The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Expert Picks: Gravner and Il Palazzone

Two expert selections from Perry Porricelli

1972I was helping my good friend (and client) go through his cellar last weekend and we came up with quite a few beauties—many of which I helped him to procure (what a shock!). He’s not much of a white wine drinker, but a few years ago, I talked him into trying Gravner and the rest is history. Though we found some wines that were ready to drink right now, we also came upon many wines that were just a little too young to be drinking right then—but we tried a few anyway. My friend’s first love will always be Italian reds, so we enjoyed a 2006 Brunello from IWM fave Il Palazzone.

Drinking now:

Gravner 2005 Breg Anfora $89.99

We pulled a bottle of 2005 Breg, and it was off the charts! Amber to orange in color, this wine had all the complexity and structure of a red. The wine’s citrus and red grapefruit nuances along with honey and minerals were just mouthwatering. We drank half of it then put it aside and finished it two hours later. What a remarkable, unique wine!

For the cellar:

Il Palazzone 2006 Brunello di Montalcino $99.00

One red that stood out was Il Palazzone’s Brunello 2006. This had the traditional Brunello earthiness and bright red cherry flavors mixed in with pepper, spices and a touch of mushrooms—the only issue is that you can tell the fruit was holding back. It only offered a partial picture of what this wine will grow into in a few years. After returning to the wine in a few hours it really started to open up. Delicious now but better in five years!


Expert Picks: Grattamacco and Billecart Salmon

Two expert selections from Perry Porricelli

1972I enjoyed many a good wine has been had over the holiday season, and I wanted to share two that stood out in particular. The first is a Champagne that I seem to open up almost all of my occasions, the Billecart Salmon Brut Rosé. The second is one of my “go-to” wines that is so good it always gets me in trouble—Grattamacco Bolgheri Rosso Superiore. Happy New Year!

Billecart Salmon Brut Rosé $79.99

This wine is so delicious that I always have it on hand to start the festivities on the right note. The fresh, bright fruit along with the refreshing acidity with just the right amount of sparkle makes for a truly enticing glass of bubbly. It so good that we usually go through an extra bottle before we feel like we can move on to the following set of wines. This Champagne should be a staple of everyone’s occasions!

Grattamacco Bolgheri Rosso 2009 $89.00

This is such a beautifully balanced wine that it drinks well even at the youngest stages,  yet it really begs for a few more years in the cellar in order to show off its best stuff. That’s the problem! Most people love drinking this Grattamacco Super Tuscan as soon as they get it in their hands on it, forgetting that this wine will grow in complexity over the next five, ten or fifteen years. You should grab a case or two enjoy help alleviate the problem by drinking a few bottles now but having plenty of bottles hidden in your cellar for future enjoyment.

Expert Picks: Renzo Seghesio and Giacomo Conterno

Two expert selections from Perry Porricelli

PerryIt’s the holiday season and everyone is coming by for a glass. I wanted to share a couple of wines that I poured for some very lucky, Barolo-loving clients. Barolo is, after all, the traditional Italian holiday gift, so it only made sense to pour two of my favorites.

Renzo Seghesio Barolo Pajana Riserva 2004 $69.90

I opened this wine recently, and it was a beauty. The classic characteristics of Nebbiolo were on display—clear, vibrant red fruits with lots of spice earthy tones and even a touch of mushroom. Really delicious now, this wine will age for many more years.

Giacomo Conterno Cascina Francia 2006 $149.00

This was a brooding baby. It held the typical purity of fruit that you get from this level of Nebbiolo, but it was definitely reserved. The richness and powerful fruit quality was subdued waiting for its chance to shine. If you decanted this baby for six or more hours, it would begin to show some of its stuff, but it’s probably better to leave it in the cellar for a while. Never the less, this is a magnificent bottle of wine that will grace your tables for 20-plus years—kind of like its bigger brother Monfortino.

Expert Picks: Villa Mangiacane and Cupano

Two expert selections from Perry Porricelli

1972We recently debuted a new producer here at IWM. Cupano is another real gem of a find that Sergio has made in Montalcino, and the estate’s wines are here just in time for the holidays. Cupano is exactly the kind of winemaker we love to get behind. This family owned-and-operated estate is small, and while Cupano’s wines are hard to find outside of Italy, they’re making a big noise all over the Boot. Recently I poured Cupano ’04 with an old IWM small producer favorite—Villa Mangiacane. My clients were so happy, and I was too!

Drinking now:

Villa Mangiacane Aleah 2005 $48.99

This wine was simply delicious. Big rich fruit that would rival any good West Coast American Bordeaux-style blend but with one big difference—this baby has balance and structure. The fruit is held firm and pure. There are earthy tones and spice that let you know that this wine is from the hills of Tuscany.


Cupano Brunello di Montalcino 2004 $149.00

This wine showed a different side to Tuscany’s greatness. Even though this Brunello is 10 years old and can be enjoyed now with a few hours decanting, this ’04 really needs another five or ten years to show its stuff. Powerful flavors—earth, barnyard funk, black pepper spice and, mushrooms—this wine has everything. It just needs a little more time for all these flavors to shine.

Expert Picks: Seghesio and Sandrone

Two expert selections from Perry Porricelli

1972All my clients know how much I love Barolo. But a serious Barolo usually requires serious time in the cellar, and I can’t always be patient. The balance is finding Barolos to enjoy now as you wait for them to age and to grow even more beautiful. I wanted to share a pair of recent wines I’ve enjoyed, both one you can drink now and one that needs to age. Don’t be mistaken, though, even the one you can drink now will happily live a decade or more in your cellar!


Seghesio Barolo Pajana Riserva 2004 $69.90

I am always looking for a drinkable Barolo without dipping into too deep into our older vintages—something that’s easily affordable and delicious at the same time. Only a few producers can pull off this combination and Seghesio is one of them. Although this wine would rest for ten more years in the cellar with a little decanting (one or two hours should do it), this ’04 drinks remarkably well. Beautiful wild cherry fruits with a touch meatiness and earthiness. This Riserva has an elegance to it that allows the wine to glide easily across the palate–just as a more mature Barolo should. This wine is definitely a short cut to a drink-me-now Barolo.


Sandrone Barolo Le Vigne 2008 $149.99

I have had older vintages of this wine recently and they really blew me away. It’s just a top-of-the-line Nebbiolo full of power and grace. I decided to try a younger vintage that we just received just to see where it stood, and I was not surprised. It had all the makings of an almost perfect Barolo—all it needs is time. With five more years of aging, this wine will be drinkable practically right out of the bottle! This ’08 can easily age fifteen or twenty years for sure.

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