Posted on | October 22, 2014 | Written by David Bertot | No Comments
My wife and I just returned from our first trip to Italy, and we were overwhelmed with just how beautiful and magical this country is. Having been lucky to learn about Italian culture and wine from my time at IWM, I have been ecstatically awaiting a visit to Liguria for over four years. I had heard all these stories about how delicious the seafood is, how elegant and wholesome the people are, how impossibly beautiful the scenery is. As you can tell in these pictures, Liguria over-delivered and the four days we spent in this region was a was a very special time in our Italian road trip.
Let’s start with the charming little town of San Rocco di Camogli. We were blown away by how perfectly intact all the traditions and the buildings were. This gorgeous little village is perched on top of Monte di Portofino overlooking the Ligurian Sea and the fishing village of Camogli. Sergio Esposito kindly pointed us in the right direction and recommended we stay at a quaint, family-run bed and breakfast called La Rosa Bianca di Portofino. You park your car and walk about 15 minutes through a 2-meter-wide paved trail, 200 meters above the Mediterranean, through a national park to get to La Rosa. Technically, it is a 15-minute hike, but it always took longer with stops at the bakery, an aperitivo, and several pauses for a gaze into the blue. Along the way you pass a beautiful little church, a mouth-watering bakery with superb goods, charming houses with incredible views, and a handful of warm, polite locals. It was surreal to wake up in a place like this.
We were very blessed with weather and we had two entire beach days. We hiked down the mountain about 40 minutes to a place called Punta Chiappa, where we caught a ferry to a medieval abbey built by the Benedictines of Monte Cassino. We had a lovely beach day, inclusive of a platter of tasty fried seafood served with local Vermentino. The last thing I thought I was going to do was swim in Northern Italy in October; I am so glad I brought my swim trunks. It was a little chilly, but the water was crystal clear blue that I’d never even imagined.
The over-stimulation of the senses, the culture, and the whole of the Italian Rivera’s physical presence make this region an unforgettable place. It is very simple to fall in love with this part of the world. I am very much looking forward to the next trip!
One of the great Champagne houses, Billecart-Salmon is a medium-sized family-owned property, founded in 1818 by Nicolas François Billecart and Elisabeth Salmon, in the village of Mareuil-sur-Ay. This estate is perfectionist, demanding nothing short of excellence, shrouded with a bit of mystery as it approaches the firm’s 200th celebration. Billecart-Salmon’s house style whether non-vintage, vintage, blanc de blancs, rosé or deluxe cuvée has been a perennial favorite among sommeliers and those in the wine trade, and the Billecart-Salmon Brut Réserve famously stands tall among all the non-vintage cuvées of the most famous champagne houses.
The name Louis Roederer resounds with the name Cristal. One of the wine world’s most revered wines, Cristal Champagne sits in a standalone category for prestige, quality and pure class. Cristal was created in 1876 to satisfy the demanding tastes of Tsar Alexander II when the Tsar asked the house of Louis Roederer to reserve the best cuvée for him every year. To distinguish the Cristal Cuvée, Roederer bottled the champagne in a flat-bottomed, transparent-lead crystal. This tradition has now lasted 138 years and it shows no sign of changing.
Harmonious and very well balanced, the Billecart-Salmon Brut Blanc de Blancs NV is the epitome of the greatness of Champagne made from 100% Chardonnay. Straw yellow in color, this wine offers tiny bubbles and a beautiful mousse with continual effervescence. The bouquet is steely and fresh, with hints of white flowers, strong notes of citrus including lemon and lime, as well as pear, apple, white peach, hints of ginger and biscuit. Its refreshingly clean palate shows razor-sharp precision complemented by ripe, refreshing acidity, while its citrus notes come through with pineapple, ripe pear, Meyer lemon. Tangy, complex and energetic, this is a Champagne for all occasions that will pair perfectly with a multitude of food dishes.
Louis Roederer Cristal 2005 $209.00
The Louis Roederer Cristal 2005 is a Champagne approaching its tenth birthday. It’s a wine so complex, concentrated and classy that in the words of Louis Roederer’s current Cellar Master, Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon, it’s a wine of “pure pleasure and a sophisticated gastronomic wine…both powerful and delicate, combining subtlety and precision.” This 2005 cuvée is a blend of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay. As with all of Roederer’s Champagnes, this bottling of Cristal, produced only in the best vintages, was aged six years in the Roederer cellars before dégorgement. It is a timeless masterpiece.
I always look forward to going home in New Jersey, especially on Sundays, our family day. On Sunday, my grandparents, uncle, cousins, sister, and even friends gather around the table to share stories, jokes and, of course, delicious home-cooked food and amazing wine.
This past Sunday my mother was hosting for my grandmother’s 83rd birthday. She asked for two things: my mother’s cooking and for all of us to play bingo. These were two easy things to offer her. My mother prepared a beautiful spread filled with cheeses, sautéed vegetables, spaghetti and meatballs. To accompany this meal I selected a Tuscan favorite here at Italian Wine Merchants, La Sala’s Chianti Classico, a mono-varietal Sangiovese and a piece of Tuscan history.
It was a big hit with my family. The wine’s nose is ripe with hints of berry and earth; while its mouth-feel is refreshing, juicy and smooth. This Chianti is a bit acidic, showing flavors of cherry, earthiness, and richness that blend nicely with its spiciness—a fairly typical flavor profile for Chianti or Sangiovese based wines. With its beautiful finish and is definitely a palate-pleasing wine, La Sala 2011 Chianti Classico is a great everyday drinking wine or great for opening for toasting a special occasion, and priced at $30 a bottle, this wine really over delivers.
Overall, the La Sala Chianti Classico was a great complement to our perfect autumn day to say the least. I hope you enjoy it with family, friends, great home cooking, and laughter.
Over the weekend, I popped open a nice bottle of California Chardonnay from the 2009 vintage that I had been holding onto for the last two years. Here at IWM we feature a phenomenal portfolio of both white & red Burgundy, which amongst wine enthusiasts, represents the greatest expression of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in the world. First and foremost, I don’t hate on California wine; on the contrary, my “wine moment”—the wine that triggered my passion—was a California Pinot Noir. Therefore I was surprised to find that this bottle of Chardonnay, which I remember really enjoying, wasn’t to my tastes anymore. A year of experiencing the various white Burgundy appellations made the amount of toast, oak, and vanilla feel overwhelming to my palate. I’ll always be willing to enjoy a nice bottle of Cali Chardonnay, but I can safely say, I’ve been converted to white Burgundy for life.
My picks today are two wines from one of the truly outstanding domaines in Meursault, Domaine Latour-Giraud. An estate with holdings in all of the big three Meursault Premier Crus— Genevrières, Perrières, and Charmes—Latour-Giraud produces absolutely fabulous expressions of white Burgundy that really demonstrate a sense of place, reflecting the specific characteristics of their respective vineyards within Meursault. With the holidays coming up, white Burgundy is an ideal pairing for white meats and seafood, and it’s a great wine to have on hand. Meursault is known for producing round wines with fresh acidity and flavors of lemon, pear, and citrus fruits that finish off with a perceptible of nuttiness. If you enjoy Chardonnay, or superior white wine in general, I highly recommend the wines from this estate.
Balanced, elegant and aromatic, this Village level Meursault commemorates estate founders Charles Giraud and Maxime Latour. Grandson Jean-Pierre wanted to create a high quality white Burgundy, sourced from their prime vineyard holdings that could be enjoyed while their flagship premier crus age. The 2012 is a fantastic showing with all of the hallmarks of classically styled Meursault.
Genevrières, Perrières, and Charmes are where you want to be if you’re looking for the best, definitive, and most age-worthy examples of Meursault. This classic and nuanced 2012 Genevrières will develop beautifully and effortlessly over the next decade. There’s not much else to say except that this wine is incredible.
The name Pythagoras likely brings to mind geometry class. After all, this Greek mystic, philosopher and mathematician devised the theorem that holds his name, the Pythagorean theorem that states the square of the hypotenuse (the side opposite the right angle) is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides. But the teaching of Pythagoras the Samian, 570-494 BCE, wasn’t limited to just math.
He was also keen to teach people proper etiquette—wine etiquette, in fact. To this end, Pythagoras likely also invented a drinking vessel that bears his name, the Pythagorean cup. Shaped more or less like a bundt pan with a central spoke, the Pythagorean cup has an ingenious design that enforces wine politesse. If you’re greedy and pour too high, past the central spoke that leads from the foot of the cup to just below the cup’s rim, wine fills the two channels in the cup and spills onto the lap of the unsuspecting glutton. Click here to see the Pythagorean cup in action.
It might be simple physics—hydrostatic pressure creates a siphon that draws the wine continually out of the cup and out the hole in the foot of the glass—but it’s also ingenious. While there’s not a lot of historical writing that directly connects Pythagoras with the vessel, cups showing this ingenious design date back more than 2,500 years, and location suggests a strong correlation between Pythagoras and the cup that bears his name.
While enterprising souvenir sellers in Greece continue to replicate and sell the cup to tourists, you can actually fashion your own from a plastic wine glass, a straw, silicone glue, a plastic test tube and a box cutter. While IWM doesn’t condone the spillage of fine wine, we also believe in pouring wine to a polite level—and one that allows the wine to breathe. If, however, education through practical jokes is not your thing, you probably want to invest in some basic Brunello or Burgundy glasses for your wine consumption. You can always choose to educate through a superlative example.
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