aosta Rosso 2009

Garlic and herbs roasted leg of lamb

Spinach salad with marinated mushrooms

Ca dei Mandorli Brachetto d’Acqui Donne Dei Boschi 2009 

Cheese and fresh fruit blintzes

I hope you have a wonderful weekend, no matter the holiday you celebrate—or if all you celebrate is spring!


One Response to “Hippity-Hoppity Easter Wines”

  1. Ted Kramer
    April 18th, 2014 @ 10:23 am

    Always a pleasure to get your perspective John, thanks for writing!

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More Love for Valdicava 2011 Rosso di Montalcino

Posted on | April 16, 2014 | Written by Alex Passarello | No Comments

10172715_613630942038868_2603601698753564831_nAfter Vincenzo Abbruzzese took over the Valdicava estate in the late 1980’s, he quickly grew his Brunello into one of the most in-demand and collectible wines in all of Montalcino.  Abbruzzese has been a pioneer of sorts in Montalcino: he produced the first single-vineyard Brunello Riserva in all of Montalcino, his Madonna del Piano, which is now one of the most sought after wines in the region.  Hailing from a law-enforcement background, Abbruzzese applies his no-nonsense attitude to his estate. The winery property is all business, eschewing elaborate displays and placing little importance on meeting the needs of tourists.

An archetypal “Baby Brunello,” the Valdicava Rosso di Montalcino 2011 offers one of the best price-quality deals in all of Montalcino.  The fruit in 2011 did not meet Abbruzzese’s strict requirements, so he decided to take both the Brunello and Madonna del Piano grapes and include them in his Rosso bottling.   Abbruzzese undoubtedly sacrificed significant earnings by making this decision, and as a result we get to enjoy Brunello caliber juice at a fraction of the cost.  This wine has it all—bright red fruit, a nose of cinnamon-dusted fruit, a palate that takes these notes and adds earth and truffles, and a silky, velvety palate. At under $40, this bottle is a fantastic accompaniment to your Sunday meatballs—or any meal that cries out for Sangiovese Grosso.



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Expert Picks: Fantinel and Andre Clouet

Posted on | April 16, 2014 | Written by Robin Kelley OConnor | No Comments

robinThis is a great week to break out the bubbly. Between religious holidays and celebrations, there couldn’t be a better time to add some sparkle to spring. We love food-friendly, easy-going Italian sparklers. Instantly successful in bringing cheer to the soul, the Fantinel Brut Rosé NV is a wine for all occasions. It’s something Italians have known for more than fifty years—famous Friulian hotelier-restaurateur Mario Fantinel has been crafting food friendly wines since the 1960s.

But not all sparkling wines are uncomplicated, nor need they be. There are few Champagnes that can match the quality of Andre Clouet Cuvèe 1911. An IWM favorite, this Champagne is one of kind and one of the most unique and traditional wines being produced anywhere within the region. The grapes are sourced from a single (Grand Cru) vineyard in Bouzy, and the current release is a 100% Pinot Noir. A multi-vintage Champagne coming from the best of selected years, this Andre Clout bottling has been compared to the great Champagnes of Taittinger, Bollinger and Selosse.

Fantinel Brut Rosé NV  $19.80

This beautiful sparkling non-vintage Fantinel Brut Rosé is made from Pinot Nero and Chardonnay. It has a bright salmon color with streams of effervescence. On the nose is a lovely aroma of raspberries, cherries and strawberries with just the right floral notes. It enters the palate softly and seductiveltm with all the red berry fruits bursting in the mouth. Showing ust the right balance and texture with an appealing lively long finish, this sparkler makes appetizers, brunch or light fare sing.

Andre Clouet Cuvèe 1911 $99.99

The Andre Clouet Cuvèe 1911 has a stunningly beautiful deep golden yellow color with fine-streamed bubbles and an inviting mousse. Its nose offers the perfect perfumed bouquet of Provençal flowery freshness of wildflowers, lavender and violets. Elegant and finessed, its palate is round, complex and powerful with deep red fruit flavors with a lovely texture. It has a long continuous, precise finish with an exit that leaves the mouth dry and crisp with lingering fresh fruit tastes.


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Go-to-Wine Tuesday: Donnas Valle d’Aosta Rosso 2009

Posted on | April 15, 2014 | Written by David Bertot | No Comments

donnasrossoFor hundreds of years, the people living on the northern border of Italy have completely ignored political boundaries. In Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italian culture merges with Slovenian customs; in Tyrolean Alto Adige, it collides head-on with German traditions. The same occurs in the Alpine northwest, where Italy borders France and Switzerland in a lovely anthropologic mix.

Especially in this part of the world, wine finely intertwines with the culture. The cross pollination of winemaking techniques and centuries old cooking traditions makes these regional wines very unique. In the tiny town of Donnas in the valley of Aosta, Nebbiolo grows on steep slopes. These rocky pitches not only provide great drainage for the vines, but they also force the vines to work hard to produce the berries. The locals proudly refer to these wines as “mountain Barolo” and fittingly so with the Piemontese border only a few miles away. All this terroir and tradition yield an earthy, airy, alpine wine.

Last night, my wife and I enjoyed a bottle of the Donnas Valle d’Aosta Rosso 2009 (90% Nebbiolo with the remainder Freisa and Neyret). We paired it with an alpine cheese made from sheep’s milk, and we found it was an exercise in divine pairing. The sharpness of the cheese made the dusty tannins in the Nebbiolo in the wine stand up, even as the tannins were rounded out with pleasant light red fruit. Next we paired the wine with roasted chicken with herbed carrots and potatoes. The pairing was also delicious. Even towards the end of the bottle, the nose was still gorgeous with red fruit and roses. For $24.99 this wine demonstrates tremendous value any night of the week—and it crossed borders with aplomb.


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